The Daily Illini

A look inside the engineering fraternities on campus

By Julie Kang, Staff Writer

Going to one of the best engineering schools in the country can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. Luckily, being part of an engineering fraternity can help students find fellow engineers that have similar interests. Members can support each other’s academic and social lives and get more opportunities in the workforce.

There are currently three engineering fraternities on campus: Sigma Phi Delta, Triangle and Theta Tau Kappa. Each fraternity offers a unique experience for its members.

Jonathan Wexler, junior in Engineering and president of Sigma Phi Delta, said he was unfamiliar with how Greek life worked. He was introduced to Sigma Phi Delta through a friend and initially attended rush events with little interest.

“I got a bid, but I didn’t really know what a bid was; I didn’t know how that whole system worked,” Wexler said. “If I were to do it again, I probably would have looked around more, but I still think I would have ended up in Sigma Phi Delta.”

One of the primary duties of a fraternity president is overseeing all of the officers and making sure the organization functions smoothly. Wexler added that communicating with alumni is another important role of the president. Because there is a large alumni base and they own the fraternity house, the president has to act as the intermediary between alumni and students.

Networking is also a large part of engineering Greek life. President of Triangle Fraternity Vibhu Vanjari, senior in Engineering and LAS, shared that being in the fraternity gave him a large network of engineers to help him in the professional field. He got his first engineering job as a sophomore after talking to a graduating senior in the fraternity. The part-time job in a semiconductor fabrication lab on campus led to internships and full-time offers later on. He even traveled to Dallas to work for Texas Instruments.

Vanjari mentioned that many members of Triangle have worked or are currently working for Amazon. One brother who got a job at the company relayed the information and recommended people.

“It’s like a chain reaction of networking,” Vanjari said, laughing. “Now everyone just keeps going to Amazon.”

Other executive positions have important responsibilities as well. Kanchi Shah, junior in Engineering, explained that her role as one of the professional chairs of Theta Tau Kappa is to guide the fraternity through all professional events including development workshops and career fairs. She also ensures that members have access to internship or job opportunities when needed.

Shah went on to say that the top characteristics she looks for in potential members are ambition and energy. She loves seeing passionate students who are well-rounded and easy to talk to.

Engineering fraternities also give back to local and national organizations through philanthropy events and volunteering. Donating to the American Cancer Society and volunteering at elementary schools in the area are some of the ways that the fraternities serve the community.

However, recent incidents involving Greek life both on and off campus have made fraternities more cautious. As it is a sensitive period for Greek life in general, members are working to keep their environments as safe and healthy as possible.

“I want to keep us running,” Wexler said. “This semester we’re doing a lot more with risk management because, as a fraternity, that is sort of what we need to work on.”

Triangle is also working to combat issues like these.

“After all the stigma with fraternities, we’ve been pushing our professional side even more,” Vanjari stated.

Even with the difficulties of maintaining a positive image for fraternities, members are still facing successes in their respective fields. They are striving to achieve high GPAs, be active on campus and find high-quality jobs. The support that members provide for each other helps them through the hardships.

Engineering fraternities are not only about getting jobs and attending academic events, however. Shah said that the people and community of Theta Tau Kappa are some of the biggest benefits of being in the fraternity.

“It’s so nice to come home after a stressful day and see them,” Shah said. “My best friends are also my role models, and I know that no matter what situation I’m in, I know I have people I can go to.”

sekang2@readtechno.com

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