History of the Beta Eta Chapter
The Beta Eta Chapter was established on May 28, 1938 at NC State. For the majority of the chapter’s first 67 years, the Chapter operated out of Daniels Hall on Main Campus where the Department of Electrical Engineering (and eventually Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) resided. In the Fall of 2005, the Chapter and department moved to Centennial Campus. The Chapter is now headquartered in the HKN Student Leadership Lounge, Engineering Building II, Room 1004.
History of Eta Kappa Nu
On September 23, 1904, two students at the University of Illinois met on the steps of the campus engineering building to consider the formation of an electrical engineering society. One of them, Maurice L. Carr, later recalled that their one enthusiastic agreement had been that such a society was needed; their views on exactly what the organization would achieve varied widely. Five weeks later the founding group was complete. Besides Carr, it consisted of Charles E. Armstrong, Ralph E. Bowser, Carl K. Brydges, William T. Burnett, Hibbard S. Greene, Frank W. Winders, Edmund B. Wheeler, Milton K. Akers, and Fred D. Smith.
The original purpose of the society was to help electrical engineering graduates find employment and in other ways gain a foothold in their careers. Scholarship was not the only membership requirement. As Carr put it: “We did not propose to ignore scholastic standing… but we did not propose to debar a good man because he was not a good student in all subjects…” [Carr would undoubtedly include women were he making his statement today!]
The association finally settled on its name, Eta Kappa Nu, and qualifications for membership that exist to this day: The student must be in the upper quarter of his/her junior electrical/computer engineering class or the upper third of the senior class, requirements that are sometimes tightened. Other qualifications relate to ingenuity, imagination, practical innovation, and problem-solving ability. Characteristics that are also weighed include character and service to others. As for the purpose of the organization, what emerged over the years was an amalgam of many suggestions. The association has proved an incentive to excel by recognizing the achievements of both students and working engineers. It has established rapport among faculty members, students, and alumni, and has encouraged engineers to become well-rounded.