Engineers across Canada get purpled in tub full of purple dye during frosh week and other events. Purpling is an age old engineering tradition and we do it for more reasons than just looking cool. There are many explanations to purpling but no one has the definitive reason.

One story behind the origin of purpling involves a mineral engineer in Egypt that discovered valuable deposits of lapis lazuli (purple mineral) that caused a section of the Nile to get purple. Another one involves an engineer walking his and discovering the colour after his dog bit into a mollusk. One of the more popular reasons why we get purple involves the tragic incident of the Titanic.

Purple is known to be a royalty colour due to how historically expensive it is to traditionally synthesize it. But that’s not the reason we get purple, engineers should practise humility and duty (read Iron Ring). One of the legends is that engineers that were on the Titanic kept the ship afloat while running the furnace to produce a lot of smoke as long as they could. The smoke from the furnace was noticeable for miles and became a factor in saving survivors while the engineers tragically died with the ship. Engineers in the military traditionally wore purple patches, bands or overalls and since they worked under wet conditions, it was common for engineers to be seen with purple dye running down their arms.

Today, we commemorate those engineers who worked so bravely by getting purple during special events like frosh week and National Engineering Month. It is completely safe as we use medical dye (gentian violet) and a lot of fun. It’s a good idea to wear old clothes you don’t care about and stripping down to minimal clothing so you don’t take all that purple stuff absorbed into your clothes. We understand that not everyone can get purple but at least dip your hand in or your pinky to get in on the fun. Also, it makes a great story for meeting new people. Don’t forget to ask people whether they want to see a purple Zebra.

We’ve already mentioned the iron ring ceremony briefly but do you know why engineers wear iron rings? There’s actually quite an extensive back story here so sit back, enjoy a nice pint of a flaming engineer, and read what our Alumni Rob Kingston had to say about the history of the Iron Ring. Canada is the second largest country in the world, spanning thousands of square kilometers of prairies, forests, tundra and mountain ranges.

When our country was still young, travelling and shipping long distances was done exclusively by train. In the late 1800s construction began on the transcontinental railroad, built in the west by Canadian Pacific and in the east by Canadian National. This massive undertaking was designed to link the nation from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, thus creating a trade and transport route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. One of the major challenges in this huge project was the crossing of the St. Lawrence River.

In 1900, American engineer Theodore Cooper designed the answer to this challenge with what would be known as the Quebec Bridge. The Quebec Bridge crosses the St. Lawrence River just west of Quebec City. Before it was built, the only way to cross the St. Lawrence River was by taking a ferry. The bridge still stands today, now accommodating three highway lanes, a railway line, and a pedestrian walkway. It was built to complete the transcontinental railroad across Canada, establishing an East-West trade route, and was an engineering feat at the time it was built. Furthermore, it was to be the longest bridge in the world. Despite this, it is well-known for an entirely different reason.

Construction on the bridge began in June 1901. In the summer of 1907 as construction was nearing completion, a young engineer Norman McLure and his local engineering team started noticing that key compression members in the cantilever section of the bridge were beginning to bend and deform. He reported this to Mr. Cooper, who wrote off the problem as minor. Officials at the construction company in charge of the project, Phoenix Company, also ignored the problem by saying that members had already been bent upon receipt from the shop.

Despite these explanations, in six days – from August 6th to 12th – McLure observed the further bending of three independent chords on both edges of one span. Upon receiving this second report from McLure, Cooper wired the Phoenix Company and told them to discontinue construction immediately. This message was ignored and construction was continued to save money and complete the project before winter. To save money on the project, Cooper had increased the distance between the bridge’s piers from 490 to 550 meters which left an excessively high dead load for the bridge’s final structure.

While under construction, the actual weight of the bridge alone exceeded its carrying capacity. This wouldn’t have been a problem had calculations made in the early stages of planning and design been thoroughly checked. Nor would it have been a problem if the construction had halted until the error was rectified. However, Phoenix was fearful that delays would increase the cost of the project and possibly extend the construction through the winter.

At 5:30 PM on August 29th, 1907, the first of two whistles rang out signaling the end of work. Workers waiting for the second whistle instead heard a loud boom, “like a cannon shot”. Two compression chords in the south end of the bridge had failed, immediately compromising the integrity of the rest of the bridge. As failure rippled throughout the structure, nearly twenty thousand tonnes of steel – central span, cantilever and all collapsed. Wreckage of what was moments ago the Quebec Bridge now lay across and beneath the St. Lawrence. Not long after, with a Royal Commission of Inquiry having apportioned blame to those responsible, the construction started on a second bridge. Original weight miscalculations were corrected and the bridge builders predicted a quick completion time since both the north and south spans remained intact. The two outer sections of the bridge were completed by the summer of 1916 and the central span had been assembled on dry ground. The plan was to lift it into position with a hydraulic elevating system, completing the bridge.

