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The Order of the Engineer

  • 1.  The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-02-2019 10:57
    I have recently received my professional engineers license in the state of Maryland. Early next year, the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers is hosting an award ceremony at which new PEs are presented with the license wall plaque. We are being offered the chance to take an Oath to join the Order of the Engineer and be presented with a steel ring.

    I've heard of this tradition from other countries (mostly Canada), but was unaware that anyone in the United States participated.

    Is this a meaningful distinction to have? Does it add value to a resume over and above the PE license? Would you view a candidate/colleague more highly if they had taken this oath? Does anyone have experience in industry/academia/etc. where it made (or would have made) a difference?

    Joseph Whitmore PE
    Clark Doctoral Fellow
    University of Maryland
    North Bethesda, Maryland

  • 2.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-02-2019 12:30
    Licensed engineers are required to follow ethical standards, so this seems duplicative.  However, I can see where ritual and a sense of belonging could help underscore the importance of ethics in engineering.  The value of joining the Order could be that it signals you are committed to practicing ethically.  Being able to pass an ethics quiz and behaving ethically when it is in conflict with what a boss or a client demands of you are not equivalent.


    Kirsten Rosselot
    Process Profiles
    Calabasas, CA United States

  • 3.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-06-2019 09:56
    Excellent points, @Kirsten Rosselot, especially regarding ethics.

    I agree that there could be a positive sense of community that can come from the ceremony.  Attaining (and maintaining) a PE is notable achievement that is worthy of congratulations.  However, it's not so much what a person does to achieve participation in the ceremony, but how the participant behaves afterwards that really matters.  Hopefully, that sense of community can be a positive influence on the engineer well after the ceremony.

    Kirsten is correct when she says that being able to pass a quiz on ethics does not truly indicate what a person will do when faced with an ethical dilemma.  All engineers make ethical choices throughout their career.  The response of the individual engineer to take an ethical stand when faced with questionable demands from a boss or a client is really a question of individual character.  It takes courage to make a stand in the face of pressures.  Maintaining integrity is much more important than economic expediency.

    So, should Joseph participate in the ceremony?  Well, if you're just doing it for "meaningful distinction" to "add value to a resume" as you stated in your post, then I feel that's a rather shallow reason.  It will come across as a negative if anyone asks about it in interviews.  Hopefully, participating in the ceremony will be more than just an event to put on a resume, but will bolster each individual engineer's character when faced with difficult situations. ​

    Aaron Sarafinas
    Sarafinas Process & Mixing Consulting LLC
    Warminster PA

  • 4.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-06-2019 12:48
    Well said, Aaron. I agree on all counts with regards to the importance of ethics in engineering and, indeed, in any practice. Although licensure exams include nods to ethics, it is quite a different thing entirely to be faced with an ethical choice and stand up for the right choice.

    I should have worded my questions differently, since it was not my intention to imply a specific focus on bolstering my resume.

    In my (short) career, I have not come across many young engineers who know about Professional Engineering Licensure - let alone the Order of the Engineer. I posted in an attempt to learn what more experienced engineers know about this program, and whether it is considered valuable.  I wondered why the Order is not better known or advertised.

    Joseph Whitmore PE
    Clark Doctoral Fellow
    University of Maryland
    North Bethesda MD

  • 5.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-03-2019 00:26

    First, congratulations on earning your license!

    I don't know that taking the oath to join the Order of the Engineer is a big resume-builder; I think having the licence is a much bigger deal. I don't list it on either my resume or my CV, but I'm also pretty late in my career. That said, I believe AIChE had a ring ceremony at the 2019 National Meeting last month, so it's possible that there's a push to make the Order more prominent.

    I teach CHE senior design, and I wear my ring just about every day I'm on campus as an overt reminder to my students that ethics matter every day, not just when we're discussing ethics in class. I know from conversations I've had that some of the students notice the ring and know what it means. I encourage my students to take the oath because I want them to make the public commitment to ethical practice.

    I note that your signature says you're a doctoral fellow. If you are anticipating an academic career, you might want to get the ring as a way of emphasizing to students the importance of ethics.


    Steve Thiel

    Stephen Thiel PE
    Professor - Educator
    University of Cincinnati
    Montgomery OH

  • 6.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-03-2019 10:48

    Congratulations on earning your professional engineering license!  As your next step in the profession I would recommend taking the oath to the Order of the Engineer. This would be more for personal reasons and secondly for public recognition. I have worn my Order of the Engineer ring daily over the years and it is a constant reminder to me ​of my responsibilities to the engineering profession and to the general public that I serve. My reasoning for this is in the following paragraphs that the Order of the Engineer is based.

    The origins:

    A History of the Order of the Engineer Engineering is more than number crunching. It is a matter of life and death. In 1907, when engineering errors led to a Canadian bridge collapse that killed seventy-five men, the profession's moral obligations were stark and obvious. Engineers increasingly realized that technical expertise was not enough, and in 1925, a group of Canadian engineers formally and publicly promised to uphold the highest ethical standards. To remind themselves of their pledge, they fashioned iron rings to be worn on the outer finger. Unfortunately, for decades engineers in the United States had no similar institution. Then, on a summer day in 1970, 170 engineers, students, and teachers met on the campus of Cleveland State University for the first ceremony of what would become the Order of the Engineer. Today, the stainless steel rings worn by the Order's members are recognized throughout the world as the outward sign of an inward commitment to ethical engineering. This is the story of the Order's origins and expansion.


