UAB Phi Tau
Birmingham, AL 35294
Charter Date November 21, 1987
Chapter No. 140
Advisor Dr. Roy Koomullil
The University of Alabama at Birmingham was formed in 1969 as an independent university, having grown from an extension center of the University of Alabama. The School of Engineering was formed at that time as a single-degree program. The Mechanical Engineering Department was first established in 1981, and received ABET accreditation in 1983. In 1986 a group of twenty students, under the direction of Professor Martin Crawford, petitioned the National Council to establish a chapter of the society at U. A. B.
On November 21, 1987, the U.A. B. Phi Tau Chapter was installed by National President Bill Cottingham, Central Regional Vice President S. P. Kezios, and Secretary-Treasurer Edwin I. Griggs.
The purposes of the chapter are to promote the professional growth and development of its members and to further the high ideals of the profession.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORTS
2022-2023 – David Dovenbarger, Student President
For UAB chapter Phi Tau, the academic year of Fall 2022-Spring 2023 proved to be another success. Our organization activities began before the start of Fall 2022, two of our officers met to discuss our plans as an organization for the semester. Our plans included a SolidWorks coemption, being open to all the students attending UAB, a Valentine’s Day fundraising event, a possible dog wash, and thermodynamics tutoring sessions held by current PTS members in our organization.
During our first meeting, we discussed our plans to host a presentation geared towards incoming freshman students to talk about the challenges of mechanical engineering-specific courses, internships, and other academic-related topics. The goal of this presentation was to inform these students about the mechanical engineering discipline from an academic perspective as early freshmen. But, per a UAB faculty member, we were unable to proceed with this idea do not being able to provide ourselves with a moderator.
Each week, our organization hosted a Thermodynamics 1 tutoring session. We had flyers boasting of the session posted all over the UAB engineering building – in the hallway, in the stairwells, and even in the weekly email UAB School of Engineering newsletter sent to all faculty, students, and staff. This happened every Tuesday afternoon from 5 to 6:15 pm. Out of the entire semester, not a single student came for the tutoring session. This was a massive disappointment.
During the spring semester, our organization hosted a Valentine’s Day fundraising event. The goal of this event was to sell flowers on the UAB campus’s green on Valentine’s Day. We set up a booth with the “UAB School of Engineering” tablecloth, set up some chairs, I grabbed my John Piper book and sat and waited for prospective clients. We looked very official. Our student president bought over $60 worth of flowers at the local Trader Joe’s. We had the flowers set up in fancy vases. The weather was nice, the breeze calm, the sun hot. The fundraising event proved to be unsuccessful. It started off with a UAB School of Engineering professor asking for a bouquet of flowers for his wife for free because he was “too lazy” to stop by a flower store on his way home from work. Disappointed and aggravated, I gave in and gave him his choice of a bouquet. He, of course, takes the nicest and prettiest bouquet. Not even 15 minutes are past, after all the flowers were gone, we ended up only selling $5 worth of flowers. The rest were given away in frustration due to nearly everyone asking as they casually walked by, “Are these flowers free?”
All in all, we hope for continued improvement and success in the coming academic year.
2021-2022 – David Dovenbarger, Student President
For chapter Phi Tau, the academic year of Fall 2021-Spring 2022 was a bounce-back year from COVID-19. Our organization activities began at the very beginning of the Fall 2022 semester outside the main entrance to UAB’s engineering building. We collaborated with other engineering student organizations to make our presence known while targeting the incoming freshman. We had three members represent our Pi Tau Sigma chapter, striking conversations with students passing by our booth as well as engaging with engineering faculty.
As the semester continued, it proved difficult to assemble the members for on-campus meetings due to COVID restrictions. The abnormal amount of online formatted classes our members were attending also made it difficult to meet in person. On-campus activities were heavily monitored until February 2022. But our chapter did conduct a successful in-person initiation each semester, inducting seven new members total – nearly doubling our chapter size. Two of our former officers left due to graduating, but after gaining several new members, we have replaced these officers and look forward to their leadership and other contributions in the fall.
