Luck of the Engineer

Written By: Communications Team

Date: March 17, 2023

Luck of the Engineer cover image

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the namesake of this jubilant holiday was actually the Patron Saint of Engineering. Is this true? Maybe. According to legend, St. Patrick helped construct many churches using innovative and inventive techniques of the time to improve the strength and aesthetics of the structures. Some of these concepts were derived from early Roman architecture that incorporated the use of lime mortar, ceramics, and stone instead of dry masonry.   

In the early 1900s, engineering students at American universities began celebrating these engineering achievements attributed to St. Patrick, but the reason as to why may shed some light on why this has become a growing tradition among engineers.  

Zach Garrett, PE, an Associate on Parkhill’s Structural Engineering Team, provides more insight into how the story may have started: “I have heard St. Patrick referred to as the Patron Saint of Engineering not necessarily for the churches he built in Ireland or the technique of building arches with Lime mortar, but more so because of engineering students of the University of Missouri in 1903. You see, the story goes that they needed a break from their studies, so one of the students used St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to skip class, claiming that they needed to celebrate St. Patrick being an engineer. 

“I am sure that St. Patrick really did bring some Roman building practices with him to Ireland when he was building churches there to spread Christianity, so I will go along with him being the Patron Saint of Engineers. I may even join in with engineers from the University of Missouri in singing the Missouri Engineers’ Song below when celebrating!” 

Saint Patrick was an engineer – he was, he was. 

Saint Patrick was an engineer – he was, he was, 

For he invented calculus and handed it down for us to cuss; 

Erin Go Bragh – Rah! For the engineers! 

While the origins about St. Patrick and his engineering prowess seem to be a bit hazy, engineers around the world still relish in the revelry and pay homage with a tip-o-the-hat to his contributions every St. Patrick’s Day. Sláinte