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Dec 7

Couple things that I’ll be posting about in the new year:
– Cost of owning a car
– Cost of an undergrad degree

Apr 8
Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid
Copper for the craftsmen cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall
“But iron, cold iron, is master of them all”
– Rudyard Kipling “Cold Iron”

That’s the first stanza from one of Kipling’s poem. Kipling himself wrote the iron ring ceremony, which is officially known as “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer“, back in the 1920’s.

A week ago today I received my iron ring. I won’t repeat the obligation or details about the ceremony itself. Not because the ceremony is secret, but because it is private. The short story behind the ring is that it is a symbol and reminder of the obligation my peers and I took that day. The obligation itself calls for us to remember the importance of our work, the dangers of our mistakes and the standard to which we will be held as professionals. It asks us to work to the best of our ability, to admit what we don’t know or can’t do, to look for assistance when we need it and to ask for pardon when we make our mistakes.

I’m very proud to wear this ring. Not for the ring itself, but for what it symbolizes. It will serve as a constant reminder of the obligation I took, the five years I studied, the lessons, mistakes and achievements along the way, and what I hope will be the many years of my career.

It’s not a perfect fit, but I think that’s just part of it. I’ve noticed that myself, as well as many of my peers, have been consistantly fiddling with the ring. Spinning it around, sliding it up and down the pinky, or tapping against the nearest hard surface (it makes a very satisfying tap tap tap sound). I don’t know about the rest, but I know that every time I notice myself doing this I’m reminded of that obligation and where my future is headed.

On a lighter note, I hope that I never lose it. It’s a very tiny thing, not meant as a flashy piece of jewelry. Regardless, this ring cost me well over $40,000. . . but I’m told a replacement is a much more affordable $10    =P

Mar 17

So I’m quite late making my statement on this, but none the less, here it is.

As I’m sure anyone in Kelowna is aware of, UBCO engineers hung a boat, captained by the mythical Ogopogo, beneath the WRB bridge spanning Okanagan Lake a little while back. Talk about uproar of opinions. But hey, that’s what a large population of Kelowna likes to do: voice and complain.

Anyone reading this knows that I am infact a UBCO Engineering student. And with that, no, I had no hand in this. Furthermore, I don’t know who did it, although if I did I wouldn’t ruin the secret. All I’m going to do is give my view on it, because I can. I expect many people will agree with me, and on the same note, I know many people will disagree.

What follows are MY opinions, I speak for no one but myself.

The Stunt
Sometime during the night a small (I’m assuming a vehicles worth at most) group of what are very likely engineering students from the UBC Okanagan campus hung a boat, with the likeness of the Ogopogo on board, from the WRB Bridge. Discovered early in the morning by a local it quickly became the talk of the town for that Monday morning.

Hands down: attention. And why not? It worked. People gave it attention. Society loves drama, uproar and absurdity, but more importantly society loves to blow all that up. As an engineering student I’m quite proud of what happened, both the prank and the aftermath. People voiced their approval, dislike, and general opinions on it. Arguments were had between complete strangers over why it was so great or horrible, and hey, that happens.

Anyone who does a little digging will find just how popular this little story became for a few days. News stories were produced as far away as PEI. Now that’s what I call advertisement.


The "Maria" beneath the WRB Bridge - Photo by AM1150

I’m sure at this point some people are thinking, “Well why can’t you engineers do something more productive for attention instead of something so ridiculous?”

That’s an easy answer: this is RIDICULOUS. Like I said, people LOVE the absurd. If it’s normal or accepted: it’s boring. Since I’ve been at the school I’ve personally been involved in the following:

– Shaved my head to assist in raising over $10,000 for Cancer Research;
– Raising hundreds of dollars each year for the food bank (by shoving pies into the faces of complete strangers);
– Destroying a car to send a peer to Africa to help a developing community;
– Carolling for donations (whether as thank you for the song or to make us stop) to go to United Way.

These definitely aren’t all of them, I can’t be involved with everything. But what attention did these gather? If we’re lucky, a post on Castanet (no down talk to them of course, they do a great job). Frankly, we’d be lucky if word of these things made it as far as Vernon or Penticton.

