USF News Archive

USF engineering students take oath of ethics for their profession

In unison, 285 USF senior engineering students took an oath to forever stay focused on ethics across their careers, as they participated in the annual Induction into the Profession Ceremony for the USF College of Engineering.

The ceremony, held May 5 this year at the USF Marshall Student Center, honored students of two career tracks: engineers, who agree and sign a formal statement known as the Obligation of an Engineer; and computer science students, who also sign an oath and then take the Pledge of the Computing Professional.

Family and friends, as well as engineering faculty, watched as each student accepted either a stainless steel ring for engineering or a lapel pin with binary code for computer science students, and then receive congratulatory handshakes from each faculty member in their respective major.

“Engineering is all about people, so this ceremony is a great opportunity to take an oath that is founded in ethics and that serves the greater humanity,” said Robert Bishop, PhD, dean of the USF College of Engineering.

For engineering students, they were inducted into the Order of the Engineer, a national group that represents the transition from student to working engineer. A stainless steel ring was presented as a symbol of their promise and their professionalism. During the induction ceremony, each engineering student placed his or her primary hand through a large ring to have an Order ring placed on their finger by a faculty member.

Kingsley Reeves, PhD, associate professor of industrial and management systems engineering, offered a history of the Order of Engineers, saying that it is based on a 1907 bridge collapse in Canada that resulted in the death of 75 construction workers.

“Engineering is more than just number crunching. It is a matter of life and death,” Dr. Reeves said. “The profession’s moral obligations were stark and obvious. Engineers increasingly realized that technical expertise was not enough. In 1925, a group of Canadian engineers formally and publically promised to uphold the highest ethical standards. To remind themselves of their pledge, they fashioned iron rings, to be worn on their outer finger. Today, the stainless steel rings worn by the Order’s members are recognized throughout the world as the outward sign of an inward commitment to ethical engineering.”

Qiong “Jane” Zhang, PhD, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, offered further insight into the Order’s significance.

“The purpose of the Order of the Engineer is to foster a feeling of pride in being an engineer and to instill a dedication to ethics throughout the engineer’s professional career,” Dr. Zhang said. “The Order is symbolized by the acceptance of obligation and the wearing of a stainless steel ring on the little finger of the working hand. Students, the obligation to which you will soon subscribe, is a composite of several creeds emphasizing honesty and integrity and acknowledging the work your predecessors have done to gain the knowledge and the skills that have been passed on to you during your years of college training.”

For computer science students, a lapel pin with a binary code inscription is presented, offering a coded message of professionalism. Kenneth Christensen, PhD, professor of computer sciences and engineering, offered insight into the Pledge of the Computing Professional.

“The act of joining a profession in modern society is often accompanied by a rite of passage,” Dr. Christensen said. “In 2007, USF and Ohio Northern University created an organization for their graduates in their respective computer programs. The Pledge of Computing Professionals was created by an international team of 17 computing professionals. Today, over 25 institutions offer the Pledge ceremony. Throughout this ceremony, we foster professional pride, moral obligation, and ethical responsibility in all graduates in computing disciplines. The initiates who are present today will soon stand and take the Pledge. Members are expected to uphold the Pledge and honor the computing profession. The certificates and pins our initiates receive will serves as reminders of this promise throughout their professional careers.”

Dr. Christensen then added: “Encoded in the pin is a keyword. It is up to you to decode it.”

For each senior student – engineering and computer science majors – the ring or a lapel pin will serve as a constant reminder across their careers of their promise to practice their careers with integrity.

For Tiana Jameson, an industrial engineer major, the ceremony offers an opportunity to serve others.

“This reminds us to do good in the world and symbolizes our commitment to serve our environment and our country,” said Jameson, who is a military veteran (Navy) who is headed to a job with Lockheed Martin here in the Tampa Bay area.

Information technology major Tom Campo saw the ceremony as a strength for USF and its engineering program.

“This ceremony makes me feel that USF cares about our futures, and shows how they view engineering,” Campo said.

Pedro Zamora-Albor saw the ceremony as reinforcing the foundational purpose of his profession in chemical engineering.

“We need to be reminded why we came to this program in the first place,” said Zamora-Albor, who is headed to an engineering consulting job in San Francisco. “This gives us perspective and is a reminder that we’re here to make this world a better place.”

The 285 students participating in the Induction into the Profession Ceremony were among the 727 undergraduate, master's and doctoral engineering students in the Class of 2017 – the largest graduating class in the history of the College of Engineering.

Story by Sarah Worth, USF Communications, photos by Ryan Wakefield, USF College of Engineering.

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