    The "Order of the Engineer" is a fellowship of engineers who are trained in science and technology and dedicated to the practice, teaching or administration of their profession.

    Initiation into the Order includes commitment to the "Obligation" and acceptance of a stainless steel ring to be worn on the little finger of the working hand. Only those who have met the high standards of professional engineering training or experience are invited to accept the Obligation, which is voluntarily received for life. This commitment is not a trivial act but is, rather, like the wedding of the engineer with his profession. The ring is worn as a visible symbol to attest to the wearer's calling and symbolizes the unity of the profession in its goal of benefiting mankind. The stainless steel from which the ring is made depicts the strength of the profession.

    The Order was originated by several members of the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers who were inspired by The Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer, a Canadian organization whose adherents wear an iron ring. The first ceremony of the Order was with the Fenn College of Engineering at Cleveland State University on June 4, 1970. Next year will be the 50 year anniversary celebration of The Order of the Engineer at Cleveland State University.

    Hope this helps provide another perspective on The Order of the Engineer membership.

    Joseph Yurko, PE, FAIChE
    Past Chair Cleveland Section
    Associate Project Lead
    Xellia Pharmaceuticals USA, LLC
    Cleveland, OH, USA

  • 7.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-03-2019 10:26

    Congratulations on having earned your P.E. This is a major accomplishment that is often "overlooked" by those of us in the Ch.E. field. I have it as a personnel goal for myself, even though I am late in my career.

    As you know, you will need to obtain continuing education credits to keep you license "active", including credits in "ethics".

    I agree with Stephen's comment that joining the Order is not necessarily a "resume builder".  I received my ring as a senior in collage (1987) at the same time a took my FE (then called the EIT). I have worn it daily ever since. There have been several times when networking - that the ring was noticed by the person to whom I was talking.

    As both Kristen and Stephen stated, it is a daily reminder of our responsibly to serve the public and our profession in an ethical and proper manner.

    AIChE has established a "Link" within our organization - having held its inaugural ceremony last year. This year we inducted 32 members into the Order at the Annual Meeting in Orlando.

    I would strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to join the order.


    Anthony Fregosi, F.AIChE.

    Anthony Fregosi, FAIChE
    Mfg. Systems Engineer
    Cornerstone Chemical Co.
    Westwego, LA

  • 8.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-07-2019 16:15

    I just took the pledge at the last annual meeting (8 years after retiring from AIChE staff). Also received my PE 25 years ago (also in the latter half of my career). I see both of these as reinforcing my sense of being part of the profession. Both tend to remind me of the need to practice in an ethical way.

  • 9.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-04-2019 04:53
    Woow.. Many congratulations, stay blessed and live with your passion...

    Dr.Tariq Masood PhD, CEng
    Operations Technical Coordinator- Qatar Petroleum
    Email: t.masood.dr@bath.edu

  • 10.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-05-2019 15:15
    Congratulations, Joseph Whitmore!

    Yes, we have the 'Iron Ring' (with a printed oath for personal signature for record) across Canada.  All with an engineering degree from an accredited institution is eligible to take the oath of an engineer.  The oath is similar to the Hippocratic oath taken by Canadian medical professionals.  The prestigious 'Iron Ring' is not considered as an ornament, but a reminder of the oath taken to serve the profession by the engineer.  It is worn on the little finger of the normal working hand (left or right).  The ring is put on by an experienced engineer (with a ring) at a formal group oath taking ceremony held few times a year in each region in the country. 

    The 'Iron Ring' does not recognize one as a registered professional engineer in Canada.  The professional recognition is to be obtained with the required experience and is given only by each provincial regulatory professional association in Canada to enable one to practice as a professional engineer in the region.  Canadian Geo-scientists also have a similar ring and a separate formal registration for professional practice. 

    [Varagur] [Rajan] [Ph.D., P,Eng.]
    Senior Member
    Life Member, APEGA

  • 11.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-09-2019 19:22
    There was a mention of it to the class I was in when we were in the last year (or semester possibly), however the little pamphlet that was provided on the subject was poorly written (not unprofessionally or sloppily) so I think the class collectively laughed it off. I also remember it being passed around generally, even though we would only have just been eligible to take the FE, not the PE.

    I think all I did was show my hazy memory to everyone, not really answer your question.

    Keith McIver
    Assistant Engineer

  • 12.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 12-10-2019 00:53
    Congratulation sir for   your inspiring carrier 

  • 13.  RE: The Order of the Engineer

    Posted 02-24-2020 18:09
    Congrats on your career achievements.  At NCSU where I am a faculty member and an Associate Dean in the college - we have a ceremony for our graduates to participate in when they graduate.  We just started this about 5-10 years ago.  Now it looks like a graduation ceremony and the students wear their gowns.  The fun thing is that it brings the college together - since we do not have a college wide graduation ceremony.

    Christine Grant
    Associate Dean and Professor
    Raleigh NC