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Caldwell, Stan wrote:

Rather than guessing what is going on and sharing your opinions based on those guesses, why not spend a few minutes up front researching exactly what is going on? Then, if you still care to share your opinions, at least they will be based on fact. Everything you might ever want to know, including who has applied for certification so far, can be found in the links at the Structural Engineering Certification Board website:
Please spend a few minutes at this website ... knowledge is a wonderful thing.

Stan, I had already visited the site prior to "stirring up the hornet's nest" in here. With all due respect, it really doesn't tell you much that you wouldn't expect self-promotion to tell you. That's not meant as a slap, it's just that you're not going to go to that site and read the "pros and cons." It's just not reasonable.

But here's some of what the site DOES say:

"The following items have been identified as direct benefits of national certification for structural engineers:

- Better protects public health, safety and welfare
- Implements appropriate qualifications and standards of practice through self-regulation, in lieu of minimum standards of practice that may exist under current licensing process
- Encourages meaningful and beneficial professional development programs
•- Establishes educational criteria
- Provides a uniform mechanism, for possible future acceptance by governing entities, for granting the right to practice within various jurisdictions
•- Establishes and increases the value of the title, “Structural Engineer”
•- Enhances public recognition of the SE profession and gives those needing the profession’s services a means and method for selecting a structural engineer that has met a nationally accepted standard of competency
•- Increases self-esteem"

What I think we have here is a list of "bullet points" that was populated by committee. I have been on committees of this kind before including the one that you chair on public relations for NCSEA. I know how that works.

"Self-esteem?" Personally, when I read that diluted slogan, my eyes cross. I'm being honest, not trying to be snide.

I guess my question really boils down to this: "What is the EXTRINSIC value of this program that makes it worth actually more in sheer dollars (up-front and yearly) than many individual states charge for P.E. licensure?"

I read the accompanying letter on very impressive SECB stationery, and still didn't get a single thing out of it that goes toward answering the question.

The letter states:

"The goals of the Certification Program are to:

- Establish uniform standards of examination, licensure and practice throughout the United States to enable, encourage, and facilitate competent structural engineering practice nationwide. - Identify structural engineering as a distinct discipline of engineering practice."

This looks to be a condensation of the bullet-points given on the website. Fair enough. But what is this saying?

Is SECB going to be administering a test? Or do they want to assume responsibility for "vetting" or qualifying candidates' eligibility to take the SE 1&2? Perhaps work through NCEES to accomplish this? Or gain recognition by state boards?

Are they perhaps trying to establish structural engineering credentials for those states that do not offer the S.E.license distinct from the P.E., or do not license by discipline? (If that were the case, wouldn't it make more sense to work through NCEES?)

Having been in the jaws of the dragon since the beginning of the year--work has been terribly slow--I am at a crossroads where I know I must expand my market reach. You yourself said not long ago--and I took those words to heart because they clarified something that had been forming in my own mind--that many of us ought to find a "niche" that we can fill that sets us apart from our fellows, as a way of marketing our TALENTS as well as our services.

Bearing that in mind I've been attempting to do just that, but it's coming slowly. One of the things I know I must do is obtain licensure in other states--I have a list of them about which I've spoken with prospective clients, as it happens. I've spent the money to establish as NCEES record (see other post) to make this easier to do.

But all this takes money that in my position I've got to try to be wise in spending. I will tell you that when you look at $150 to establish the NCEES record and $25 to renew, I just don't see where SECB can justify charging what it proposes for this "Certification."


NCEES already has a process IN PLACE AS WE SPEAK that purports to do all that the SECB purports to do. It's called the Model Law Structural Engineer (MLSE) designation (yeah, sounds like some kind of IT certificate). Information is found at

Here's what the MLSE designation requires:

   * Graduated from an engineering program accredited by EAC/ABET.
   * Passed a minimum of 18 semester (27 quarter) hours of structural
     analysis and design courses. At least 9 semester (14 quarter)
     hours must be structural design courses.
   * Passed the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
   * Passed 16 hours of one of the following:
         o NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) structural
           examinations, including the 8-hour Structural II examination
         o NCEES PE Structural Engineering II examination plus 8 hours
           of state-specific examinations
         o State-specific structural examinations taken prior to 2004
   * Completed 4 years of acceptable structural engineering experience
     after confirmation of a bachelor's degree. A maximum of 1 year of
     credit may be given for graduate engineering degrees that include
     at least 6 semester (9 quarter) hours of structural engineering
     (in addition to the 18 hours noted above).
   * Has no disciplinary action on record.

(Note that, according to this, all I would need to do is pass the SE II exam, and I would meet the qualifications).

You would have to establish an NCEES record (that's $150 plus $25 yearly as stated before) and it would be a one-time fee of $50 over and above that. Of course, those like me who don't have the SE II under their belt would have to register, pay for and take that exam as well.

So here's what we have as far as I can tell:


SECB $350 $100 NO
NCEES MLSE $150*+$50 $25** YES

* - If the applicant already has an NCEES record, this fee would not apply.
**-This is the standard fee for renewing the NCEES; there is no yearly fee specific to the MLSE.

And with the NCEES MLSE, you have the added benefit that the NCEES record gives you, for those who foresee having to become licensed in other jurisdictions in the future.

So what's wrong with this picture? I just do not see the benefit AT ALL accruing from SECB since it is not based on a recognized examination. Sure, I'm all for getting the exam requirement waived for those of us who have "eminence," but the professional licensure process moved away from that practice years ago. It seems archaic now.

If the SECB certification had no peer, I might understand it, but it doesn't; the NCEES MLSE appears to me to have the exact same intent with the clear advantage that NCEES is recognized by all the states--I mean, they author and score the licensing exams!

That said, I do not see any extrinsic value in the SECB certification. Intrinsically, I guess I always need more "self-esteem," but I'm not sure it's worth the extra expense.

If I'm missing something in my arguments, please let me know.

Bill Polhemus, P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company

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