The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
The Michigan Technic

The history of the Michigan Technic goes back to 1887, although a bound volume of "papers presented before the Engineering Society of the University of Michigan in 1882-1883" gives rise to the claim of the year 1882 as the date of founding of the publication. In early days every student was a member of the Engineering Society. This society published the Technic as an annual, containing the program of the society for the year, biographies of various faculty men, and authoritative technical articles written by faculty and students. These articles were from papers which had been presented before the society.

The magazine filled a real need in those days, which were before the advent of the numerous professional journals now published. Many papers which appeared were reprinted, to be used as reference material in courses then being taught. It was read by faculty, students, and alumni with great interest. Even today the contents of some of the old magazines are very valuable. As the College grew, the activities of the society increased, and the magazine grew also. From an annual, it became a semiannual, then a quarterly, and finally a monthly publication. It was published by the Engineering Society up to the time of the death of the society, in 1923. Then an independent student staff with a faculty Advisory Board took over the work of publication.

The organization of the Engineering Society provided for a chairman of the Technic Board, who was managing editor of the magazine. With the help of an editor, a business manager, and a small staff, the magazine was published. No faculty Advisory Board was listed until 1906, when Dean Mortimer E. Cooley, Professor George W. Patterson, and two alumni, Walter L. Stebbings and Ralph R. Tinkham, were appointed. A new board was appointed every year until a more permanent body was set up in 1914. This permanent board has continued to function up to the present.

The early staffs struggled along from year to year, keeping no permanent records. Continuity of policy was carried on by word of mouth and whatever experience could be transferred during the period of apprenticeship served by each member of the staff. If any attempts were made to bind the organization together or to record procedure, they must have met defeat, for there are no records.

The formation of Engineering College Magazines Associated, in 1921, was of importance to the Technic and to engineering college publications in general. This association, of which the Technic is a charter member, was formed for the purpose of improving the editorial quality, make-up, and appearance of the member magazines. The page size of the magazines was also standardized, as an Page  1915aid to securing advertising from nationally advertised products. Standards of quality were set up and awards were given as incentives to work toward better editorial content and attractive appearance. The great contribution of E.C.M.A. was in the securing of large advertisements for each magazine. These advertisements were handled through a commercial agency and entailed little work on the part of the staff of the individual magazine. A large amount of the revenue for the publication of the magazine came from these advertisements.

The Technic ran along in about the same way, growing in size and prosperity, until 1929 when the business depression ended most of the advertising. Circulation fell with advertising, leaving the Technic with very seriously curtailed revenues and, as a result, it operated at a loss for several years.

In a desperate attempt to stave off financial collapse, the staff of 1932-33, in composing the Articles of Management which were adopted February 21, 1933, took the first step toward binding the organization together. The Technic is now guided by a faculty Advisory Committee and a Student Publication Board.

The loss of revenue in the depression focused attention on the low student circulation, and ultimately on the editorial content of the magazine. Concentration on editorial quality brought the Technic several awards in different years in the E.C.M.A., including the awards for the best covers and for the "Best All-around Magazine."

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