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RE: CE licensing a different problem

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-----Original Message-----
From:	Bill Allen [SMTP:BAllenSE]
Sent:	Sunday, October 05, 1997 12:18 PM
To:	'seaoc(--nospam--at)'
Subject:	RE: CE licensing a different problem

I haven't been following the Cardenas assembly bill very much (I 
tried to go to the web site and the search engine couldn't 
locate the document), but I HOPE the title act will not be 
watered down to let every civil engineer call him/herself a 
structural engineer. It would be a true slap in the face for all 
of us who took and passed the exam.

I would agree with you and would hope that it has some 
provisions for the evaluation of qualifications - but this is a 
difficult area to guarantee. At best, I believe that 
grand-fathering existing Civils into an SE type of category will 
eliminate those that want to step over the line infrequently. 
For example, after a disaster which creates a need for qualified 
engineers. Possibly another way to filter out the unqualified is 
by requiring an engineer who claims his field of expertise to 
provide references from existing SE's to their ability or allow 
evaluation by committee of the work that they do. Even building 
department records listing the EOR can help to narrow down the 

I also believe the title of structural engineer implies a lot 
more than just issues applicable to high rises and essential 
facilities. Present company excepted, but I know a lot more 
about structural engineering than a lot of civil engineers (and 
architects) I have to compete with.

Bill, I am sure that you are more knowledgeable than I am in 
many areas and that I have skills which you don't use regularly 
that I can claim superiority. But this is the issue and I think 
we all agree on this. I am not unique in our profession but feel 
that I represent the 40% of CE's that I mentioned in my post. I 
have not considered the CE's that belong to CASE and not other 
SEA's, nor have I considered the CE's practicing structures that 
are members of ASCE or NSPE. However, I believe that the 
statistics are a fair sampling of SEAOC alone. If you consider 
the sheer (no pun intended) number of CE's in California at over 
46,000 from time zero the ratio of CE to SE may be greater. 
However, lets simply focus on the CE that is devoted to 
structural engineering. Also assume that any engineer who does 
not acknowledge his ability in some form of professional 
activity (subscription, volunteer, silent member etc.) is 
probably not keeping up with the profession and may not be 
qualified to meet the requirements of structural engineer. 
Possibly this is where continuing education credits can be 

 I don't mind telling you that, when I am competing with a civil 
engineer on a project with a new (potential) client, I inform 
the client what was involved to allow me to use the title 
structural engineer and that the civil engineer either couldn't 
or hasn't.

Based upon the number of engineers that take the exam each year, 
the answer is probably that he hasn't taken rather than couldn't 
pass the exam. Although this is a great marketing strategy, it 
has very little to do with ability to design your clients 
building unless it is an essential facility or high-rise. I can 
easily identify many SE's who have great ability in concrete and 
steel but should not have their stamp wood framing. They fully 
understand the concepts, but don't know enough about the 
materials of that section of the code.
How about in area's such as URM retrofit. If I poses the 
knowledge and ability to design this area and an SE does not, 
does that make him any less of an SE or does that make the CE 
any more of a structural engineer. Of course not since URM 
retrofit is structural engineering but requires knowledge of 
some unique design methodologies other than simple uniform load 
Ability has to do with the individual, not with the title.

I also believe that private sector clients have a right to 
request these credentials for their design professional.

They have the right, but the engineer does not have the right to 
inform the client that only an SE has the ability to do what he 
does. An SE only has this right when he is speaking of essential 
facility and high-rise. To convince your client that your 
abilities are superior because you passed the SE exam is IMHO 
very unethical.

Let's raise the bar, not lower it.

Bill Allen

Bill, again it is not an issue of raising standards for those 
areas where the licensing board has deemed the engineer 
qualified to practice structural engineering, The issue is 
filtering out qualified engineers from a mixture containing 
unqualified engineers. I believe the techniques that I have 
suggested are reasonable. This then leaves the decision to the 
individual as to whether or not he wishes to take additional 
exams to allow him expert status and to practice on specific 
types of structures.