Tau Beta Pi 100th Anniversary Celebration of the National Honor Society for Engineers

Welcome from the President Elson Liu, Tau Beta Pi, Michigan Gamma Chapter President

On behalf of the all of the officers and actives of Michigan Gamma’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, I extend a warm welcome. Tau Beta Pi is an honor society that selects its members from the top ranks of the junior and senior classes in the College of Engineer-
ing. TBP is the second-oldest collegiate honor society in the nation, and Michigan Gamma is one of the oldest and largest Tau Beta Pi chapters in the nation. We are also known and respected around the University of Michigan, and our emblem – the Bent –rendered in brass, is placed around north and central campus. Tonight, you will be presented with a unique opportunity to join us and become among the newest members in this longstanding honor society.

What does becoming a member entail? The electee packets provide the full details, but I would prefer to give you the executive summary. First, and this goes without saying, it implies that you’re at the top of your class academically. On that note, congratulations! You’ve excelled in the challenging environment the College of Engineering has presented you, and we are honored by your choice to attend this evening. But on the flip side, that means we already know you’re a hard worker capable of completing the election process!

This process is one that has been crafted to demonstrate in you our other main ideal, that of exemplary character. You will join us in service projects; you will tutor underclassmen in your strongest subjects; you will interview us, and be interviewed by us. In joining, your efforts will be a powering force behind many of the initiatives that make TBP a society worth being part of. But while it does take commitment, joining isn’t something to be afraid of. Our actives won’t call you into action in the middle of the night (well, maybe if you become an officer or project chair, they will). Very infrequently do electees suffer from nightmares in which the Bent is chasing after them.

We ask a lot of you, but I am confident you will have no problem succeeding. Oh, and like it or not, you’ll have fun and make new friends in the process. Once you successfully meet our requirements, you will be invited to our initiation ceremony, and will become the newest members and future leaders of Tau Beta Pi.


Letters from the Editors

Why the Cornerstone?

You hold in your hands at this exact moment a grand tradition within the auspices of the Michigan Gamma Chapter of Tau Beta Pi: the Tau Beta Pi Cornerstone. The Cornerstone is the official newsletter for the Michigan Gamma Chapter. As new potential electees to the Tau Beta Pi process, it’s important that you understand the significance of the Cornerstone, which serves a menagerie of purposes. The first is information. As you can see, this article opens with a very well-articulated and mesmerizing letter from this year’s Michigan Gamma Chapter President, Elson Liu.

The second purpose, of course, is entertainment. Throughout the course of the semester, there will at times be periods in a meeting in which you might not be 100% intrigued by the goings-on of parts of the agenda. For example, a detailed explanation of a change in the location of a service project that you were not planning on attending in the first place might not exactly tickle your fancy. Here comes the Cornerstone! This puppy is chalk full of articles to keep you concentrated and focused throughout the course of the meeting. For example, just take a minute to check out the article by Jeff Powers on Climatological Conditions. Incredible! Each and every week, we will keep infor-
mation that is this good flying at you.

Finally, and most significantly for many, the Cornerstone represents a service opportunity. It is very important not to underscore this point. FOR EVERY ARTICLE YOU SUBMIT TO THE CORNERSTONE, YOU WILL RECEIVE ONE (1) SERVICE HOUR. You write one article, you get one service hour. If one article is written by you, it is comparable to submitting an hour of service. To get an hour of service, you can write one article. I can’t think of any more ways to phrase it. For the math buffs out there, let me try it this way. 1 Article = 1 Service Hour. So write for the Cornerstone, and check us out at each and every meeting.

Steven Agacinski

Coming soon to this spot:

Electee Focus

Electee focus is a new section of the Cornerstone where we will aim to figure out just who is actually electing Tau Beta Pi this term. Not just a list of names and majors. Much more than that. We may scrape together biographies and stories of world travels. There may be candid photos. There will almost definitely be embarrassing stories. Our sources and methods are mostly confidential at this point; For now, let us refer to these sources as “spies/facebook.” We may or may not get a chance to embarrass every electee (depending on the performance of our “spies/facebook”.) New electees be warned. Actives be on the lookout. Everyone stay tuned for the Cornerstone’s new Electee Focus.


