Eta Kappa Nu
Initiation Ritual


Instructions to Officers
Officers of Eta Kappa Nu chapters have many responsibilities in their chapter and in behalf of the national association. One outstanding responsibility is the perpetuation of a viable student chapter. Therefore, in addition to organizing and leading service and other activities related to the chapter's and school's interest, the officers must initiate worthy candidates into its folds. The initiation procedures are extremely important to Eta Kappa Nu. For one thing, new members receive from the initiation their first and often a lasting view of Eta Kappa Nu, its aims and purposes. Their estimate of its place in their lives rests with you and the fellow members now in your chapter. If you conduct a slip shod perfunctory initiation, the new initiates, by your example, will most likely think of Eta Kappa Nu in an uninspired way, and carry out their responsibilities likewise when it becomes their turn to perform similarly. Such actions will not take long to destroy your chapter and to fill the alumni ranks with members who didn't receive the spirit nor learn the real meaning of an Eta Kappa Nu membership.
On the other hand, you have a unique opportunity to instill in these new members the true Eta Kappa Nu ideals and the zeal of its founders. With good reasons you can let them know that HKN is an outstanding honor society, known the world over for many of its activities. By your leadership you can inspire them to perform worthwhile services for fellow students, your school, and the profession. Having given a little of themselves to such worthy professional achievements, each of them will be gainers in the process. You will have carried out your responsibilities to Eta Kappa Nu properly and faithfully; and you should feel proud as a result. There is no better place to begin this desirable chain reaction than in the initiation, the first opportunity in which a new member learns of the Eta Kappa Nu ideals. The ritual, therefore, should be thoroughly planned and rehearsed as much as possible.
Initiation Procedures
From the beginning there have been three separate steps in the initiation of a worthy candidate.
They are as follows:
Selection Process - An efficient procedure must be established, with the help of the electrical engineering faculty, to obtain the names and other pertinent information about all potential Eta Kappa Nu candidates. This data should be thoroughly reviewed by designated members of the chapter and potential candidates identified. The steps that follow should be adopted to local needs and regulations; but a reasonably enthusiastic invitation procedure should be used in informing the selected potential candidates. By reasonable, it is implied that a hard sell is not desirable. On the other hand, the true purpose of Eta Kappa Nu and its many services to the electrical engineering profession, also, should not be withheld, nor should the potential values to the candidate be unidentified .
Pre-initiation Activities - The period between the tapping of a potential candidate and the initiation ceremony has been used in a variety of ways by Eta Kappa Nu chapters. It is the important period in which to test a candidate's qualifications beyond his scholarly achievements.
Because Eta Kappa Nu is an honor society, these pre-initiation chapter activities must be mature in nature and related in some way to studying the candidate's qualifications, in respect to:
Common sense and ability to use the knowledge, information and ideas he/she has acquired.
Capacity and willingness for hard work.
Congeniality and adaptability for working in harmony with all sorts of people.
Some very commendable and worthwhile service "hands-on" and creative activities have been conceived by several chapters for their potential initiates to perform prior to initiation. These activities not only provide a useful service to the school and/or community; but they truly test the character of the candidates. At the same time, they help to dispel some of the "anti-honor society feeling" that becomes prevalent periodically. They also help to advertise the value which Eta Kappa Nu contributes to the electrical engineering profession.
Initiation - The initiation ceremony is a very important function in the life of an Eta Kappa Nu member. It should be planned carefully and attended by all members of the chapter. As many faculty members and alumni as possible should be present. The initiation should reflect your chapter's personality and desires. It is not the intention of the national organization to dictate how the initiation ceremony should be performed. It is the responsibility of National, however, to insist that the initiation should be performed with dignity and sincerity in a manner that will reflect honorably on all of its members. Beyond that advice, a chapter may hold either a secret or open initiation ceremony; because the constitution permits either one. The ceremony may be a formal affair with robes or one in which normal business clothing is worn. It is your initiation, so implement it to best suit your audience; but do it in a dignified manner and with sincere enthusiasm.