On September 11th, 1916, the central span was positioned beneath the bridge using tugboats. As it was being lifted, the elevating system failed, plunging the span into the St. Lawrence and killing thirteen workmen that day. The central span its collapse due to a failure of the elevating system used was also damaged beyond repair. A second identical spanwas constructed from the same blueprint as the original.

In August 1919, construction was finally completed and the central span was lifted into position successfully. The Quebec Bridge was finally complete, at a total cost of $25 million, and 88 human lives. The embarrassment and tragedy surrounding the bridge had fueled some speculation, not all of it without substance. Near the turn of the century, many engineering projects were performed with a rough trial and error approach. Often, project completion and construction profits were given a higher priority than safety and ethics; an attitude that often resulted in failure. Never was this more apparent than in the case of the Quebec Bridge.

In 1922, H.E.T. Haultain, a mining professor at the University of Toronto wished to improve the image of the profession. Haultain’s experience in Europe and British Columbia had given him firsthand experience with conditions that he thought had called for instilling a strong sense of ethical standards in young engineers. He approached the famous author, Rudyard Kipling, and together they conceived of the idea of the Iron Ring, which all Canadian engineers now own. While the belief existed for quite some time that the rings were actually made of the failed bridge’s iron, the myth has since been debunked, as steel was material used in its construction.

The Iron Ring – a symbol of engineers and their profession, was inaugurated at the first Iron Ring ceremony held and the University of Toronto in 1925.

To this day, it is presented to all graduating Canadian engineers in the Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer. At this ceremony, all engineers take a solemn expression of intention called The Obligation. The Obligation states the duties and responsibilities of the engineer. The circular shape of the iron ring symbolizes the continuity of the profession and its methods. The ring is worn on the little finger of the working hand of the engineer, symbolizing pride in their profession and reminding them of the importance of humility, high standards and professionalism.
In 1970, the United States began the tradition of the Iron Ring as well. Their ceremony is not a secretive one and is administered by The Order of the Engineer. What’s more, all of their rings are stainless steel. As for the Quebec Bridge, it still stands today and has now been modified to allow trains and pedestrian traffic. It is a stark reminder of humans’ potential to succeed, yet ability to fail.

We engineers love song and tradition, such as Barrett’s Privateers. One of our most beloved songs is called Lady Godiva’s Hymn. Lady Godiva, wife of the Earl of Coventry, is considered the ‘patron saint’ of engineers. Her song can be heard wherever North American engineering students congregate, although exact lyrics vary from place to place. Lady Godiva earned her place in history because of a brave act which occurred in Coventry, England.

Her husband Leofric ruled over both Coventry and Mercia. He imposed harsh taxes on the citizens there, making life quite difficult. Hearing of her kind nature, the villagers pleaded with Godiva to speak to her husband on their behalf and lower the tax rates. When she asked her husband to be merciful to the poor villagers, he agreed to reduce taxes on one condition: Godiva must ride through the town square on a horse, at high noon, without clothing.

He believed this act was so ridiculous that she would not consider it and the discussion would be closed. Godiva was a brave woman and decided to make the ride. Prior to going out, she spoke to the villagers and asked them to shutter their windows and stay inside in order that she may preserve her modesty. All but one complied with her request. The culprit was a tailor named Tom, from whom we get the phrase ‘Peeping Tom’.

The Duke was so surprised by her actions he kept his word and lowered the taxes. The people of Coventry honour her to this day. Lady Godiva possessed the traits we hope all engineers do. She was selfless and brave, and stood up for the oppressed despite her position of privilege. The lyrics to Godiva’s Hymn can be found below. Don’t be shy to make up your own verses as new ones are always being written.

Engineering leather jackets have been a tradition since the 1950s, if not earlier. They are one of the most widely known and best looking ways of showing your engineering school pride, and can be found from the Maritimes to the Rockies! They are worn by the most spirited of the engineers, and it’s very common for people to compliment you on your jacket, from fellow students to alumni to engineering students from other universities. Our jackets are properly initiated during our Jacket Night, which you’ll learn more about in November. But be careful! It’s considered bad luck to order your engineering jacket in first year.

The Ram is Ryerson Engineering’s Tool. It is the overly impressive metal hammer that is present at all engineering events. The Ram is a symbol of our engineering pride and strength as an EngSoc. It is protected by the impervious Ram Guard, a group of extremely intimidating engineers. The Ram Guard are often seen guarding the President and their Golden Hardhat (Not Helmet!) as well. These specifically chosen and intimidating individuals are responsible for the protection of our mascot, The Ram. Their second responsibility is to guard and protect the President and the Golden Hardhat. Their main responsibility is to guard and protect the Ram. The Ram Guard are led by the Head Ram Guard, who is the most responsible, intimidating, and Ram lovin’ out of all Ram Guards. So if we lose the Ram, blame (gas pedal) this person.

