I reject the Iron Ring

Upon graduation every engineering student (in Canada) is encouraged, nay expected, to partake in the “Ritual Calling of the Engineer.” At this ceremony, overseen by the Corporation of the Seven Wardens Inc., these graduates receive the famed “Iron Ring.”

The ring has much lore and history and most engineers look forward their entire degree to getting this symbol of their commitment to the profession of engineering.

While not required of engineers, the ceremony is attended by the vast majority of graduates, and the faculty and peers highly push students to partake in the event.

Today I took a stand and rejected the Iron Ring.

Some background: The ceremony originates from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It continues what the overseers find to be “traditional” wording and the obligation (see slide 26 of this presentation) all Iron Ring wearers take contains the following that I object to.

…I will henceforth, not suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an Engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker.

This passage I could let pass as I see the intent behind it, but the following (which is at the bottom), which they refused by request to strike out, was the dealbreaker:

Upon Honour and Cold Iron, God helping me, by these things I propose to abide.

They claim to have debated this wording before but have decided to stand firm and reject calls for change. As such I reject the calling and urge you to as well (or at least ask any friends you have in engineering).

If I can take a stand for the convocation at the University of Alberta, I will take a stand here.

Update (23/07/2013): I’ve closed comments on this post. If you really want to express your frustration, inability to understand the above, or better if you agree, email me. If you think this post was a waste of my time and yours, get on with your life.

100 thoughts on “I reject the Iron Ring”

  1. this is simply stupid. there is no other word to describe this “believe” of yours. Thank god you changed out of engineering.

  2. this is stupid. there is no other way to describe your “believe”. you have completely missed the point of the ceremony.

    please get out of this field. you don’t deserve the ring in the first place.

  3. This is absolutely disgusting and I hope nobody ever hires you. I’m by no means religious in any way. I personally would consider myself an atheist just so you know. I am a proud engineer and was disgusted that you took a stand over a few words. Who cares? Really? If you’re so dead set on pushing your atheism maybe you should work through christmas holidays, and good friday. Its called tolerance. That poem was written in the 1900s. I realize attitudes change but refusing to wear a ring at all is ridiculous. The point of the iron ring is to symbolize responsibility to the public and their safety. I can’t even imagine the lengths you go through in your life to avoid any religious connotation in anything. I mean avoiding marriage/weddings, st. patrick’s day, valentines day, halloween, thanksgiving etc. Seriously nobody in industry takes you seriously if you don’t have an iron ring.

  4. This article almost made me laugh. The ritual is not an oath, it is an obligation. Since you’re obviously very religious (an atheist/agnostic would not take offence to this ritual), I won’t go any further, in order to avoid an impossible-to-win argument.

    May your god(s) help you; it will obviously take a miracle to sort you out.

  5. Me and my friends just replaced “God” and “maker” in the obligation with “kittens.”

    “I will henceforth, not suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an Engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my kittens.”

    “Upon Honour and Cold Iron, kittens helping me, by these things I propose to abide.”

  6. BTW, for all those who say it is a secret or even private ceremony across Canada, do some basic research. Go to the sites of the Wardens across Canada, in Quebec at least (except for McGill and Concordia) the ceremony is OPEN to guests (non-engineers) and there is even a video on youtube of a guy getting his from ETS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhXVrjkYFfA

    Even if you don’t somehow speak french, the SST anvil hits are heard and you can see them get their ring

  7. I dont want trash like you to wear an Iron Ring, you are an unworthly towelhead

    Go have a romantic afternoon with your camel in your cave


      1. And even more fun is the fact that “god” is a unscientific idea, which have nothing to do in engineering, hence showing the that the “professional eng” probably is just a pretender.

        And now that I am replying to this post, I would support the removal of religion from that oath, if I was a Canadian engineer, but since I’m a Danish engineer, I cant but support in spirit.

        And then of cause warn you that not having the ring, when it is seen as a way of pledging that you’ll do good work, might give the wrong idea of you being a bad engineer. (not fair, but people are narrow minded)

