Licensed Professional Engineers (P.E.) weighed in about my recent column on the legal case of veteran engineer Burt Siegal, In Praise of Experience, (DN 10.20.08) and they told me that I'm wrong, wrong, wrong.
For those who didn't see the column, here's a capsule summary: Siegal, who has made a career of inventing and technical consulting, was warned by the State of Illinois to stop calling himself an engineer because he never took the P.E. exam. Given the circumstances (Siegal had good reason to believe he was exempt and has had a stellar 50-year career), I said the state's action was absurd.
The article generated a fair amount of debate, much of it centering around the importance of the exam to manufacturing engineers. All the P.E.s who wrote to us felt the P.E. exam is relevant for manufacturing engineers and virtually every other discipline of engineering.
To be clear, I'll say this again: My viewpoint on Siegal's case doesn't change my opinion on P.E.s or on licensing. I consider the license important for the profession and for society, and I respect those who've passed the exam. So when P.E.s took me to task, I listened. Here's their side:
I passed the licensing exam given in Oklahoma in 1992 in the subject of 'Manufacturing Engineering,' which featured problems and technical questions on manufacturing processes, plant layout, business economics, machine design and other relevant subjects. The Manufacturing Engineering discipline was offered in the P. E.test and readily available at the time through the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) testing, which the state of Oklahoma has chosen to use, being a 'model law' state.
...You cannot be a professional engineer if you don't pass the P.E. That's the law of the land. End of discussion.
James K. Hays, P. E.
Hays Engineering & Mfg. Inc.
If you are performing engineering work for anyone as a private citizen, you are practicing engineering. If you do not have a P.E. license, you are practicing engineering without a license. I'm afraid it is as simple as that.
E. Burrell Fisher, P.E.
to protect the public, a company must be registered if it is presenting itself as an 'Engineering Company' no matter what its engineering discipline.
Alexander Kargilis, P.E.
I do appreciate the intent of the article and I hope that this gets resolved in a sensible manner since I believe that the consequences could even be more far reaching than you note.
George W. Brutchen, P.E. CQE CMfgE
When I hire an exterminator, realtor, accountant, lawyer or doctor, I expect them to be licensed by the state. I don't think this is too much to expect of an engineer.
Michael H. Monaghan, P.E.