What Does SAE Mean?

by Jack Byrom

The most common meaning of the acronym "SAE" is that of the Society of Automotive Engineers, renamed "SAE International." Among other things, this large society of professional engineers sets standards for automotive design and related items, such as the quality of automotive engine oil and vehicle dashboard design.


According to the SAE, the organization arose in the United States very early in the 20th century. Back then, there were dozens of auto manufacturers and there arose a need to set design standards and protect patents (reference 1). The society began in 1905 and by 1980 had 35,000 members. Some of SAE`s more famous members were Henry Ford and Charles Kettering (reference 1).


SAE promotes the distribution of high-quality technical information for its members and professional designers in the automobile, commercial vehicle and aerospace industries. SAE continues to support uniform technical standards in these industries and also promotes the education of new engineers through various scholarships, programs and competitions (reference 2).


The new name, SAE International, reflects the fact that the design and development of vehicles such as cars, buses and aircraft has become global in scope. There are now local chapters of SAE in places as diverse as India, China, Romania and Brazil (reference 1).


The society publishes journals (for example, "Automobile Engineering Online") and books (more than 100 each year), provides professional education and organizes conferences.


The U.S.-based organization has had tremendous influence on the development and quality of motor vehicles throughout the world. One of the society`s best-known standards is for the viscosity of motor oils (e.g., "SAE 10w-30"). Another well-known SAE design standard is for the sizing of automotive hand tools.

About the Author

Jack Byrom has been writing about science since 2002 and has also worked for the American Chemical Society as a technical editor. He received his Bachelor of Arts in environmental science from Capital University and his research there was published by the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (2004) and "Epistimi" (2004). His articles have been published in the "Columbus Free Press" and "Clarity Magazine."

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