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Revitalized honor society earns campus, international honors

Thre men pose for a photo. The middle man is holding a certificate while the man on the right is holding the glass award.

UPE chapter Vice President Aaron Scantlin, Historian Ankil Patel and President Michael Rowden pose with the award and certificate at the 2014 Chancellor’s Excellence Awards ceremony in April. The organization received the award for “most improved.”

Mizzou Engineering established its chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, a computer science honor society, in 1998, but the group’s momentum waned, said Michael Rowden, a senior in computer science and the organization’s current president.

In 2009, the organization experienced a renaissance, and since then, UPE’s membership has grown from 12 to more than 40 members. It has instituted a tradition of hosting annual Employer Showcases and revamped its tutoring and mentoring systems. The group also has begun taking its members on tours of employers in the Kansas City area. The tours will expand to include St. Louis employers next semester.

“Our old tutoring system was a block of time where students would just show up,” Rowden said. “We’ve changed to a system where an individual submits a request for tutoring, and we match them to a tutor who best suits their needs.”

The new mentoring program pairs underclassmen with upperclassmen who provide guidance on what classes to take, career advice, research opportunities and more.

Not only does the organization foster interaction among members and non-members, but also is collaborating and networking with other Computer Science Department organizations. Rowden said UPE also is joining the Computer Science Graduate Student Council for its upcoming annual barbecue.

UPE’s efforts to revitalize itself were evident in the recognition it has received. The group earned the 2014 Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Most Improved Organization.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Awards recognize individuals and organizations across campus whose efforts model excellence, which is one of Mizzou’s four core values. The group was honored at a banquet in mid-April.

Mizzou UPE also was selected as one of five university chapters to present an update to UPE members through the international UPE’s web conference. Rowden said the executive council was impressed with the improvements Mizzou UPE has made over the last five years.

UPE membership requires applicants to be at least a junior in computer science or information technology with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Graduate students in UPE must have a minimum 3.5 GPA.  Both undergraduate and graduate students must rank in the upper 35 percent of their class to be eligible for membership. Associate Professor Michael Jurczyk serves as faculty adviser.