A group of chemical engineering students at the University of Illinois met in 1931 to form an organization which would recognize those juniors and seniors who displayed academic excellence and leadership in their profession. They designed a key, petitioned for and received recognition from the University of Illinois administration, and became the Alpha Chapter of Omega Chi Epsilon. One year later, students at Iowa State University petitioned Alpha Chapter for a charter, which was granted, and the Beta Chapter was formally organized.
By its tenth anniversary, another five chapters had been formed. Records for the thirtieth year (1960-61) show 105 persons initiated from 10 chapters. In its Golden Anniversary year, 1980-81, Omega Chi Epsilon received 705 members from 39 chapters.
The current membership includes over 20,000 men and women from 67 chapters. In 1967, the Society became a member of the Association of College Honor Societies.