Virginia Delta Xi

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904

Charter Date   April 30, 1977

Chapter No.   111

Advisor   Dr. Gavin Garner

Chapter Status

Annual Chapter Reports

Virginia Delta Xi

In the fall of 1976 professor Leroy Fletcher, chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Department, recognized the need for a Mechanical Engineering Honor Fraternity. Under his supervision the eligible students prepared a petition to the National Council for a chapter of Pi Tau Sigma at the University of Virginia.

In the spring of 1977 this petition was approved and ratified by the other chapters. On April 30, 1977 the chapter was formally installed. Present at this installation were National President Edward Jerger, Vice President Joseph Gartner and Secretary-Treasurer Hudy Hewitt Jr. The installation ceremony was then followed by a banquet for the new members, the national officers, and members of the faculty already in Pi Tau Sigma.


ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORTS

2019-2020 Emily H. Davenport; President 

The Virginia Delta Xi chapter held two initiation ceremonies this academic year; one at the end of the Fall semester and one held virtually mid-Spring semester due to the coronavirus.   A total of four fourth-year and 13 third-year mechanical engineers were initiated at the Fall and Spring ceremonies respectively.  Our first major event of the year took place in early September, and was our annual Internship Panel to educate our peers about internship opportunities available to them. Students, both in Pi Tau Sigma and outside of it, prepared talks and answered questions about their internship experiences from the summer for a room full of engaged underclassmen. The event helped students consider what kind of professional opportunities they might apply for going forward. A volunteer activity our members participated in throughout the Fall and Spring semesters was tutoring of mechanical engineering students.  Additionally, our chapter deepened our engagement with the administration of the Mechanical Engineering Department by arranging to give Department-specific tours to prospective high school students and their families.  Dozens of these tours were conducted by PTS members throughout the year, and the responsibility of maintaining this activity was added to the duties of the chapter’s Outreach chair.  Our members love this activity as an opportunity to encourage students to pursue Mechanical Engineering and share how impactful the Department has been in our lives. 

Unfortunately, due to a delay in receiving the eligible students for membership, our chapter had not inducted new third year members prior to the Convention at RIT.  Our chapter always chooses to send a third year student so they may bring back the knowledge gained, and use their new ideas to help shape our chapter the following year. 

Every year, our chapter facilitates the Pi Tau Sigma Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award.  The award is normally presented by the President of PTS on the behalf of all fourth-year mechanical engineers at the Department’s annual awards banquet in April; however, due to the coronavirus pandemic the ceremony did not happen this year.  The award was virtually voted on and presented to Professor Gavin Garner, in recognition of his “contributions to students, the Mechanical Engineering Department, and the University.” Professor Garner, also our chapter’s advisor, deservingly won the award for his unwavering dedication to students and their learning.  

In a virtual chapter meeting held in the Spring, we placed an emphasis on gathering together the newly initiated third years and graduating fourth years to transition the organization into a productive new academic year.  We elected an incoming executive board, amended our chapter’s Constitution to better reflect the current chapter goals and new national requirements, and congratulated fourth years on all they have accomplished during their tenure at UVA.  Despite the odd conclusion of this academic year, I am confident the new Exec Board will continue to improve the experience of Mechanical Engineering students at UVA, and I have no doubt that our graduating members will make an impact on our prestigious profession as they begin their post-university careers.  

2018-2019 Sarah Bonde, President 

The Virginia Delta Xi chapter held one initiation this academic year at the start of 2018 Fall Semester. A total of 16 bright mechanical engineers, including 13 third-years and 3 fourth-years, were initiated at the ceremony. However, our first major event took place prior to initiation, and was an internship review, hosted in late August, to educate our peers about opportunities available to them professionally. Students, both in Pi Tau Sigma and outside of it, prepared talks about their internship experiences from the summer for a room full of their mechanical engineering peers. The event helped third-years consider what kind of internships they might want to apply for, and provided a chance for fourth-years to reflect on their experiences and consider what kind of jobs they may want moving forward. Another major event of the year occurred Spring semester, in which we had a table at the Alpha Omega Epsilon’s Philanthropy event, Ladies in the Lab. This event brought grade-school aged girls to our university to learn about opportunities available for them in STEM through hands-on activities run by the various engineering organizations. The PTS table represented the Mechanical Engineering Department and helped girls build bottle rocket cars to test the principles of physics to see who could make theirs go the furthest when blown up with air and water. The event was a great success, and our members enjoyed getting to share their love of engineering with potential future students.

Third-year member Emily Davenport attended the PTS convention in Colorado this past year. Our chapter always chooses to send a third-year student so they may bring their knowledge gained back to UVA, and use their new ideas to help shape our chapter the following year. Emily will be serving as the President of our chapter in 2019-2020.

Every year, our chapter facilitates the Pi Tau Sigma Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award. All fourth-year mechanical engineers and third-year PTS members were invited to nominate “a mechanical engineering faculty member that you believe deserves to be recognized for their contributions to students, the Mechanical Engineering Department, and the University.” Professor Natasha Smith deservingly won the award this year for her unwavering dedication to students, no matter how big or small their questions. PTS was proud to honor her with this award at the annual Department banquet.

In meetings held in the spring semester, we placed emphasis on gathering feedback from the chapter at large to determine the direction of the group for future years. We saw an increased desire for more intra-chapter social events, as well as a desire for more ways to of giving back to the Mechanical Engineering Department.  The new Exec Board has already begun to plan new ideas to increase involvement and engagement within our chapter and with the Department.   

2017-2018 Christopher Arthur, President 

Our first major community service event was the Habitat for Humanity Rake-a-thon. Eight PTS members raked three Charlottesville community members’ yards to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. Our second major service event was Kid*Vention, an event focused on getting kids excited about science hosted by the Virginia Discovery Museum. At the event, PTS members managed an educational activity for young Charlottesville students. We chose to demonstrate buoyancy by having children make aluminum foil boats. In addition, many members independently volunteered at UVa’s Madison house, which coordinates volunteering in a wide variety of activities. Other activities members volunteered at include the Rise Against Hunger care package packing event, and the Engineering Open House.

Third year member Sarah Bonde attended the PTS convention in Miami. A third year student was chosen so that what they learned at the convention could be used to grow and improve our chapter in the coming year. Sarah will be our incoming president for the next academic year.

Every year, our chapter facilitates the Pi Tau Sigma Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award. All fourth year mechanical engineers were invited to nominate “a mechanical engineering faculty member that you believe deserves to be recognized for their contributions to students, the mechanical engineering department, and the university.” The award gives mechanical engineers a chance to thank a professor who has made a positive impact. Professor Rita Schnipke was deservingly chosen to receive the award, which was presented at the Mechanical Engineering Department Awards Dinner in April.

At the end of spring semester, a meeting was held to get input from members about the future directions for our chapter. Through discussion and surveys, our chapter decided almost unanimously in favor of changing our organizational priorities to focus more on service to the mechanical engineering department, and less on community service. For instance, hosting tutoring sessions for young engineers and organizing professional development events. In addition, we considered the pros and cons of making the induction processes require more work, but also more engaging for new initiates.

Ultimately, it will be up to next year’s leadership to shape the future of the chapter. Elections were held at the end of spring semester to fill the roles of president, membership, service, and treasurer. In addition, the chapter decided to create and fill the new position of Professional and Networking Events Chair to accomplished the aforementioned goals.