Thomas “Tom” J. Gonring, Eng ’74, Grad ’80
The objective of the Sigma Phi Delta Fraternity is, in part, to promote the advancement of the engineering profession and engineering education. The same could be said of Thomas Gonring, president of the Sigma Phi Delta ETA Chapter Alumni Association.
Sigma Phi Delta seeks to instill a greater spirit of cooperation among engineers. That’s also Tom’s philosophy, though it may not always be immediately apparent.
“I have something of a talent, or perhaps a curse, for identifying potential problems in a proposed design approach,” says Tom, an engineer at Graef-USA. But, he adds, “I do offer alternatives.”
Call it constructive uncooperation. Asking the difficult questions. Not saying yes for yes’s sake. Prodding the group to settle for nothing less than the best solution. Sounds like a good role for an engineer. And actually, in a roundabout way, very cooperative.
“Success is different for everyone,” Tom says. “For me, the goal has not been to become rich or powerful, but to be a part of the team in what I do.”
Tom has certainly encouraged people to pull together in his work for Sigma Phi Delta. His presidency has coincided with a difficult time for Marquette’s chapter, which was suspended from campus and removed from its house. Mediating between active members and university leaders, Tom helped mend fences and get the chapter reinstated.
“My engineering and MBA classes at Marquette taught me to evaluate the facts, identify the variables and determine what I need to do to solve the problem,” he says. “They also made me able to identify what I need to solve a problem, versus what I’d like to have.”