Pine Tips: Email for Power Users

Josh Bartlett

How many times have you been using Pine and had to go back to delete a word or add a clarification in the middle of a paragraph? Every time you need to it always seems to cause the lines to break really bad and put a single word or two on a line all by themselves in the middle of your paragraph doesn’t it. Well, fear no longer having to delete and add a space no longer, Pine has this functionality built right in. After you make your modifications just hit ‘^j’ (this means CTRL+j) and your paragraph will be relined correctly and the cursor will be moved to the end of the paragraph so you can continue your editing.

For those of you wondering what the heck Pine is and why you would use it since there’s webmail it’s similar to why you’d use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. First of all, Pine is significantly faster than webmail and unless you have the University’s T1 line to your computer at home the difference is quite obvious. Additionally, Pine is text only so you never have to worry about viruses. If you get an HTML e-mail with images that you want to view then fire up webmail or forward the mail to another service that has a useful interface, like gmail. So unless your work somewhere that blocks SSH port, an extremely annoying practice that should never be done by any company, pine is the way to go.

In the next installment I’ll tell you how to prevent office mates from sending out e-mails from your account without even having to log out of Pine.

What the heck are:

Climatological Conditions?

Jeff Powers

If you found yourself drenched a couple weekends ago at the Michigan football game, you may have heard the announcer tell you that the game was delayed for “climatological conditions.”

Frankly, I was pretty confused when informed of this. Fourth grade taught me that there was a difference between climate and weather. Climate was supposedly the long-term average weather conditions, which take place over say, ten-thousand years. Conversely, weather was supposed to be the stuff that comes out of the sky on a daily basis. Hence you can imagine my disbelief when we were told the climatological delay was only going to stop football for 40 minutes. Wow! I mean, I’ve heard about rapid climate changes in the movies. Like when climatologist Dennis Quaid tries to save the world from an imminent ice age in the Day After Tomorrow. But to experience a rapid climate shift in the first quarter of a Michigan football game… phenomenal!

A rain age is upon us! In fact, as I write this article, it is raining outside. I checked the news and there was no apparent concern about this new climate shift. None of my friends seemed to know about the upcoming floods and — likely — realization of the 1995 film “Waterworld” in your own neighborhood.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to stock up on life rafts and personal flotation devices. You just never know how long this climate shift will take to blow over. Maybe 40 minutes, or maybe ten-thousand years. Climatological conditions sure are unpredictable. But despite the difficulty, I have made a concerted effort to keep you guys up to date on the climate, in this week’s installment of:


Harvard Summer REU

Mark Shevin

I’d like to tell you about an excellent opportunity I had this summer to work at Harvard University. The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsors a nation-wide program by the name of Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). I first saw a poster for a program at Washington State University. I look at their website and found a link to the main NSF webpage where I discovered that the REU program is hosted at many universities. They conveniently sponsor programs in materials engineering through the Materials Research Science Engineering Center(s) (MRSEC). I saw that Harvard and Princeton both offered programs. I applied to both around late February and was offered a spot in both programs. I went with Harvard because I had more say in my potential project and it was right next to Boston. Harvard paid $300 of my roundtrip airfare out to Boston Logan. The total stipend for the summer was $3800 and housing was provided at a graduate student dorm in the shadow of Harvard Law School. My project was the design of a novel biomaterial for use in dentistry. I used short glass fibers to reinforce an antibacterial polymer for use in fillings, repairing chipped teeth, and removable dentures. I worked at the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences in a materials science group as well as at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (Department of Restorative Dentistry). My project advisor for the 10 weeks REU program was a post-doc in a mechanical engineering. One of the best aspects of the REU program was the ability to determine how I wanted to proceed with research. I was treated as an equal by my advisor and it helped ideas flow more freely. Over the next 10 weeks I wrote a review article for Biomaterials on the mechanical testing as well as a smaller article on how our group’s fiber-reinforced composite biomaterial.

I chose an REU program over a traditional engineering internship because I wanted to experience the life of a graduate student. Weekends in Boston and getting to know the ~60 other students in the program were other strong reasons. Harvard is probably the only place where drunk girls will tell you about 72 dimensional space and stem cells. If you can effectively work independently, interested in going to graduate school, or just looking for a major university to pay for an excellent summer experience I recommend a REU to you.

General REU program link:


Harvard REU:Capture











Your Summer if You Were Jeff Powers

Jeff Powers

After a little trip to Italy (future Cornerstone guide to Italian restaurants coming soon…), I spent my entire summer working in midtown Manhattan, NYC. I was living across from Macy’s, the site of the Macy’s Day Parade, and you couldn’t beat the location. Every morning, I would walk to work. I walked about the distance from say, West Quad to East Hall, to my office on the 21st floor of a building on the corner of 38th St and 8th Ave.

