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RE: SE Test

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I don’t want to bust your bubble, but my ex-partner is a CE in California and was given reciprocity in Arizona as an SE. He turned around and solicited himself to potential clients in California as a Structural Engineer. This is a big No-No and I attempted to turn his butt in. However, BORPELS needs proof and my say so alone was not sufficient so I found out that he was advertising himself as an SE in his local Chamber of Commerce advertisement and I turned him in on this. BORPELS opened a case file on him.

I don’t think Arizona is any tougher than California – I think the ability of the engineer to design what he understands without overstepping his ability and using titles that are not legal in the state he lives is wrong. However, I think you and your wife said it adequately – Civil/Civil and Civil/Structural in California. Unfortunately this created problems for BORPELS who tried to discuss phone book advertising with GTE and Verizon as I have done. I am listed in the wrong section of the phone book and turned myself into BORPELS before anyone else did (actually I was turning in a non-professional who was listing himself as a structural consultant in the Structural “Engineer” section of the phone book.). Sally Strubinger, an enforcement officer with BORPELS wrote me back that she would take into consideration what I disclosed to her about my frustration to get Verizon (or GTE when I started) to list me where I would be identified for the work I did without having to pay a heavy price each month for a 1-inch ad. Verizon kept my simple free listing under Structural Engineer – they did not understand the difference between Engineer”ing” and Engineer and they were not about to change the heading because California is a Title State. BORPELS felt that they had better things to do with their time like catching those who are practicing illegally (like the young man I turned in) rather than follow up on those who happen to fall into the wrong category of the phone book with BORPELS themselves were frustrated with GTE’s lack of help on the issue.

California is one of three states that I know who adopted a Title Act and this is a problem because it is difficult to compare apples to oranges with other states. Illinois is another state that has a unique issue with the title of SE – but what it really comes down to is being able to identify ourselves and our ability to the public and not misrepresent our ability or overstep our ability in order to take advantage of a potential market that we don’t belong in.

This was a great problem during the Northridge earthquake when Civil/Civil’s decided (during a recession in Southern California) to represent insurance companies or homeowners and to make repairs that were done inappropriately. What did the public know or what did they know to ask. For that matter when the insurance companies sought available engineers to represent them in the field, what provisions did they make to insure that the engineer was qualified and would write a report that adequately reflected the damage and not inflate it’s cost or under-estimate its importance.


When we talk about ability – it is not an issue of years of experience and school. It is an issue of understanding the intent of the code and how to apply it in a manner that protects the public and performs the job in an economical manner that also considers performance as important to mitigate future damage. We can’t do this with materials that we don’t understand or have not developed professional intuition for. I worked nearly twenty years in this field and I won’t overstep my ability. I turn down work every day because I am not comfortable doing concrete or public works type projects. I won’t do tract homes  because of the potential liability (although I feel very proficient in wood design) and I will do seismic retrofit and mitigation work because I was trained and had experience in this field (not in school but by working on the Existing Building committee when it was the Hazardous Building Committee and by excellent instructors such as Nels Roselund).  I make a decent living because I practice only what I know how to do proficiently. Education gave me tools to learn, codes required I use those tools but sometimes (as with Seismic Retrofit of URM buildings) the rules did not match what I learned in school and had to learn something different (I’m referring to the ABK methods that evolved into the RGA 1-91 and then the UCBC Appendix Chapter 1 and now the IBC Existing Buildings codes).


We can learn but we shouldn’t do it at the expense of the public by doing it wrong until we finally get it right.





-----Original Message-----
From: Keith De Lapp [mailto:keith(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 2:40 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: SE Test


It is a nice Friday afternoon.  Am I tired of taking time to hash this out as well.  In our area the local building official is unhappy with the "Quality" (or presentation) of work submitted by shall we say unnamed engineers in a particular market sector.  In an effort to elevate the quality of work turned into them they have chosen a direction I think you would agree with.  Through a local professional society, and their own personal memberships and participation in the society, they are in the process of creating standards that the membership endorses.  The concept is that if the membership self regulates and "audits" the practice of a participating professional, their name is placed on a list of qualifying professionals.  The building department can then post the list as a list of professional that have agreed to conform to an "approved" set of standards regulated by ones membership and participation in that very same organization.


The hope is of course that peer pressure will help create an incentive to be included on the list and thereby clean up the problem.  I think that ethics and competency issues could be handled in a similar way.


Bill, thanks for the discourse.  Sorry for having gone "Wishy" on you.  Sorry Dennis, I just couldn't help myself :)


Keith De Lapp, P.E.

KDL Engineering

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Allen [mailto:T.W.Allen(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 1:01 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: SE Test



I think we’ve beat this horse to death. I think we agree more than you think.


No, I’m not suggesting more bureaucracy. IMO, it WOULD be nice if CA would tighten up the licensing laws to be more similar to AZ. That is about the only area where I would like to see the laws “cleaned up”.


I was suggesting that negligence is prosecuted after the fact when someone takes on a project outside their area of expertise, but only if something goes wrong. In that case, lack of ethics is regulated.


What I AM suggesting (but I’m preaching to the choir here) that more character be used and those folks who are not qualified to take on a project, not to do it, even if they ARE licensed to do so.


Conclude whatever you wish. Just don’t put that “more bureaucracy” label on me. It doesn’t fit. Neither does “Good Guy” (all the time). Don’t like taxes either. The points I am suggesting I restated above. No more, no less.


And, no Ivory Tower Syndrome here. I can’t understand how my specific examples have been extrapolated to this extreme interpretation of my position.


I also am not suggesting that a problem of any kind is “spiraling out of control”. Don’t know where you got that. However, there are real world examples to back up my examples.


If everyone had the same position you stated in your last paragraph, this topic would be a non-issue.


Let’s move on. Shall we?


‘Nuf said. It’s Friday afternoon and the weather is nice. At least here it’s nice.




T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)

V/F (949) 248-8588

San Juan Capistrano, CA