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What is Pi Tau Sigma?

Pi Tau Sigma is the National Honorary Mechanical Engineering Society and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies. With 167 chapters installed, all but ten currently maintain active status. There are chapters at universities in almost every state of the United States. The concept of Pi Tau Sigma was initiated simultaneously at the University of Illinois and at the University of Wisconsin in 1915. Pi Tau Sigma was formed in 1916 by these two schools.

Murrey and Azure

White Rose

  1. Foster high ideals in the engineering profession.

  2. Stimulate and support departmental activities.

  3. Promote professional welfare.

  4. Develop leadership and citizenship.

  5. ... And have fun doing it!

Key Meanings

1. Torch - Knowledge

2. I-Beam - Strength

3. Left Hand - Creativity

4. Carnot Cycle - Efficiency


In order to establish a closer bond of fellowship which will result in mutual benefit to those men and women in the study and in the profession of mechanical engineering, who by their academic or practical achievements, manifest a real interest and marked ability in their chosen work, this constitution of the International Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society was established.

History of Pi Tau Sigma

With the twentieth century came the realization that honor societies made a definite contribution to the department and that membership required active participation. Pi Tau Sigma came into being on March 16, 1915, at the University of Illinois. A similar organization embarked on November 15, 1915, in Wisconsin, and other local organizations (such as the Carzeuran of Purdue) were soon to become active.


The early leaders: Professors C. R. Richards, A. C. Willard, and 0. A. Leutwiler of the University of Illinois; G. L. Larson of the University of Wisconsin; G. A. Young of Purdue University; and J. V. Martenis of the University of Minnesota, stand out for their early contributions.

In ten years Pi Tau Sigma grew to six chapters in the Midwest (Illinois Alpha, Wisconsin Alpha, Purdue Beta, Minnesota Gamma, Illinois Delta, and Missouri Epsilon). In 1925 the expansion continued to the east with the Penn State Zeta Chapter being installed. Six years later the Texas Kappa Chapter, and the following year the Colorado Mu Chapter established chapters in the south and west. Also in 1932, the expansion continued southeast to Georgia Tech Nu Chapter. It was not until nine years later that the first chapter was installed on the Pacific coast (Oregon State Omega). In twenty-six years Pi Tau Sigma became truly a national honorary mechanical engineering fraternity with a total of twenty-five chapters. During the succeeding four years, nine additional chapters were installed.

From 1947 to 1958 forty new chapters were installed. The Chapter-At-Large was established in 1954. The installations completed through the spring of 1993 bring the total established chapters to one hundred and fifty-three. Two chapters have become inactive, one due to the discontinuance of the mechanical engineering program. Earlier, two established chapters in New York merged into one. At this time, 174 chapters remain active at different universities.

History of the Sigma Epsilon Chapter

In the spring of 1965, a group of junior and senior mechanical engineering students under the leadership of Dr. Donald J. Helmers initiated the idea of forming a Pi Tau Sigma Chapter at what was then called Texas Technological College. With the help of and guidance of Professor James W. Bayne, National Secretary-Treasurer, a petition for membership was circulated among the existing chapters in the fall of 1965.

The petition was approved and the Texas Tech Sigma Epsilon Chapter was officially installed on April 15, 1966, by Professor E. Kent Springer, National President: Dr. D. R. Haworth, Regional Vice President: and Dr. John W. Weibelt of Oklahoma State University.

The chapter is actively involved in support efforts for both the Mechanical Engineering department and the College of Engineering. A recently initiated project is the evaluation of professors in the department. This evaluation process is organized at the end of each semester so that suggestions regarding the quality of the course can be made by students. Evaluations are reviewed by the chairperson and appropriate steps are taken.

Other activities include the Professor of the Year Award, which is given to the best professor, and the Purple Shaft Award, which is given to the professor with the worst teaching qualities. They also award the Gordon Barrett Memorial Scholarship annually to aid deserving Pi Tau Sigma members.

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