In a recent podcast of .Net rocks (at 45 minutes 29 seconds), regarding the future of software craftsmanship, it is postulated that there will be an 'Iron Ring Event' (if I heard it correctly). From the context it seems that this is an event where very bad things happen due to poor workmanship. Is this is a common term? What is its origin? What does it mean?

  • 1
    You may have misunderstood; see wikipedia re Iron Ring ceremony Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 19:20
  • Possibly, I think that is related, and that is all I could find in an internet search, but my transcription of the conversation is "Sometime in the future, I don't know when, there will be an incident, an accident, thousands of people will die. The Iron Ring Event in engineering." This suggests there is some original Iron Ring event, that led to the Iron Ring ceremony.
    – AlexC
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 19:55
  • 1
    "To err is human, but if you really want to f*** things up, use a computer."
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 21:37
  • Too Localised and/or General Reference. This isn't about use of English as such - it seems to be just a matter of both speaker and listener sharing knowledge of a fairly obscure historical event. Probably specific to Canadians anyway. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


It probably refers to the collapse of the Quebec Bridge:

In 1922, Canadian Herbert Haultain created a ceremony for new engineers. New engineers are asked to recite an Obligation to their profession. They also are given an iron ring to wear on their little finger. The ring is a symbol to new engineers. It reminds engineers of their pride in their profession and their responsibility to safety.

The idea that engineers needed to be more responsible may have come from the Quebec Bridge disaster. The Quebec Bridge collapsed in 1907, killing 75 workers. The cause was an engineering error. In 1917, the rebuilt bridge collapsed. This time, 11 people were killed.

source pdf

Outside of the North American (Canadian, in particular) engineering community, I would be surprised if this were a commonly understood reference. Note that it is about more than just a reference to bad workmanship, it is a reflection on the need for professional responsibility (although based on the context OP provided in a comment, it was probably just a macabre joke).

  • The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That’s where we come in; we’re computer professionals. We cause accidents.Nathaniel Borenstein
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.