1st Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer is held, May 1, 1925

-May 01, 2017

The first Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer was held at the University of Toronto, Canada, on May 1, 1925. The ritual was started by Civil Engineering Professor H.E.T. Haultain, who believed there needed to be a ceremony and standard of ethics developed for graduating engineers that tied them to their professional calling.

He was able to persuade other members of the Engineering Institute of Canada and the ritual was created in 1922 at the request of Haultain by Rudyard Kipling, a celebrated poet who had made reference to engineers in his previous works.

The ritual represented seven past presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada. These seven past presidents were the original seven Wardens of the Corporation, the governing body that coordinates and carries out the ritual.

The inaugural ceremony was held on April 25, 1925, at the University Club of Montreal, where six engineers took the obligation. Then, six days later on May 1, three of the newly obligated engineers met at the University of Toronto along with members of the Engineering Alumni Association and an additional 14 engineers took part in the first ritual.

The ritual itself is a private ceremony in which an Iron Ring (image, right) is conferred upon graduating engineering students after subscribing to the “obligation.” The ring, forged from stainless steel or wrought iron, does not certify someone as a professional engineer but is a symbol of their accepted ethics and responsibilities. It is meant to wed the engineer to their calling and provide a lifetime reminder of the obligation that has been taken before their “betters and equals.”

The obligation is an expression, not an oath as Kipling distinguished in his original outline of the ritual, that states the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of members of the profession.

While not a secret, the obligation and ritual as a whole, is a private event, only open to the candidates and those who have already received their rings. Each engineer is given a full explanation of the ritual, obligation, and its history before the ceremony so they may decide in advance whether or not they wish to take part.

The ritual is not tied to any specific university or engineering organization, and has been copyrighted. The Iron Ring is registered in both Canada and the United States.

More information on the ritual and ring can be found here.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog.
EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on May 1, 2013 and edited on May 1, 2017.

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