The Order of the Engineer is a is a unique group of engineers that take a Hippocratic oath towards engineering. Like Professional Engineers, engineers that are welcomed into the Order swear to uphold the highest ethical standards in their profession and contribute to the welfare of man. But unlike other societies, there are no fees, no meetings to attend, no obligations beyond exercising best professional judgment in all work performed. It is through this act that engineers form a collective and a fraternal sense of kinship.
The Order originated in Canada due to a recognized need for engineers to create a sense of community and unity. This need resulted in the "Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer" written by Rudyard Kipling, initiated in 1926. These concepts took hold in Ohio and in 1966 a group of engineers began pursuing the Order of the Engineer. By 1970, engineering seniors and faculty at Cleveland State University held the first induction ceremony. Although derived from the Canadian Calling, there are distinctions that make the Order unique to the US including the Obligation of the Engineer.
The ring symbolizes continuity and community. In Canada, it is a wrought-iron ring. In the United States, it is a stainless steel ring and is worn on the 5th finger of the working hand. It is a symbol used to recognize kinship among members of the Order and to be a visible sign to others of your commitment to serving the welfare of the public and making the best use of Earth's resources.
Affect on Today's Engineer
The Order of the Engineer is steadily growing. No other time in history has the professionalism of an engineer been in question. One way to bring understanding to the general public is to unite all engineers under a common theme. Those strongly in favor of licensing presume that to be the best way. But not all engineers require a license nor the extra time and expense associated with maintaining one. Likewise, hanging a shingle on the wall is not a viable symbol that can be publicly recognized to show our solidarity. All engineers have the opportunity to be inducted into the Order of the Engineer. And by doing so, show the world that even without a license, we are committed to protecting the welfare of the public through high ethical standards and conservative use of natural resources.
(Note: Image taken from Order of the Engineer website.)