IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society, signed a merger agreement with the honor society Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), a nonprofit, public-service organization comprising nearly 200 university chapters. The merger, which will go into effect by mid-2009 pending final approval, will make HKN the official honor society of IEEE, recognizing scholarship and academic excellence and identifying student leaders, young professionals and eminent scholars in the IEEE’s technical fields of interest.

Under the agreement, HKN will become an organizational unit of IEEE, governed by the new IEEE-HKN Board of Governors. A restricted endowment will be created in the IEEE Foundation to support HKN’s educational, societal and recognition activities. In addition to holding HKN’s current assets, the new endowment will receive an initial donation of US$1.2 M from IEEE.

The agreement was signed by Bruce Eisenstein, president of HKN; Richard Gowen, president of the IEEE Foundation; and John Vig, IEEE president and CEO, during the IEEE meeting series in Puerto Rico, at a ceremony attended by more than 200 members of IEEE and Eta Kappa Nu. The pending merger was approved by HKN chapters and the HKN Board of Governors; the IEEE Assembly (representing the members of IEEE) and IEEE Board of Directors; and the Board of Directors of the IEEE Foundation.

“Upon the merger, we expect that HKN will strengthen and flourish. It will attract and retain exceptional students and young professionals from all over the world, and from all technical fields of interest of IEEE,” said John Vig, IEEE President and CEO. “IEEE is committed to make HKN the exemplary leading honor society in engineering, science and computing.”

The IEEE and HKN merger will extend the relationship between the two organizations that spans nearly a century of cooperation. IEEE and HKN currently hold joint award and recognition ceremonies, and a large number of service activities are organized jointly by IEEE student branches and HKN chapters. These activities include tutoring to students, outreach to high schools, and sponsorship of technical competitions and scientific presentations.

“Over the last few years it became clear that IEEE and HKN will be able to enhance each other in terms of their scope of activities and their appeal to students and young professionals. Both organizations will end up winners,” said Bruce Eisenstein, president of HKN.