About the HKN Association

The Eta Kappa Nu Association is the International Honor Society for Electrical and Computer Engineers. There are approximately 200 chapters and 175,000 members in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Members are elected primarily from the junior and senior classes of accredited undergraduate programs. However, graduate students and distinguished professional engineers are also eligible. Eligibility depends on indicators that a candidate will be or is a success in their professional career. These indicators include evidence of scholarship, personal character, useful voluntary services, and distinguished accomplishments. For undergraduate students eligibility depends largely on their records established during the first two or three years in college.


Eta Kappa Nu has a broader purpose than merely to award scholastic distinction. Another aim is to assist its members throughout their lives in becoming better professionals and citizens. Members are to be a constructive force, helping members and non-members to improve the standards of the profession, the courses of instruction, and the institutions where a chapter is established in general. Chapter carries out these ideals in the manner best fitted to its individual needs and opportunities. An international organization that is elected by the chapters exercises general supervision and correlates the efforts of these groups. The "Bridge", the society's international quarterly magazine, keeps the members informed of activities and provides contact between graduates and undergraduates.


In addition to membership Eta Kappa Nu offers several award which encourage and give recognition to high scholarship and other significant achievements. The Outstanding Electrical Engineering Senior is awarded to the outstanding electrical engineering senior in the United States. The award includes a certificate, a monetary gift, and a trip to Disneyland for an award dinner in the recipient's honor.

  • The Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer has been awarded to many now famous people. An award dinner is held in the recipient's honor either in New York or Philadelphia. The recipient's name is engraved on a large Award Bowl that is kept on display at IEEE Headquarters in New York, and is presented a smaller version of the bowl.

  • The Outstanding Professor Award is given in recognition to an outstanding young electrical engineering professor. An award dinner is held at the recipient's university.

  • Eminent Membership is awarded to distinguished people in the electrical engineering profession. As world renowned as these people are they all considered it a unique privilege to be so specially honored by Eta Kappa Nu.

  • Outstanding Chapter is awarded to undergraduate chapters which have enhanced the prestige of electrical engineering through their campus and other activities. A silver plaque is awarded to the chapter presenting the best record of scholarship and activities.

A Brief History

The founder of Eta Kappa Nu, Maurice L. Carr, brought his idea for a collegiate society of electrical engineering students to his friend Charles E. Armstrong during the fall of 1904. The first formal meeting was held on September 23, 1904 between Carr and Armstrong. Following the original meeting Carr and Armstrong assembled Milton K. Akers, Edmund B. Wheeler, and Ralph E. Bowser. On the morning of September 25, 1904 Carr and Armstrong prepared written plans for the society. That afternoon the five met under a large cottonwood tree. The tree has since become an emblem of the early history of the organization. During the following five weeks a name and an emblem were chosen, policies of membership were defined, and membership qualifications and an induction ritual were drafted. At this time Fred D. Smith, Frank R. Winders, and William T. Burnett joined the original five. On October 28, 1904, at the home of Frank Winders, the first induction meeting was held. Carl K. Brydges and Hibbard S. Greene had by this time consented to participate and it is fairly well established that Otto Wiemer was the first Formal initiate. Later the organization received recognition from the university administration and meetings were then held in a room in the E.E. building.

Carr's original idea was for a society of employment, but within a few years it was decided that Eta Kappa Nu should be an E.E. honor Society with scholarship as one of its chief qualifications. The original ten decided that invitation to membership should depend primarily upon a collective favorable judgment of individual candidates and on the likelihood of their becoming successful in the engineering field. The founders were looking for future leaders of the profession. The original society was local, however when the chapter assembled its first convention prior to the 1905 graduation exercises national officers were elected from the departing class.

Groups of E.E. students in Midwestern schools soon heard of the society and petitioned for charters. The first new chapter was installed at Purdue University in 1906. However, due to technicalities the president of Purdue required that the charter be withdrawn. Those already inducted continued as members of Eta Chapter. In 1913 the Purdue E.E. administration requested a charter for a chapter on its campus and Beta was reinstated. Gamma Chapter was installed at Ohio State University in 1907. In 1909 Delta Chapter was installed at Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) and Epsilon was installed at Pennsylvania State College. Chapters at Case School of Applied Science (now Case Institute of Technology) and at University of Wisconsin were added in 1910. By then the national characteristics of Eta Kappa Nu were established. In the first ten years ten chapters were established. In the first fifty years fifty-six chapters were installed. In 1983 there were approximately 200 chapters including branches of Eta in Five foreign countries and numerous alumni chapters in various cities and corporations. Eta Kappa Nu continues to grow and to influence the progress of the electrical engineering profession through its high ideals about scholarship, character, and service.