Eta Kappa Nu Merger with IEEE
Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) was founded as the national honor society for electrical engineering in the United States on 28 October 1904 by Maurice L. Carr and nine other undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These founders created a lifelong membership designation for individuals who demonstrate potential for further career success and professional contributions. Membership qualifications were set related to the society ideals of scholarship, character, and attitude. The organization aims were to promote excellence in education, to assist members during their careers, and to serve the profession.
The ten founders were M. L. Carr, Charles E. Armstrong, Ralph E. Bowser, Carl K. Brydges, William T. Burnett, Hibbard S. Greene, Frank W. Winders, Edmund B. Wheeler, Milton K. Akers, and Fred D. Smith. They formed the first chapter, designated the Alpha Chapter, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and developed a national structure. M. L. Carr and E. B. Wheeler served as the first and second presidents, respectively. The Beta, Gamma, and Delta Chapters were organized at Purdue University during 1905-06, Ohio State University on 5 January 1907, and Illinois Institute of Technology on 24 May 1909, respectively. (While the Beta Chapter was the second operational chapter of HKN, it did not receive approval from the Purdue University administration until 1913 for an official charter date of 15 March 1913.) As of 2009, the organization had more than 200 student chapters in electrical and computer engineering programs and had inducted about 200,000 members as students or as professionals.
Eta Kappa Nu has had a close relationship with the AIEE and IRE and then the IEEE. HKN student chapters and IEEE student branches organized many joint service activities and prominent electrical and computer engineers were often involved in both HKN and these professional organizations. Also, the cooperation included joint award and recognition ceremonies. This close relationship was extended in 2010 in which HKN became an organizational unit and the official honor society of IEEE.
On 14 February 2009, Ea Kappa Nu signed a merger agreement with IEEE. The merger, which went into legal effect on 1 September 2010, made HKN the official honor society of IEEE, recognizing scholarship and academic excellence and identifying student leaders, young professionals and eminent scholars in the IEEE’s technical fields of interest. The agreement was signed by Bruce Eisenstein, President of HKN; Richard Gowen, President of the IEEE Foundation; and John Vig, IEEE President and CEO, during the IEEE meeting series in Puerto Rico, at a ceremony attended by more than 200 members of IEEE and Eta Kappa Nu. A restricted endowment was created in the IEEE Foundation to support HKN’s educational, societal, and recognition activities. In addition to holding HKN’s current assets, the new endowment received an initial donation of US$1.2M from IEEE.
The formal merger of Eta Kappa Nu into the IEEE organization was approved by the HKN Board of Directors, the HKN chapters, the IEEE Board of Directors, the IEEE Assembly (representing the members of the IEEE), and the IEEE Foundation. As a result of the merger, Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) became IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN), the honor society became an organizational unit of IEEE within the Educational Activities Board (EAB), and the governing body changed from the HKN Board of Directors to the IEEE-HKN Board of Governors. The HKN student chapters remained distinct at their host institutions. The HKN awards program and THE BRIDGE magazine, switching to an all-electronic IEEE publication, continued as signature activities under the the IEEE-HKN Board of Governors. The headquarters moved from Chicago, Illinois to the IEEE offices in Piscataway, NJ.
The honor society emphasis on ideals of scholarship, character, and attitude and the distinctive symbols and general process for member election remained the same. Any person inducted before or after the merger may use the designation “Eta Kappa Nu,” “HKN,” “IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu,” or “IEEE-HKN” followed by the year of their induction. The new IEEE-HKN began chartering chapters outside of Regions 1-5 and the membership eligibility expanded to IEEE fields of interest.
The Transition and Beyond
During the years following the merger, the IEEE-Board of Governors gave special attention to integrating the organization into the IEEE structure and to engaging HKN alumni in its activities. An annual Founders Day (a celebration of HKN and service) and an annual student conference were emphasized as signature activities along with student and career recognitions, chapter support, the awards program, and THE BRIDGE magazine. The first chapters outside of Regions 1-5 were chartered in 2012 at the University of Hong Kong and Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. As of 2018, a total of 15 new chapters have been a chartered since the merger, many inactive chapters reinstated, and THE BRIDGE magazine won APEX awards of excellence for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Chapters were encouraged to have local Founders Day events each October 28th to promote Eta Kappa Nu and to engage in service activities. A social media presence was added with a Facebook page and a LinkedIn page.
IEEE-HKN continued its awards program. The Outstanding Young Professional Award, the C. Holmes MacDonald Outstanding Teaching Award, the Vladimir Karapetoff Award, and the Distinguished Service Awards were presented as the IEEE EAB Awards ceremonies. The Outstanding Chapter Awards and the Zerby-Koerner Outstanding Student Award continued to be presented at the annual meeting of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEHDA).
The early leadership of IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu is shown in the table below. Fern Katronetsky served as the Director of IEEE-HKN from 2010-2012; Nancy M. Ostin became Director in 2012. Steve E. Watkins became the volunteer Editor-in Chief of THE BRIDGE magazine and served 2013-2017.
|Term||President||Affiliation while President||Chapter of Induction|
|2008-2010||Bruce A. Eisenstein||Drexel University|
|2011-2012||Stephen M. Goodnick||Arizona State University||Pi|
|2013-2014||John A. Orr||Worcester Plytechnic University||Alpha|
|2015||Evelyn H. Hirt||DoE Pacific Northwest Nat’l Lab||Beta Sigma|
|2016||S. K. Ramesh||California State University, Northridge||Lambda Beta|
|2017||Timothy P. Kurzweg||Drexel University||Epsilon|
|2018||Steve E. Watkins||Missouri University of S&T||Gamma Theta ‘82|
|2019||Karen A. Panetta||Tufts University|
|2020||Edward A. Rezek||Northrop Grumman (retired)||Delta Zeta '75|
Many recent IEEE Presidents are members of Eta Kappa Nu; these include the following:
Jose M. F. Moura (2019 President), James A. Jefferies (2018 President), Karen Bartleson (2017 President), Barry L. Shoop (2016 President), J. Roberto de Marca (2014 President), Peter Staecker (2013 President), Gordon Day (2012 President), Moshe Kam (2011 President), Pedro Ray (2010 President), John R. Vig (2009 President), Leah H. Jamieson (2007 President), Michael R. Lightner (2006 President), Arthur W. Winston (2004 President), Bruce A. Eisenstein (2000 President), Kenneth R. Laker (1999 President), Henry L. Bachman (1987 President), Richard Gowen (1984 President), and Robert E. Larson (1982 President).
Eta Kappa Nu Page
Profiles in Engineering Leadership: Eta Kappa Nu's First Century Eminent Members - A book prepared by the IEEE History Center on behalf of Eta Kappa Nu.
IEEE-HKN: The Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society, Steve E. Watkins, IEEE Potentials, 31(4), 19-21, (2012).
Eta Kappa Nu Web Page, https://hkn.ieee.org/