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RE: Offshore Design

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SE>Well great.  Now to the real point.  What is the biggest problem we have
SE>with non-registrants doing engineering work in this country?  Besides being
SE>against the law and them not competent.  They take our work (and money) for
SE>one, they undercut our fees, and they lower the standard our clients expect.
SE>Why should they pay me $100 for a job when Bubba can get me a permit for
SE>$20.  Now we are going to sub our design work to a guy that doesn't even
SE>make the equivalent of minimum wage in this country.  Is that so we can make
SE>more money?  No!!  What will happen is that we will see someone cutting
SE>their fees to get the job by using out of the country "labor."  If this
SE>happens too much, we will all have to cut our fees in order to eat.  Then we
SE>will be working for minimum wage.

SE>Brian K. Smith, P.E.

Dear Brian,

As a Caribbean engineer we suffered in the past from imcompetant
American and British Engineers working in the Caribbean at high rates
and producing grossly overengineered work. Now we also have your
engineers and architects selling their imcompetent services here at fees
that we would not touch. Some of the ways they do it is described below.

1) By supplying a building that they have already designed in say
California so that only the site development and foundation drawings
need to be modified and maybe eathquake loads reduced.

2) They provide a reduced service. For example they may produce only a
conceptual design for structural steel work and invite the Contractors
to produce detailed designs and connection detailing and part of their
package.While this may be acceptable practice in the U.S., here our
fabricators do not have high quality engineers on staff so that practice
is not in the clients best interest.

3) In supervision projects they send a boy to do a mans job. Someone
expendable within their organisation or someone they pick up cheap at
the side of the road.

I am not saying that the Caribbean has not had good experiences with
foreign firms, but in general they have not been good. And  these firms
are usually all well known international Consultants. In fact our firm
has joint arrangements with two British and one American firm at present
that all work well, but we have selected these firms on the basis of
their service over the year  to "third world" countries and on projectsw
here we not competing based on cost of services.

You can use overseas engineers and technicians to produce high quality
work and a greater profit if you the local consultant takes a
responsible approach. The question of leveling of the playing field
internationally in terms of pricing is more dangerous, particularly as
the cost of living and standards of expectation varies so much across
the globe, and what about taxation in the host country.

I think that the use for cheap foreign services will only have a limited
impact on the developed countries, liscencing laws , patriotism, racism
and the fact that you need people on the spot will ensure this. The
smaller third world nations are far more vulnarable to attack from all

There is nothing to fear but fear itself once you deliver a high quality
product and do not compromise too much on fees.

mark francois

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