Carnegie Mellon's Eta Kappa Nu Receives Outstanding Chapter Award


January 21, 2010

Carnegie Mellon's Sigma chapter of the Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society earned the organization's Outstanding Chapter Award for academic year 2008-2009. The award is a mark of distinction for a college chapter, which is judged according to its activities involving service to others. All chapters with exemplary programs can win, and the Sigma chapter joins 21 other chapters from colleges and universities across the country in receiving the award.

Led by the elected HKN officers and the advisory team of George Westinghouse Professor of ECE David Casasent and Director of Alumni and Student Relations Susan Farrington, the Sigma chapter celebrated unprecedented success during the 2008-2009 academic year. The chapter, which totaled nearly 100 members in that time, strategically expanded established programs in order to increase member involvement in chapter activities and provide vital services to the ECE community. For example, the chapter revamped its mentoring program, accessible to all ECE students, by inviting upperclassmen into entry-level classes and allowing them to share experiences they'd had in related subsequent courses. The Sigma chapter also made its traditional Snack Nights more networking-oriented, and combined the event with a weekly social organized by Carnegie Mellon's IEEE chapter to more closely connect student organizations in the ECE Department. The chapter also continued successful programs, like leading tours for parents and prospective students, offering a capstone design review and rounds of ECE Jeopardy during the annual ECE Day celebration, collaborating with industry to sponsor an award at Carnegie Mellon's Meeting of the Minds competition, and presenting the Eta Kappa Nu Excellence in Teaching Award at commencement.

The chapter also embarked upon new initiatives in 2008-2009, the most noteworthy of which was hosting the HKN National Conference in November 2008. Planning for the event began in the spring of 2008, and involved a total of more than 740 person-hours to pull off. To organize a successful conference, chapter members defined a format for the event, designed the content, pursued sponsorships with corporations and sought out speakers. In the end, the group procured speakers, panelists and presenters that examined leadership and the innovation process from diverse perspectives. In addition to providing professional development opportunities for both Sigma chapter members and Eta Kappa Nus from across the country, the conference also allowed Carnegie Mellon's ECE department to shine for all those in attendance.

"2008-2009 was a banner academic year for the ECE honor society," said Farrington, the Sigma chapter's professional adviser. "It was also the culmination of focused efforts by successive teams of HKN student officers to redefine the organization's goals and emphasize leadership, service and professional development. It has been exciting to watch the Sigma chapter progress during the past few years, and we're very proud of their efforts and achievements."

T.E. Schlesinger, ECE professor and department head, will accept the Outstanding Chapter Award on behalf of the Sigma chapter at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association Annual Meeting March 15 in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

For more on Carnegie Mellon's Eta Kappa Nu chapter, visit

Carnegie Mellon’s HKN chapter officers for 2008-2009 (l-r): Brad Miller, Ziv Wolkowiki, Sarah Hsieh and Frank Palermo.