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RE: California PE vs SE requirements

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Bill,
I think you are over the line with Sid on this one. Sid's observations as a plan checker, however painful to the ego of some SE's in California, are valid. A perfect example of this can be found on our own Listservice as, SE's (in and outside of California) have learned to design wood structures at the same time providing responsible charge for something they have no experience with. This is a tremendous dichotomy in that the licensing issues establish protection of the public by insuring adequate experience prior to licensing so as to provide some level of competency in the field of design that they choose to practice. We are not just referring to engineering basics, but an understanding of the materials that we expect to design.
 
There is no question - and I think you would appreciate me saving the space from this post with specific examples - that engineer often step over the line of experience to seek economic opportunity. This includes CE's as well as SE's in California and equally unfathomable, the allowance of Architects to take responsible charge for structural engineering regardless of their "lack" of appropriate experience or qualifications.  
 
Sid's argument is valid. At the very least, it is egotistical to assume that passing the full-authority California SE exam is equivalent to proving competency in all materials and all methods of structural engineering. The California SE title is not a guarantee that the engineer is competent in all areas of engineering - it is only an assurance that the engineer has attained the education and work experience necessary to perform skills that require additional knowledge - specifically Hospitals and Schools as established by the 1933 Fields Act and the 1971 Hospital Act. While it is true that this often requires additional higher level skills in mechanics, it does not guarantee knowledge of methods and materials outside of those gained by experience and apprenticeships.
 
Most of us, with 20-years (or nearly) of experience as Civil Engineers,  do not feel the need to provide retroactive justification with a "simple 16 hour exam" (I've never heard it so "flippantly" described as "simple")  that is not required under the California Business and Professions Code in the performance of our jobs. I occurs to me that only the SE who has taken and passed the exam feels a necessity to challenge those of use who choose not to take the exam or develop more skills than we plan to use.  The proof of our "worth" is still standing, in some cases for more than 20 years and through many natural disasters.  The SE exam is not intended to encourage Civil Engineers to improve their knowledge or skills or to compensate for what many SE's believe was a way to "sneak" into the profession by passing the "ridiculously easy" CE exam. The only way to insure proficiency is through experience gained on the job, under the apprenticeship of another "expert" or in the classroom. The title act was not created to force Civil's to be Structurals, but to force Civil's who practice structural engineering to prove competency in the additional skills required to design Hospitals and Schools - nothing more.
 
Let's keep this in a proper perspective. The SE exam is a 16 hour paper exam and can not possibly be the appropriate gauge for the competency of engineers in all of the intricate types of structures and retrofits that are required to hold up the world of creative structures. Even methodologies vary - some not following the principles of force distribution that we were taught was a classic approach. Anyone who has worked in Unreinforced masonry retrofit and who has studied the RGA (ABK) methodology will understand that there are differences in approach to a problem that was not taught in school.
 
We need to be very careful how we segregate one another in this profession as this is a perfect example of how titles are used to define superiority. In my opinion, they simply define how well the individual can take a test and very little more than that.
 
Flame On Garth!
Dennis S. Wish, PE