The Society of Oxford University Engineers was formed in early 1988. An inugural meeting was held in New College on 18 April 1988, attended by some 35 past and present members of the Department. At this meeting, a constitution was formally adopted and a committee (consisting of 6 present members of the Department and 6 past members) was elected.
Sir Ralph Freeman (Worcester 1929) kindly agreed to be the first President of the Society.
After this meeting, a mailshot was sent out to as many past and present members of the Department as could be contacted, inviting them to join the SOUE. This mailshot listed the aims of the Society, briefly described the inaugural meeting and listed those present, and invited the reader to join the Society and attend the first event, to be held on Friday 9 September 1988: "an annual meeting, lecture and dinner in Oxford".
The first Jenkin lecture was given by Dr Alastair Howatson on the history of the first 80 years of the Department; an abbreviated version of this history is available, reproduced with kind permission of the Department.
The first annual dinner was held at Keble college, for a price of £22.50; the inaugural meeting decided that dinner jackets should be worn, which remained the case until the final college dinner at Mansfield in 2006 (by which time, the price had risen to £44).
Gordon Lewis (Pembroke 1944) succeeded Sir Ralph Freeman as President in 1993; Brian Cook (Brasenose 1953) took over in 2002, followed by Martyn Hurst (Merton 1965) in 2008.
In 1999, membership was extended to allow students at the Department to join as associate members at a reduced fee, becoming life members upon graduation.
A significant revision to the constitution in 2013 saw subscription fees abolished, and membership extended so that all alumni and students of the Department, as well as current and former teaching and research staff, are automatically members (students being associate members until they graduate). The size of the committee was also reduced to 8.