"Years ago, engineering careers were out of the reach of most women. As it is well known, times have changed and women are becoming important contributors to this technical field. It is now time for women engineers to cross another bridge. This step involves combining their strong career goals with another side of life - Greek life.

Phi Sigma Rho was the dream of two women engineers at Purdue University in 1984. They envisioned a social sorority comprised of women in engineering and engineering technology, supporting one another while living and working together. With the growing number of women entering these areas, the idea seemed feasible, and the future demand for this type of organization seemed certain.

"The purpose of founding Phi Sigma Rho was to offer women engineers a new alternative to the existing sororities - an alternative that would provide the atmosphere of a social sorority, yet consider the demands placed upon engineering students."    -Phi Sigma Rho member

The co-founders, Abby McDonald and Rashmi Khanna, spent the following summer in research of what a sorority involved. The name was chosen and a constitution drafted. Interaction with the SWE Purdue Section offered Phi Sigma Rho an opportunity to be introduced to a large group of women engineers through the SWE newsletter. In addition, Purdue's SWE advisor, Jane Daniels, agreed to be the faculty advisor for the young sorority. During the next fall, charter members were chosen who also felt the enthusiasm and importance to launch Phi Sigma Rho."

-an excerpt from the March/April 1986 .S. Women Engineer Magazine's article Phi Sigma Rho: Another Bridge Crossed


The History of the Zeta Chapter

As President of the University of Pittsburgh chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, Charlene Brashear received an email in the Spring of 1999 from Tai Pimpukar with the National Expansion Committee of Phi Sigma Rho.  The email provided information on the sorority and asked if there was interest in starting a colony at Pitt.  Charlene asked her fellow SWE members Casey Hetrick and Tori Morgan if they would be interested in beginning this new endeavor with her.  The National Council placed Charlene in contact with Angela Bartiromo and Nicole Williams, two Phi Sigma Rho alumnae living in the Pittsburgh area.  Angela and Nicole later became pledge educators to the Alpha Class and Alumnae Advisors to the Chapter.  Casey, Tori and Charlene worked with Angela and Nicole throughout the summer to learn about the sorority and to understand the requirements for petition as a Colony.

At the start of the 1999-2000 school year, Casey, Tori and Charlene posted fliers in Benedum Hall to solicit members of the Alpha Class.  Informational meetings were held in September based on response to the fliers and a contact list was started.  In mid-September, Charlene also met with Joe Cavalla, Director of Student Activities, and Sharon Malazich, Greek Advisor.  During the meeting, Charlene was provided with the material necessary to establish a recognized student organization.  Angela and Nicole continually provided support and served as a link with the National Council.  Through the National Council, the Ohio State Chapter was asked to be the sponsor chapter for Pitt.  The girls of Ohio State served as Pearl Sisters and came to Pitt for the Induction of the Alpha Class of the Zeta Colony of Phi Sigma Rho on October 3, 1999.  The ceremony was held at noon in the William Pitt Union. Bids were given to the following members of the Alpha Class:

  • Charlene Marie Brashear
  • Liza Marie Bodistow
  • Rachelle Lee Craig
  • Sara Elizabeth Engel
  • Monica Kaelene Falgoust
  • Nicole Marie Garzone
  • Kristy Marie Grobe
  • Casey Jo Hetrick
  • Lisa Marie Kosareo
  • Victoria Gene Morgan
  • Christina Gail Massimino
  • Kerry Foy McNulty
  • Dana Marie Shingle

Work continued on establishing the colony and chapter and the chapter by-laws were passed on December 12th, 1999.  The Alpha Class traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and the Beta Chapter house for Initiation on January 8, 2000, following a week of Inspiration-week (I-week) events.  


On September 30, 2001, Casey Hetrick, President of the Zeta Colony, received the Chapter Charter from the National Council at an installation ceremony held at the Ohio State University.  Eighteen members and alumnae of the Zeta Chapter attended the ceremony.

In the 15 years since installation, the Zeta Chapter has grown to more than 65 sisters, and as of Fall 2015, is an associate member of the Collegiate Panhellenic Association at the University of Pittsburgh.