Get licensed in 2 disciplines?

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Joe2

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Out of curiosity, what do you mean by the stamps not being competency based? It seems to me that to be licensed, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam tests one's competency. PDH hours for license renewal test continued effort to remain competent.

The only thing I could see is something like retesting every 10 years or so, possibly with a shorter, online exam. Say, retest the depth portion of the PE exam every 10 years.
May be different in your state. In TX and most states next to us, the stamp between structural, mech, civil, blah, blah, are all the same. Meaning you can "legally" (although highly frowned upon) stamp a structural drawing if you are granted an engineering license from the state and "feel competent" in material being stamped.

A lot of states also do not require your ABET accredited engineering degree to match the competency of the exam you take meaning you could get a mech BS and then take the elec power exam while getting your years of experience working under a structural engineer.. Think TX would list your competencies mech/elec in this case..

Haven't done a deep analysis or been curious enough to call the texas board though so further hypotheticals are encouraged. Know if you pass an additional test, you just call them, send them something from NCEES, and then they add your new competency (feel there should be another experience wall there..).
 

steelnole15

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May be different in your state. In TX and most states next to us, the stamp between structural, mech, civil, blah, blah, are all the same. Meaning you can "legally" (although highly frowned upon) stamp a structural drawing if you are granted an engineering license from the state and "feel competent" in material being stamped.

A lot of states also do not require your ABET accredited engineering degree to match the competency of the exam you take meaning you could get a mech BS and then take the elec power exam while getting your years of experience working under a structural engineer.. Think TX would list your competencies mech/elec in this case..

Haven't done a deep analysis or been curious enough to call the texas board though so further hypotheticals are encouraged. Know if you pass an additional test, you just call them, send them something from NCEES, and then they add your new competency (feel there should be another experience wall there..).
I don’t think you have the right term. Professional licenses are, indeed, “competency based” because you must pass competency tests in order to obtain them. I.e. Accredited degree, multiple exams, specific experience requirements, etc.

You’re citing an ethical issue. Every professional engineer is bound to practice only within their area of competence. But if you are really interested in something more concrete than an ethical requirement, look at the proposed structural engineering license being passed in more and more states (Oklahoma and Georgia are the most recent examples). These states saw a problem with engineers taking the 8-hour PE exam, which does not adequately test one’s competency in structural engineering, and instead instituted a license that requires the passage of the 16-hour structural engineering exam.

Unfortunately, the National Society of Professional Engineers fights against every attempt to license engineers by discipline. Which is stupid. So I guess I’m saying I agree with you, yet I also disagree, if that makes any sense.
 

Joe2

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@structurenole15
Good catch, meant to emphasize your "engineers by discipline" comment. Also surprised the structural portion of civil programs wasn't broken off and made its own thing a long time ago.

Its entertaining we have a proctored exam where you're afraid to cough too loudly (and we aren't trusted with our phones), to then go to a system where we are considered ethical enough to make judgements about our own competencies.

So at how many more engineers do we need to change to a discipline recognized system?
 

steelnole15

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So at how many more engineers do we need to change to a discipline recognized system?
See, I don’t see much of a need for more specialization beyond structural. Maybe separate mech and elec, and possibly nuc, but beyond that would seem too specific.
 

jean15paul_PE

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See, I don’t see much of a need for more specialization beyond structural. Maybe separate mech and elec, and possibly nuc, but beyond that would seem too specific.
At some point you have to trust a professional to be ethical.

I have a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, but I've spent my whole career on the solid mechanical side on ME (materials, stress analysis, dynamics, machinery, manufacturing, etc). If someone came to me and said, "Hey I need an ME to design and stamp this HVAC project," I'd have to tell them to find someone else. I'm not competent in HVAC. That being said, there are ME's who are competent in both specialties. I'm sure that I could gain competence of time if I needed to take my career in a different direction.

I don't think there's any level of specialization that would be appropriate for every situation.
 

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Perhaps its different in other fields of engineering, but I don't see how it is beneficial for a structural engineer to pass the electrical PE exam (as an example). There's enough to learn in our own field that diluting one's time to demonstrate minimum competency in another engineering discipline is of questionable value at best, and detrimental at worst. At the same time, licensure laws of most states only limit practice to the area of competency, which is left to the engineer. In such a case, there's no net benefit to obtaining a redundant license.

In our realm, it's far more beneficial for a licensed PE to pass the SE exam, or increase education and aptitude in other ways, than to spend time diverging from the area of practice.
In my opinion, there is overlap between different disciplines. For instance, the installation of a new electrical generator requires structural plans, mechanical and electrical. If an engineer builds competency in those three areas, it minimizes the amount of coordination required between three different engineers and makes for a better-coordinated project. I think the issue comes down to scale. Don't think it would be a good idea for one engineer to design the MEP and Structure for a high rise building, but even in that case being aware of the requirements of the other discipline would help come up with a design for your discipline of responsibility that fits better with the other disciplines. Engineering is a perishable skill and expanding your areas of expertise should not, in my opinion, be viewed as a detriment.
 

steelnole15

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In my opinion, there is overlap between different disciplines. For instance, the installation of a new electrical generator requires structural plans, mechanical and electrical. If an engineer builds competency in those three areas, it minimizes the amount of coordination required between three different engineers and makes for a better-coordinated project.
The problem is that any engineer competent in one of those areas most likely is not competent enough in the other two to ethically complete that project by themselves. Maybe you could find one that is competent in two of those three areas, but definitely not all three.

