home :: departments :: did you know?

Did You Know?

Lehigh and Tau Beta Pi

Tau Beta Pi, the international engineering honor society, was founded at Lehigh in 1885 and now has more than half a million members. In October 2010, Lehigh is hosting the society’s annual convention and 125th anniversary celebration. The histories of the two institutions are intertwined, as the following examples show:

TBP founder Edward Williams Jr. earned degrees in chemistry and mining engineering from Lehigh and joined Lehigh’s faculty in 1881. To recognize technologically minded students, as Phi Beta Kappa honors candidates in the arts and sciences, he organized Tau Beta Pi and wrote its constitution.
National expansion: In 1892, mechanical engineering professor Lester Breckenridge left Lehigh for the University of Michigan, where he established the second TBP chapter. In 1893, Lehigh professor John Flather joined the faculty at Purdue University and established the third chapter.
The Bent, Tau Beta Pi’s journal of record, was established in 1905. The magazine’s first issues were produced by Harry R. Lee, Claude Hagy, Stewart J. Cort and Homer Hendricks of Lehigh’s Class of 1906.
Since 1895, every Lehigh president, from Thomas M. Drown to Alice P. Gast, has been a member of Tau Beta Pi. And since Lehigh established college deanships in 1936, each leader of the engineering college has been a Tau Beta as well.
Some of Lehigh’s most well-known and influential alumni, including Lee Iacocca, Edward G. Uhl and W. Beall Fowler, have been Tau Betas.
The “Bent” — the official symbol of Tau Beta Pi — was installed in front of Williams Hall (named for founder Edward) in 1885. This year, it is being moved to a more visible site in front of Packard Lab, home of Lehigh’s engineering college.

Heritage Initiative

The Lehigh Engineering Heritage Initiative is a community supported project that recognizes the accomplishments that reflect Lehigh’s undeniable influence on the field of engineering.