May 2006 Archives

All in all, today was nice day. The church servoce was good, lunch was good, the nap was good, and a visit from a friend was good.

I put the final touches on the Memorial Day Ceremony for tomorrow, worked up some scripts to help with the music and sound system operation. The Boy Scouts are going to help us and I want to make sure they understand how everything should work. Yesterday morning I picked up the wreath, the committee co-chair picked up the sound system so graciously loaned to us by Backstage Music, and I got the programs folded (thanks to the folder at the church office).

Tomorrow my parents will be here for the service, mainly to hear Kathryn sing, and then hang around for a cookout afterwards. We invited some friends to come over as well. I even go some Navy work done today, with a little more to finish tomorrow.

Things are looking up. The Memorial Day Service is coming together. I found out this morning that a committee memebr and one of his friends will do a flyover for us as we play taps and rasie the flag. He will be flying a Stearman and his friend will fly a T6. We've been working o nthe ceremony for a few weeks and things are really coming together. It is a nice feeling when things work!

I sent in a response to the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Engineering Society today opposing the proposed NCEES Model Law. Actually, we are not opposed to the model law itself, only to the part that would require some 30 hours of additional education beyond the BS degree to become licensed as a professional engineer.

My primary objection to the proposal is that the entire process is being driven by civil engineers. I remember a few years ago when this movement first got started, the talk was to require a Master's degree for licensure. After some objections that was changed to only 30 semester hours--essentially a Master's degree only without the research and thesis. This entire process has been proposed by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the other professional and technical societies have only talked about it as a result of the ASCE proposal, and that talk has been scarce. As far as I can tell, no other organization is pushing for such a requirement.

My objections to the proposed law are the detrimental effects I think it would have on the professional licensing of engineers. Currently (and regrettably) engineering graduates can work in industry without a PE license; therefore not all graduates pursue licensing. I do encourage licensing but it is oftentimes a tough sell. The exams are not easy, they are not cheap, and the FE Exam is given on Saturday! After four years of experience the engineer is rewarded with the opportunity to take another eight hour exam. If an additional 30 hours of coursework were to be required, the number of engineers pursuing licensure would drop even more.

Now, I'm not proposing that we have lower standards just to get people to participate. On the contrary, I believe we should have high standards; I believe all engineers should be licensed. I simply do not see the need for the requirement of additional education hours. If this additional education is essential to the successful practice of engineering then why are the other engineering organizations not jumping on the band wagon with ASCE? If licensed engineers are lacking in requisite skills, then where are the engineering failures? Why is the public not screaming for reform?

The ultimate solution, I believe, is a re-engineering of civil engineering. Currently the expectations are that civil engineers know something about everything. If a civil engineer wants to design bridges, he or she will still have to learn a little bit about wastewater treatment. If they want to practice environmental engineering then they will need to learn a little something about transportation too. It has always been this way, but does that mean it needs to continue to be that way? I think not.

We live in a different world now than we did even a decade or two ago. Engineers work in teams; the lone practitioner is going away or focusing their practice to a narrow area. Perhaps it is time to break civil engineering into different engineering fields. We could start with environmental engineering--move it out of civil engineering proper, allowing civil engineers to focus on roads, bridges, structures and transportation. Wastewater treatment, water treatment, storm water run-off, etc. could fall under environmental engineering and we could even add pollution prevention, air pollution control, maybe even noise pollution.

It may sound like a radical idea, but is that not exactly what has happened over the last century with other engineering disciplines? Was aerospace engineering, now a separate discipline, not at one time part of mechanical engineering? Was chemical engineering even not part of mechanical engineering? Each of those is now a separate discipline because the information needed to know in order successfully practice each branch grew to the point that it was too much for one person to learn and still be good at it all. An option would have been to keep it all together and require several hundred hours of credit to earn a mechanical engineering degree, but would that solve anything? Does someone designing a machine need to be competent in the design of a chemical reactor or aircraft controls?

Civil engineering needs to change, and the change will be difficult, but it needs to happen. The proposed model law will not solve the problem, if indeed there even is a problem. What it will do, if adopted, is reduce the number of engineers who pursue licensing, and that is bad not just for civil engineering, but for all branches of engineering, and the public will suffer the most.


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School is out, students are gone, and campus and town are a little bit quieter for now. It has given me some time to catch up on a few things that I've been putting off. I spent several days cleaning files at work and sent many pounds of paper to the shredder and many more to the trash.

I finally finished The Sling and The Stone by Col. Thomas X. Hammes, USMC today. It has given me some more ideas to pursue in my dissertation and resulted in my ordering The Path to Victory: America's Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs by Donald Vandergriff. I ordered it through Amazon but it was actually from a used bookstore. Something tells me it will not be a very exciting read but... I enjoy getting ideas but for the dissertation I need to start narrowing my topics, not broadening them.

Earlier this week I pulled together some ideas on a leadership minor and forwarded them to President Foglesong. I hope that program can get up and running soon.

Later this week the petitions and complaints will begin as students realize their academics have not been up to snuff and they can not get in summer school. I'll deal with those as they come in but it does get to be a tough job at times.

Plans are underway for the Memorial Day Ceremony in town on Monday. I'll be the master of ceremonies and am finalizing some of the arrangements. I've had some help which is great. It is amazing how much effort planning and executing these events takes. But I can think no cause more worthy. I must admit I felt a little strange having to go to the Police Department to get a permit for the ceremony. It was probably the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a hippie!

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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