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The title "Professional Engineer" states that the skills and knowledge of the person have been defined, protected, registered and licensed by a government body. Assessment by professional engineers helps to protect the safety and interest of the general public. Professional engineers also have the authority to take legal responsibilities concerning engineering work. Some responsibilities that are discharged during an assessment may include:
- The approval or rejection of engineering projects
- The signing, sealing, and stamping of technical documents like drawings, reports, and calculations for projects.
- They are also responsible for raising issues and making proposals that can help solve engineering problems that municipalities maybe facing.
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Qualifications and Skills
To be recognized as a qualified professional, an engineer is required to have had a competence assessment. Some of the standards that need to be met before engineers can practice as independent professional engineers are:
- Has relevant and recognized qualifications and has the ability to identify and solve appropriate engineering problems. Follows work principles and makes accurate predictions about results. Accesses advice from other professionals when faced with problems beyond his knowledge and continually studies literature to enhance learning of new technologies that can be applied in the future.
- Must be able to demonstrate awareness concerning legal issues within the field in which he practices and appropriately applies special engineering requirements when operating within the practice.
- Is capable of the correct identification and definition of problems, including investigation and analysis of information using qualitative and quanitative techniques. Tests analysation for correct results and conducts any required research to identify a substantiated conclusion.
- Is capable of identifying requirements and develops solutions using concepts tested against engineering principles by consulting stakeholders. Judges and plans solutions that best match requirements and are capable of evaluating outcomes in advance.
- Takes responsibility of decision making concerning engineering activities that fall under his field or jurisdiction by being accountable for his output and those who work under him and by accepting responsibilities for engineering projects under him
- Has the ability to provide good engineering management qualities for one or more projects assigned to him by: planning and organizing projects to produce specified outcomes, applying quality assurance technologies, management of all resources and stabilization of conflicting expectations.
- Risk management skills, identification and development of policies to manage safety and reduce or eliminate hazards using the best available modern techniques.
- Conducts all engineering activities using ethical standards in accordance with international standards and demonstrates appropriate behavior capabilities when dealing with senior or junior staff members.
- Has the ability to recognize and solve social, environmental, and cultural effects experiences during engineering activities and is able to consider implications that may occur as a result. Recognizes long term impact and effects and is able to judge foreseeable effects that may result from the action.
- Communicates clearly and with no hesitation with other engineers concerning pressing issues through written and verbal communication and is able to absorb knowledge and understanding from others. Treats people with respect and is ready to hear what others have to say concerning his profession with the aim of improving his skills.
- Continually expands his knowledge concerning new development in his engineering field through continued self study and research in to projects of difficult with the aim of finding engineering solutions to problems that continue to confuse the engineering professionals.
- Demonstrates the ability to identify and alternate engineering options through justified decisions and discussions with peers having a common interest of developing new methods and solutions.
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The above points must be taken in to consideration when assessment by professional engineers are being done.
These qualities are what will define the difference between the ones who are capable of doing the job and the ones with just certification. Many countries today face an increasing problem of engineers that have all the qualifications, but lack the expertise to practically do the job.
Various countries have different licensure requirements for conferring the PE status, which are being taken care of by the requisite departments or agencies. For example in the USA, there are licensure boards of different states, and at the national level, too. They have a gradual advancement program that specifies how much qualification and/or experience is required at each step, before going on to the next.
The process of becoming a PE in the United States is listed briefly as follows:
- To gain an engineering degree accredited by either EAC/ABET
- To clear the FE exam (Fundamentals of Engineering)
- To gain actual work experience for a stipulated time period working under the guidance of a licensed PE
- To clear the Principles and Practise of Engineering Exam
It is a fact that a professional in any field requires ample experience to be able to do the job efficiently. Without experience we risk doing the job incorrectly and even putting public safety in danger. It is for exactly the same reasons that a professional engineer license should only be granted after sufficient diligence and the assessment by such PEs must be very accurate to give the public the best possible quality, available at that time.
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Edwin, L. (1986). The Revolt of the Engineers: Social Responsibility and the American Engineering Profession. Johns Hopkins University Press
Rikli, N.E. et all (2007) FE/EIT - The Best Test Prep for the Engineer in Training Exam
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying Website