It is important that all the people should speak loudly, especially Faraday who will be outside the room. It is important that everyone, especially the candidates, be able to fully hear all aspects of the ritual. Please note, historically the audience has had difficulty hearing Coulomb and Faraday.
Candidates should be arranged alphabetically in the hallway by another member (hall monitor) and given the necessary instructions such that a mix-up in certificates and pins can be avoided.
Also, this will result in signing the signature book in alphabetical order.
Concerning the room lighting:
It is suggested that several candles or small high intensity lamps be used on Wheatstone's desk (a table). If the room light switches are near the door (most are), it is suggested that Coulomb remain near the door, Sergeant ofArms fashion, to operate the lights.
If the switches are not near the door, appoint a member to operate them.
In general, the room lights are on when the candidates are standing, and off when the candidates are seated.
The following material provides an explanation of the historical significance of the names used in the ceremony, as well as the purposes of the initiation and the organization itself. Although many of the electrical engineering students will already be familiar with much of this material, their guests at the ceremony may better appreciate the significance of what is transpiring if they have an opportunity to read the "Introduction to the Initiation Ceremony of Eta Kappa Nu" that follows.
Therefore, it is suggested that chapters may wish to copy the text and distribute it to the guests as they arrive for the ceremony.
An introduction to the Initiation Ceremony of Eta Kappa Nu
Eta Kappa Nu was founded in 1904 at the University of Illinois for electrical engineering students not just to stimulate and reward scholarship but to assist and encourage its members to grow professionally throughout their entire lives. Eta Kappa Nu now has chapters in over half of all the engineering schools in the United States . Eta Kappa Nu invites into membership students in their junior year of study of electrical engineering who rank in the upper quarter of their class and senior year students who rank in the upper third of their class. History has shown that these are the students who later become leaders in the profession and in the community at large.
The Eta Kappa Nu initiation ceremony was designed to challenge the candidates to aspire to the ideals of dedicated service, a lifetime of scholarship and intellectual growth and moral character. The ceremony is usually conducted by the officers of the student chapter. In the traditional ceremony the officers use the names of historical men who first discovered the principles of electrical science which forms the basis of the modem day study of electrical engineering. The character Wheatstone used in the ceremony is taken from Sir Charles Wheatstone, an English physicist. He was born in Gloucester , England in 1802 and died in 1875. His professional life was devoted to university teaching and research and in his last years he served as a professor at Kings College in London . Although he is most noted for his invention of a special circuit which measures electrical resistance accurately and which is still used today, he also played a prominent part in the early development of electrical generators and telegraphy through underwater cables. Another character's name is Faraday. The name is taken from Michael Faraday, another English physicist who lived from 1791 to 1867. Among his many works, his most important were his experiments on the relationship between electricity and magnetism. The character called Ampere takes that name from Andre Marie Ampere, a French physicist who lived from 1775 to 1836. While he was a professor at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris he published expositions on the theory of the relationship between electric current and magnetism which became the basis of our current understanding of electromagnetic theory. The character Ohm uses the name of George Simon Ohm, a German physicist who was born in 1787 and died in 1857. He was a professor at Jesuits College at Cologne , then at the Polytechnic school of Nurnberg and finally at the University in Munich . Although he published a great deal, his only famous work was his simple theory of the relationship between electric current and the voltage across a resistance which is now known as Ohm's Law. This law is one of the basic principles of electrical science, but at the time he published the paper stating his theory the idea was so coldly received that Ohm's feelings were hurt and he resigned his post at Cologne . The name Volta was taken from the Italian physicist Allessandro Ginseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta who lived from 1745 to 1827. He was appointed to teaching posts at several universities during his career. The culmination of that career was his appointment by the emperor of Austria in 1815, as the director of the philosophical faculty at the University of Padua . Because of his renowned experiments on electricity he was invited to Paris by Napoleon to demonstrate his work on the generation of electric current. His most important invention was that of the electric battery which provided the first source of continuous electric current. Finally, the character's name Coulomb comes from the French physicist Charles Augustin De Coulomb. During his lifetime, from 1736 to 1806, he was a military engineer and later, because of poor health, an inspector of public instruction, but most of his adult life he devoted himself to scientific research on electricity. His major contribution to the understanding of electrical science was his explanation and measurement of the force between electrical charges.
