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RE: California PE Vs SE requirements

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Paul,
The over counter plan checker in our area who is not licensed is simply
referred to as a Plan Check Technician. I have never heard of any city using
the Plan Check engineer to refer to anyone without at least a degree in
Civil engineering. While I have seen Plan Check Engineers who were not
licensed, they did have the education.

I have a different opinion of Plan Check Engineers. My experience actually
started with the Earthquake Division of Los Angeles City when seismic
retrofit was just starting out. Going into plan check was like standing up
for a debate. The code was interpretive as many of the issues related to the
methodology was not very clear and require adjustment. It so happened the
engineers and plan checkers were learning at the same rate. I experienced
some of the most challenging discussions and debates that I have ever had.
What this led to was a tremendous respect among those who specialized in
this area as by the time everyone was on the same page, the city knew which
practioners were especially knowledgeable. However, like most
municipalities, it reached a point were expertise in seismic retrofit ceased
and the experts moved on to other responsibilities - leaving engineers to
train the next wave of plan checkers who struggled to learn the code
methods.

In a sense we are doing the same with the 97 UBC provisions. We are learning
over again and using discussion forums like this one as well as plan check
reviews to debate and discuss the issues so that each of us walk away with a
deeper understanding of the "working" and intent of the code.

The difference is that current code is much more difficult and like beta
software, it moved along with problems and errors that are still not
resolved - leaving the disposition to the frustration of the practicing
community.

Sid's experience is growing as many plan check engineers have been leaving
the discretion of what design method to use to the engineer that stamps the
plans. The pressure is one because the work load is high and the time to
learn on the job is low. Many engineers in practice are not complying with
the code but are sticking with the 94 UBC flexible diaphragm provisions. Now
we find that the state board is expecting the Building officials to turn in
engineers who are not following full-compliance. Make an ambiguous code and
then set up the Gestapo to penalize an engineer who can not figure the code
out.

Sid has the right idea - educate the engineer the way we all learned during
the URM retrofit days. With proper support from SEAOC, the engineering
community can come up to speed but now when BORPELS is waiting in the wings
to through on the hand-cuffs.

Dennis

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Feather [mailto:pfeather(--nospam--at)san.rr.com]
> Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 7:23 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: Re: California PE Vs SE requirements
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Sid Danandeh" <sdanandeh(--nospam--at)cityofpalmdale.org>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
> Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 1:06 PM
> Subject: RE: California PE Vs SE requirements
>
>
> > The problem is that we have plan checkers that are not even
> > engineers and they call themselves plan check engineers and
> they might not
> > catch it if some one uses 0.007W as the base shear of a low period
> structure
> > located 1/2 km to the actual San Andreas fault?
> >
> You have just hit on one of the true absurdities of our profession, and a
> personal pet peeve of mine.
>
> First off, most of the plan check engineers I have encountered on
> this list
> (yourself, Scott, Ben) have impressed me with their knowledge and
> attitude.
> My question is where are you when I am submitting plans? :-)
>
> I routinely (every third or fourth project) run into plan check
> "engineers"
> who ask the most inane questions or out of left field questions.  The lack
> of education, experience, and just plain common sense is not only
> apparent,
> it is alarming.  I find myself in the position of having to provide the
> "engineering 101" lecture series response (apart from the numerous "please
> read the drawings", or "please see the calculations", or "I'm sorry, but
> there isn't any wood framing on this project, maybe you have me confused
> with someone else" responses).  The fact that the individual on the other
> end of the questions has never designed anything in their life is brutally
> apparent.  If these individuals are not engineers and have no engineering
> background, where the hell do they get off calling themselves plancheck
> engineers? If an EIT calls himself a project engineer or staff engineer on
> his business card he is technically in violation of the PE Act. The same
> should apply to the plan check "engineer".  How can an individual
> who is not
> an engineer be expected to review engineering?
>
> I will climb off my soap box now.
>
> Paul Feather PE
>
>
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