Engineers from Canada can be readily spotted by the presence of an iron or stainless steel ring on the pinky finger of the working hand. The iron ring is intended as a symbol of humility, and is presented in a ceremony called The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, written by Rudyard Kipling for Toronto engineers in 1922. The ceremony is not secret, although many believe it to be. The iron ring has since spread to the United States and other countries.

An urban legend associated with the iron ring is that the first rings were made from the wreckage of the failed Quebec Bridge construction project in 1907. In that case, 75 people were killed. A replacement project in 1913 also failed and 13 workers were killed. While it is unlikely that the original metal came from the bridge, it can be certain that the event figured prominently in the memory of engineers of the day.
They do it slightly differently here in the States in terms of naming the ceremony and society. While I won't give the ritual details, I will tell you the reason:

Engineers, moreso than just about any other profession, have the ability to create massive death. We take science and apply it -- and if we let ourselves get lazy or get persuaded to cut corners, well... mattbw tells you about one bridge, and there are others.

The idea is that engineers should remember that, in the end, they serve humanity, not corporations. Unfortunately, the ritual/Order of the Engineer is not universal, not mandatory (just like being a Professional Engineer) and in the current climate, not cool.

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