Because if you have enough experience to be competent in structural engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering, it means you're most likely half-assing each discipline.
 
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The problem is that any engineer competent in one of those areas most likely is not competent enough in the other two to ethically complete that project by themselves. Maybe you could find one that is competent in two of those three areas, but definitely not all three.

Because if you have enough experience to be competent in structural engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering, it means you're most likely half-assing each discipline.

Exactly. For a structural engineer, anyway, any time spent developing competency in unrelated realms is time *not* spent developing structural expertise. This is a field where people spend entire careers not learning a fraction of the knowledge that is out there. There's no good reason to place artificial limits on yourself by attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades for some prideful nonsense reason. Hell, I like to cook too. That doesn't mean I'm going to take sabbatical from my engineering career to attend culinary school.

I once had a coach who said, "An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less." Using that definition, what's the antithesis?

If you find yourself sitting in a deposition or on a witness stand one day, for whatever reason, and you hold PE licenses in multiple disciplines, I *guarantee* that opposing counsel will ask you, on record, in which of those fields you consider yourself an expert. And no matter what your response, at best you're facing a long day of questioning of your credibility.
 
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In my opinion, there is overlap between different disciplines. For instance, the installation of a new electrical generator requires structural plans, mechanical and electrical. If an engineer builds competency in those three areas, it minimizes the amount of coordination required between three different engineers and makes for a better-coordinated project. I think the issue comes down to scale. Don't think it would be a good idea for one engineer to design the MEP and Structure for a high rise building, but even in that case being aware of the requirements of the other discipline would help come up with a design for your discipline of responsibility that fits better with the other disciplines. Engineering is a perishable skill and expanding your areas of expertise should not, in my opinion, be viewed as a detriment.

Here's a terrific example of two licensed Professional Engineers who decided to expand their areas of expertise. Emphases are mine.

"On March 27, 1981, Harbour Cay Condominium, a five-story flat-plate reinforced concrete building, collapsed as concrete was being placed for the roof slab. Eleven workers were killed and 23 others were injured."

"The engineers involved were licensed and believed they were working within their areas of expertise. They had not been trained or examined in the area of structural concrete design. Consequently, they did not know they were deficient in knowledge needed to protect the public."

 

Joe2

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Is there a set of plans (with calcs) out there for a building that has been vetted by all the appropriate committees that people could reference? Seems like everything's locked up as "proprietary information". I'm in a rural area and the best elec engineer in town retired, he reviewed some of our work as a peer review - after asking if he ever reviewed anyone else's work or if he ever had someone review his work formally, he said never (after practicing for about 30 years).

Wish they would include examples in more of the codes (the electrical code has a few good ones - was surprised to see that's not a normal thing).
 

jean15paul_PE

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Is there a set of plans (with calcs) out there for a building that has been vetted by all the appropriate committees that people could reference? Seems like everything's locked up as "proprietary information". I'm in a rural area and the best elec engineer in town retired, he reviewed some of our work as a peer review - after asking if he ever reviewed anyone else's work or if he ever had someone review his work formally, he said never (after practicing for about 30 years).

Wish they would include examples in more of the codes (the electrical code has a few good ones - was surprised to see that's not a normal thing).
Examples can be super helpful, so I understand what you're saying. But at the same time, you can't list an example for every situation, and it's really easy for someone who doesn't have the necessary competence to think they can follow the example and be good. It could create some unnecessary risk and liability.
 

Joe2

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Have any of you ever had your calcs reviewed by a 3rd party company? Or are the only people who get to see calcs internal?
 

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Here's a terrific example of two licensed Professional Engineers who decided to expand their areas of expertise. Emphases are mine.

"On March 27, 1981, Harbour Cay Condominium, a five-story flat-plate reinforced concrete building, collapsed as concrete was being placed for the roof slab. Eleven workers were killed and 23 others were injured."

"The engineers involved were licensed and believed they were working within their areas of expertise. They had not been trained or examined in the area of structural concrete design. Consequently, they did not know they were deficient in knowledge needed to protect the public."

I think every engineer has the responsibility to be proficient in whatever they are designing. Even if you feel you are proficient in the area of the design if what is been proposed has the potential to harm the public you should have your design peer-reviewed. I know most of us are under pressure to complete designs and succumb to pressure to rush through. If I remember correctly the Harbour Cay Condominium's main issue was the scheduling of form removals, which the engineer approved and led to the collapse since the concrete had not achieved the required compression strength before removing the forms. I usually try to read the reports from engineering disasters, I find most of them were caused by schedule pressures which led to rush decisions on the part of the engineer and contractors. Hyatt Regency walkway collapse and Florida International University come to mind.
 

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if i correctly understand what you're asking, i did not use my college degree as experience credit. I've had several years of structural design experience in the workplace so that's what i used for the CE exam application.
That is the way it is in Florida. Once you have a PE you just need to apply for an additional discipline and take the test. No need to provide additional information.
 

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