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RE: SE Tests

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Where the ethics/legality runs into problems is a definition of
competent (not to get into a "depends on the what the definition of 'is'
is" thing).  While a structural engineer (licensed or not) may not
actively design in wood, presumably they have some training some
training/education in it (except in reality that is not likely since most
schools don't offer a wood design nor a masonry course).  Plus, the
overall basic structural theories/behaviour will nominally be the same.
Granted different materials have different properties and behaviors that
can make the application of some structural principles a little different
from material to material, but the same basic set of skills and knowledge
is the same.  Thus, a structural engineer who actively does concrete
and/or steel should (key word there) be able to design in wood (with some
possible "boning up" required) even if they don't actively design in it.

A structural engineer doing environmental work on the otherhand is a
totally different issue.  It requires complete different set of skills and
knowledge that an active structural engineer likely does not have (nor
does the active environmental engineer likely have the skills or knowledge
required for structural engineering).

It all becomes an issue of how "knowledgable" do you require someone to be
to be competent.  Do you know EVERYTHING about wood design, even though
you specialize in it?  Is it unethical (or illegal) for you to take work
on something that you don't know the answer to (but are capable of
understanding once you locate the answer or are given the answer) and end
up asking for assistance/advice on the SEAINT list?  Should you only work
on projects that have structural issues that you have solved/work with in
the past?  From a licensing point of view, I would say no (although I am
certainly no legal or ethics expert).  From a point of view of serving
your potential clients in the best manner, maybe.

To me, compentent basically means that you understand the basic underlying
theories and have the skills/knowledge to find the answers that you don't
already have _AND_ understand those answers when you find them.  By, this
definition, in no way am I anywhere near compentent in other areas of
civil engineering like environmental, storm water systems, etc.  I am
either compentent or darn near it on geotech issues (both from education
and on the job exposure to geotech issues while doing structural work),
but there are still areas where I would likely sink fast on more complex
geotech issues without assistance.  I am competent in structural
engineering.  Now, personally does that mean that I would accept just any
project?  Nope...at least not without some SERIOUS peer review on projects
with certain issues.  For example, would I feel comfortable designing a
complex steel structure in a high seismic zone with out some a good peer
review?  Nope.  Could I do it?  Am I competent enough?  Yep...but I am
also smart enough to know that while I would not likely make any mistakes
that lead to life safety issues (but then _ANY_ one can make such
mistakes...even the most competent, licensed, experience California SE), I
would not likely produce the most efficient design.

I do agree that there should be seperate SE (practice act) licenses in all
states.  I don't care if they are actual SE licenses or PE licenses that
are basically SE licenses in disguise (i.e. structural education
requirements and structural exams rather than just civil education and
exams).  I agree that civil engineering has gotten rather broad, while its
"subfields" (structural, geotech, materials, environmental, etc) have
gotten more complex and specialized.  I also feel that in many regards the
need for "special" licensing for things like "high" seismic design is
becoming less needed.  Like it or not, the time of the West Coast being
the only area of seismic concern is gone (at least from a code point of
view).  Those of us East of the Rockies must start learning to deal with
seismic issues, with little in the way of exceptions (some regions still
have fairly minor seismic issues, but if you practice in a large region,
then you will need to get your head out of the sand even if your
hometown/area is low seismic).  While there may not be a need for many
East of the Rockies to learn time history analysis or base isolation, we
still must learn about the key thing in seismic design...ductile
detailing (_EVERYONE_ should understand and know load paths...seismic or
not...if you don't have a good load path, just cause your loading is wind
will not keep the building from falling on your head).

Well, enough soap boxing for me for tonight...I have to put together a
talk about licensing for the local ASCE student branch (i.e. requirements
for getting your license, keeping it, how things can vary from state to
state especially for those of us in structural engineering, and where
things might be headed - the whole master's degree crap, etc).

FWIW, I maintain my Civil license in Michigan because it is also my
Structural license in Michigan.  There is no difference here.  But, I
_don't_ have a PE license in Illinois as it would do me no good (I have no
desire to do anything other than structural work)...so I just maintain my
SE license there.