In the Spring of 2022, we reconnected with current members, and our leadership networked with other organizations. Post COVID-19, our main goal was to rebuild a network within the organization and expand our network to other prospective members within other organizations. UAB has a very organized cross-organizational network for the engineering departments, and we wanted to take advantage of their resources. This included attending their monthly meetings and asking for their help in announcing our involvement and events to engineering students and faculty of UAB. After two years of absence due to COVID-19, our biggest community service event was the 31st Annual ASME Egg Drop Contest held on April 8th. While this was an ASME event, PTS was present and active in representing our chapter to the locals of Birmingham.
UAB PTS members are continuing to represent our chapter by wearing the t-shirt on campus and participating with neighboring engineering student organizations. Our chapter’s Secretary was the student president of ASME, and there are members involved with UAB’s SAE Baja team and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student body. Two of our members held weekly tutoring sessions in the engineering school collaborative room, where they helped engineering students primarily with MATLAB, Statics, and Mechanics of Solids courses.
Our plans for the next academic year include weekly tutoring sessions for students taking thermodynamics, in addition to our past tutoring periods in the collaborative room. Additionally, we plan on an engineering school-wide SolidWorks competition, open to both students and faculty. We hope this will turn out to be a semi-annual Pi Tau Sigma-exclusive fundraising event.
All in all, we hope for continued improvement and success in the coming academic year.
2020-2021 Edgar Fuentes President
The academic year of Fall 2020-Spring 2021 was a difficult one with the restrictions brought on by COVID-19. Additionally, the transition between the previous leaders and current ones was a rough one. This year largely marked a transition period for the Phi Tau chapter.
The first challenge that we saw came with the hybrid class setup at UAB. Most classes were remote, so some of our members continued their studies from outside of the state. In addition, with classes being recorded, many members worked, co-op-ed, or interned this year in addition to schooling. As we adapted to this new way of life and to the transition from previous leadership in the organization, there was very little communication in the Fall 2020 semester within the organization. As such, there was no initiation in the Fall.
However, in the Spring of 2021, we reconnected with current members and our leadership networked with other organizations. The main goal here was to rebuild a network within the organization and expand our network to other prospective members as well as members within other organizations. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has a very organized cross-organizational network, and we wanted to take advantage of their resources. We connected with the School of Engineering student org coordinator and recruited her to help organize our future leadership to give them the tools to succeed and rebuild Pi Tau Sigma.
UAB has also seen a shift in the alumni coordination team, and we met with the new School of Engineering Alumni coordinator to get her assistance in organizing our Phi Tau alumni base as well as provide a network through which the organization can pull guest speakers and contacts.
Recruitment was difficult this year with the lack of in-person activities and interactions. However, through networking with other organizations, PTS inducted three new members in the Spring of 2021. Out of the three newly inducted members, two were elected into PTS officer roles in addition to two other pre-existing members. This was exciting news, as the entire current Phi Tau council will be graduating in the Spring of 2021. In total, five members will graduate in the Spring of 2021.
Two of the four newly elected officers for PTS are involved with and have had officer experiences in other student organizations at UAB, and we feel confident that with their experience combined with the resources that UAB has to offer, they can build more interest in the Phi Tau chapter. The outgoing council had two members involved with university competition teams, and through their involvement, they helped rebuild the teams and attract interest and involvement in the School of Engineering. This is promising, as this provides a tool for students to achieve engineering excellence and for PTS members to learn and apply their skills as leaders and engineers. All in all, this was a year of transition and rebuilding.
We look forward to the continued improvement next year.
2018-2019 President Jordan Whitson
The academic year of Fall 2018-Spring 2019 was a continuation of the growth set forth from the previous year’s president. The previous president’s leadership and devotion to chapter Phi Tau was unparalleled by other society leaders.
