Martin A. Brumbaugh
Founder and first editor of Industrial Quality Control
Martin A. Brumbaugh played a unique role during the period of gestation, birth, and infancy of ASQ. A professor of statistics at the University of Buffalo whose writings on applied statistics appeared regularly in print, Brumbaugh is not remembered for technical proficiency or groundbreaking work in the theory or practice of quality control. Nor was his elevation to a place of honor based on positions held in the organizational hierarchy of the fledgling ASQ; he did serve as a vice president of the society for the 1950-51 term, but his brief tenure of service would hardly qualify him as an organization man.
Brumbaugh, ASQ's third Honorary member, made his mark as editor of Industrial Quality Control, the journal that predates ASQ by nearly two years. He used that position to influence the events that led to the founding of ASQ, and to shape the very nature of the organization.
The Buffalo Society of Quality Control Engineers, launched IQC in July 1944, with Brumbaugh as its editor, to "collect, analyze, and disseminate information concerning quality control as applied to industry."
The magazine gave Brumbaugh the opportunity to speak out on issues that he saw as vital. He had hoped that the training and the interest in quality control fostered by the courses of the War Production Board's Office of Production Research and Development would continue after the war. Like so many others, he had been introduced to the field of statistical quality control through these training sessions. He recognized the danger that interest in the new field of quality control might wane after the war.
Brumbaugh was also interested in providing useful information for the quality control operator, and the magazine and his own writings were aimed at the practitioner as student, not at the teacher.
Another of his concerns was the need for a national quality control organization—in his own words, "an organization that will have as its primary aim the establishment in the industrial mind of the importance of quality control in the industrial system." In support of that goal, the magazine gave regular reports on the many autonomous local groups that formed after the war and status reports of organizing efforts. In an editorial published in November 1944, Brumbaugh predicted:
Quality control will be a powerful force in the postwar period. A national quality control organization properly launched and unanimously supported can do much to direct that force and make control procedure a recognized part of management technique.
Attempts at national organization, which were fostered in part by the influence of Industrial Quality Control, centered around two groups with sometimes differing views on organizational models and focus: the Federation of Quality Control Societies (one of whose four members was Brumbaugh's Buffalo Society of Quality Control Engineers) and the 13-member Society for Quality Control. The differences were officially settled at a historic meeting on Feb. 16, 1946, at the Edison Electric Institute in New York City, at which ASQ was born. The meeting was chaired by Brumbaugh. Industrial Quality Control was turned over to the new organization; Brumbaugh continued as editor and was made chair of a new editorial board. He continued as editor and chair until April 1947, when he resigned to devote his full energy to a new position as director of statistics with Bristol Laboratories.
Brumbaugh's writings reveal him to have been a forward thinker and a philosopher on the role of quality control in an organization and the role of a professional society. He also talked about quality control methods applied in service areas, quality costs, designing quality into a product rather than inspecting it in, design of experiments, and introduction of statistical thinking in all phases of an operation.
Brumbaugh received the Shewhart Medal in 1950, and was named an Honorary member in 1960. Every year since 1949, his colleagues have honored him by presenting the Brumbaugh Award to the author of an article of special significance appearing in Quality Progress or the Journal of Quality Technology, successor publications to his beloved Industrial Quality Control.