Tau Beta Pi
Founded at Lehigh University in 1885 to recognize engineering students of distinguished scholarship and exemplary character, Tau Beta Pi is the only engineering honor society representing the entire engineering profession. The primary goals of Tau Beta Pi are to honor students and engineers who have demonstrated their abilities and shown an appreciation of high standards of character and ethics and to provide opportunities to students and engineers to further their scholarly activities and development in the field of engineering.
Programs and Activities
Tau Beta Pi offers a number of programs that assist the organization in carrying out its goals. These activities are implemented at both the local and national levels to generate interest and increase awareness among engineers, to recognize outstanding scholarship, and to emphasize civic responsibility. Key programs offered by Tau Beta Pi include the Engineering Futures program, the Fellowship Program, undergraduate scholarships, and chapter community service projects.
The Engineering Futures program teaches interpersonal skills to engineering students. This is accomplished by utilizing alumni who conduct on-campus training in people skills, team chartering, analytical problem solving, and group process. The Fellowship Program is Tau Beta Pi's single most important project for the advancement of engineering education and the profession. The purpose of the Fellowship Program is to finance a select group of members chosen for merit and need, providing each of them a year of graduate studies at the college of his or her choice. Unlike many fellowships, a distinguishing feature of the Tau Beta Pi fellowship it that is it free of excessively binding restrictions. Tau Beta Pi fellows are free to do graduate work in any field that will enable them to contribute to the engineering profession. The only specific responsibility fellows must fulfill is to write a summary report at the completion of their fellowship year.
The Tau Beta Pi Association Scholarship Program was established in 1998 for undergraduates in their senior year of full-time engineering study. The amount of the scholarship awards is $2,000. Other gifts and endowments such as the Dodson Scholarship/Fellowship Fund, the Stabile Scholarship, and the Soderberg Awards, as well as gifts from such companies as Alabama Power Foundation and Merck and Co., also afford financial aid to undergraduate students. At the national level, Tau Beta Pi participates in the Society of Automotive Engineers scholarship program and the National Society of Professional Engineers educational program for first-year engineering students.
Another valuable service the Tau Beta Pi headquarters provides is employment resources for college students and alumni. Various jobs and internships in the engineering field are posted for Tau Beta Pi members through a contracted Internet server. Tau Beta Pi also offers a Recruiting Center at its Knoxville, Tennessee, headquarters, and many companies place recruitment advertisements in The Bent, the society's magazine. The Bent has been published since 1906 and is available quarterly with more than 94,000 copies circulated per issue. The Bulletin of Tau Beta Pi, published three times per year, disseminates news and information on the organization to collegiate chapters.
The Development of College and University Chapters
With approximately 429,000 total initiated members in Tau Beta Pi nationally, college chapters exist at more than 220 United States colleges and universities, and active alumnus chapters are available in sixteen regions across the nation. To establish a chapter at an institution of higher education, the recommended requirements are outlined in the Tau Beta Pi bylaws. These standards require that institutions have a specified number of engineering programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, at least forty engineering graduates per year, and a minimum of three faculty members who are also members of Tau Beta Pi.
To obtain a Tau Beta Pi chapter, an institution must first organize a local engineering honor society with members selected from the top fifth of the senior class or top eighth of the junior class. The chapter is open to all engineering students who fit these distinctions; technology students are ineligible. With the initial membership intact, this organization is expected to govern itself and elect members for two years in the exact ways a formal Tau Beta Pi chapter operates. After this two-year probationary period, a formal petition made to Tau Beta Pi headquarters can be accepted for consideration.
The formal petition and college catalogues are examined by the executive council of Tau Beta Pi, who, upon approval, direct a campus inspection visit. If the recommendations from the inspection group prove favorable, then the petitioners must prepare a formal request and send two representatives–a student and an adviser–to the next Tau Beta Pi National Convention. Based on convention approval, the new chapter would be formally instated and its first members initiated shortly thereafter. To ensure quality and commitment of new chapters, the lengthy process of developing a chapter typically takes about four years. Holding in high regard integrity and excellence in the field of engineering, Tau Beta Pi requires members, chapters, and alumni groups to meet the highest of standards of excellence in their roles as broadly based engineers in society.
TAU BETA PI, THE ENGINEERING HONOR SOCIETY. 2002. <www.tbp.org>
MEAGHAN E. MUNDY
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