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- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: SE Tests
- From: "Keith De Lapp" <keith(--nospam--at)kdlengineering.com>
- Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 00:58:01 -0800
Bill, you're really
scaring me here! Engineering is a marketplace. The client is
not a guinea pig. Haven't you ever had a client who didn't fully
appreciate the value of the service you provide and decided to hire another
professional for less money. Hell yes you have! For the purposes of
keeping your fees up, you can't limit competition by claiming an ipso facto
threshold for competence.
You're wrong about
competence and licensing. When you pass the test and the state issues you
a license, you are deemed competent at least to the extent demonstrated by
having successfully solved the test questions you responded to. This
doesn't mean of course the engineer who spent their apprenticeship in hydrology
can practice in the structural discipline or vice versa. But it also
doesn't preclude an engineer from acquiring the necessary competency to protect
life and safety when left to their own devices.
As for civil
engineering being to broad. I believe that civil is no different from
mechanical, electrical, electronic, chemical, nuclear, petroleum, and yes
structural engineering. I'll bet you lunch at your favorite
restaurant that there are as many subsets of expertise in structural as
there are in civil. When we take into consideration the many material
factors that influence even the simplest design, it can very quickly extend
us beyond our base of practical experience and competence. Our
ability to adapt and respond to these competency situations varies from engineer
I know licensed
engineers who have never done a rigid diaphragm analysis, a grade beam on an
elastic foundation analysis, a perforated shear wall design or even know what a
masonry boundary member is. I recognize the competition for what it is,
and explain to the client that engineering is a market place just like buying
tires for your vehicle. I ask the client "when shopping for tires, do
you buy the tires that cost the least amount of money?" And then
begin to explain the value of our services in terms I hope they
understand. I believe our marketplace is shaped by the buyers as much as
it is shaped by the sellers.
In my not so humble
opinion, you can't legislate prescriptive competency. Any attempt to do so
will result in more harm to the profession than one could possibly hope to
Keith De Lapp, P.E.