        1. Actually, if you studied basic Quantum Physics you would no that the Ideology of “God” is not un-scientific. Yes, it is unscientific that there is a man in robes in the sky watching over us, but the existence of a soul, and furthermore a world soul, which is the original meaning of “God” (It has just been twisted by modern Religions). Engineering has nothing to so with biology and life science, so please go acquire a basic understanding of something before you attack it. Please refer to Quantum physics, specifically things such as the Double Slit experiment and how it pertains to the old Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox, or Einstein’s theory on vibrational energy (Which is mostly proven today) and how it pertains to the original “Religious” scriptures (Which are not the Dead Sea Scrolls, they are the Emerald Tablets). I suppose i cant be too upset with your ignorance, you are programmed to reject anything that didn’t come from an authority figure in the Government or Corporate world. Perhaps the most ironic part is that you have faith in what you are fed, usually with no proof what-so-ever. How is this different from the faith religious people have in a creator? Yes, 99% of modern religions are very, very twisted from what they were originally meant to mean over 5000 years ago, but that in no way means that god is an un-scientific idea. Before you call something un-scientific, you should first learn the definition of the word (Ignorance at its finest). God means (Regardless of what the oxford dictionary tells you. That is kind of like referring to the Ku-Klux-Klan on the History of Africa) world soul, and not only is that not an un-scientific idea, but it has much scientific foundation. For example, Ant colonies were found recently by biologists to be able to communicate through some form of telepathy which differs from the neuro-chemical communication of man other insect species. The law of attraction, also has much biological foundation in the form of the well studied and well documented placebo effect, and/or the yawning phenomena. If we go back in history to even ancient times, we can see that science wasn’t as un-evolved as we tend to think. For example, the Quran, written roughly 1500 years ago, states many scientific principals, such as the fact that the moonlight is reflected light from the sun, that the earth is spherical, and even speaks metaphorically about evolutionary processes. Interestingly enough, Eastern Religions such as Hinduism and Islam, are the closest living organizes religious ancestor to the ancient beliefs written about in the Emerald Tablets, that today correspond with Quantum Physics. If we go even further back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians, when the “Myth” of the existence of an internal “Third Eye” or “Minds Eye” began as part of spiritualism, we can see that it is not far off at all from what science knows today. Biology knows that one of the main Endocrine Glands in the Human body, the Pineal Gland, is closely related on an evolutionary scale to the eyeballs, and even contains photo receptor cells. The outside of the gland is coated with a layer of multiple different solid neurotransmitter chemicals, which are a few of the only solid neurotransmitter chemicals in the body for a reason. The most widely known example is Dimethyltryptamine, as it has been studied by many doctors due to its highly psychoactive properties. Dimethyltryptamine, and other Tryptamines that make of the Crystalline, solid “Shell” of the pineal gland display a piezoelectric effect when stimulated with radiation such as sound/vibration, light, and presumably brain waves. This means that upon stimulation the Crystals of Tryptamines, Melatonin, Pinoline, and other Neurotransmitters emit photons, more commonly known as light. This light then travels down the spinal cord to every cell in the body. As we know from radio-communication, and more modern fiber optic communication light radiation can be a very dense carrier of information. This is known as Bio-Photonics or Bio-Electromagnetism. Just because something doesn’t appear scientific based on your grade school biology education, doesn’t mean it is in the real word. Thank you for your time, and i hope you re-think your ignorant view point.

  8. This is ridiculous. You said it yourself, the ring is a symbol of a graduate’s commitment to the engineering profession. One can only assume that you don’t have the same commitment as your fellow graduates, as you can’t seem to stomach a ceremony with a few references to God – a non-denominational one at that. Do you reject our national anthem too?

    Enjoy explaining to everyone that you don’t have an iron ring because you weren’t open-minded enough to participate.

  9. Terahertzatheist,

    You are single-minded, narrow-minded, closed-minded and in this case… never-minded.

    Do you fail to see that the “obligation” is to YOURSELF ?

    I’m a confirmed atheist but I believe in MYSELF, therefore the mention of God (and it doesn’t say WHICH God) held no bearing on the impact of the ceremony for me.

    My “soul” is my “self” and my “maker(s)” were my “parents”.

    I wear the ring proudly and I take my obligation seriously. I do both humbly and quietly.

    It’s YOUR option to not wear the ring, not take the obligation and to do so LOUDLY… but, if these are your true wishes, you should do so using your real name. Prospective employers would like to know. 😉

    I have many employees on my engineering deck. Some are P.Engs, some are not, some are “obligated”, some are not. They are all judged by their performance, nothing else.

    If any one of them had judged the others the way you are doing here, they’d not have the opportunity to be part of our team.

    1. Thanks for the comment Ed.

      If you’d cared to take a mere 3 seconds to click on the big About button at the top of this page, you would see my full name – Ian Bushfield. You could also have looked at my Twitter profile on the side. I have nothing to hide here. I am not a PEng or a practicing engineer (I recently completed a MSc in Physics and now am working in the non profit field).

      I also was not trying to pass judgment on those who choose to redefine words at their leisure or even on those who believe every word in the Obligation. I think words have meaning and, as I tried to state here, we shouldn’t have to pretend God or Souls mean anything else while we are taking oaths like this.

      Good luck in your career.

      1. “If you’d cared to take a mere 3 seconds to click on the big About button at the top of this page, you would see my full name – Ian Bushfield.”

        My apologies, I had seen “Ian” as a responder here but didn’t realize that you were the OP (terahertzatheist).

        While I respect your opinions, I can’t agree with your reasoning in posting this… particularly your “threat” to “make a stand @ Uof A”.

        Why ? If you say, “I am not a PEng or a practicing engineer (I recently completed a MSc in Physics and now am working in the non profit field).” would you want to “dis-credit” or otherwise harass those who are persuing a different path than you ONLY because the “word” God is included in the ceremony?

