Ringing in a New Ceremony for the College of Engineering

By Anna Claire Toxey

two students showing off their rings within the ring
Students taking pictures with the ceremonial ring at the College’s inaugural Order of the Engineer induction ceremony.

Graduation is a special time for students of all majors. It’s a time to reflect on one’s educational journey and accomplishments. It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends. And, for most graduates, it’s a time to look toward the future and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

For engineering majors, in particular, commencement weekend brings one additional opportunity: the chance to commit oneself to upholding the standards of the engineering profession through a special ceremony known as the Order of the Engineer.

Established in 1970, the Order of the Engineer “was initiated in the United States to foster a spirit of pride and responsibility in the engineering profession, to bridge the gap between training and experience, and to present to the public a visible symbol identifying the engineer,” according to the Order.

Since the Order’s founding more than five decades ago, hundreds of universities across the nation have hosted induction ceremonies during which graduate and registered engineers take part in accepting an oath, known as the Obligation of the Engineer, and receive a stainless steel ring as a visible and enduring symbol of their commitment to the profession. Although the ritual has been a time-honored tradition at other engineering schools, it was not until this year that The University of Alabama College of Engineering adopted the practice.

At the suggestion of Dean Clifford Henderson, the College decided earlier this year that it would begin hosting Order of the Engineer induction ceremonies for its graduates, faculty and alumni. With the College’s inaugural induction ceremony set for May 2023 to coincide with this year’s spring commencement, preparations began taking place to make this ceremony a special part of the College’s graduation festivities.

A venue was secured. Inductee rings were purchased. The ceremonial ring, through which inductees place their hands and receive their individual ring, was ordered. There was only one problem. Due to ongoing production delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, the large, ceremonial ring that is usually distributed by the Order of the Engineer organization was on backorder and would not be produced in time for the College’s ceremony.

With the ceremony date quickly approaching, it was readily apparent that it was time to seek an alternate solution for producing a ceremonial ring. And that’s when the College’s foundry stepped in. The director of the foundry, Dr. Charlie Monroe, foundry research associate Mike Eddins, and MTE student Griffin Beasley jumped into action and quickly devised a plan.

“We first studied the specifications required for the ring on the Order of the Engineer’s website to ensure we were planning to produce it with the correct dimensions,” said Monroe. “After that, we were able to create a pattern for the ring.”

They created a special wooden lathe pattern known more specifically as a loose piece pattern. The tedious construction process required aligning two halves of wood to produce the ring.

After two weeks of hard work, they successfully produced a ceremonial ring for the inaugural induction ceremony. Weighing more than 40 pounds and composed of silicon bronze, the one-of-a-kind ring far exceeded expectations.

“Any time you do a rush project, there’s a lot of excitement and adrenaline going when everyone in the foundry is trying to get something done and create a high-quality piece,” Eddins said. “It was a fun process, especially since the students were involved with the project. Plus, it was neat to create a legacy piece that will last for a long time and always be a part of the College’s history.”

The ring, which was proudly displayed during the spring 2023 ceremony, did more than simply fill a void caused by production delays. It undoubtedly symbolized the ingenuity and grit of the students who work in the foundry, and it allowed the College to add its own unique, and very personal, touch to a long-standing induction ceremony.

Though the production delays are long over, the ring created by the foundry won’t soon be replaced by a mass-produced ring from the Order of the Engineer. As the College prepares to hold its fall 2023 ceremony, the foundry’s ring will take center stage once again. Nearly a hundred engineering students and faculty members will soon place their hands through the ceremonial ring as they commit to pursuing excellence and upholding the standards of an undeniably important profession.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,200 students and more than 170 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.

Author: Anna Claire Toxey    /    Posted on: December 16, 2023    /    Posted in:   Awards and Honors, Featured, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Students    /    Features: