Since when is doing engineering a crime?

In North Raleigh a man has been accused by a state Department of Transportation official of practicing engineering without a license.

The DOT official in question obviously does not understand what a Engineering License is, does, or what it is for.

Cox has not been accused of claiming that he is an engineer. But Lacy says he filed the complaint because the report “appears to be engineering-level work” by someone who is not licensed as a professional engineer.

News flash for the DOT thug employee.  The point of a professional engineering license is to provide someone to be held accountable in the event of negligence.  It is a certificate that states as my coworker put it, “This person is competent enough to be held liable should something go wrong.”  Once you have a license you can the professionally seal designs and carry the liability.  This is applied to designs and implementations, not studies.

There is no question despite what the DOT official claims, the person who wrote this report has not broken any laws, unless they sealed the document, or indicated that this work was done by someone with a Professional Engineering License.  Doing the work of an engineer does not require a license, carrying the liability that goes with it does.  Doing a traffic analysis, and establishing why a light is needed for public safety actually matches the definition of someone who is allowed to use the title Engineer.

The IEEE‘s formal position on this is as follows: “The title, Engineer, and its derivatives should be reserved for those individuals whose education and experience qualify them to practice in a manner that protects public safety. Strict use of the title serves the interest of both the IEEE-USA and the public by providing a recognized designation by which those qualified to practice engineering may be identified.” It is generally a requirement in the United States to have at least a Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering discipline or related applied science to be considered an engineer and practice as such.

Emphasis mine. The burden of proof for engineering credentials in this case actually rests upon the individual claiming the light is unnecessary.  The action if recommending a traffic light does not provide a danger to the public, however people pulling into traffic on a busy thoroughfare without a light is dangerous to the public.

Some have used this as a rallying cry to ditch government licensing.  This license as I said before is used to distinguish those who have separated themselves from the rest of the herd.  Even if private organizations took care of licensing and fees, you would still need legal recourse or anyone and their mother could claim they were an “Engineer”.  The term “Engineer” actually carries legal weight for liability.  However it would be nice to have ASME, IEEE, and ASCE get together to do the common portion of the licensing, and have each other organization do the specific tests for the fields.  At which point the government should recognize those individuals as having satisfied the requirements to be labeled, “Professional Engineer”.  It is annoying that each state you must be individually licensed in, there is no reciprocity. 

Being a P.E. is not something that is taken lightly, ethically they are bound to report anything that they believe to be questionable regarding practice and safety.  Marine Power and Electric made a fatal mistake when they asked my father to seal documents that he did not write and design.  They threatened to fire him for his refusal, he promptly quit.  The following day he was employed by the State Attorney General as contractor to aid in the investigation of Marine Power and Electric.  Being raised by someone who would unquestionably do the right thing I learned many things, ultimately we all are our own companies and who we work for are customers.  A person with a P.E. is liable for the work they do under that seal, even if working for a company.

Though the end of the article does call into question the character of the licensing board.

Andrew L. Ritter, executive director of the engineers licensing board, said it will take three or four months to investigate Lacy’s allegation against Cox. He said there is a potential for violation if DOT and the public were misled by “engineering-quality work”- even if the authors did not claim to be engineers.

Who determines what qualifies as engineering-quality work, and when I must obtain a license to do so?  If that is the case, the 4 year apprentice requirement should be removed, allowing people to seek licensure immediately.  I can not do work without a license, thus I need one.  As I said previously, a license just allows you to call yourself an engineer and seal documents.  You can still do work without it.  Sounds like some peoples heads have gotten a little to big on the Kool-Aid they’ve been drinking.

H/T to R Mason for the Email. R. Allen for the post I read 5 minutes later.

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