Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer
An Archaic Symbol or a Meaningful Commitment
R. MCDOUGALL, P.Eng.
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.
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 the "enlightened"
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.
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.
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
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.