The work of these men and others has given us the foundation of electrical science and our modern day electrical engineering. We use their names to honor their memory and to remind ourselves of what we owe to those few early scientific pioneers whose works touch almost every aspect of our modem way of life.
Initiation Ritual
WHEATSTONE, * * *: This association will please come to order. Members in Eta Kappa Nu and guests, I am informed that there are ... candidates for admission into this Association outside. BROTHER FARADAY, if you find these candidates qualified, bring them to the door of our Chapter. *.
Faraday retires from the room, then brings the candidates, who are waiting nearby, to the door and knocks three times. The door is left slightly open so that both the candidates on the outside and the people on the inside can hear the following conversation:
COULOMB: Who comes here?
FARADAY: I am Faraday. I have with me ... candidates for whom BROTHER WHEATSTONE sent me.
COULOMB: I am unable to admit anyone unless I know they possess the necessary qualifications. Are these candidates worthy and well qualified?
FARADAY: They are. They have been examined and I can vouch that each possesses the three necessary qualifications of a successful electrical engineer.
COULOMB: What are these qualifications?
FARADAY: First, a good supply of common sense to make use of the knowledge, information and ideas they may acquire. Second. the capacity and willingness for hard work. Third. a congenial nature and the adaptability for working in harmony with all sorts of people.
COULOMB: The qualifications are right. Await here for the orders of our President.
Closes door then quietly opens it several inches so candidates can hear what is said inside the meeting room and walks to a point in front of Wheatstone's desk, speaking loudly: BROTHER
WHEATSTONE, the knocks you have just heard were given by BROTHER FARADAY, who, according to your orders, has returned with the candidates.
WHEATSTONE: BROTHER COULOMB, do these candidates possess the necessary qualifications?
COULOMB: I know them to be well qualified.
WHEATSTONE: It is well. Let them enter.
Coulomb walks to door and opens it.
COULOMB: You may enter.
The room should be lighted at this point while the candidates are brought in. Faraday leads them into the room in single file and positions them in front of Wheatstone's desk in as many rows as necessary.
PRESIDENT: Ladies and Gentlemen, this Association will please come to order. Members in Eta Kappa Nu and guests, my associates and I are happy to conduct our initiation ritual so that the elected candidates assembled before us may become members of Eta Kappa Nu the national honor society in electrical engineering. Mr. Vice President, please present the candidates.
FARADAY: BROTHER WHEATSTONE and Members of Eta Kappa Nu, may I present the candidates. Faraday now gives the full names of the candidates. These candidates, having been elected by this chapter, name of chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, have expressed their desire to become members of this Association.
VICE-PRESIDENT: Mr. President, and Members of Eta Kappa Nu, the candidates are: full names of the candidates. These candidates, having been elected by the chapter, name of chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, have expressed their desire to become members of the Association.
WHEATSTONE:  Candidates, your records have been examined and your conduct has been observed by the members of this chapter of Eta Kappa Nu. You have been found to possess those requirements necessary for membership in this Association. We meet here together to inform you of these requirements and to instruct you in the purposes, objective and ideals of this Association. In admitting you into Eta Kappa Nu we are conferring upon you the highest honor which it is within our power to bestow. Please be seated.
Candidates sit in front row (or rows) facing Wheastone's desk. At this point the room lights are turned off, leaving only the lights on the desk of the initiating officers Every one, at this point, should be seated.
The purpose of this organization known as Eta Kappa Nu is best stated in the words of the
preamble of our constitution:
"That those persons in the profession of electrical engineering who, by their attainments in college or in practice, have manifested a deep interest and marked ability in their chosen life work, may be brought into closer union hereby mutual benefit may be derived."
WHEATSTONE: It was for that reason that Maurice L. Carr, a student at the University of Illinois , together with nine men who shared his faith in such aims founded the first chapter of Eta Kappa Nu at Urbana , Illinois , on October 28, 1904. That these purposes were valid is evidenced by the growth of Eta Kappa Nu. It now has ... chapters and ... members. The belief in the high ideals, of which you are soon to hear, as requisites for success in the profession of electrical engineering and for happiness in one's life as a whole caused the founders and succeeding officers and members of Eta Kappa Nu to exert themselves toward making this Association the important and worthwhile organization we hold it to be. Eta Kappa
Nu demands that its members possess three qualifications. BROTHER AMPERE (our
Treasurer) will speak to you about the first requirement a good supply of common sense to make use of the knowledge, information and ideas you may acquire.
AMPERE:  The first step taken in ascertaining the eligibility of persons for membership in Eta Kappa Nu is that of determining their scholastic record. Our constitution requires that candidates be in the upper fourth of their junior EE class or in the upper third of their senior EE class. Frequently, at an election the standards are raised beyond this basic level by the local chapter, as is also authorized by the Constitution.
You have proved yourselves to be more than ordinary students but grades are not a perfect test of a person's intelligence or common sense, although they are a good indication. Eta Kappa Nu searches even further into people for this quality of common sense once they have passed the first test. How do they conduct themselves in situations which are strange to them? How do they proceed to use their equipment and tools in performing their work? Do they have ingenuity? Are their ideas practical and feasible? Do they have the necessary imagination for visualizing the complex problems of electrical engineering and for seeing new solutions to those problems? You have been measured by these questions and we have concluded that you do have a good supply of common sense. But now is not the time for resting on your laurels.
That time will never come. Now is the time to improve your methods of thinking, to improve
your resourcefulness, to improve your scholastic record; for Eta Kappa Nu wishes that you
continue to add to your present good supply ofcommon sense.
WHEATSTONE: You have heard the words of BROTHER AMPERE (our Treasurer). Heed them well. The requirements for a member of Eta Kappa Nu are rigorous. They are meant not only as a test for membership, but as a guide for future conduct as well.
BROTHER OHM (our Corresponding Secretary) will tell you of the second requirement the capacity and willingness for hard work.
OHM: To make a success of any project, whether it be an honor society a college education, or a professional job requires one thing common to all hard, and occasionally disagreeable work. There lies the reason for establishing this principle as a requirement for membership in Eta Kappa Nu. Remember that no full permanent success can ever be attained by sliding along the path of least resistance. You may achieve temporary and seemingly desirable results by slovenly methods, by taking credit not quite due you, and by refusing to assume the responsibility of a task properly yours; but do not forget that deceit, slothfulness, carelessness and irresponsibility in your character are nearly always discovered.
One purpose of the informal induction and pledge duties you have performed was to determine whether you possessed the capacity for hard work.
Do not make the false assumption that the world owes you a living. On the contrary, by virtue of your superior talents and extensive training you owe it to your fellow man to aid and assist whenever the need for something exists that is within your power to give. Do not immediately complain about an uninteresting or routine job. Make the most of the materials you have at hand, and strive always to produce as creditable a product as is possible.
In Eta Kappa Nu you will be asked to share the work and responsibilities of running the organization. You will find this an opportunity to gain new experience and new confidence in yourself, an opportunity to improve your Association. Cultivate your capacity and willingness for hard work!
WHEATSTONE: BROTHER OHM (Our Corresponding Secretary) has explained the second requirement for membership in our Association. With these two is a third, equally important a congenial nature and the adaptability for working in harmony with all sorts of people. BROTHER VOLTA (Mr. Recording Secretary), will you instruct the candidates concerning this third requirement?
VOLTA : (RECORDING SECRETARY) You are, for the most part, as others see you.
