Mariah Lafond chose to pursue mechanical engineering because she enjoys challenges that inspire her to find creative solutions. Likewise, the Knoxville native became president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, to increase her level of engagement on campus and gain leadership experience.
“Before I became president, I was involved in our chapter by participating in committees, community service, and chapter events,” said Lafond. “Through my involvement, I saw areas where the chapter could grow even more and succeed.”
Lafond was drawn to the Tau Bet Pi’s mission of promoting academic and professional excellence and wanted to help the UT chapter progress. In turn, her participation has helped her hone skills in time management, organization, and more.
“I have further developed my communication skills through presentations, writing, and networking,” she said. “It has also been a great teamwork experience managing the executive board.”
As part of that experience, Lafond and chapter vice president Evan Newell attended the Tau Beta Pi National Convention in fall 2018.
In the meantime, Lafond and team seek to increase the UT chapter’s profile and visibility to current and future students.
“We want them to know what Tau Beta Pi is and that it is a unique opportunity to join,” she said. Tau Beta Pi membership represents the entire spectrum of engineering. It is the nation’s second-oldest honor society, founded at Lehigh University in 1885 and headquartered at UT since 1907.
Plans for stepping up Tau Beta Pi’s presence include a recently launched Instagram page, a website revamp, merchandise with the society’s logo, and holding events that all students can attend.
“One event we are planning is ‘Pie Your Professor’ on Pi Day,” said Lafond, referring to. March 14—or “3.14.” Tau Beta Pi’s plan is to raise money for a charity by charging a couple dollars for students to throw a pie at their professor.
“We also plan to keep service a priority in our organization by participating in community service events as a group, such as volunteering at the Tennessee Science Bowl and Science Olympiad,” she said. “We are planning various social and networking events amongst our chapter and with the local alumni chapter to foster the community among our members.”
Tau Beta Pi’s MindSET program also takes them into the Knoxville community once a month to promote STEM among K-12 students via hands-on activates and science presentations.