The Founders Award was established in 1965 by the Academy to honor an outstanding NAE member or foreign member who has upheld the ideals and principles of the NAE through professional, educational, and personal achievement and accomplishment.
Awarded during NAE's annual meeting in October, the recipient receives a commemorative medal imprinted with a replica of the NAE seal, a stylized Roman aqueduct representing the bridge between science and society. Though only NAE members or foreign members are eligible to receive the Founders Award, founding members of the National Academy of Engineering are not eligible.
On May 7, 2013, the award was renamed after Simon Ramo, the only surviving founding member of the NAE. Ramo was a member of a committee of 25 that in 1964 advocated for establishing the National Academy of Engineering, which operates under the same congressional charter that governs the National Academy of Sciences.