        As mentioned, I AM an obligated P.Eng and a die-hard atheist, the obligation is “personal”. It has NO bearing on your job qualification OR your eligibility into “Heaven”. :rolleyes:

        Threatening to “make a stand” is certainly your right as a Canadian, but I feel your reasoning is feeble, so feeble that any “engineer” would consider it as negligable data and you, my friend, will quickly find yourself “weeded-out” should you mention this during an interview.

        “Good luck in your career.”

        Thanks for that. I’ve been hiring engineering teams into the AeroSpace/Automotive industries for the past 35 years.

        I was a lead Program Manager for Spar Aerospace on the Canadarm project.

        Good luck “Ian Bushfield” in finding gainful employment.

  10. this is funny.
    I took my oath and I am a third generation agnostic.

    freedom of speech is the single most important sign of a societies well being.

    I pray to a god that I dont believe in (maybe) that 40 years from now I am still allowed to view internet porn, and say things like “allah loves the gays” or “women are inherently physically weaker then men” or “tom hanks is over rated”

  11. May The God of the Universe and Lord Kipling Have Mercy on Your wretched soul you poor devil.

  12. I just pretend I’m in Game of Thrones. For example,

    “…I will henceforth, not suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an Engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before the Old Gods and New.”

  13. Hey, we’ll sometimes it’s noble to just enjoy the day and not get caught up by words of old. Take the ring and just enjoy the history and the many important points and words said. Ignore what you please and feel happy to join the good engineers who wear the ring.
    Take care
    Jonathan of Halifax

  14. An attention seeking idiot looking for an issue that doesn’t exist.
    Please don’t wear your iron ring. I don’t want people to know at a glance that you’re an engineer.
    I don’t believe in religion, but I don’t make it an issue.

    Damn, that’s 3 more minutes of my attention than you deserve.

    1. You* Yours*.

      What does his choice to not take part in an absolutely worthless, pointless ceremony have to do with his ability to become an engineer? Sure, i agree its not worth it to make a big deal out of something so small like the wording, but he makes a valid point. Judging by your spelling and grammar, you are not an engineer, nor educated in any way, shape, or form, so please re-frame from commenting shear ignorant nonsense on a blog meant for scientific, constructive discussion.

  15. Hello.
    I appreciate that you do not want to be “in”.
    I also like to be “out”.

    I was thinking that we could help each other.
    I saw a great design for a unique ring that I want to use for the purpose of engagement.


    The first image on the top right.

    I want to use that one with an inscription for my future fiance. I think that with her wearing it as an engagement ring it will take away the meaning of Engineer as it is not placed on the pinky of the working hand but on the ring finger.

    I was wondering if you can point me in the direction of someone that can make these types of rings ? I also need an inscription on the inside of the ring.

    Thank you for your time IAN.

    Please ignore everyone else for being so worried about a symbol.

    I believe that people can live simple and fulfilling lives without all of this BS.

  16. Seriously, this is just sad that you posted this, and sad that I took the time to read it

    I bet you were one of the people trying to get the national anthem changed as it says god keep our land. It is your right as a canadian to make ur decisions, just dont involve the rest of us with them. Living in Mexico I can see the things we have in Canada and take for granted. I wear my ring with pride and I sing my anthem with Pride.

    1. Unfounded, Nationalism garbage. I’m a human with pride. “Pride” shouldn’t apply to your place of origin. There’s nothing to be “Proud” about being born a Canadian, that’s just ignorant trash. I’m proud to be part of the human race, your proud to be part of separatism and negativity.

  17. I didn’t say that part during the ceremony, and I don’t believe we had to sign anything.

    It’s crazy that APEGA seems OK with us getting our ethics from Kipling (certainly an modern engineer’s “good character” shouldn’t include the sexism, racism, and homophobia that were the norm in Kipling’s day).

    I certainly hope that there aren’t any engineers out there who expect God to “help” them hold their bridges up. Give me an untrusting, evidence-based skeptic or atheist engineer any day.

  18. To all of you odious bigots talking down on him for this decision, you should think about what you are saying. If he graduated with the ability to receive the ring, that means is intelligence in the field could be considered around equal to yours (Unless your experience after graduation is taken into account). Why should his personal choice of taking part in an absolutely pointless ceremony make him any less of a person? Last time i checked, he still has a degree in Engineering, and is still a rather intelligent, talented person. A material object (The Ring) doesn’t give you any status in the real world. Your intelligence and ability gives you status in the real world.

    In my opinion, this comes down to the fact that the people who did take part in the ceremony, or have the wish to take part in the ceremony in the future feel in some way “Special” or as if they are part of “Royalty” because of it. Let me tell you kiddies now, it makes no difference. The only thing that really matters in this world is knowledge and ability.

    I think anyone caught up in a fancy “Iron ring” over the training, experience, and knowledge of the individual engineer should re-think the profession, as it is supposed to be based on the science, not prestige. If you’re looking for that maybe you should think about a position in politics.

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