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RE: Arch. Engr. Programs but no Arch. Engineers

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Personally from my point of view, if you know very early on that you want
to go the structural path and you want to do buildings, then I think that
an AE degree is likely the better path.  Such a degree in general gives
one a broader looking into overall building systems.  And even if you then
specialize in structural systems, you can still get a good feel for how
your structural stuff will "interact" with the other building systems
(i.e. mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural, etc).  From my
experience, an AE degree does not necessarily mean that you will be a
better structural engineer doing the design of structural elements (nor
the other way around...that a CE degree does not lead to better structural
knowledge), but rather can help you pontentially be a better structural
engineer in terms of working with the other building "trades" least
earlier in your career (no matter what path you took, you can learn on the
job to "play nice" with the other trades...just that AE degree folks might
have a head start).

If you don't know what you want to do "when you grow up", however, then I
personally think that either degree path could be ideal or completely
wrong.  In otherwords, if you don't know where you want to "go" then how
do you know which road to take?

A lot of people will say that AE programs give you more structural classes
than CE programs.  Personally, I don't buy that in a broad sense.  It is
not as simple as AE programs make you take more structures classes than CE
programs.  It really becomes how individual schools setup their
cirrculums.  I do believe that is frequently a little easier to get more
structural content in an AE program, but that is not the rule.  Part of
the reaon for this (at least from my perspective) is that there are a LOT
fewer AE programs than CE programs and thus much less variation in how
their cirrculum is/can be set up.

I see both as having strengths and weaknesses and in general don't
consider one better than another.  From my experience, you will certainly
find people feel that the program that they went through is better than
others...but that is usually cause they only know the program that they
went through and don't know others and as such can realisically offer an
unbiased opinion.  Their opinion will sometimes be based upon two people
who went through two different programs and how those two people are as
practicing engineers...but the problem with that is how do they know that
it was one program being better than the other as opposed to one of the
engineers being a moron and would have been just as bad going through the
other program.

As to specialization, I will offer that Michigan is the same way in terms
of licensing.  In theory, I can do EE or ME design with my PE license as
Michigan's PE licenses is a very generic/non-specialized license.  I will
mention that the state DOES keep track of which PE exam one took (i.e.
Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, etc), they could take action against
someone acting outside of their specialization (one could be considerd to
be in violation of ethical rules/adminstrative rules).  The issue of
specialization is the reason why some are pushing for seperate SE licenses
or SE certification.  And I can certainly see reasons why it would be
appropriate.  I certainly know that I only do structural type work as I
have no desire to do other "civil" work.  OTOH, I can see that some people
(i.e. such as city engineers maybe) need to be a "jack of all trades", but
a master of none...and as such, a "generic" civil PE license is still
needed such that such a person could still do some structural design and
waste water treatment design...but it is getting MUCH tougher to operate
in such a fashion as things get more and more specialized.  As you pointed
out, it is enough work to just keep up with building structural
standards/codes (i.e. IBC, ASCE 7, ACI 318, NDS, etc) without having to
worry about things like environmental regs, etc.  Heck, there are large
portions of the IBC that I don't look at to know as they have very little
to nothing to do with designing the sturctural system.


Scott (licensed PE in some states and SE in some states)
Adrian, MI

On Thu, 2 Feb 2006, Michelle Motchos wrote:

> Dangerous territory..
> I have been mulling this over since ASCE decided to establish an
> institute specific to it and NCEES developed a PE exam for it.  At the
> risk of potentially offending someone out there. I honestly find the
> notion a little disturbing, particularly in states like mine which do
> not have SE registration and actually don't even assign your
> registration to a specialty.  As a PE here who took the SE1 exam, as I
> understand it, I could legally practice in .. Electrical Engineering. IF
> I felt I was competent at it and nothing I turned out produced any red
> flags.
> So, now we may be producing a group of engineers who potentially feel
> that they are competent to provide all those services (A/MEP/C/S).  Now
> the vast majority of us are ethical about that sort of thing but I see a
> real potential for it to be abused and I don't know how it is in other
> states but I believe we currently have less than 3 inspectors who are
> put in the position of being responsible for all regulated professions
> from Engineers to Beauticians so enforcement is not "abundant".
> I guess I am protective of our specialty in the sense that I don't think
> one can 'dabble' in it and be current.  Heck, its all I can do to keep
> reading the new structural codes and design structure- I'm not sure how
> well anyone can keep up with all the disciplines simultaneously and be a
> proficient engineer.
> I think the degree has three potential places 1. Residential
> Construction, 2. Construction Management (one of our older EITs here who
> does a lot of our construction admin is going this route but does not do
> actual design), and 3. as a bachelors degree before specialization with
> a structural masters deg (or mech, elec, etc).   I'm iffy on the second
> due to a lot if run ins with CM's that think they know how to do
> everything better than us already.. But that's another whole
> conversation for another day.
> So I can see the degree having some merit, but I am concerned about
> someone coming out and trying to be a Jack-of-all-trades. But as pointed
> out by Bill, good engineers can come from all backgrounds. I just think
> if you want to design and go with such a broad platform at the BS level
> you really need to specialize afterwards.
> The big picture is a good thing- but each stroke is what makes the
> image.
> My meandering thoughts.
> Michelle Motchos, PE
> Stevens & Wilkinson of SC
> PO Drawer 7. Columbia SC 29202-0007
> mmotchos(--nospam--at)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeremy White [mailto:jwhite(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 2:25 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Arch. Engr. Programs but no Arch. Engineers
> I've had a question that I asked myself previously, but never came up
> with a good answer to.  The question is: Why are there Architectural
> Engineering programs but no architectural engineers?  If you graduate
> from an AE program why is there no distinction?  There is and AE
> Institute but there are really no AE's just mechanical engineers,
> structural engineers, etc. with AE degrees.  Some would say graduating
> from an AE program gives you an advantage since you know a breadth of
> the various building related disciplines to go along with specific
> option.  Mechanical AE's focus on mechanical engineering as it relates
> only to buildings, but is there any real advantage to being a structural
> AE over a civil structural.  I'm willing to bet the civil guys say no.
> It seems to me that the building industry is almost ripe for an AE
> professional, that is, people who are well versed in all the technical
> aspects of buildings.  These people could be the coordinators of the
> building project.  Why do we leave that crucial task up to architects?
> No offense to architects, but I would prefer a structural engineer
> running the show rather than an architect.  Because of the nature of the
> profession, I believe structural engineers are just as intimate with the
> building as the architect, but have the technical and practical
> expertise to be able make critical decisions.  All points of view are
> welcome to weigh-in :-)
> Jeremy White

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