Continuing Education is one of those subjects that
tends to draw a lot of opinions, supported by not a lot of facts. Here are
If we want to call ourselves a profession, we should act
like it. To me this implies that we understand that knowledge is what we
sell. I believe that this knowledge is rather fluid, even in our
profession, and so should be updated and augmented more or less
continuously. If you want to keep on designing with no more knowledge than
you had in the 1980's you should bill yourself out at the rates you billed for
in the 80's.
Let me take David Merrick's comments (below) one at a
1. Cost of seminars. If someone told you that
you should design their project for the prestige and recognition it would bestow
on you, the correct response would be to wait until you've shown them the door
before breaking out in laughter. Or anger. Let's be
Not sure what you meant with the reference to cost of
books. If someone like AISC wants to cut you a break on the cost of books
to lure you into taking one of their seminars, great. Take it or
2. "Self study of relevant materials" is a fine
thing, but has one very significant problem: hard to prove you did it,
unless there is a test component or something like that, in which case, I agree
with you--it should be allowed at a higher percent.
3. PDH requirements based on length of
experience. Interesting idea. My reservation to that is that the
older engineers are often the most calcified ones and may benefit the most from
new information. Young engineers, being unable to sign drawings by
themselves, are required by law to work under the instruction of an older
engineer. In most design offices, this mentoring does not stop when they
first pass their test; instead, they are gradually given more responsibility
with less oversight. Engineers with 30 and 40 years of experience may be
very, very good, but may also have stopped asking questions of others years
ago. I know more than a few who really, really should spend more time
talking with other engineers.
4. Stop giving group discount rates for
presentations. Why? If you want to work on your own and can't get
this advantage, you should factor that in to your costs when you decide you want
to work on your own. If an office with 20 people pays rent per employee
that is less than yours because they use less space per person that you do, I
can't imagine a landlord reducing your rent to be fair to you.
We get a reasonable percentage of our PDH's from vendor
presentations. We have learned to sift out salesmanship from valuable
technical information; it's not hard to do. These cost only your time and
a phone call. It is a valid and valuable source of technical
5. PDH's given for planning or giving a
presentation. I can attest that preparing to give a presentation causes me
to research and organize my knowledge to a remarkable degree. I
usually learn at least as much as the attendees.
6. Design error reduced by PDH's. I have no
statistics. But my observations of different personalities tells me that
the leave-me-alone-at-my-desk stereotypical engineers, after a few years, get
pretty limited in what they can do. Now, it is true, you can lead an
engineer to a seminar but you can't make him listen. However, by the time
you've invested whatever it takes to be there, you usually find it interesting
enough that you'll come away with something.
It comes to this: for a century or more, structural
engineers have acted as a sort of shadow profession: sit in the corner until
asked to speak. Part of being taken seriously is taking ourselves
seriously. And continuing ed requirements are a part of that.
And if it costs everyone something to follow this
requirement, then everyone adds the cost to their fees. The way to make
your fees go up is to demand more and not take less. It works if everyone
has to do it.
Mike Hemstad, P.E., S.E.
Meyer Borgman Johnson
David Merrick wrote:
This is in response to the ASCE proposed wording to require
PDH units of
Cost of seminars seem to have gone beyond just covering the
rent of a
space, some snacks and documentation. Lecturers need to
reward is professional status and recognition as a leader, not
and code books now seem to cost more than that of publishing
used to sweeten the purchase of seminars.
* I recommend to not limit "Self study of relevant materials"
10% of PDH units. It is the wrong message to deny that self
study is the
most important source of continuing knowledge. The limit of
to be contrived from a distrust of licensed engineers and to
forcing purchases of seminars. The most affective source of my
and knowledge has been from collecting a large library, a
and constantly referencing it in my professional ponderings,
as well as research for a project.
* I recommend reducing the number of PDH units required to
length of experience. Continuing education courses increase
repetitiveness to my existing knowledge as my experience
recommend reducing the amount of PDH units required, based on
having been licensed. Such as the PDH units required could be
divided by the number of years licensed.
* Prevent giving out reduced rates for one company and
If not then the percent discounted should reduce that amount
units to be earned. This will prevent corruption of the PDH
* Its seems that some of the PDH units resources are given out
activities not enhancing one's personal growth such as for
lecturing in a seminar. The work study to give the
enhance a growth of knowledge, but if so, then any one's
effort should also get PDH units designing includes research,
study. This goes back to reducing the PDH units for the length
having been licensed.
I have found no statistics where design error or construction
been reduced due to a jurisdiction adding a requirement for
If it is a fact that safety is not increased when requiring
then such a programs should be discontinued, and such
should not be used as examples to argue that a lot of folks do
it so why
The proposed rules seem to be weighted by a profit motive to
The proposed rules seem to cater to the closest to ASCE, large
investing in, makers of, and lecturers of the
There must be better ways to improve the safety of the society
It seems counter productive to charge the servants of
Consider if the legislated code were easy to find to freely to
load, with usable text to search, copy and paste. Would that
increase safety to not restrict the rules intended to create a
Make seminars free to find to freely down load with subtitles
text to search copy and paste.
David B Merrick, SE