The successful professionals, the ones who are credits to their alma maters and their profession, present a wholesome picture to their associates. They are well groomed and neatly attired. They are congenial, modest, dependable; they are tolerant of the ideas and practices of others; they are unselfish; they display tact in their dealings with their colleagues.
All people have these qualities to some degree; but, unfortunately, many do not cultivate them.
It is our hope and belief that you have most of them, but if you are weak or lacking in anyone of them, it is time for you, who from this induction onward will be closely watched, to effect an improvement. Perhaps you should spend more time in the company of others, perhaps you should think more carefully of how and what you speak, perhaps you should consider your fellow worker just a little more. Above all, remember you are not just "living", "you are "living with others."
WHEATSTONE: Candidates, please stand and remain standing.
The room lights are turned on at this point.
You have heard the three requirements of a successful electrical engineer. Do you promise, to the best of your ability, to utilize the knowledge, information and ideas you may possess for the advancement of society; to continue your willingness for hard work; to maintain and develop your ability to work in harmony with others and to live up to in word and in deed the principles for which Eta Kappa Nu stands?
Do you candidate's full name, promise these things? If so, please raise your right hand and answer, "I do."
WHEATSTONE repeats question for each inductee.
Now that you have signified your willingness to measure up to our three requirements, I will administer the binding oath that is required of every member of Eta Kappa Nu. The candidates remain standing. You will hold up your right hand, and repeat after me: "I solemnly promise ... that I will live up to ... in words and in deed ... the principles ... for which Eta Kappa Nu stands ... To the members now ... and to those to come after ... I bind myself ... To the faithful observance ... of these ... promises ... I give my sacred word of honor."
Candidates please be seated.
The room lights are turned off at this point.
Eta Kappa Nu expects nothing of you that you cannot in honor give to it. In no manner does it seek to take the place or function of any other society or organization. You honor Eta Kappa Nu by proving yourself worthy of the honors that other organizations have to bestow. You have been elected to membership with confidence that yours are safe hands into which to commit the direction and management of this chapter when it is left to you.
You have been elected to membership with confidence that you are and will continue to be worthy of the honor.
You are urged to continue your relations with fellow students who are not members of Eta Kappa Nu the same as you have heretofore. While your membership in Eta Kappa Nu is not to be kept secret, to boast about this mark of your achievement is unworthy of a true member of Eta Kappa Nu. Answer the inquiries of the curious in a polite and noncommittal manner. By your influence and example, lead other members of our Association. Wear the emblem of our Association with modesty, as a sign that you have passed the three basic qualifications of membership and as a reminder to yourself and to other members of the obligations imposed upon each member of Eta Kappa Nu.
But while you are not to boast of your membership, you are not to remain idle. You now have another channel for effecting better cooperation between faculty and student leaders in the work of building up our electrical engineering department, our school and also the profession.
You now have an added opportunity to develop closer friendships with outstanding electrical engineers. Above all, you have a new way in which to improve yourself.
Fulfill the obligations imposed upon you by your admission into Eta Kappa Nu: By so doing you will make yourself a better engineer and citizen.
BROTHER AMPERE (Mr. Treasurer), will you explain the coat of arms and our emblem?
Shows coat of arms and points out parts as they are mentioned.
AMPERE, displays the Caduceus: The Caduceus, wand of Mercury, who was the messenger of Jupiter, was preferred by our founder, Brother Carr, as the symbol for this Association. But an other and older profession already had selected this symbol.
Therefore, upon the honor point of the shield is placed the Caduceus as a memorial to him who organized this society, in which so many now enjoy membership. Its field is scarlet, symbolizing the zeal with which Brother Carr projected his idea.
Display Hand of Jupiter.
The mighty hand of Jupiter was selected as being symbolic of the founder chapter with a blade of lightning for each of the ten founder members. The field is blue, typifying the loyalty with which they performed their task.
Display Silver Band.
