Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 by a group of Cornell University students and Prof. Frank Van Vleck in order to establish an honor society for engineers and scientists (to complement the already existing Phi Betta Kappa society in the humanities). The Society originated not just to reward excellence in scientific research but to promote companionship and cooperation of scientists among all fields.
One hundred years after its founding the Society expanded its mission in 1986 to include the honoring of scientific accomplishments, to encourage and to enhance the worldwide appreciation and support of original investigation in science and technology, and to foster world-wide a creative and dynamic interaction among science, technology, and society.
Since 1886, Sigma Xi has grown to include over 500 chapters across the North America continent. The Society now has almost 100,000 active members in universities, colleges, industry, and government.