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RE: License (Business)

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Who said a pollutant has to be toxic or poisonous? Carbon monoxide is toxic,
if present in the environment and it enters your blood stream it will have a
damaging effect: it is also accumulative, so multiple exposures can build up
to toxic levels. Carbon dioxide as you point out is not toxic, but if the
available oxygen in an environment is converted to carbon dioxide then will
suffocate due to lack of oxygen: hence plants in sealed terrarium survive
whilst animals don?t.

I wasn't exactly being ironic. Lovelock in the Gaia hypothesis (Ages of
Gaia), requotes Hippocrates: "the dose is the poison ".  And indicates that
oxygen is a pollutant, if levels exceed 20% we would not exist. That
existing life has polluted the original atmosphere of the planet, to create
the current atmosphere. In the Ages of Gaia, Lovelock presents Schrödinger's
negative entropy theory of life, and Shannon's negative entropy concepts of
information and uses to define life. Life becoming a self-organising entity
which actively resists entropy. Potentially fits Buckminster Fullers concept
in operating manual for spaceship earth: wealth being negative entropy.

Since management theory borrows the Lotka/Volterra population ecology model
to model the competition between businesses and/or products, each seen as a
species, and Lovelock indicates this ecology model is incomplete, because it
does not fully model interaction of the species with environment, it seems
plausible to adapt the Gaia hypothesis to business modelling. More
particularly given the Gaia hypothesis has its basis in thermodynamics: and
mass and energy can neither be created or destroyed, only transformed from
one form to another. So if something is growing something else is declining.

>From such perspective I therefore see the conservation of the natural
wilderness as being nonsense. It is also nonsense to maintain the existing
business environment. Clearly in a simple universe with a single life form
and energy source. Then lifeform1 will transform energy source1 into energy
source2. Ultimately energy source1 will be extinct and so will lifeform1,
but energy source2 will be plentiful. If there is a second life form, then
this life form may regenerate energy source1 extending the life span of
lifeform1. Since there are always losses in the system it still cannot be
around indefinitely. But still having a regenerative cycle provides for a
longer lifespan than no cycle. We don't have a simple universe or business
environment, we have a large diversity of life forms and energy pools: some
of the life forms themselves are the source of energy for other life.

What ever we do we change our environment. If we do not monitor those
changes and adapt and respond accordingly, then we will perish earlier than
if we adapt appropriately.

The creation of legislation for licensing of engineers, indicates a failure
of the profession and industry to provide quality robust product: both goods
and services. The imposition of the license, now sets absolute minimum
requirements for the level of service required to be provided. If someone
has a license, then expect that level of service, and no less and no more.
Therefore if those with the license are charging a broad range of fees, then
as far as the community is concerned the lowest fee is good enough. If
higher level of service was required and necessary then the requirements for
the license would be higher, and therefore the minimum fees available would
be higher. Thus those charging a higher fee are either charging too much or
offering service in excess of needs. In general customer doesn't want to pay
more than necessary for the job, nor pay for product they do not want.

Whilst code checking is important, it doesn't necessarily offer much value
to the client. The license basically indicates the possessor can code check,
it doesn't really indicate they are a competent design engineer. Each design
solution, can also be considered as an individual species competing for
dominant position: the one that gets implemented.  Just because a
design-solution is code compliant and wins the building permit, doesn?t mean
it is practical to build: the required resources especially skilled
workforce may not be available.

It takes more effort to demonstrate that an architects, owners, or builders
idea will work, than it does to simply impose the text book standard
solution to a problem. Further more if insist on the text book solution,
under conditions it is not feasible, then the client will simply go
elsewhere, to get a practical solution. Given that only about 25% of US
"engineers" have a license: a license is clearly not necessary for design,
the license is only relevant regarding assessment/supervision of design for
some items covered by legislation. There is also clearly a large over lap
between civil engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering
and architecture. Architects and civil engineers, also were originally the
chief builders on projects, so there is now a large over lap with what
licensed builders can do.

It is clear the environment is changing. The Royal society reduced its
interest in applied science, largely giving birth to the institution of
civil engineers, it in turn had more interest in railways than the
development of the steam engine and so the institution of mechanical
engineers was born. Over the years two species have competed: the practical
versus the theoretical: it appears at present the applied mathematicians
have won. University studies are biased towards mathematical problems, and
very little empirical science. Interest in science declines still further,
as codes of practice, focus education and examinations on use of such codes.
So that whilst the universities can churn out "engineers", they are little
like their predecessors: Telford, Brunel, Coloumb, Navier. So there may be
hundreds of people with SE licenses, but it doesn't make them engineers:
more the like it corrupts the meaning of the word engineer.

