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UT aerospace engineering senior Michael Holloway has been named a Tau Beta Pi laureate for 2015, one of just five students so honored across the United States this year.

Holloway, a native of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, has used his aerospace background to good measure, including a stint at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama over the summer.

“I was shocked, humbled when I was told I was a laureate,” said Holloway. “I was actually standing with a group of interns at Marshall when I got the e-mail. When they saw the look on my face they asked if everything was OK. I just shouted ‘I got to call my mom!’ and ran out the door.

“I would have called my wife, but she was at work and I knew she couldn’t answer her phone.”

Holloway said the award meant even more because he’s familiar with the history of the honor and the people who have won it in the past, and that he was proud to represent UT.

It’s his extracurricular activities that earned him the honor.

Tau Beta Pi, the oldest national engineering honor society in the United States, honors laureates for fostering a spirit of “culture in engineering colleges.” Founded at Lehigh University in 1885, the group is now actually headquartered at UT, but Holloway earned recognition not because of his proximity but his actions.

The anonymous recommendation letter submitted on his behalf to the group described him as being the kind of person who leaves you “feeling valued” just by being around them.

Some of his out-of-classroom activities include:

  • Performing in Mountain Cove, a bluegrass band that has produced three CDs and taken the stage at Dollywood and in Chattanooga
  • Winning awards as an actor and set designer, including the Tennessee Theater Association Award for set design
  • Performing service activities through Campus Crusade for Christ and his own church
  • Volunteering at Mountain Opry
  • Mentoring underclass students in engineering at UT

“I was always taught that everyone has their own unique gifts and that we should use them to help better the world and, as a Christian, glorify God,” said Holloway. “I have a great time with theater and music, so why not use those activities to help put a smile on someone’s face? Even if everything goes wrong during a performance, I try to remember that it was never just about me. It was always about giving the audience and fellow performers a good time, and possibly showing Christ’s love as a result.”

Since the laureate program began in 1982 only 94 students have been honored, an average of fewer than three per year, placing Holloway in select company.

He and the other honorees for 2015 will each receive a plaque and a check for $2,500 at the society’s 2015 convention in Providence, Rhode Island, October 29.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,