The University of San Diego’s first graduating class of engineering students — consisting of five electrical engineers in 1991 — provided a significant milestone under its founding director and engineering professor Thomas Kanneman.
Since then, the program has been on a growth spurt. Two major disciplines, industrial and systems, and mechanical engineering were added, graduated classes and achieved ABET accreditation. A unique dual-degree (BA/BS) curriculum followed and was taught by a small, but dedicated group of faculty members. Their knowledge was relayed to creative students whose ideas covered everything from robots, sustainability and interdisciplinary projects to one that expanded its impact as far away as bringing solar power to a Sudanese village.
On Saturday, USD’s engineering programs will take another significant step forward as current students and alumni — including Ali Almatrouk ’07 (EE) who is flying in from Kuwait — participate in the official USD chapter installation for Tau Beta Pi, the oldest (established 1885) and most prestigious of engineering national honor societies.
“This recognition from Tau Beta Pi is a very important milestone in the development of our distinguished engineering programs,” said USD’s Director of Engineering Programs and Electrical Engineering Professor Kathleen Kramer. “It’s an excellent fit with our USD Engineering emphasis on development of the whole person, or what I call ‘the complete engineer.’ Tau Beta Pi has a strong interest in promoting the liberal culture with schools of engineering and emphasizes both distinguished scholarship and exemplary character.”
News of the programs’ chapter acceptance was particularly pleasing for Barbara Kanneman, wife of the late Thomas Kanneman. Barbara made a generous gift to the engineering program to help pave the way for USD’s chapter and honor her husband, who came to USD in 1986 and was a Tau Beta Pi member.
“I’m just really pleased that this has finally happened,” Barbara Kanneman said. “It’s something I know that Tom always wanted to see happen at USD. He belonged to several honor societies and it was important to see the students at USD honored for their achievements.”
Kramer said the petition process to get chapter approval began in 2010 after the program met several mandatory eligibility requirements, including community service.
“Our service project this year was the FIRST Lego League Tournament at Escondido Charter High School in November,” Kramer said. “We served nearly 160 students, ages 9-13, who were discovering engineering through an engineering challenge on food safety.”
In October 2011, then-Student President Joseph Ellis and Electrical Engineering Professor and Faculty Advisor Susan Lord of a “pre-Tau Beta Pi honor society,” Tau Alpha Zeta, presented USD’s case for final approval to the Tau Beta Pi Executive Council. Mechanical Engineering major, Jessica Buckley, is the current student president.
USD’s chapter name will officially be California Alpha Epsilon.
Kramer said the initiation on Saturday features not only alumni, but also 10 seniors who were members of Tau Alpha Zeta and 12 current juniors who became eligible just this year.
“We’re happy that many of our finest alumni will be initiated Saturday and we’re looking forward to more alumni initiations in the future,” she said.
Among the alumni expected to attend Saturday’s event are: Barbara Hammack ‘94 (EE); Schaffer Grimm ‘99 (EE); Stephen Muller ’00 (EE); Stephen Reichert ’00 (EE); Dalia Tawy ’03 (EE); Samuel Stewart ’04 (EE); Yoshitaka Yano ’05 (EE); Michelle Esteban ’05 (EE); Zlatko Filipovic ’05 (EE); Ali Almatrouk ’07 (EE); Amanda Sonen ’08 (ME); Adam Purdy ‘08 (ISYE); Shawn Lyons ’08 (EE); Omar Damluji ’08 (ISYE); Ramon Siswojo ’09 (ISYE); Christina Aneshansley ’09 (EE); Spencer Anderson ’09 (ME); Louis Barrios ‘09 (ME); Matthew Leigh ’10 (ME), Ashlee Enriquez ’10 (ISYE), Christopher Steward ’11 (EE), Andrew Byrne ’11 (EE) and Patrick Castagna ’11 (ME).
— Ryan T. Blystone
For more insights about USD’s Engineering Programs via students and faculty members in video form, click here.