The status of engineers has never been established because the collective
has no perceived skill of high value. It was never the case that an engineer
was wanted for the job, but that a Telford or a Navier, was wanted for the
job. Declaring oneself as a member of the collective, will not attract work:
anyone will do. Further more there is more than one product which will
satisfy the needs of the community.

To be a structural engineer is to have a more limited scope of work than an
architect or civil engineer. It also requires paying attention to the highly
specialist skills of that discipline. If can only do slightly more than an
architect, then not really a structural engineer. I expect a structural
engineer to be capable of analysing the structures of: buildings, dams,
bridges, storage tanks, cranes, ships, aircraft, and more. All! Not just

If skill base limited to one, then maybe something less than an engineer.
But who wants to waste time inventing new names and new professions? The
industry is already messed up by the creation of drafters, designers,
technicians, technologists and engineers. Historically drafter was the entry
point to engineering, and the first stepping stone upwards: now it?s a
career. Understandable. Only room for one chief engineer, and it may take
your life time for them to retire, so you never get the position. So change
employers, and hope the top position is a lot closer at hand. But it does
represent a change in the business environment. As does the existence of
universities churning out people with vocational/occupational/professional
degrees rather than providing a universal education and leaving it to the
graduates to figure out what use they can make of their new knowledge.

Not only is a structural engineer an industrial product as my previous post
suggested. But also a species with a highly specialised niche in which it
can survive. Structural engineers are also a pollutant. They are a pollutant
if more people are transformed into structural engineers than is necessary.

However one SE license holder is much the same as another. Structural
engineering however represents a much larger class of people, with a much
broader skill base. Surviving in business is not about being a licensed SE,
but about providing quality of service and value to clients: typically value
to clients which helps them make a profit.

No one will pay an engineer $1000 to save a $1000 worth of concrete. It is
better to have the concrete providing resistance than a lot of paper saying
not required. They may pay $200 to save a $1000, but potentially still
better to have the concrete. What really provides benefit is distributing
the $1000 worth of concrete in the structure so that it adds $5000 to the
sales price of the building. Concrete hidden in the ground is not perceived
as adding value, it is cost.

Synergy indicates that the whole is different than the sum of the parts. The
sale price of something may be less than the sum of the individual costs: in
which case not a good business proposition. Why shouldn't the building owner
spend their money on the kitchen and bathroom, such things have value to
them. The concrete buried in the ground does not: and in several years time
when come to sell the building, who can see what is in the ground or in the
walls. It is just cost which may not be recovered on sale of the building.

The owner has a budget. That budget needs to be employed in such a way that
the maximum possible value end-product is produced. It is thus not necessary
that the maximum portion of the budget goes into the end-product, it may
have to go into the planning, design and management necessary to develop the
maximum value end-product. Time based fees and percentage fees are thus not
necessarily in the interests of either client or consultant.

On a time basis the fees for some small building projects can exceed the
cost of the actual structure. In these cases the structure would likely be
turned into a manufactured product and bought off-the-shelf to distribute
the cost of design and engineering. Once done however, the prospective
customers get the idea that the purchase price is too high, and they can buy
materials and provide the labour themselves at much less cost. Problem: they
cannot provide the engineering.

The high purchase price of the manufactured product has little to do with
distributed cost of engineering: but profit margins, overheads and high
onsite labour costs. Compared against which the custom engineering costs,
become acceptable. In the first environment engineering costs are too high
and favour volume production, once volume production introduced the
environment changes and the custom engineered solution becomes favourable.

So manufacturers can push product prices up and up, to maximise profits, but
if significant infrastructure is not required to get established or produce
by self, then they will loose many potential customers. Thus difficult to
become a start-up car company, but easy to become new builder. Even easier
to become a new consultant. Consultant in what? What ever people willing to
pay for, which provides them benefit. Generates local order, and reduces
disorder. Except order doesn't result, because the types of consultants
available simply proliferate and pollute the environment, and the potential
customers become confused. But then will have the emergence of the
consultant who can sort out this confusion for the client. Result architect
displaced by project manager: and no principal designer to coordinate the
resultant mess.

