History & Traditions

The Ramshorn

The original Ramshorn mark

Before the UT Tower commanded the campus landscape, before Bevo presided over UT sports, and before the Hook 'em Horns sign became a friendly hand gesture, the Ramshorn defined excellence for students eager to be engineers. It is the country's oldest quality symbol.

T.U. Taylor, the first engineering faculty member and first dean of the College, began drawing an elaborate check mark on his students' work — a mark reserved for perfect papers. In 1905, Taylor overheard a student exclaim he had earned a "ram's horn." From that christening, the mark, which came to be written "Ramshorn," evolved into a symbol Texas engineers seized as their own.

To Texas engineering students at the beginning of the century, the Ramshorn represented a high quality standard that became a lifetime goal. Taylor began giving all engineering seniors a watch fob engraved with the Ramshorn, preserving it as a reminder to strive for excellence. He wanted to encourage not only academic excellence, but honesty, sobriety, and high standards in all human conduct. Thirty years after the naming of the symbol, a group of engineering seniors established the Ramshorn Society in 1937. Students near graduation became associate members, and alumni contributing to the College became full members. Still seeking to promote his high standards, Dean Taylor initiated a special ceremony to give signed certificates for the Ramshorn Society to each graduate.

This group and another, the Ramshorn Club, provided a forum for preserving UT's engineering tradition of quality, and served as a highly-valued advisory group. Through the advice and financial support of these alumni, the engineering program developed strongly in the post-World War II decade. These same alumni helped establish the Engineering Foundation in 1955, and later served on its advisory council. Today this group is credited with helping to establish the College's $150 million endowment. Earnings from these gifts allow the College to employ the profession's best faculty and support the country's brightest technical students. The mark remains alive on the correspondence and literature of the College, as a reminder of the high standards pursued by a century of UT engineers.