The Kentucky Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, traveled to Iowa State University this past week for the annual convention of its 241 chapters. The conference was held at the University of Kentucky in 2012 and the group of five students and chapter advisor Dr. Bruce Walcott anticipated enjoying the conference without the logistical pressures of organizing the event.
What they did not anticipate was figuring out how to haul home a lot of hardware.
The Kentucky Alpha Chapter achieved an unprecedented sweep of honors and awards at the convention. During the recognition luncheon, they received three honors: the Secretary’s Commendation Award (for the third year in a row), a Project Award (also for the third year in a row) and a Membership Growth Award. Of the 241 Tau Beta Pi chapters, Kentucky Alpha was the only one to receive all three honors. While pleased to have received such honors, the group had no idea that was only the beginning.
At the awards banquet, three national awards were given: The J.D. Froula Award for most improved membership, the R.H. Nagel Award for most improved chapter and the R.C. Matthews Award for the outstanding chapter of the year. Kentucky Alpha not only swept the national awards; they became the first chapter to ever win all three awards in the same year. In the long and storied 128 years of Tau Beta Pi, it had never happened.
Dr. Walcott, who himself was given the national award of 2013 Tau Beta Pi Outstanding Advisor, described the historic achievement this way: “I guess the best analogy for this accomplishment from a UK perspective is if Coach Cal’s basketball Wildcats were to win the SEC title, the National Championship and go on and win the NBA Championship all in one single season!”
Present for the extraordinary evening were Cody Lonsbury – convention representative and voting delegate; David Smith - current chapter president; Adrianne Shearer - past chapter president and member of national Student Advisory Board; Andrea Ramsey – past chapter vice president and current District 6 Director and Wendy Harper – advisor and Engineering Futures Director. Former two-term president Kassy Lum was able to be a part of the awards banquet through Skype.
“It has been incredible to see the KY-A chapter grow, thanks to all of the hard work and dedication of the officers and members over the past few years. And of course, none of this would have been possible without our advisor, Dr. Bruce Walcott!” Adrianne Shearer reflected.
“This really belongs to all of our previous Tau Beta Pi leaders,” said Dr. Walcott. “Clearly, Kassy and Nick Such started this with submitting a bid to host the National Convention. John Wright, Ben Rupp, Kirsten Graves and Andrea Ramsey carried the torch and received recognition through winning Project Awards and Secretary’s Commendation, which paved the way for the magic evening.”
Current president David Smith signaled Kentucky Alpha won’t become complacent; rather, they plan to build on their success.
“It's a huge honor to receive any one of these awards, so receiving all three is phenomenal. I am extremely excited to continue to grow our chapter and to keep the Tau Beta Pi message alive.”