The Khannon is Ryerson Engineering’s newest baby. Once upon a time, Ryerson Engineering used to have a fully functioning Cannon which would be pitted against the Ye Olde Mighty Skule Cannon ™ in “gnagbnags”. It was a blast. Sadly, those days disappeared in the pages of history… Until the EngSOC brought the tradition back with the Ryerson Engineering Khannon! Commissioned in the Frosh Week of 2015, the Khannon is fired at all major RyEng events, including Frosh Week, NEM, Bug Push, etc. The Head Khannon Guards are the only ones trained and authorized to fire the Khannon. These individuals can be sighted cradling the beloved Khannon in their arms while wearing their black coveralls. Show some spirit and one day you may be the one firing the Khannon!

Godiva’s Hymn

(Sing the Chorus after each verse)

NOTE: During the presence of children, we refrain from swearing

Chorus:

We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers,

We can, we can, we can, we can demolish 40 beers.

So come, so come, so come, so come along with us

For we don’t give a damn for any old man who don’t give a damn about us.

Verses:

Godiva was a lady who through coventry did ride.

To show to all the villagers her lovely bare white hide.

The most observant villager, an Engineer of course,

Was the only one that noticed that Godiva rode a horse.

I’ve come a long, long way she said, and I will go as far,

With the man who takes me off this horse, and leads me to a bar.

The men who took her of her stead, and stood her to a beer,

Were a bleary-eyed Surveyor and a drunken Engineer.

My father was miner from the Northern Malamute,

My mother was mistress in a house of ill-repute,

They kicked me out at an early age and neither shed a tear,

Saying get out of here, you Son Of a Bitch, and become an engineer!

An Artsie and an Engineer once found a gallon can.

Said the Artsie, “Match me drink for drink and prove that you’re a man.”

They drank three drinks, the Artsie fell, his face was turning green.

But the Engineer kept drinking, it was only gasoline!

A maiden and an Engineer were sitting in a park,

The Engineer was busy doing research after dark,

His scientific method was a marvel to observe,

While his right hand wrote the figures, his left hand traced the curves.

After reading Kama Sutra, they tried position number 9,

For proving masculinity, it truly was divine.

But then one day the girl rebelled and threw him on his rear,

For he was a feable Artsie and she an Engineer.

The modern engineer must be politically correct,

No more motors lubricating, no more buildings rise erect,

No more electrical capacitors whose plates are high and fair

Instead of problem solving let’s just sit around and care.

A Commie and an Engineer were stranded on a boat,

One person too heavy though, the poor boat wouldn’t float.

The Engineer would flip a coin to settle the dispute,

So she flipped it in the water and the Commie gave pursuit.

A man sat in a tavern with a lovely looking lass

And stared when for the nineteenth time she raised and drained her glass

He said “You’ve out drunk four strong men, and half the bar, my dear.”

But the maiden smiled demurely and said “I’m an engineer.”

Our glory is in work well done; Our might, the might to do.

And all our skill is spent to fill, and bring our promise true.

Our music is a motor’s hum; our path is with the spheres.

It is the will and dream to build that makes us Engineers!

Discipline and Special Verses:

Electrical

An Engineer once came to school so drunk and very late,

Carrying a load that you’d expect to ship by freight,

The only things that held him up and kept him on his course,

Were a boundary condition and the electromotive force.

Late one night, an engineer was lost in work and toil,

He set off to find a darling girl to help discharge his coil.

In no time at all he’d warmed her up, her resistance at a low…

They fluxed until the morning’s light, when their fuses, they did blow.

Civil

Now Venus was a statue made entirely of stone,

There’s not a fig leaf on her, she’s as naked as a bone;

On noticing her arms were broke, an Engineer discoursed,

The damn thing’s busted concrete, it should be reinforced.

Chemical

A wide-eyed Artsie and a Chemical Engineer

Were formulating molecule equations over beer.

Each drank a glass of water, but the Artsie hit the floor,

For what he thought was H2O was H2SO4!

When Mechs are feeling tired and when Civils are worn out

There’s just one place to go and that’s the Ram, without a doubt

So the next time that you drink an ice-cold, golden, frothy beer

Get on your worthless knees and thank a Chemical Engineer!

Nooners is a monthly Ryerson Engineering events that is held at the Ram in the Rye bar right here on campus! It is a mix of a japanese game show and Jeopardy. Three contestants volunteer and go up to the podiums and play for glory and bragging rights. The games tend to get wild, and really test one’s spirit and love for Ryerson Engineering. The event is held on the last THURSDAY of EVERY month at 12-2 PM. Be sure to come out, have a few drinks, mingle and meet fellow engineers.

The Flaming Engineer was created by some engineering students at Ryerson University in Toronto in the early 2000s. It is a very popular drink in and around the University campus, and wherever a Ryerson Engineer is.

To Make the drink you will need the following:

12 oz Molson® Canadian beer
1 oz Amaretto Di Saronno® liqueur
1 oz Canadian Club® whisky
6 oz orange juice

Pour the Molson Canadian beer into a 20-oz glass. Add the amaretto almond liqueur and Canadian Club whisky. Fill with orange juice, and serve.