The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, an Archaic Symbol or a Meaningful Commitment
BY JOHN R.
The Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer was established in Canada in 1925. Since that time, 24 Camps have been formed across Canada and the awarding of the engineer's ring has been a symbol of the engineering profession in Canada.
Like many established symbols, in recent years, the iron ring ceremony has come under criticism. It is viewed by some as sexist and by others as archaic. Some argue that the ceremony should be public. Others suggest it relies excessively on Judeo - Christian principles. Some feel that language should be changed to reflect current times by eliminating any reference to gender or to God. Others simply state that the overall tone is inappropriate for these enlightened times.
On the morning of the Ring Ceremony, APEGA holds a workshop which allows students the opportunity to meet and discuss ethical issues with professional members of APEGA. Four case studies are evaluated. The cases present registration, compliance, ethics and investigative issues of interest to our professions.
Most engineers who have received the ring feel that the ceremony meets its goal in that it gives pause for sober thought about our profession and the responsibilities we have for the public. They understand and value the ceremony. At the very least, its tone challenges the self centered thinking that characterizes many of today's vested interest groups. I know that each time I participate in the ceremony, I reconsidered my role in society and the obligations I have accepted as an engineer.
Just as the ritual is symbolic, so is the ring itself. The ring represents an engineer's personal obligation to work for the betterment of society. The ritual suggests that engineer's rings should be returned to their Camp upon retirement or death. The fact that this rarely happens is not important. What is important is that engineers who wear the ring know what it represents and remember their commitment. While some families choose to retain the ring in memory of a deceased engineer, this should be discouraged. It is important that an engineer's ring not be worn by non-engineers or retained simply as a keepsake. It is a symbol of the engineer's obligation to society and, as such, should not be trivialized.
The symbolism of the ring ceremony is important. It reminds engineers of their obligation to the public good and to the strong moral tenets that characterize professional engineers. The choice of the literature used during the ceremony was made by Rudyard Kipling. It was presumably based in part on the character of the times, and in part based on the desire to reflect certain moral aspirations and thoughts. Those aspirations remain every bit as noble today as they were 70 years ago and they reflect a goal to which every engineer should continue to aspire.
That is the value of the ceremony and the obligation and the reason why the heritage of the iron ring ceremony should be valued and preserved.
For more information please visit www.ironring.ca
For Internationally Educated Graduates:
Please note that you are eligible to receive an Iron ring only after being accepted into APEGA as an Engineer-In-Training (EIT), Provisional Licensee (PLic) or Professional Engineer (PEng). Only contact the appropriate camp once you have obtained written confirmation from APEGA of your status”
Anast Demitt, P.Eng., FEC
Replacement Rings: By Appointment Only
or by phone at 403-384-0204 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to make appointment
Camp 6, The Corporation of the Seven Wardens
For general inquiries about the Iron Ring ceremony and to request an application to participate in a future iron ring ceremony, please contact the Camp Secretary, Susan Ancel, P.Eng., at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about the history of the Iron Ring ceremony is available at the Main Corporation of the Seven Wardens Website www.ironring.ca.
Camp 6, The Corporation of the Seven Wardens
In Edmonton, contact the Camp 6 Treasurer Bill Hibbard, P.Eng. by email at email@example.com. The Camp 6 Treasurer will contact you directly with the details on how to arrange a replacement. Replacement rings cost $20. Obligated engineers from other Camps may have their rings replaced through Camp 6, however eligibility will need to be confirmed with the original obligating Camp. Individuals are encouraged to contact their obligating camp first.