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI

On Thu, 6 Nov 2003, Bill Allen wrote:

> I disagree with you on one point, Scott.
>
> If you took on any work that you were not competent in, regardless if
> you were licensed to do so, I think that's not only unethical but
> probably illegal as well. This includes designing wood structures if
> you've spent your whole professional life designing steel and concrete
> structures. That's one of the problems with the Civil license; it's so
> broad.
>
> The ONLY reason I have a civil license is because I had to get one (and
> maintain it) in order to qualify for the SE title. If I had my way,
> Structural would be a practice (not a title) her in CA and I would forgo
> my Civil license altogether (as I have for my Arizona license).
>
> Regards,
>
> T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
> V/F (949) 248-8588
> San Juan Capistrano, CA
> http://members.cox.net/ballense/
>
> :-----Original Message-----
> :From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu]
> :Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2003 4:04 PM
> :To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> :Subject: Re: SE Tests
> :
> :I would tend to look at it the other way...the person who is a PE 50 ft
> :across that state line that is "licensed" by way of the PE to do
> :structural work may not really be qualified to do such structural work
> :because they specialize in environmental engineering work.  How does
> :someone else know this if they go to hire this person?
> :
> :In otherwords, my PE license in Michigan basics gives me the license to
> :practice civil engineering...any area of it because there is no
> :SE/speciality licenses in Michigan.  Now, since I have only done (and
> only
> :have an interest) in structural work, I would not do somethig in
> another
> :area of civil engineering.  But, I could.  Now, someone will say that
> :ethics rules (assuming that there are some in place in the state and
> they
> :are enforcable) would stop someone.  But, then maybe not.  After all, I
> :have a civil engineering education and took the civil engineering exam,
> so
> :would I really be violating any ethics to practice in another area of
> :civil engineering.  After all, I am not required (nor expected) to get
> a
> :seperate "set" of 4 years of experience in wood design before I could
> :ethically do wood design, am I?  So, why would I need 4 more years of
> :experience in another area of civil engineering to practice in that
> area?
> :
> :Now, let me be clear...I personally would not "practice" in another
> area
> :of civil engineering mainly cause I have no desire to do so, but also
> :because I would not have a comfort level that satisfies MYSELF.  But,
> it
> :seems to me someone could do so and still be ethical.
> :
> :That is why I like the idea of a seperate SE license.  Are they lots of
> :PEs in Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and other neighboring states of Illinois
> :that are likely more than qualified to practice structural engineering
> in
> :Illinois but don't have a SE license there?  You bet.  But there are
> just
> :as many, if not more, PEs in those states that aren't qualified (not
> :because they aren't smart, but rather just don't specialize in that
> :are) but can legally practice structural engineering in there own
> state.
> :
> :From my experience, most that practice structural engineering rarely do
> :work outside of that area.  Thus, it makes a lot of sense to have a
> :seperate SE license.
> :
> :Now, you can debate whether the required exams are overkill or
> underkill
> :or just right for the Illinois SE.  Personally, I think that the PE
> level
> :NCEES exams (Civil or Struct I) don't really "cut" it.  Basically, to a
> :large degree, either the Civil or Struct I exam could (and to a large
> :degree should) be able to be passed by someone who just graduated from
> :school with no work experience.  They mainly cover basic "theory"
> :problems, and have rather limited "real" world exposure (i.e. code
> :application).  I personally feel that the Struct II exam is a more
> :appropriate exam.  It requires a more detailed knowledge of specifics
> that
> :come from code application PLUS theory, while not being overly
> intensive
> :(nor time constraint based...you can actually finish the problems in
> :plenty of time).  But then that is just my personal "geeky" opinion.
> :
> :Regards,
> :
> :Scott
> :Ypsilanti, MI
> :
> :
> :On Thu, 6 Nov 2003 GSKWY(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote:
> :
> :> The word "political" with reference to an Illinois SE license was
> used in
> :the
> :> sense that there doesn't seem to be a logical reason to require an SE
> :license
> :> for many of the designs where it is required in Illinois.  These same
> :(and
> :> much more complex) designs are done just fine by PEs 50 ft across
> state
> :lines.
> :> I don't have any opinions on the matter - feel free to substitute
> :whatever
> :> word you want.
> :>
> :> I would note, however, that an SE designation means one has the
> skills
> :tested
> :> for on the SE exam.  It does not necessarily mean that one is any
> more
> :> qualified than a PE in certain types of construction, for example
> post-
> :tensioning.
> :>
> :
> :
> :
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