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FW: Error in Phone Book - Structural Eng

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I've been keeping up with this and similar topics, and I want to add my 
thoughts and personal experience with the California S.E. registration 
process to the discussion.

In my opinion, all this discussion and concern about S.E. versus C.E., while 
well intentioned, misses the point. Just because you are NOT an S.E. does 
not mean you are not qualified.  Likewise, just because you ARE an S.E. does 
not mean you are qualified.  I'll take practical experience over 
test-passing ability anyday!    If you practice "structural" engineering, I 
say list yourself in the yellow pages as such.  If you do something special 
requiring an S.E. stamp, get a S.E. as a sub-consultant.

I am "structural" engineer who practiced for 12 years in Texas as a 
Professional Engineer (it doesn't get any higher than that in Texas), then 
moved to California in 1991.  Since reciprocity does not exist between Texas 
& California (because California does not allow it), I had to take a special 
seismic and surveying!!!! test (offered every 6 months), then wait for 
written notification of a passing score before I could submit my application 
to take the California S.E. exam (offered once a year).  It took me two 
years to get my S.E. license after moving here, and that was the quickest 
timeframe possible under the system.   I was a registered P.E. in Texas for 
over 8 years prior to moving to California.

My 3 references for the California S.E. exam had to be California S.E.'s 
only, including for my 12 years of structural engineering experience in 
Texas.  My former employers in Texas, each with 25+ years of practical 
structural engineering experience with Masters and PhD degrees could not 
serve as references for the California S.E.  I had to fly back to Texas on 
my own nickel, get copies of past project drawings and calculations, then 
submit them to a California S.E. for his review.    Otherwise, I would have 
had to wait and work 3 more years (whatever it is) under the direct 
supervision of a California S.E. before submitting my application for the 
California S.E exam.  So that would be getting a California S.E. license 
about 5  years after moving here.

I submitted my S.E. application about 3 months before the deadline.  Just to 
make it interesting, about one week before the deadline, I got my S.E. 
application returned to me from the "Great State" of California along with a 
form letter stating that my application was not acceptable because the 
entire description of my  previous 13+ years of structural engineering 
experience needed to fit into a roughly 3 inch by 5 inch space on the 
application.  (In the words of that immortal philosopher, Gomer Pyle, 
surprise, surprise, surprise!).  I had attached an 8-1/2 x 11 page or two 
that concisely summarized 13+ years of structural engineering experience, 
which the application had stated  was acceptable.  But no, now the State 
wanted me to become a (quote) " master writer" (unquote).   I was lucky I 
did not have to wait another full year to take the S.E. test (offered only 
once a year), even though I  followed the rules.

I thought the tests themselves were relatively easy, and passed them both 
the first time, and yet I had to wait 2 full years to call myself an S.E. 
(Almost had to wait 3 full years, but fortunately my "master writing" 
abilities met all State of California requirements, plus that number 6 font 
size came in mighty handy!!!).    I'm 99 percent sure I could have walked in 
the day I moved here and passed the S.E. test, yet it took two years mostly 
of red-tape to "go the distance".  By the rules, for my first year in 
California, I could not even put  P.E. on my business card.  At the end of 
two years, I had a piece of paper to hang on the wall, but no more skill 
than I had before.

In my opinion, one unfortunate  consequence of the S.E. registration 
process, however unintended, is that it acts as a barrier that limits the 
ability of many qualified structural engineers in other parts of the UNITED 
States to practice in California.  Yes, I've heard the argument that  it's 
different here because we have earthquakes here, but you need a better 
argument than that, especially with the IBC coming soon.   California S.E.'s 
do not have a monopoly on earthquake engineering expertise, or whatever it 
is that makes S.E.'s so special.  Should it really take 2 to 5 years to gain 
California S.E. registration even if you are already registered in other 
parts of the UNITED States?

In my opinion, the C.E. versus S.E. debate ranks right up there with the 
"how many angels fit on a pinhead" debate.   I vote to submit this issue to 
The People's Court (Judge Koch presiding) for a ruling!  Or what about Judge 

Steve Uthoff
Current California S.E. (since 1993)
Former Texas P.E.  (1983-1992)

P.S.  I'll never, ever let my California  S.E. license expire, unless I win 
the lottery!

From: dennismc(--nospam--at)
To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Error in Phone Book - Structural Engineers
Date: Monday, September 29, 1997 7:20PM

I agree with Brian,

You are a Civil Engineer and nothing else, no matter what area you work
in.  What ever your license says you are is what you are.

Sounds to me that the board should either ban the use of the word
"Structural" in any context to anyone except structural engineers or
require the license number to be present.

Also Dennis, from one of your previous posts, it sounds to me that you
tried yourself, were the judge and jury and found yourself innocent.
How do we know you really did this mistakenly.  I know the phone company
does not have a separate catagory for structural engineering, its
structural engineers in my phone book and all the others I've looked at.

If you want to continue to talk the talk, take the dam exam and prove to
yourself and the rest of us that you are worthy of the title.  Anything
short of this is just verbal retoric justifying your inabilty to go the

Dennis McCroskey

Brian Kehoe wrote:

> Dennis,
> Your mistake was using the term Structural Engineering to the phone
> company personnel
> during the contact.  How can you expect a lay person to understand to
> subtlety between
> someone practicing structural engineering and someone who is a
> licensed Structural
> Engineer?  Instead, you should just call yourself a Civil Engineer,
> since that is how you are
> licensed.  Using the term structural engineering is, IMHO deliberately
> misleading.
> If you don't like being only licensed as a civil engineer, then take
> the test or get BORPELS
> to change the rules.
> ------------------->
> Brian Kehoe
> BEK(--nospam--at)WJE.COM