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First-year engineering ceremonies at universities instill sense of ethics and professionalism in students


On November 10, 2019, the University of Guelph School of Engineering held its inaugural Gryphon Wing Ceremony. Six hundred first-year engineering students received an ornamental silver wing pin as they pledged to uphold the highest standards of learning and conduct.

While an Iron Ring ceremony traditionally marks the end of undergraduate education for Canadian engineering students, the Gryphon Wing Ceremony at Guelph joins the Iron Pin Ceremony started at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2014 as a student’s symbolic entrance into engineering and the professionalism it entails.

In November 2014, UBC held its first Iron Pin Ceremony where 900 first-year engineering students pledged to abide by a code of ethics launched that fall by the UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) at the Vancouver campus. After discovering that there was a lack of early education about an engineer’s professional journey and the code of ethics to which they must adhere once attaining their professional engineering licence, the EUS developed the UBC Engineering Code of Ethics, modelled off of the Engineers and Geoscientists BC code of ethics.

Since its launch in 2014, the Iron Pin Ceremony has expanded to other universities, including to the University of Guelph with its Gryphon Wing Ceremony, and to Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), which held its first Iron Pin Ceremony in October 2019. Senior MUN engineering students took the lead in developing the pledge that first-year students cited during the ceremony, using language from the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and from Professional Engineers and Geoscientists Newfoundland and Labrador’s code of ethics.

While introducing students to the concepts of ethics and professionalism in engineering, the Iron Pin and Gryphon Wing ceremonies also instill a sense of community and belonging among first-year engineering students. By participating in the ceremony and pledging to abide by a code of ethics alongside all of their fellow first-year engineering students, the ceremonies serve to inspire them to become part of the larger community of engineers working towards a common goal of bettering society through their engineering work.