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Two-Tiered SE Licensing (Sort of long...)

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I've finally gotten around to reading the piece by John Shipp, Bill Warren &
Teresa Castle in the October mailing of SEAOC News.  Although the article is
well-written, I'm not too certain that this approach is going to make the
Structural Engineering profession any more beneficial to the public or to
those seeking licensure ("Big" government/legislation?).

One of the distinctions between the SE-I & SE-II is the level of difficulty
of the project one can legally accept.  A professional is required to work
within his/her own limitations or to seek outside assistance if necessary (I a "perfect world").  Those that work outside their immediate arena
of expertise will do either of three things: (1) Consult with someone who is
more familiar with that type of work, (2) study, research, ask questions and
run calculations & details until he & his team have completed the project
properly or (3) accept the project, plough on through and screw up.

When I think of the word "competent", I picture an engineer who may
specialize in a particular field, but he/she is capable of applying basic
principles to the behavior of ANY structure using accepted methods and
having the ambition to understand (through independent study, seminars,
classes, research, interaction w/ others who have experience in that area,
etc.) what is required to complete a project.  Bill Polhemus, Harold
Sprague, Dennis Wish, Bill Allen, Charlie Carter and others who contribute
to this list come across to me as "competent" engineers that appear to
specialize in a particular area but have demonstrated an understanding of
the principles that apply to all types of structures and come across as one
who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure a project is completed

Legislation and discipline certainly have a necessary place, but I believe a
big part of what makes one "competent" comes from the personal desire to be
the best that they can be.  Maybe the Structural Engineering exam should be
made more difficult or have additional "advanced" problems on it, but I
don't believe the answer to the "competence" question is to divide a
Structural Engineer into two categories. In California, Civil Engineers are
legally allowed to design a multitude of structures -- maybe the types,
heights, etc. could be limited further, but I don't know that even that
would answer this question of "competence".

Dave K. Adams, S.E.
Lane Engineers, Inc.
Tulare, CA 93274
PH: (559) 688-5263
E-mail: davea(--nospam--at)