The Stump Speakers
Giving Engineers a Platform
Feel like you need some practice explaining your research? There used to be a club for that! With thanks to alumnus Ralph Kroy, we found some information about this now-defunct group.
In 1926, Sigma Rho Tau was formed to give engineers a chance to better their public speaking - they had to be able to explain their technical research in simple terms and speak about it effectively. The group used a stump on the Diag for their new initiates' first speeches.
According to a 1946 issue of the Michigan Technic:
"Unlike so many debating societies and speech organizations, ΣPT decided to train its members in the delivering of project speeches, extemporaneous and impromptu speeches, Hall of Fame speeches, and entertaining stories and funny jokes, as well as in debate techniques. The stump speakers invented and introduced the Conference Debate. So often the engineer or architect has to present new ideas to his employer or those with whom he is working. And often he finds himself incapable of proving his point!"