By Julia Duvall
Western Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology is now officially part of the national Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.
After a decade of work led by Martin Tanaka, professor of mechanical engineering, the fruits of the group’s labor came to fruition during a ceremony and celebration held March 17-19.
“While it has been a challenge keeping it rolling the past decade, I am so glad we have made it to this point,” Tanaka said. “We now have the opportunity to recognize the hard work our students are doing on a national level and our students are part of something that spans across the nation.”
As part of the petitioning process, Tanaka formed a local honor society, Tau Beta Psi, that followed the same rules as Tau Beta Pi, so students would be eligible to be inducted on a national level and WCU could petition for a chapter.
Over the course of 10 years, the WCU honor society inducted more than 140 members.
As part of the petitioning process at the national convention in Tennessee last October, Tanaka and students Allison Royer, a senior from Bessemer City, and Gabriel Kranenburg, a senior from Raeford, shared with the group their love for WCU with a video showcasing the Cullowhee campus and all that it has to offer students.
“They challenged us to think outside the box in the petitioning process and show what is special about our university,” Tanaka said. “The video was the perfect visual for showcasing what WCU is all about.”
Now that the induction ceremony is complete, Royer, who serves as president, and Kranenburg, who is the chapter’s secretary, reflected on the journey, from petitioning to installation.
“As president, it has been an honor to lead this chapter,” Royer said. “Though the path has not been easy, it has been a privilege to become part of our history, while forging a path for our future. There were countless hours put in that led to this induction, even dating back to 2012 when Dr. Tanaka first started this journey. It was wonderful to reflect on the efforts of those that came before me and see their efforts come full circle.”
Kranenburg echoed those sentiments while discussing the ceremony.
“During the installment, we had our first initiation of about 20 people, and it was amazing to see all the hard work paying off,” Kranenburg said. “Going forward, I am excited to see how the chapter grows and will definitely look to be involved with the chapter even after I graduate to give a better experience for current and new incoming members of our chapter of Tau Beta Pi.”
Chapter vice president, Dustin Pease, a senior from Thomasville, served as the master of ceremonies during the installation banquet and led a nature hike for visiting guests from around the nation. Pease also played an essential role in guiding new students through the induction process and preparing for the installation ceremony.
Reflecting on his experience, Pease said, “It was quite an amazing experience to be a part of establishing an official Tau Beta Pi chapter at WCU. It was so nice to see all of the professors and students from the College of Engineering and Technology come together to recognize and celebrate this historic moment.”
Pease and Kranenburg, along with the president elect and the secretary elect, will be traveling with Tanaka to represent WCU at the Tau Beta Pi district meeting in Charlotte in a few weeks.