Facts about the Association

The Association

The Association was incorporated under the laws of Tennessee on December 1, 1947. The official name of the society is the Tau Beta Pi Association, Incorporated. It is a not-for-profit, educational organization with no stock- issuing power. Its assets are held in its corporate name or in trust. The Association is classified under Section 501 (c) (3) (not private) of the United Stated Internal Revenue Code, and gifts and bequests to it are tax deductible.

The Association of College Honor Societies

Tau Beta Pi is a founding member of the Association of College Honor Societies, an association member of the American Society for Engineering Education, as associate member of the American Association of Engineering Societies, and an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Junior Engineering Technical Society.

The Key

The official badge of the Association is a watch key in the form of the bent of a trestle, engraved on the reverse side with the member's name, chapter, and class. The colors of the Association are seal brown and white. the official quarterly magazine is THE BENT of Tau Beta Pi. The name of the Association, its badge, and the title of its magazine are registered in the United States Patent Office.

The word key describes the insignia of many organizations. It comes from the fact that it was first designed to, in the late eighteenth century, to include a pocketwatch winding feature, hence key. The bottom stem, added to the basic insignia, had a tapered square hole fitting the common sizes of watch-winding shafts. The top stem and ring were added so that the key could be worn as a pendant from a chain, rather than as a pin or badge, thus easily used to wind watches. The the "stem-winder" watch was introduced in the late nineteenth century, it replaced the key-winder. But the insignia key remained, although with a vestigal hole now round for manufacturing ease and economy.

The National Headquarters

The national headquarters of Tau Beta Pi are located on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, and have been there since R. C. Matthews went to the University as a young instructor in 1907. R. C. Matthews served as Tau Beta Pi's Secretary from 1905-1912 and as Secretary-Treasurer from 1912 until his retirement in 1947. Before he assumed office in 1905, the headquarters offices had been moved to wherever the offices of the Secretary were located. Professor Matthew's long service to Tau Beta Pi and the University of Tennessee has made the university the permanent headquarters of the Association. In 1963, the headquarters staff moved into a suite of offices designed specifically for Tau Beta Pi in the then-new Nathan W. Dougherty Engineering Building.