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Looking back at McMaster Engineering Kipling pranks over the yearsApril 25, 2018

It’s a ritual that dates back to 1922 and has ties to British author Rudyard Kipling. Each year, Canadian students in the graduating year of their engineering program gather for a hushed ceremony to mark their entry into the profession

The 'The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer’ or Kipling Ceremony for M​cMaster University students is held every year on March 27. 

It’s a closed­-door event where graduating students pledge an oath to take the job of an engineer and the social responsibilities that go along with it seriously. Only graduating engineering students or those who have gone through the ceremony previously are allowed to attend. Kipling ceremonies are not formally part of any educational institution or professional organization but are generally supported by both. It’s also where fledgling engineers earn the quintessential symbol of their profession: An iron ring. 

The Kipling ritual was inspired by the collapse of a bridge being constructed over the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City in 1907. Years later, seven past presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada attended a meeting in Montreal in 1922 and one of the men, Herbert Haultain of the University of Toronto, suggested an “obligation or statement of ethics was needed to bind all members of the engineering profession,” according to​The membership agreed.

So Haultain reached out to Rudyard Kipling, the famed author of the Jungle Book, who had referenced engineers in some of his writings. Kipling agreed to write a statement of ethics. The first time an engineer took the new statement was in Montreal in 1925. Ninety years later, The Corporation of the Seven Wardens Inc., still oversee the management of the rituals. Regions are broken down into camps and have local wardens overseeing local rituals.

What’s more, many McMaster students participate in elaborate, university­-approved pranks ­— temporary displays — the night before the Kipling ceremony. Pranks that reflect different engineering departments pop up overnight on March 26 around campus. 

“They are left as memoirs of the graduating class from each designated program as students approach their final days at McMaster” said Alex Kobylecky, McMaster Kipling co­ordinator and a materials science and engineering student.

“It is a reminder to all of us that students may come and go, but the memories and experiences that have been created over the past 4 to ­7 years will follow them forever.”

Check out some of our best pranks from over the years on our Facebook page: