Elements of the Engineering Tradition
The IRON RING
The Iron Ring, worn on the little finger of the working hand, symbolizes our membership in the Engineering family. The heritage of the ring is of unique importance to Canadians, since Canada is the only nation which upholds the tradition of honouring and distinguishing our Engineering graduates.
Near the end of their final year, Engineering students attend the private and voluntary Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. This ceremony marks the end of the struggle to become an Engineer. Sometimes known as the Kipling Ritual, the ceremony was developed and instituted by Kipling at the suggestion of Herbert Haultain, University of Toronto, and has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in 1925.
The ring itself symbolizes both the pride we have in our profession and, at the same time, our humility. The rings were originally crafted from the twisted iron that remained after the first Quebec bridge ever constructed collapsed due to a design flaw. A subsequent inquiry revealed the flaw to have resulted from an error in judgement made by the bridge's engineers.
The bridge was part of the National Trans-Continental Railway linking Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Moncton, New Brunswick. Construction began on the bridge in 1900. On August 29, 1907, as the bridge neared completion, it collapsed under the weight of a locomotive loaded with steel. Seventy-five people lost their lives in the disaster. A second attempt to span the river resulted in catastrophe on September 11, 1916, when the centre span of the bridge fell while being hoisted into place. This time, ten more lives were lost.
The bridge was finally completed in October 17, 1917, and has since been renamed the Pierre LaPorte Bridge. Although the rings are no longer made from the steel of the bridge, the significance of the Iron Rings remains unchanged.
Around the beginning of January in their graduating year, the soon-to-be-recipients emphasize that fact by tapping their pens and pencils on just about anything they see. (The taptaptaptaptap-ing, of course, is reminiscent of the noise that the ring makes if you tap it on a hard surface. This may seem obvious -- but, you never know, there might be Frosh reading this.)
The Legend of the Tam
(from the Science Journal 1951)
An ancient legend found in the ruins of an old castle near Coventry, England tells the source of the famous Queen's Science Tam.
It seems that about 1200 AD, the engineers of that day were wearing steel helmet, and as every engineer knows, the condensation of fog and the subsequent evaporation made the helmet both damp and uncomfortably cold. Besides, what engineer wanted to be in a fog? Also, in order to avoid a clanging sound in their ears when hit over the head with a club, the engineers rose as a body and rejected the ancient Roman headgear. (All except the King, who was honorary member and wore a crown gear). Still, they needed more head covering, for there were pigeons in England as well as in Grant Hall. The engineers, crafty fellows under any circumstances, were impressed by Pierre la Bull-Shooter, inventor of the time (and the line) and started to wear the touque. But the English pigeons being nobody's fools, came in at an odd angle. Hence the flatter, more protective tam was developed, supposedly about 1227.
Scottish engineers soon adopted the tam, and to emphasize that they were much better than English engineers, added a distinctive braid around it. The Scottish were quite experienced and there soon came a time when they were needed. For one day the King of Scotland found himself in the dark, an experience enjoyed as well by some engineers of the day.
First, however, the court jester was called, and he found the situation uproariously funny and laughed his fool head off. The King thought this a tremendous idea and the jester was led away to be beheaded at dawn.
Then the King summoned his chief engineer. The engineer, who was of course a brilliant fellow, soon threw light upon the mystery. The legend continues that the King's candles had gone out to get lit and had not returned. The engineer was almost at his wick's end, when in rolled the candles. The engineer, with a scorching blast, set them aflame and at last everybody saw the light.
The King, wishing to express his gratitude to the engineer, decreed that thereafter he and his fellows should wear yellow nuggets of gold on their tams. However, the king, who had married the Queen for her money, soon found she would permit this (it was her gold) only if all who wore the nuggets would remain in her service. Hence the engineers were soon known as Queensmen, and the name still stands.
Now certain others in the service of her majesty became jealous. They were the writers, readers, and politicians of the land, who also demanded of the Queen that they be allowed to were tams with nuggets of gold. These frustrated fellows, however, were denied this honour and when they approached the Queen, were given the raspberry, which they promptly put on their hats. The medicine-men, who felt rather blue about the whole affair, started a campaign, but it all blew over. Finally they adopted one of the bonny blue bells of their native Scotland to put on top of their tams.
Nowadays of course, the tam has crossed the Atlantic to the new home in Canada, where it gracefully adorns the head of many a Queensman. The gold nugget has disappeared in favor of a wool tassel. Incidentally, there are several engineers with their tam-covered heads buried like ostriches at Fort Knox, still refusing to move either their tams or the hard-earned nuggets.
These golden, purpled works of art have become the most identifiable trait of the Queen's Engineer. The gold leather and words Queen's Applied Science are recognized worldwide, and are all but synonymous with the spirit of the Faculty.
