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Engineering Hippocratic Oath

Do professional engineers take a hippocratic oath? by Nigel
Posted: 6 Jul 00

In Canada they take an oath in the iron ring ceremony..

Many Canadians may be aware of the Iron Ring worn by friends, associates or family members who work or have practised in the field of engineering. To most, this singularly unusual adornment probably appears to be some sort of arcane sign - like the secret handshake or the unusual headdress that signifies membership in a mysterious order. While this image has been perpetuated for many years by the privacy surrounding the Iron Ring, the reality is otherwise.

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, or Kipling Ritual, is a ceremony that was developed in 1923 for engineers graduating from Canadian universities. The post-war years were a time of growth and prosperity that fueled the quest for greater engineering achievements. The accelerating pace of technological change called on engineers to push the bounds of applied science ever farther and farther. To remind the young graduates of the obligations they were accepting upon entry into the hallowed halls of professional practice, the engineering leaders of the day called upon the celebrated author, Rudyard Kipling, to develop a ritual ceremony that would symbolize the responsibilities the young engineers were about to face.

The ceremony calls on all engineering graduates to make an obligation to strive to perform work and assignments to the best of their ability. A ring made of iron, one of the first modern materials used to forge a new world by our ancestors, is worn on the small finger of the working hand and acts as a reminder of this obligation. This ceremony is performed across Canada each spring and often marks the transition from student life to a career in engineering.

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer marks the end of stage one on the path towards full registration as a Professional Engineer in Canada. To become fully qualified and licensed as a Professional Engineer in B.C., an engineering graduate must complete four years of practical work experience, demonstrating ever-increasing responsibility and competence in professional practice. Only after undertaking this "apprenticeship" and demonstration of competence in front of one's peers can an engineering graduate become registered as a fully Licensed Professional Engineer and use the designation P.Eng. after his/her name. Only licensed members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC are entitled to practise professional engineering in British Columbia. We're sure you wouldn't want it any other way!


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