I was working with a couple of Tau Bates, Vikas Reddy (Vice President last term), and Matt Pizzimenti, for a small company named Xanga.com. They really are a small company (less than 20 employees,) but they have a huge user base (about 30M).

New York is a crazy hectic place to live. Especially when you work and live about 4 blocks from Times Square. And Xanga fits fairly well, with an accelerated product release schedule. See, Xanga does weblogs (online journals), and they’re racing to compete with, among others, the now Fox-owned behemoth Myspace.com.

But despite the scale of things, the small-company atmosphere really shines through. It wasn’t uncommon to find myself sitting at a table with Xanga’s CEO and/or CTO, discussing ideas and arguing over design and architecture for my project. And that’s the other thing — Matt and I were solely responsible for the design, development, and launch of an entirely new subsystem at Xanga called “Boost”. Boost is now set to be integrated into Xanga’s front page.

We spent many late late nights in the Xanga office. Part of that is because we also spent many late mornings sleeping in, but I really did put in some ridiculous hours at times, learning about how to make ridiculously complicated database queries and teaching myself everything I forgot from EECS 401 about probability.

If you ever get the chance, spend some time in New York City. The late-night food options beat even Ann Arbor! Korean barbeques are open all night. There are a plethora of diners. And oddly, most places that sell hot dogs also make it a point to be open all night. The guys at Xanga love this obnoxious place called Crif dogs, which I do recommend, provided you have also just finished sampling a few of the nearby bars. And where else can you find a strange bar called Fat Cat that features Shuffle board, Chess, Pool, and Ping-pong?


TBP 100th Anniversary

Elson Liu

On April 7-9, 2006, the Michigan Gamma chapter of Tau Beta Pi celebrated its 100 th anniversary with a weekend that featured the homecoming of notable Michigan alumni. The anniversary weekend began on Friday, April 7, with a pub-
lic lecture by Nobel laureate Samuel C. C. Ting, MI G ’59.

Ting, currently the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gave an inspiring lecture titled “Encounter with 20 th Century Physics,” which featured his reflections on his engineering education and his subsequent career as a physicist. Ting shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics with Burton Richter for the discovery of the J/psi particle. Following the address, the chapter hosted a welcoming reception for returning alumni and current members.

The College of Engineering has seen many changes since the establishment of the Michigan Gamma Chapter of Tau Beta Pi on June 14, 1906. On Saturday, April 8, alumni were invited to participate in tours of the engineering campus of the University of Michigan, including the newly completed Computer Science and Engineering building. After the tours, the alumni were invited to attend the initiation of the newest members of the Michigan Gamma chapter. The initiation team was Jack Li, MI G ’06; Ahmir Rashid, MI G ’05; Brad Dobbie, MI G ’07; Vikas Reddy, MI G ’06; Semant Jain, MI G ’07; Ayesha Soares, MI G ’06; Jessica TerBush, MI G ’03; Jeff Hamel, MI G ’07; Bryan Toth, MI G ’04; and Pritpaul Mahal, MI G ’07. Forty-seven undergraduates and sixteen graduate students were inducted into Michigan Gamma.

Following the initiation members, alumni and guests were invited to attend a banquet and celebrate the first century of the Michigan Gamma chapter of Tau Beta Pi. Raymond Wilcox, MI G ’68, President & Chief Executive Officer of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company; and Christopher Shank, Director of Strategic Investments of NASA, delivered a few remarks before dinner. The meal was followed by remarks by Michael Davis, Vice President, Military Support Programs, Lockheed Martin; and Usama Fayyad, MI G ’84, Chief Data Officer & Senior Vice President of Yahoo!. The chapter presented awards and gifts to the most outstanding electee, the most outstanding electee team, distinguished actives, the most outstanding active, and the invited speakers. Dr. John Luchini, MI G ’71, Engineering Futures facilitator and former Executive Councillor (1994-1998), presented the chapter with a plaque from headquarters to commemorate the first centennial of Michigan Gamma. The banquet closed with performances of the Tau Beta Pi yell by the chapter officers, then the alumni, and finally the newly-elected members of Michigan Gamma.

The final event of Michigan Gamma’s 100 th anniversary celebration was a farewell brunch on Sunday, April 9. Dr. John Norton, MI G ’06, delivered some remarks about the dual role of success and failure in engineering.



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