Frosh must wait to join the 95% of Queen's Engineers on campus who own Golden Party Armour (GPA) and wear it with pride. The new Science Jackets arrive during the Christmas exam period, but under no circumstances can they be worn until after the last exam has been written. This ensures an optimum mental state for initiating the new leather.
As well, each new Science year must design a Year Crest to symbolize their engineering year and adorn their jackets. Soon after frosh week has concluded a competition is held and each first year student gets the opportunity to vote for their favourite crest. The artist of the winning crest not only gets their crest put on every jacket and painted outside Clark Hall, but also receives a free jacket.
Every year during September the first year class must design their official year crest to represent them throughout their stay at Queen's and for years after. Once they have chosen their crest, the Frosh can paint it in front of Clark Hall beside the crests of the upper years. In addition to this, the crest is the most prominent symbol to appear on the Science Jacket. Finally, upon completion of first year, each year can proudly display its crest inside Clark Hall Pub alongside other crests dating back to the 1940's.
The year crest is chosen in a design competition amongst the Frosh in September, not long after classes begin. Members of the year submit their designs which are then put on display and voted upon by their peers. The person whose design is chosen to be the year crest not only gets to take pride in their design, but they also get their Science Jacket for free. There are, however, a few restrictions placed upon the design. It must be done in the three Queen's colors (red, gold, and blue) and it must have on it a crown, a maple leaf, the letter "Q", the words Applied Science, and the year (number).
The Engineering Hymn
The tune for 'The Engineering Hymn' is the same as that of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'. This also happens to be the tune that the 'Oil Thigh' is sung to.
The original song was 'The Engineering Hymn', 'The Oil Thigh' borrowed the melody, which was subsequently borrowed for 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.' Clearly.
Once arriving here and participating in a few days of frosh week, the frosh groups put their poetic skills to the test to write their own verse. The best one is selected and the year verse is proclaimed.
The Well Known Chorus:
A Few Queen's Verses:
Some Other Verses:
April, 1912. The Unsinkable is sinking.
While all the passengers of the Titanic were under panic and trying to save their own lives, the engineering crew were working non-stop to keep the furnace running at maximum. The smoke coming out of the enormous furnace could be seen miles away and gave the exact position of the sinking vessel to any ship on their way to rescue. The entire engineering crew of the Titanic went down with the ship.
The colour of the engineers overalls on the Titanic was purple. In honour of the engineers who died on board, purple was made the official colour of the engineering profession. Like the iron ring in Canada, purple is a reminder to all engineers of the history and responsibility of their profession.
In the early 70's, engineering upper years would dye Frosh's hands purple. By the later 70's, Frosh could expect to have their face or arms purpled (note the use as a verb) as well. In the early 80's, the second year students would literally throw Frosh in a bathtub filled with the purple agent. Somewhere around 1990, the FRECs realised that purpling added greatly to their feral image and decided that purple was therefore too cool to be used for Frosh. Now, only the upper years are allowed to be purple during Orientation Week. For those who wonder what is the magic ingredient to the purple solution, here at Queen's, we use gentian violet. A medical dye, it stays on for a long time and makes you look 8 feet tall!
The Engineering Society Coat of Arms
This is the Engineering Society Crest. Touch it, love it. It is the power of good incarnate. Well, maybe not, but it carries with it alot of tradition and heritage.
That's the cross of St. Andrew in the middle -- its deep roots in Scotland are rivaled only by oatmeal and haggis. From the bottom emblem clockwise we have the Scottish Thistle, Irish Trefoil, Canadian Pine Tree, and an English Rose. The Eight Crowns represent royal ties while the 'S' in the background stands for Science. The hammers represent the foundation of Queen's Applied Science, which originally was the School of Mining. The book in the centre represents knowledge. The Faculty itself has been around for 105 years and the Engineering Society is celebrating its Centennial this year, in 1998.
If you want your own EngSoc Crest, there is no need to butcher your computer screen with scissors. There's alot of great stuff you can buy here that has the crest on it. Stickers 'n' bags 'n' stuff. Even a beautiful purple fleece!
Every spring, a rather bizarre series of events occur all over campus. "How bizarre?" you ask. Well, how do stray cruise missiles, auto wrecks, 260 greasepoles, cemented-over pubs, purple trees, petting zoos and a disco in Stirling Hall sound? And that's just the beginning! Of course, it's a mere coincidence that these events tend to occur on April 1st. It's also equally coincidental that on the night of March 31st the campus is swarming with fourth year engineers.
Now most people will tell you that it's the fourth year engineers that do these dastardly deeds, but it just isn't so. Engineers are nocturnal by nature (due to late night cramming) and come springtime, the fourth years are busily completing their theses. So on the night of March 31st all they're really doing is going to the computer clusters or EngSoc to work.
What? You don't believe it?
Just wait until fourth year. We're sure that on the eve of April Fools Day, you'll be on campus too... working on your thesis.