The first action of the new council was to create a new by-laws addendum in accordance to Pi Tau Sigma’s national by-laws. We wanted to help maintain a level of integrity that should be reflected in an honors society. It is a points-based merit system that awards points for the activity of members. We award points for attending any Pi Tau Sigma or school of engineering event, any science conference, presentation of technical papers, any community service, be a member in a professional society, extra points for being an officer in a professional society, and anything the officer council deems as point worthy through email approval. To promote further benefits to the members, we give a gift card to the highest points earning member that isn’t an officer. This initiative has helped increase attendance, volunteer activities, memberships to professional societies, and sparked students to participate in the mechanical engineering honors research program.
Since our chapter is small, we decided to focus our efforts in the most efficient ways possible. We centered our chapter on leading and getting involved with the student professional societies. SWE, ASME, SAE Baja competition team and AIAA were all lead by Pi Tau Sigma members for 2018-2019 academic year. We want to see more involvement and student competitions expand. With students being involved with the leadership of multiple societies, we maintained a great communication platform. Chapter Phi Tau was involved with ASME’s Annual Egg Drop community service project, UAB AIAA’s Professional Mixer for students and professionals, and multiple volunteer opportunities. We continued to support the Inspire Series that was started the previous academic year. With this initiative, students are seeing the importance of the societies and making career long connections.
Recruitment and Pi Tau Sigma notoriety has been small and slow for the past couple years at UAB. Chapter Phi Tau has looked at multiple ideas to increase the importance of joining the mechanical engineering honors society. With the help of other officers and a couple members, we have officially created a quality t-shirt design to be included with initiation. This helps raise a few dollars and helps with chapter Phi Tau’s esprit de corps. The members wear this shirt at every event, meeting, and function they go to represent Pi Tau Sigma.
Chapter Phi Tau has created a weekly tutoring event to benefit freshmen to seniors. We cover all pre-engineering topics and our seniors and graduate students assist in upper mechanical engineering courses. We have greatly helped students get through the “weed-out” classes and are a hub of help with more than just classes, such as career planning and campus connection. We plan on combining resources with the Engineering National Honors Society next year to expand our reach to more students.
We hope to continue our improvements next year.
2017-2018 President Matthew Arnwine
The academic year of Fall 2017-Spring 2018 was a year of growth for UAB’s Phi Tau chapter. While the chapter still needs to grow in the areas of community service and fundraising, it was able to hold some great university projects to serve the profession of engineering and the UAB engineering department. The biggest project was The Inspire Series.A university wide event with engineering focused lecture series. This was spearheaded by the president, Matthew Arnwine under the pillars of Engineering, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The series was guided by the belief that some careers may span a lifetime, but for others it is a launch pad. Pi Tau Sigma and its Partners of ASMEand Society of Women Engineers (SWE)wanted future engineers to hear from those that have used engineering to plow new paths, traverse uncharted territory, and silence the stigmas and change our world. Three separate lectures were held with local community leaders who brought very impactful messages to the engineering students. It was also a great opportunity for PTS to partner with ASMEand SWEto help broadcast to a larger group of students and to diversify the council leading the project. Overall this was an out standing project and will continue in the next academic year since the School of Engineering has pledged to continue support of this event as well as commitment from more speakers to participate.
The second big event that UAB Phi Tau lead was Paintball with Professorsunder the tagline “Please join as we teach these professors a lesson they won't forget”. This event served as a break from studying for exams and an opportunity to facilitate fellowship between students and professors. While there were only a few students, it was a successful revamping of a classic UAB event.
The last project to mention was the development of a PTS Loungehoused in the Mechanical Engineering Department office. This space is to serve the members of our chapter and mechanical engineering students with coffee and snacks as well a study and group meeting space. While still in the development stage, the tables and space as well a Keurig machine donation, have set this up to be a great addition to the chapter and department.
One area off growth for the Phi Tau chapter is in community service and fundraising. We did manage to partner with some other groups for fundraisers. Our biggest community service event was the volunteering at the 29th Annual ASME Egg Drop Contest.While this was an ASME event, PTS volunteers were there and active in representing our chapter.
2017-2018 was a great year for the UAB Phi Tau Chapter and we are excited to see where we go from here!