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Let's discuss Bill Allen's One Question idea

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Okay, we have narrowed the field and remained friends. I would like to address Bill's one problem exam for CE's and Architects. I wouldn't be who I am without some strong opinions.
1. I like the idea but only for CE's. Although I am A Civil, I would have no qualms about taking this exam to prove my competency. Before the other Civil's flame me, let me explain. I believe I proved my competency when I took my CE exam, however, many Civils have diluted our expertise with structures to the point that the public can not tell which Civil has the experience and knowledge to design structures. Simply because of this, I would have not problem reaffirming my talents. I am not happy about this, but it was not the SE's who crossed over the line after Northridge and assessed structural damage without specific knowledge or experience in the field of structure. They took it upon themselves to identify a market in a time (as we might remember) when the building industry was in decline and many of us went for long periods of time with little or no work.
Therefore, I feel that we need to filter out those who do not have the competency to design a one story wood frame (or any material) structure.
2. I don't agree about allowing Architects to do this. Many have enough structural knowledge to be dangerous. It's not so much a problem where the building official is sharp enough to catch the mistakes. However, in many area's plans are passed through on the power of the Architects stamp alone. Many area's do not have in-house engineers to plan check and will trust that the architect knows what he is doing and takes responsibility for it. In my book, this is not enough to protect the public against potential failures or damage.
The 1997 UBC and the proposed IBC go further than to stipulate the protection of life. They affirm the codes intent to protect structures for major structural failures (refer to section 1626.1 "The purpose of the earthquake provisions herein is primarily to safeguard against major structural failures and loss of life..not to limit damage or maintain function."
This is still a broad open statement that has not clear definition of structural failure.
I have always been a firm believer that you can not be the master of two professions. To practice Architecture and Engineering is akin to being a Proctologist who decides to do Brain Surgery. The fields are two broad to insure competency in any one area.
Therefore, I would not allow this criteria for architects and would require them to take the full CE exam should they be allowed to use the title and do the work.
2. I understand that the passing of this exam does not allow an engineer to use the title SE when the choice is only SE or CE. However, as Bill pointed out, this is an excellent launching point for the two tiered licensing. I support this, which would allow the engineer who shows competency to use the title assigned to him/her (i.e., SE I or SE II). It would also allow engineers who pass the test to advertise as Structural Engineer (I or II) rather than the common PE - Structural Engineering Consultant.  We have to leave it to BORPELS to enforce restrictions and disciplinary actions on engineer who cross the line between I and II.
IMHO, any engineer who decides to enter the arena designing buildings over 160 feet (or whatever the dividing line is) or essential facilities without proving competency is simply a damn fool. Don't misunderstand, there are many who do design in this area, but under the direct supervision of an SE who is both qualified and responsible.
I believe this idea deserves merit and should be proposed to BORPELS for consideration. The other question is how the exam is to be issued. Do you expect every CE to take a twice a year sit down exam, or do you allow them to take the exam in their own offices.
I believe that any engineer who can provide evidence of his work or declarations by other engineers who can attest to his area of expertise be allowed to take the exam by mail. All other engineers who wish to prove competency without declaration of their peers be required to sit for the exam under the supervision of qualified engineers.
Most all of us subscribe to a work ethic that deserves the respect of the community. I don't believe a chaperoned sit down exam is necessary - nor do I feel that the engineer should not be allowed to use tools. I do, however, feel that the most important part of the exam would not be the number crunching, but the details produced. Therefore, the design problem can be such that the answers will always include expected lateral transfers, drags and collectors. It would be difficult to pull these out of a book when they would need to be job specific.
Any other idea's on how to get this rolling. BTW, this may be the answer that BORPELS and SEAOC has been looking for to assure compliance with the two tiered system.
Dennis Wish PE

Dennis S. Wish PE
La Quinta, California

ICQ# 6110557
"The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs."
Karl Marx