Theta Tau, originally named the Society of Hammer and Tongs, was founded on October 15, 1904 in Minneapolis. The founders Erich J. Schrader, Elwin L. Vinal, William M. Lewis, and Isaac B. Hanks were all mining engineering students at the University of Minnesota. These four founders based Theta Tau upon three main principles: community service, brotherhood, and professional development.
The Fraternity fulfilled the dream of its principal founder, Erich Schrader, who wanted to establish an engineering fraternity similar to those already existing in law, medicine, and dentistry. Schrader established a record of service unequaled in the fraternity’s history. He served as its first grand regent until 1919, and then for thirty-five years as the grand scribe. At its Founders’ Golden Anniversary Convention (1954), Theta Tau established the position of counselor to be held only by him. His unselfish service continued until his death in 1962 at the age of 81. The other founders also maintained their involvement in the fraternity throughout their lives. The last, Brother Vinal, died in 1971.
Brother Schrader was mainly responsible for the ritual, constitution, and bylaws adopted by the founders. Theta Tau's first badge consisted of a gold skull with the letters Θ and T on its forehead and a crossed hammer and tongs beneath the skull. The constitution provided for the establishment of additional chapters at other leading engineering schools, and the fraternity soon began to take on its national character. Brother Hanks spoke of Theta Tau to his friend Robert Downing, a member of the Rhombohedron Club at Michigan College of Mines. After correspondence and an inspection trip by Brother Hanks, the club was installed as Beta Chapter in 1906.
The oldest symbol of the fraternity that is still in use is the coat of arms adopted in 1906. It may only be worn by members. Founder Lewis transferred to the Colorado School of Mines and there made contact with the Square Set Club, which became Gamma Chapter in 1907. The Southwestern Alumni Association, the fraternity’s first, was established in Douglas Arizona in 1908. In 1911, representatives of the three chapters and the alumni association met at the University of Minnesota for the first national convention, the name was changed to Theta Tau, a revised ritual was approved, and the present badge was adopted. Perhaps most important for its future expansion, it was decided that Theta Tau would include all branches of engineering.
At the 1976 National Convention, the fraternity adopted a plan that opened up membership to women, with Delta Chapter at Case Western Reverse University being one of the first Theta Tau chapters to implement the plan in 1977. Mu Chapter initiated its first female members in 1985.
Since the turn of the millennium, the fraternity has experienced record growth nationwide. In 2004, Theta Tau celebrated its centennial. At that point in time, more than thirty-thousand members had been initiated. Since 2010 alone, the fraternity has installed more than twenty chapters, and many additional colonies have been certified.
MU CHAPTER HISTORY.
It all started in 1914 when a group of engineering students at The University of Alabama made the decision to form a fraternal organization known as the Engineer’s Club. Affiliated with the American Association of Engineers, any engineering student was encouraged to join. However, the fraternal spirit of the organization slowly disappeared.
Thus the Castle Club was born when twelve students felt the need for a stronger fraternal organization that coincided with their engineering schooling. These twelve students also had strong intention of eventually becoming affiliated with a national professional engineering fraternity.
The president of the Castle Club, Stephen Dewey Moxley, became acquainted with some members of Theta Tau while working in Michigan during the summer of 1920. Moxley and Charles Burch Cameron, a member of Beta Chapter, was instrumental in preparing the Castle Club for admission as Mu Chapter of Theta Tau. On March 19, 1921, a petition was sent to Theta Tau and on January 3, 1922, the twelve members of the Castle Club were initiated as the charter members of Mu Chapter. Mu was installed as the twelfth chapter of Theta Tau, as well as being the first chapter in the Southeast to be installed. The first regent of Mu Chapter was Frank Lawrence Davis of Ramer, AL. Mu Chapter still resides in the southeast region of Theta Tau chapters nationally.
Mu Chapter is proudly one of the oldest and longest continually active Theta Tau chapters. Since our founding in 1922, Mu Chapter has never been inactive. Mu Chapter also has the largest number of alumni of any Theta Tau chapter and initiated more brothers than any other Theta Tau chapter. Today, Mu Theta Tau boasts more than 100 active brothers and has more than tripled its membership since 2013. As a chapter, we have an active presence on campus as an influential force in UA's United Greek Council. We are also involved with several engineering events (such as E-Day), intramural sports, technical societies, and university organizations.