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Purple E


Engineering students in Ontario, and various other places, often times dye themselves purple during Frosh Week. Engineering faculties often have purple as their colour of choice. Why is this colour so prominent in the engineering faculties? Why is it held in such high regard in the eyes of the engineer.

There are various different stories explaining why this colour is held in such high regard in engineering. There is no concrete evidence that explains it but the two most common stories are as follows. The first is regarding royalty and is the more base of the two stories.

The colour purple was highly coveted before the invention of synthetic dyes because it was so difficult to obtain. The dye was collected from mollusks and snails and because of the quantities it took to produce a few grams the labour and rarity made it exceptionally costly. This meant only nobility wore purple. Once the synthetic dyes came out engineers simply adopted the colour because of its prestige and the pride they took in their work.

The second story is much more widely accepted - probably because of the sense of honour and duty it instills in engineers who hear it. The engineers of the Titanic wore purple coveralls (to distinguish the engineers from other employees). In the event of a disaster it was the engineers responsibility to keep the ship afloat as long as possible. As the Titanic was being evacuated the dye from the engineers working in the boiler rooms and putting out fires seeped into their skin discolouring it purple. These engineers ended up keeping the Titanic afloat for significantly longer than had they left the ship saving many lives. Because of their efforts to delay the inevitable they ended up going down with the ship. In memory of this act of selflessness and to remind themselves of the duty engineers have to the well being of the public engineers dye themselves purple.

Regardless of the history behind why engineers started wearing purple engineers now take pride in the colour. They have associated the responsibility, hard work, and the high ethical conduct necessary to be an engineer with the colour. These morals are then instilled in new engineers with the ceremonial dying of a new engineer..

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