The Ritual

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (or Kipling Ritual, or Iron Ring Ceremony) is a ritual dating from 1922 for students about to graduate from an engineering program at a Canadian university. Honorary inclusion is also offered to any Canadian registered professional engineer who has received his or her training elsewhere. The ritual was created by Rudyard Kipling at the request of H. E. T. Haultain, representing seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada. The ritual is now administered by a body called The Corporation of the Seven Wardens Inc./Société des Sept Gardiens Inc.

The Obligation, which is not an oath but a solemn expression of intention, is subscribed to at the ceremony. The Obligation essentially states the duties and responsibilities of the engineer. Following the Obligation, the Iron Ring is placed on the little finger of the working hand, and is worn by the engineer as a symbol and a reminder. As originally conceived, the Engineer's iron ring rubs against the drawings and paper upon which the Engineer writes. The advent of computers mutes the constant reminder of the commitment, but the intent to honor and care for humanity through careful engineering remains the same.

The Obligation is private, though not necessarily secret. However, it is customary for those who have gone through it to not discuss the details of the Calling with others, even engineers from other countries. The ceremony is open only to candidates or those who have already undergone the ritual.

As part of the preparation for the ritual, candidates are instructed not to discuss the details of the ritual with the media. A reminder of this is provided at the end of the ceremony in the form of a written instruction that states: "The Rule of Governance provides that there shall be no publicity in connection with the Ritual."

The Iron Ring Ceremony does not certify a person as a qualified engineer. Professional certification and licensing requires registration with a relevant professional organization, testing, and several years of on-the-job experience. During this period, an apprentice engineer holds the title of E.I.T. (Engineer in Training), or, in French, "ingénieur junior" (ing. jr). Only a Professional Engineer (Eng. or Ing. in Quebec, P. Eng. or ing. in New Brunswick, P.Eng. in the rest of Canada) designation given by provincial or territorial licensing bodies signifies a qualified professional engineer.

Commemorating the 75th anniversary, the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer domestic-rate stamp was issued on April 25, 2000. Designer Darrell Freeman's "head-to-foot" layout incorporates the symbolic iron ring that is presented as part of the ceremony. The ring also visually links the four engineering achievements featured on this stamp.

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