The band of silver has been charged with three cubes of magnetite to represent and thus remind you of our three great requirements.
Display Wheatstone Bridge.
The shield is crested with a Wheatstone bridge with the Association's colors of scarlet and navy blue entwined beneath.
AMPERE: Our emblem is the Wheatstone bridge. The Wheatstone bridge is an accurate precision electrical instrument, but the significant analogy which we draw from it for Eta Kappa Nu is the fact that it is in balance when it is correctly adjusted. This is what we strive for as members of Eta Kappa Nu: to lead a balanced life, a life in which scholarship, character, and personality are jointly developed. In using the Wheatstone bridge an unknown quantity can be determined when the other three elements are known. The three qualities of which we are certain in you are scholarship, character, and personality. When these three are balanced, then the unknown success is determined. Remember then when you look at the Eta Kappa Nu emblem, the Wheatstone bridge is symbolic of a balanced person.
Display the Ribbon.
In early Greece there was a philosopher, a scientist in our day, who discovered that ifhe rubbed a piece of amber with a cloth he experienced a phenomenon he could not explain. We know it as static electricity.
The Greek name of amber is electron, spelled HAEKTPON Eta Lambda Epsilon Kappa Tau Rho Omicron Nu From this word the English language derives its name electricity'. From this name Physicists and electrical engineers derive the words electron and electronic. And from this name we derive our name we use the first, the fourth and the last letters, namely, HKN EtaKappaNu
Display Entire Shield.
The raps for admission to the Chapter Room when a meeting is in session are: from the outside by the one wanting admission 2; and the acknowledgment by the doorkeeper from inside is 3; and answered by the one on the outside by 4. These are derived from the Morse code for HKN in reverse.
When you are given our emblem you will observe an odd character as the first letter of the galvaometer part" of the Wheatstone bridge. Some think it is the Greek letter "Beta" but reference will show that the "Beta" has rounded comers, right, top and bottom. Some think it is the Greek letter "Theta" but note that this letter is elliptical with a curlicue' across its middle whereas the character seen on our emblem is a parallelogram with a straight line across its middle. Actually, that character is the early Greek form of 'Eta' which was adopted by our founders after consultation with the head of the Greek language department at the University of Illinois . Today, the practice is to use the English letter 'H' for 'Eta' and therefore when abbreviating 'Eta Kappa Nu' don't use 'EKN' (which is Epsilon Kappa Nu) but HKN.
WHEATSTONE: BROTHER FARADAY (Mr. Vice President), please conduct the candidates so they may sign the membership book. Then bring them to me to receive the symbols of mcmbcrship---our emblem, the Wheatstone Bridge, and the sealed certificate of membership; also, I will officially extend to each of them the right hand of fellowship and declare them a fully inducted member of Eta Kappa Nu. Faraday conducts the candidates accordingly. Wheatstone stands nearby with the keys and certificates at hand. Upon signing the membership book the candidates go before Wheatstone, who hands them the key and certificate and shakes their hands. As the candidates sign their names, Ohm should announce their names by way of introduction to Wheatstone.
After all keys and certificates are presented, the inductees return to their places but remain standing. The room is then darkened except for the lights on the desks of the installing officers.
WHEATSTONE: By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of Chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, I declare you duly inducted members of our Association. In token of your membership I have decorated you with our emblem, the Wheatstone Bridge, and have placed in your hand a certificate which bears the seal of the Association and the signatures of the proper officers testifying to your induction into our Association.
Members of Eta Kappa Nu, remember well what has transpired here this afternoon and see that it transmitted truly to future generations of members at Chapter. BROTHER FARADAY will you take charge of the meeting so that we can greet the new members.
The room lights are again turned on.
FARADAY: We welcome you into Eta Kappa Nu. Will all members please come forward and join in greeting the new initiates. The meeting will then be adjourned.
The initiates are directed to stand as a single file of old members passes in front of them for a handshake and a word of greeting. Photographs of the initiates and the initiation team are then taken.