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RE: Volunteers - Public Advocacy

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I applaud your post and I believe we are of similar mind. With this said, I
would take exception as to the publics lack of understanding and awareness
of the structural engineering community. Further understanding of our
"expertise" would provide additional safety and performance in the publics
greatest investment, if only they understood the differences the allow
different design methods and even non-engineers to take responsibility for
their safety.
The public is ignorant of the differences in California between Civil
engineers and Structural engineers. Although there are SE's who should not
be practicing on wood structures due to lack of experience, there are far
more Civil's who cross-over from the "land" side of the profession to
"structural engineering" when disaster creates a financial market. When this
occurs, the public is the one who loses financially and may be further
At the same time, whatever law prevailed, Architects are exempt from
restrictions that limit the practice of structural engineering to Civil and
Structural Engineers. While I am not addressing my comments to those
Engineers who become architects or visa-versa, I am address those Architects
who, with a few statics and strength of materials courses, believe they can
profit more by providing their own structural engineering services.
Worse, is the perception by the general public to believe that the Architect
and Structural Engineer are one and the same. Where I disagree with your
comments is beyond the engineers need for recognition, but when the public's
welfare is at stake because of the ignorance that is perpetuated within the
building industry. It isn't so much a petty argument, but a concern for the
public's lack of understanding of what constitutes good quality construction
and what the non-professional can do to enhance performance and safety
within reasonable limits. The lack of distinction between Architects, Civil
and Structural Engineers (or "Professional Engineers" in general) go
entirely to the root of the problem - poor public relations.

While the Discovery Channel issue may seem a minor infringement - it helps
to reinforce the incorrect perceptions the majority of the public have of
the Architects role in society - from a designer to a specialist in
structural engineering.

While it may be an embarrassment to you, I'm sure that the architectural
community who argues with equivalent political venom as to whom within their
community may use the title or Architect and what definition can the public
use to evaluate the adequacy of designers to provide appropriate services to
the public.

John, please don't misinterpret my comments. I find it hard to ridicule any
individual who feels passionate enough about their profession and desire to
protect the public and who feels the frustration of the silent majority that
seem to care less. After all, it is not the majority who create change in
society or in our profession.


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