The University of Kentucky College of Engineering hosted this year’s national Tau Beta Pi convention, September 27-29 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Lexington. Tau Beta Pi is the national engineering honor society and over 400 student delegates attended the convention. The event featured a formal initiation of new members, a corporate and graduate school recruiting fair and numerous committee meetings over the three days.
On Saturday, September 29, convention attendees were shuttled to the UK campus, where they ate lunch in the Teague Courtyard of the Engineering Quadrangle. Students interested in seeing labs operated by graduate students embarked on one of several tours while on campus.
“This is a great opportunity to market our graduate programs to outstanding students from across the U.S.,” remarked Eric Grulke, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, prior to the convention.
UK’s Tau Beta Pi chapter is led by Adrianne Shearer, president, and this year’s convention chair was Brandon Isaac.
Brandon Isaac (pictured, far left)
Brandon Isaac’s academic interests are so diverse, he has changed majors twice and will likely pursue a Ph.D. in something other than his current major, chemical engineering.
“I started in computer engineering, then switched to electrical engineering, added a pre-med track and eventually switched to chemical engineering with an eye toward chemistry applications for biomedical engineering. These days, I’m mainly interested in materials science and chemical physics…but I’ll look at researching those areas in graduate school,” he grins.
Brandon, who will graduate this spring, credits his time on the UK Solar Car Team as the most influential part of his time at UK. Working alongside students who have gone on to found companies and pursue Ph.Ds. at prestigious universities lifted Brandon to a new level.
“When I was in high school, I was an average student, but being on the Solar Car Team really inspired me to get better,” he says.
Adrianne Shearer chose UK because of its diverse offering of engineering majors. Although she began her academic career as a mechanical engineering major, she switched to chemical engineering at the end of her freshman year. In the middle of her sophomore year, she began doing research with Gill Eminent Professor Kimberly Ward Anderson.
“I fell in love with it,” she recalls, “I felt like I was at home in chemical engineering.”
That summer, Adrianne enrolled in UK’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, where she gained more experience conducting research on cancer-related drug therapy. Interested in trying another REU program from a different perspective, Adrianne applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was accepted into this past summer’s group.
“It was an awesome experience. The lab was very diverse and filled with incredible people with whom I could share ideas and collaborate,” she says.
Adrianne is scheduled to graduate this spring, after which she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in bioengineering.
“I became interested in bioengineering while at MIT,” she explains. “I like chemical engineering, but the biology aspect intrigues me.”