Mr./Madame Chair, candidates for the Order, and their guests and friends.
The Order of the Engineer, to which you will soon belong, is an independent organization. Its purpose is to foster a feeling of pride in, and dedication to, that profession which binds them together.
The Order is symbolized by the acceptance of an “Obligation” and the wearing of a stainless steel ring on the little finger of the working hand. There are no meetings other than this ceremony, and there are no dues.
The “obligation” to which you will soon subscribe is a composite of several creeds. It emphasizes the fact that we, as engineers, have certain obligations. It promotes honesty and integrity and recognizes that today’s engineers are dependent upon their predecessors to gain their skills.
The significance of what you are about to say and do might be expressed this way—You are about ready to say to yourself and to the public:
I am an engineer
I have an obligation
My obligation has become my desire
My desire is to apply the Golden Rule, our code of ethics, to the technical knowledge of the world by persuasion
My desire becomes the yardstick of my professionalism, and lastly that
My professionalism means to me that I will never again ask myself the question, “How much do I get out of it?” But rather that I will ask myself the question, “How much can I give?”
The symbol of the desire to be a giver is the Engineer’s Ring you will wear for all to see. The ring will say to all who see it, “Here is an engineer, possessed of a publicly avowed dedication to his profession and the public it serves.”
I appreciate this opportunity to speak before you, and I extend to you my heartiest congratulations.
GRADUATION CEREMONY WITH NON ENGINEERING GRADUATES
Occasionally, the Order of the Engineer Ring Ceremony is conducted when nonengineering graduates are present.
Following is an example of a speech given when some of those present do not receive Order of the Engineer rings.
Thank you Dean ______.
Dr. ______, Trustee ______, guests, and especially graduates; we now begin the Order of the Engineer Ring Ceremony.
The purpose of the Order of the Engineer is to call attention to the obligation of all engineers to use our technical education ethically in shaping the world around us. Ethical practice of engineering and the allied professions occasionally requires great courage, and always requires that we maintain the highest standards of personal integrity.
The dictionary definition of a profession is: “an occupation or vocation requiring training in the liberal arts or sciences and advanced study in a specialized field.”
By this definition, engineering, computer science, and atmospheric science are clearly professions. But I think we would agree that professionalism is more than this. Indeed, professionalism in its purest form calls for a dedication which transcends monetary or other private considerations. It requires integrity – a dedication to the ethical standards of your profession. In the case of scientists and engineers, this concept translates into the obligation to use our technical education ethically in shaping the world around us, and surely these days engineers and our colleagues in the applied sciences are largely responsible for the products, processes and structures that shape our society.
Last week, I visited with ______ a structural engineer from ______ and award winning author. In the current issue of Structural Engineer magazine, he writes, “charged with protecting the public’s health, welfare, and safety, professional engineers play an extremely crucial part. The enormity of our responsibility requires that we be accurate and technically competent, but technical expertise alone is not everything. Being well-rounded citizens of the world requires engineers to develop a deep appreciation of history, travel and arts…. It also requires that engineers maintain high ethics and never lose the desire to learn.”
The Order of the Engineer was begun in 1926, when our engineering counterparts in Canada recognized the special obligation of engineers to one another, to the profession, and to the public they served. They decided to recognize those willing to subscribe to the code of ethics for engineers by inviting them to join the Order of the Engineer.
Based on the model of our Canadian counterparts, the Order of the Engineer was established in the United States in 1970. As you are accepted into the Order, you will receive a steel ring to be work on the little finger of the working hand.
The history of the Ring Ceremony has to do with the construction of a bridge across the St. Lawrence River in Quebec in the early 1900’s. It required several years to complete construction of the bridge, and on the morning of August 29, 1907 it collapsed, becoming an ugly tangle of structural steel enclosing the bodies of 75 workmen. After an investigation, construction was started again and on Sept. 11, 1916 as the center span was being raised, it fell killing 13 men. The bridge was built a third time, this time without incident, was finished in 1917 and is still in use today.
Legend has it that one of the twisted iron pipes from the first bridge failure was sliced into rings and worn by engineers to remind them of their solemn responsibilities. After accepting the obligation, you will be presented with your steel ring. You are to wear the engineer’s ring on the small finger of the working hand so that it will remind you every time you sign a set of plans, contract documents, or design specifications of your obligation as an engineer – you must check and recheck your calculations before signing your name. The success of the engineering project and the lives of people may depend on your engineering work. The ring you receive is a symbol of the strength and continuity of our profession. The engineer’s ring says to all who see it — “Here is an engineer, a person with special technical knowledge and a publicly avowed dedication to his profession and the public it serves.”
Clearly the same concerns for the public safety, health and welfare apply equally for our colleagues in computer science and atmospheric science. Lives and property depend critically on the models and forecasts associated with extreme weather. Environmental stewardship is critical to mankind’s future and is the responsibility of scientists as well as engineers. Public safety depends on the software that controls medical systems or the flight of aircraft, just as much as on the electronic and structural components designed by engineers.
Each of you who possess an engineering education and are willing to subscribe to the engineering code of ethics are now invited to join the Order of the engineer and accept the engineer’s ring. In the same vein, each of you educated in computer science or atmospheric science is invited to join us in accepting the obligation of your profession. You must accept the obligation seriously and with pride in yourself and your profession. Please consider the words carefully and remember always that our special knowledge carries with it the obligation to serve humanity with complete sincerity, honesty and integrity. We can never anticipate all the challenges we shall face as we work on our designs, but we are honor bound to foresee all that we can and keep the public welfare uppermost in our minds.
As chairman of the Board of Governors of the Order of the Engineer and on behalf of the faculty of the College of Engineering, I welcome you to your profession and wish you well in the exciting technical challenges before you in the coming years. Let this ceremony always remind you that professional ethics with its associated commitment to public safety and welfare comes before all else.