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RE: Certification of Structural Engineers

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Well said and to  the point.  I agree with you and wish to echo your
Samir Ghosn, P.E.
Harris & Associates
At 04:00 PM 10/4/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>I am not sure if I follow Ron Hamburgers comments - are you in favor of a
>two tiered licensing or do you desire to leave engineers practice under the
>umbrella of a PE or CE designation?
>A couple of comments I have:
>1. I don't favor SE's or SE-II's defining the fine line separating SE-I and
>SE-II for a number of reasons. Obtaining an SE license (or a CE for that
>matter) does not insure competency in any one material - only the ability to
>learn a sufficient amount needed to pass the SE exam. Of course the same
>holds true of the CE license.
>I am not criticizing the SE for lack of knowledge, but am pointing out that
>an SE may be competent in steel and concrete and have little or no
>experience in wood. Case in point: One of our List members is an SE who held
>a job for years in public works. By no choice of his own, he found himself
>in the private sector and needs to make a living using his skills - however,
>there are not many private sector jobs for public works projects in a small
>one man firm.
>He has started to obtain work from local architects whose projects are
>primarily wood design. This engineer is not skilled in wood (other than what
>he may have had to pass his SE exam years ago).
>Is it proper for him to develop his skills "in the field" without completing
>either an apprenticeship under a licensed engineer who practices wood
>What differentiates this SE's lack of ability to understand and practice on
>Wood structures that is not shared by a CE who is equally deficient in
>concrete or steel?
>2. If, using this as an example, the dividing line between SE-I and SE-II is
>the practice of low rise buildings, using static analysis on buildings
>defined within the code as regular in shape, do we simply allow SE-II's
>without skills in low rise buildings to design them?
>To answer my own question, I would suggest that any regulation established
>to define the limits of an engineers basic abilities be done by a board of
>their peers which include equal representation of SE-I's and II's.
>3. An SE-II many obtain his title by education (a PHD). However, does this
>assure that he has the ability to apply his knowledge to the practical
>application of structural engineering - treating it as both a science and a
>business? How do you treat those who have more work experience than
>education and who not complete a degree but have a thorough practical
>experience sufficient to prove competency on the exams?
>4. The guidelines require, above education, a number of years working under
>the supervision of an engineer AND at least two years in responsible charge.
>What exactly does that mean. How many young engineer who leave school with a
>degree and go to work for a large office are in a position after two to four
>years where they are left in responsible charge. I would guess very few
>could qualify.
>5. The same young engineer works for the same large firm, yet he or she may
>never have an opportunity to do more than a small, highly limited, design or
>detailing on the entire project. This is typical of apprenticeships in a
>large firm whereas, those in small offices are more prone to being exposed
>to more of the project from responsible positions to the business side of
>engineering. I believe it is very important that we not simply focus on the
>science, but that we remember the business of engineering so that we are
>aware when pressure is on, that one side should not dominate the other as
>long as safety is our primary goal.
>Finally, an with all respect to competent SE's, many of you make a living
>defending one side or the other against SE's who make mistakes. They are no
>more infallible to error than the CE and, as I have noted above, may be
>qualified to do time studies, dynamic analysis, but may be deficient or
>lacking in the ability to design low rise structures - especially wood as
>one of our own is now finding out.
>Please understand that these are real issues to consider and I am not
>criticizing an engineer thrust into the private sector from doing what it
>takes to feed his family while he comes up to speed on a material that he is
>not well versed in. Knowing the engineer, the only problem I see him facing
>is his need to over compensate until he develops a sense for how wood
>structures perform.
>My point was to draw attention that obtaining an SE license or SE-II
>designation does not assure expertise in all materials or types of
>structures. Therefore, when deciding where the division should be (and I
>think it is best left to the state requirements for building type as it
>presently is for CE and SE) that each side be equally represented on a board
>made up of our peers.
>Dennis S. Wish, PE
>The Structuralist Administrator for:
>AEC-Residential Listservice
>(208) 361-5447 E-Fax