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Alumni Newsletter

Alumnus Spotlight: Robert I. Egbert

By March 1, 2021 No Comments
Robert Egbert

Gamma Theta, Missouri S&T
Former National President, National Vice President and Member of the National Board of Directors of HKN
Professor Emeritus, Missouri State University, Retired 2016

The Other Side of the Mirror:
Observations in Passing from a Student Member to a Board Member of HKN

As a junior student majoring in Electrical Engineering at the University of Missouri at Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), I was invited to join HKN, the Honor Society of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Reading about HKN, I learned about the history and origins of HKN and that it was an honor society designed to recognize students whose scholarship and character were of high quality.  I was told that HKN membership was also a good thing to include on my resume as I looked for a future job in my chosen field of engineering.

I thought this would be a good thing to do and went through the initiation process and ceremony.  Later as a member of the Gamma Theta Chapter of HKN, I attended chapter meetings, participated in the initiation of additional new members and was generally involved in chapter activities on the Rolla, MO campus.

After I graduated and took my first “real” engineering job, my contact with HKN was through the copies of THE BRIDGE magazine that regularly appeared in my mailbox.  I read the magazine with interest, if only to see how my old college chapter was doing.


All that changed one day when I received a call from the late Dr. J.R. “Bob” Betten, who was then the National Executive Secretary of HKN. Bob invited me to serve on the National Board of Directors of HKN. It was quite an honor and I eagerly accepted, not knowing how informative and enlightening my service on the HKN Board would prove to be.

My first Board meeting was on the East Coast. Attendees included men and women whose names I recognized from journal articles, textbooks, and magazine stories, individuals who were leaders in the world of electrical and computer engineering.  I was impressed that they, though they had advanced far in their profession, still held allegiance to the principles laid out in the HKN codes and charters.  From this side of the mirror, HKN was much more than a little student organization in Rolla, MO. It was an international group of individuals who still believed in and lived by those character qualities stressed by HKN, and which continued to serve as guides through their careers.

Subsequent Board meetings only served to reinforce my initial impressions. HKN was so much more than a student group with a post office box in Rolla, MO. It was a lot more than just a “resume builder” to put on job applications. It is a lifelong community of men and women who strive to live by the codes and creeds of HKN.

I wished then, as I do now, that I could take student members out to the national meetings and show them the other side of the organization. There is indeed much to see and learn on the other side of the HKN mirror.

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