The Ring is given as part of "The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer" , written by Rudyard Kipling. Many believe that the rings are made from the steel of a beam from the Quebec Bridge, which collapsed during construction in 1907, killing 75 construction workers, due to poor planning and design by the overseeing engineers; however, this is not the case. This misunderstanding may have its roots in a common practice of attaching a symbol of an engineering failure, such as a bolt from that bridge, to the chain that is held by participants in the ritual. The Ring is a symbol of both pride and humility for the engineering profession.
The Ring is worn on the little finger of the working hand, where the facets act as a sharp reminder of obligation while the engineer works. This is particularly true of recently obligated engineers, whose rings still bear facets nearly sharp enough to be considered serrations.
The Iron Ring was originally made from iron, but graduating engineering students are now usually given stainless steel rings, which do not rust. Only Camp 1 continues to provide the option of iron. Protocol dictates that the rings should be returned by retired engineers or by the families of deceased engineers. Some camps offer such iron rings or so obligated "experienced" rings, but they are now rare due to both medical and practical (industrial/construction site) complications.
The Ring itself is small and understated, designed as a constant reminder rather than a piece of jewellery. The Rings were originally hammered manually with a rough outer surface to further dispel the notion of them being worn as a trinket. The modern machined ring design emulates this manual process with a unique pattern. Twelve half-circle facets are carved into the top and bottom of the outer surface, with the two halves offset by one facet radius. To an untrained eye this appears to be manually hammered.
The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer is the ceremony where Iron Rings are given to graduating engineers who choose to obligate themselves to the highest professionalism and humility of their profession. It is a symbol that reflects the moral, ethical and professional commitment made by the engineer who wears the ring. The ceremonies are private affairs with no publicity. Invitations to attend are extended to local engineering alumni and professional engineers by those who are scheduled to participate. For some schools, the invitation to witness the ceremony is open to anyone in the engineering profession, and non-obligated engineers may not participate in the ritual. For other schools, the invitation to witness the ceremony is open to everyone. Some graduating engineers choose to receive a ring passed on from a relative or mentor, giving the ceremony a personal touch.
Although the details of the ceremony are not secret, they are considered sacrosanct and obligated engineers normally do not discuss the ceremony, even with engineering students.
The word "camp" is used to describe these regional organizations because it conveys a smaller, close-knit sense of community.