Northwestern Pi Theta
Evanston IL 60208
Charter Date May 14, 1943
Chapter No. 33
Advisor Dr. Manohar Kulkarni
Early in the spring of 1943 high ranking senior mechanical engineers under the sponsorship of Professor B. H. Jennings petitioned the National Council for a chapter of Pi Tau Sigma to be installed at the Northwestern Technological Institute. The petition was approved and the Northwestern Pi Theta Chapter was formally installed on May 14, 1943, with National Secretary-Treasurer E. S. Gray officiating.
Northwestern Pi Theta has been a significant factor in encouraging engineering education and campus activities. Due to the complications with the cooperative program the chapter operates on a dual system. The chapter also cooperates with the Founders Societies.
ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORTS
2020-2021 Michael Haymes, President
This academic year, the Northwestern Pi Theta chapter recruited a thriving new chapter in the Spring of 2021 following a transition of chapter advisors. The initiation was held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic that also impacted in-person events. As such, the Pi Theta Executive Board worked closely with the new Chapter Advisor to create a detailed course of action for virtual events and outreach. Various opportunities were discussed, such as career planning, study habits, wellness strategies, networking events, and industry speaker information which was sent out to students throughout the Mechanical Engineering community. Pi Theta also worked closely with the Mechanical Engineering department to host at least one peer advising session per week. Due to low turnout, presumably due to the pandemic and “Zoom Fatigue,” weekly advising and peer-mentoring sessions came to a halt after two sessions to allow students and chapter members to focus on personal wellness and academics.
With the largest Pi Theta class initiated over the past three years, one that saw a 133% increase, the graduating Pi Theta executive board devised plans for the new board to reference in the following academic year. A variety of proposed events, including some ideas put forth in previous years, embrace resume and career fair workshops for internship/co-op searches, info sessions for extracurricular engineering clubs, expansion of peer advising tailored to individual goals and experiences, graduate school panels with professors and students, speakers from a variety of industries and backgrounds, and in-person service activities to allow Pi Theta members to give back to the community directly.
2019-2020 Logan Goering, Secretary
Northwestern Pi Theta focused on two key activities before the COVID-19 situation upended the academic year: conducting peer advising for mechanical engineering (ME) students, and participating in Northwestern’s ME advisory board. These activities helped increase engagement between members of Pi Theta and both other ME students and ME faculty. Pi Theta hosted at least one peer advising session per week, starting October 22, 2019 and continuing through March 3, 2020, at which point the COVID reality rendered them non-essential and they were discontinued These advising sessions were open to both undecided students and all students in the ME department. Advisors guided students with course plans, internship/job search advice, good academic practices, and general mental wellbeing tactics. Feedback from attendees, especially first-year students, showed that these sessions were very helpful in setting them on the right path. Students found these sessions to be more helpful than faculty advising as members of Pi Theta were able to give advice from a student’s perspective, which was more to the point than traditional faculty advising. Members of Pi Theta also sat in on advisory board meetings and provided insight about the experience of ME students at Northwestern, discussing both the strong elements of the program and the areas where growth was possible. Pi Theta supported a significant change to the ME degree, resulting in students having the option to concentrate more of their studies in a particular area. More events were under consideration for the spring quarter, but the abrupt shift to remote learning for the remainder of the year put those plans on hold.
This academic year, Northwestern Pi Theta focused on three key activities: peer advising for mechanical engineering (ME) students, participation in Northwestern’s ME advisory board, and hosting a career roundtable. These activities helped members of Pi Theta become engaged with the ME community, including other students, faculty and professions in the Chicagoland area.
Pi Theta worked closely with the Mechanical Engineering department to host at least one peer advising session per week, starting October 20, 2017 and continuing through March 8, 2018. The advising sessions were open to all students in the ME department as well as undecided students. Advisors discussed course plans, career plans, study habits, and wellness strategies with attendees. Feedback from students who attended indicated that these sessions were very helpful in guiding them onto a good path, especially for first year students within the department. Students found the peer advising to be more helpful than faculty advising as members of Pi Theta were able to give advice from a student’s perspective, which was more honest and straightforward than that of the faculty.
Members of Pi Theta were invited to sit in on advisory board meetings to provide insight about the experience of ME students at Northwestern, to comment on strengths of the program and to indicate areas of improvement. Pi Theta pushed for improving faculty advising, specifically to make advising more accessible and transparent. Movements to a new advising system helped alleviate some of the accessibility issues with advising.
Pi Theta, along with Northwestern’s Biomedical Engineering Honor Society (BEHS), hosted a career roundtable on January 31st, 2018. Originally, both organizations planned to host events separately; however, Pi Theta and BEHS decided to combine efforts to have a single, focused event. The roundtable focused on the healthcare industry and included companies such as DaVita, Ohmx, Tempus and the research laboratory Shirley Ryan Ability Labs. Representatives from these companies and organizations discussed the work they do and the career path that lead them to their jobs today. About 15 members of Pi Theta attended, with a total of 42 people in attendance. From feedback collected, students, especially within ME, thought the event exposed them to an industry they never really considered and found new opportunities to explore. The representatives who attended enjoyed talking with students and hoped to see many of them join their companies in the future.