I saw a documentary once about the American West, and the modern cities. It
ended by asking an old timer what he thought about the new cities: he
thought they were grand, but wouldn't it be great to knock them all down and
start again. Or from Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance: The journey
is more important than the destination.

Whilst there are many benefits being able to build upon heritage. I still
like the concept of the Viking burial: take the chief and all his junk and
burn the lot: then can start a fresh.

My predecessors may consider they have built an ordered city. I think their
creations are pollution and waste, and highly disordered. But one species
waste is another species food. One persons junk is another persons treasure.
All products are simply raw materials from which to build new products. Once
a product is introduced to the environment (natural or economic), that
environment will change for ever.

Pollution therefore is a matter of perspective. As for the climate change
issue. Well who said we have stable and consistent weather patterns:
climate? If changing then climate doesn't exist. If doesn't exist then
cannot change. The environment however is always changing: both natural and
economic. Both are dynamic adaptive systems, and both can have their
equilibrium position displaced.

The issue is whether we go with the natural flow, or direct the flow. The
natural flow is a warming planet, irrespective of CO2 levels: its what the
sun does: burns hotter. Also most media keep showing great clouds of water
evaporating from power station cooling towers rather than the invisible C02
from the chimney stack. But then water is a green house gas. Now clouds
block insolation, as well as trap heat, therefore tends to get cooler.
Higher temperatures should mean more water evaporation, therefore more
clouds, therefore more green house gases in atmosphere, and thus possibly
cooler. CO2 may be a problem or it may not. I don?t know. There are a lot
more visible and immediate problems to solve. The economic system and
environment holds many of the problems, and the causes of many undesirable
changes in the natural environment.

With out changes in the economic environment then cannot respond and adapt
appropriately to the consequential changes in the natural environment. Most
businesses are too slow to adapt to changes in the local economic
environment thus little chance of adapting to global changes in the economy
or the natural environment. As my engineering contracting lecturer put it:
most of the people in school of management couldn't manage a Dim Sim Shop.
His point was that a business doesn't need VP of marketing, VP of
engineering, VP of finance etc ... Business needs someone to do the job, and
otherwise time to provide the support work. Or time in the business and time
on the business.

Within the complex industrial network of energy transformations and/or
financial transactions, there is a great deal of waste. Also as complex as
the network is it does also lack diversity of form. Thus oil is not a
problem, if it is one of many options. Likewise coal is not a problem if it
is one of many options. Natural adaptation will simply consume the most
readily available resource until exhausted and the species become extinct. A
more balanced sustainable approach, would attempt to make better use of all
available resources in the most optimum way. That includes structural
engineers, civil engineers and architects seen as resources.

It is crazy when engineers are so discipline biased they are too stupid to
look over the fence and learn from other disciplines: and consequently spend
years inventing an inferior version of the wheel. Civil, structural,
mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering may seem extremely
different. But most involve similar mathematical models, even though the
technology is different. Computer science makes the disciplines even more
similar. It is the data structures and algorithms for manipulating which is
difficult to learn, learning the technologies is otherwise by comparison
relatively simple. The problem is occupation biased university degrees and
industry who wants to replace the last worn out cog with another just the

As for what I say sounding foolish. I take it for granted it does. I
wouldn't be compelled to say anything if I had the same views as everybody
else those that do not share the same views likely to perceive my views as
foolish. If so that is feedback from the environment, a stimulus for change,
but not to change my views but improve/change the way I present the views. 

Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
South Australia

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Tuesday, 4 August 2009 02:32
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: License (Business)
> Like a plant, it pollutes its environment with carbon dioxide, then before
it suffocates it adapts its behaviour and breathes in the carbon dioxide and
then pollutes its environment with oxygen.
Do you realize how foolish that sounds? I'm not trying to get in your 
grill, but jeez!

You talk about ME "drinking the Kool Ade..."

(Pardon me while I take another sip of this "poisonous" concoction of 
Diet Coke. It contains that dangerous pollutant, CO2, you know).

(N.B.: If you were trying to be "ironic," please forgive me for not 
getting it. But as we have had the EPA declare CO2 a "hazardous 
substance," you have to understand that what was once considered 
absolutely loony behavior is now considered reasonable, so who can tell?)

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