This is possibly everyone’s favourite argument against the stunt. “The people doing it could have gotten hurt or killed”, “The people who did this are putting the staff and crew for the bridge in danger”.

“hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace”

That’s the first statement in the Code of Ethics for engineers in this province, and it’s something that’s been carved into our minds from day one. Is there a level of danger in what occured? Of course. But what isn’t dangerous these days? How long have you stared at this computer screen – you could be putting your vision in danger. How long have you sat in that chair – your back could be suffering. Did you get into any motor vehicle today – the number of lives lost each year in accidents is disgusting. Heck, did you enjoy some sunshine or breath today – your risk of cancer may have just gone up.

Let’s look at what happened that Monday.
– Boat was discovered;
– Situation was reviewed by staff;
– Media had a hay-day;
– Boat was lowered in 20min;
– It was discover to be stripped down to its fibreglass hull;
– No one was injured;
– I haven’t a clue what they did with the boat.

Could something have gone wrong? Sure, but could you have choked to death on your toothbrush this morning? Why not?

Now here’s what I would think would have happened up to the hanging of the boat. Like I’ve said, I had no hand in this stunt, nor do I actually have any definite information by anyone who did help out. I just know that the people who did it were taught to think and design like myself, and I think I’m a pretty bright guy.
– There’s a time limit, needs to be done quickly but safely;
– Dealing with heights and unknown weather conditions, going to dress appropriately and bring the needed safety gear;
– Very little chance of having any big machinary available, whatever is lifted should be done so by hand;
– Thus it should be light;
– We’re working on a big public asset, there will be no damage to the structure;
– On the same note, the operation of it should not be disrupted;
– Someone is going to have to take this down later;
– Should be simple, not time consuming, and most of all SAFE;

There, that took me two minutes, and I guarentee that those involved put a LOT more time and effort into this. Will someone tear that apart and point out flaws and errors – definitely. But that’s your opinion and I won’t hold you from it.

I’m just going to look at the end product: the boat was hung, the boat was taken down, and no one was hurt during any part of it. Oh ya! People across the country were talking about it. Maybe the designer of the next super-efficient vehicle was swayed into coming to Kelowna. Perhaps people who have never heard of UBCO or Kelowna have considered coming out and seeing this place. Who knows? Perhaps I’m oddly optimistic.

Completely. But why not do something tried time and again? It works. People talk about it. Perhaps the next group who steps up will be a bit more original:
– Car on City Hall?
– Ogopogo crossing the pedestrain overpass at Parkinson?
– All of the City of Kelowna webpages lead to Rick Astley videos on Youtube?
– Downtown Kelowna is all of a sudden host to 800 two inch tall figurines of Dilbert positioned along the sidewalks, each performing one stance in the YMCA (of course placed in a repeating order)

I think I’m about done with this. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but I’m only human. My one last comment is this: It was pretty obvious who did it. And if it was SO dangerous to take down and if we should have been held responsible, why didn’t anyone ask us to come get it? Obviously some of my peers know how it got there and it wouldn’t be too far fetched to believe that we’d figure out how to get it down. Like I said, I have full confidence that the removal of the boat was considered well before it was ever hung. Even if the students who hung it didn’t step up I would gladly be one of the many who wouldn’t give a second thought in helping out.

Dec 22

And it’s done! One more term in the books!
Along with that, another round of studying, grinding, cramming and reviewing complete. Not a shabby result this year either. The marks of the first couple exams are starting to trickle in and I’m no less than pleased with them. That said, there’s still three more to wait on.

But of course the end of term and exams means one thing: BREAK!
Winter holidays are a nice way to wrap up the year. Christmas with the family and New Years with my friends (which conveniently also doubles as my birthday).

And once that’s all over it’ll be back to the grind for my last term of school (woo-hoo!)
The BIG focus of this last term is going to be my Capstone project! But I’ll touch on that later.

Enjoy the Holidays in whatever fashion you might!