IEST: Not your grandfather’s technical society

IEST looks back on some groundbreaking achievements of the past two decades

By Julie Kendrick, CAE, IEST Executive Director

[Note: For clarity, the initials IEST are used throughout in reference to the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology, its name today. Originally, it was the Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES).]

The year 1989 was an earth-shaking one, both literally and figuratively. An earthquake struck the San Francisco area during the third game of baseball’s World Series between the Giants and the Oakland Athletics. On the greater world stage, the powerful earth-mover of 1989 was the opening of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after President Ronald Reagan’s entreaty of two years before to “Tear down this wall!” So it is not surprising that my entry onto the IEST Headquarters staff as a part-time editor passed pretty much unnoticed. However, IEST did not then-and does not now-pass unnoticed in the contamination control community.

When I joined the staff of IEST, typewriters clattered away in every part of the office and long galley proofs of the Journal went back and forth from editors to typesetters to print shop. However, the “Fax Revolution” was dawning, making carbon paper and multiple mailings obsolete. Heady times, those!

It can be difficult to detect progress, as we are often too close to it to realize the gains that have been made. It has been my privilege to watch, encourage, and applaud the giant and thoughtful steps that IEST has taken to serve its constituent industries. The society has achieved some interesting milestones in recent years.

1989: Brazil becomes the first affiliate group outside North America.

1990: IEST begins desktop publishing, with the help of many “service bureaus,” and joins the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

1991: Anne Marie Dixon is elected the first female president of IEST.

1992: IEST Working Group 100, chaired by David Swinehart, completes the “E” revision of Federal Standard 209.

1993: IEST is named Secretariat of ISO Technical Committee 209 (ISO/TC 209), “Cleanrooms and associated controlled environments,” charged with writing international standards for cleanrooms. IEST is also named by ANSI as the Administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/TC 209.

1994: IEST Recommended Practices break all sales records as IEST Working Groups continue to produce vital “how-to” documents desperately needed by the contamination control industry.

1995: IEST establishes an electronic mail (called “e-mail”) address and creates a simple home page on the World Wide Web. Milena Krasich becomes the first woman to be named an IEST Fellow.

1996: The Computer Age comes to IEST Headquarters as a computer network is installed, encompassing all staff members. The computer hard drives are a whopping 120 MB each.

1997: IEST sells its headquarters building and the organization adds “and Technology” to its name.

1998: In keeping with the name change, IEST’s flagship publication of peer-reviewed technical papers becomes the Journal of the IEST. Tutorials are added to the midyear Working Group meetings, and the IEST Fall Conference is born.

1999: ISO/TC 209 publishes its first standard: ISO 14644-1, “Classification of air cleanliness.” The annual technical meeting and exposition is renamed ESTECH, the acronym representing Environmental Sciences TECHnology.

2000: IEST is accredited as an ANSI-approved standards-writing organization.

2001: Although terrorist attacks in the U.S. cause the IEST to reduce staff and curtail activities, the Journal continues with its unbroken record of continuous publication and ESTECH is held for the 47th consecutive year.

2002: After more than 35 years in the same offices, IEST relocates its headquarters to Rolling Meadows, IL.

2003: IEST joyfully celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding, and ISO Standards 14644-1, 14644-2, and 14644-4 are accepted by ANSI as American National Standards.

2004: The Journal is published both in print and in CD-ROM formats. (Computer hard drives are now somewhat larger than 120 MB!)

2005: IEST offers its first online course, “Cleanroom Operations,” taught by Jan Eudy. The Journal of the IEST is exclusively online, offering 24/7 access to members and subscribers. Broadening its role on the world stage, IEST is accepted as a founding member of the U.S. TAG to the new ISO/TC 229, “Nanotechnologies.” Also, ANSI appoints IEST as the administrator of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 142, “Cleaning equipment for air and other gases.”

2006: Expanding its outreach, IEST establishes three student scholarships in honor of three of its past leaders: Gene Borson, Park Espenschade, and Robert N. Hancock.

2007: As of this writing, IEST has begun a massive migration of its database and services to a web-based system, to be completed this summer (whatever happened to carbon paper, anyway?). The headquarters is moving to a more secure and inviting office just a few miles away in Arlington Heights, IL. Oh, and I’ll be retiring from IEST at the end of the year, which, you may have guessed, is the raison d’être for this glimpse of IEST history.

Speaking of which, the years have flown by, particularly the last 10 during which I have been fortunate to serve IEST as its executive director. What’s ahead for IEST? Well, to quote Ronald Reagan again, “There are no limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”

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Julie Kendrick is the executive director of IEST, a position she has held since 1997. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, and has attained the distinction of Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives. Kendrick is a member of the Association Forum of Chicagoland, for which she conducts study groups in association policy and governance for CEOs working toward obtaining CAE recognition. She is also a member of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives.


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