Alpha Pi Mu was the brainchild of James T. French, who in 1949 was a senior industrial engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology. Nine men, chosen through their affiliation with the Georgia Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi constituted the original membership of Alpha Pi Mu. In 1959, full membership in the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) was attained.
The major significance of Alpha Pi Mu's association with ACHS is that it is the only nationally accepted industrial engineering honor society. Chapters now exist in almost every major university which possesses an accredited industrial engineering department. While academic interests and abilities are required for membership, the society's overall goals are much broader.
The Georgia Tech engineers who led the initial developmental work wanted an organization to provide an inspiration for young students, to provide a common ground on which their outstanding young engineers could exchange ideas, and to provide experiences which could help their future professional development.