Professional engineers provide the needed link between industry and public welfare

Two months after oil began leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, it is now clear to the American public that their health, safety, and welfare can fall victim to bottom-line driven business decisions. This is particularly true when corporations such as BP, while operating in a climate of lax enforcement, fail to pursue properly qualified technical expertise.

In response to the unresolved Deepwater Horizon blowout, the Department of the Interior is in the process of implementing several new regulations on activities on the Outer Continental Shelf. One of the measures outlined in NTL No. 2010-N05, “National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf,” specifies that a professional engineer (PE) must certify all well casing designs and cementing procedures and verify that designs are appropriate for expected wellbore conditions. This is a much-needed requirement, and we should all hope that the proper steps are taken to ensure that it is enacted. We should also hope that similarly qualified professionals are called on more often to make informed judgments during the enforcement stage.

PEs, many of whom are employed in the private sector, demonstrate that business activities need not sacrifice the interests of the public. Professional engineers are licensed at the state level; they must meet education and experience requirements in addition to passing a standardized examination program. To maintain the license, a PE must adhere to a strict code of conduct, with the primary charge being to practice the profession in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the public. A PE who violates this obligation is subject to losing his or her license.

Under model rules developed by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and required by many states, a PE is obligated to notify authorities if his or her professional judgment is overruled under circumstances where the life, health, property, or welfare of the public is endangered. Unfortunately, cost considerations can prevent corporations from requesting the services of a PE unless they are compelled to do so.

It should be obvious by now that the millions of Americans who will be affected by the oil spill could have benefited from requiring the parties responsible to secure a professional engineer’s sealed approval. While we can’t go back and prevent what has already happened, we can work to ensure that the proper steps are taken to prevent similar disasters. Oil drilling is only one of many areas where professional engineers can be called on to ensure that business activities do not ignore the public welfare.

David Whitman, Ph.D., P.E.
NCEES President

Jerry Carter
NCEES Executive Director

Licensure Exchange June 2010

Read the latest issue of Licensure Exchange, the NCEES publication dedicated to opinions and ideas regarding the licensure of engineers and surveyors.

Licensure Exchange June 2010 (PDF)

  • NCEES recognizes 2010 Engineering Award winners
  • From the President: NCEES meets with EAC members to discuss engineering education
  • Headquarters Update: NCEES plans for the unlikely to ensure business continuity
  • From the Treasurer: NCEES continues to protect strong financial position
  • Key changes ahead for NCEES exams
  • Committees continue exam oversight in 2009–10
  • Task force investigates ways to increase licensure of engineering faculty
  • Enforcement Beat: Weighing the impact of criminal convictions on licensure
  • NCEES updates FE exam white paper
  • New NIEE movie stresses engineering ethics

Browse the Licensure Exchange archives.

NCEES seeks Chemical P.E. volunteers

NCEES is currently seeking volunteers who are licensed professional chemical engineers to participate in a standard-setting study for the updated PE Chemical exam. Selected volunteers will review the PE Chemical exam that will be administered in April 2011 and rate the difficulty of each item on the test. The volunteers’ responses will help NCEES determine the new passing score for the PE Chemical exam. The standard-setting study will take place May 20–21, 2011, at NCEES headquarters in Clemson, S.C. Travel and lodging expenses will be paid by NCEES.

For more information, contact NCEES Exam Development Engineer David Scott, P.E., at or 864-654-6824.

Licensure Exchange April 2010

Read the latest issue of Licensure Exchange, the NCEES publication dedicated to opinions and ideas regarding the licensure of engineers and surveyors.

Licensure Exchange April 2010 (PDF)

  • Four-year degree becoming the standard for surveying licensure
  • Enforcement Beat: Get to know Enforcement Exchange
  • From the President: Moving toward a more uniform licensure process
  • Headquarters Update: ANSI standards give NCEES another path for public protection
  • CBT Task Force recommends move to computer-based testing for FE and FS exams
  • Krebs appointed to Vermon General Assembly
  • Task force explores alternatives to “master’s or equivalent” requirement for engineering licensure
  • Task force recommends best practices for evaluating licensure applications
  • UPLG Committee proposes adding resident professional requirement to Model Law
  • My NCEES tailors online experience for NCEES audiences
  • NCEES judges emphasize surveying practices at Future City Competition

Browse the Licensure Exchange archives.

University of Delaware wins 2010 NCEES Engineering Award

NCEES is pleased to announce that the University of Delaware Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is the grand prize winner of the 2010 NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education. The award jury met March 25, 2010, in Clemson, S.C., to select the $25,000 grand prize winner.

The department received the prize for its submission, Pomeroy Trail East Annex. For the project, student teams competed to win a commission and perform the preliminary engineering for an expansion of a multi-user trail system in their city. The teams worked with engineering mentors from professional practice to consider drainage and environmental upgrades, wastewater system improvements, reevaluation of a proposed groundwater remediation program, and associated infrastructure improvements.

The jury praised the project for its “excellent integration of real-world experience in an educational setting.”

The jury selected five additional winners to receive awards of $7,500 each.

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
    Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
    Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice through Capstone Design
  • California State University, Los Angeles
    Department of Civil Engineering
    Connecting Practice with Education through Civil Engineering Capstone Experience: Puddingstone Reservoir Operations Level Study
  • Clemson University
    Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Engineering Haptic Virtual Manipulatives to Enhance K-12 Math and Science Education
  • University of Maryland
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Engineers Without Borders: Solar Recharge Project in Burkina Faso, Africa
  • University of New Mexico
    Department of Civil Engineering
    Integration of Civil Engineering and Construction Management Education: A Multi-disciplinary, Mentor-led Capstone Experience

The NCEES Engineering Award recognizes engineering programs that encourage collaboration between students and professional engineers. All EAC/ABET-accredited engineering programs were invited to submit projects that integrate professional practice and education.

The winners were selected by a jury of NCEES members and representatives from academic institutions and professional engineering organizations.

“It’s great to see these innovative approaches to teaching students about professional practice; we hope they inspire other colleges to try similar collaborations,” said NCEES President David Whitman, Ph.D., P.E.

Read profiles of the winning projects.

NCEES celebrates National Surveyors Week

March 21-27 is National Surveyors Week, an occasion for professional surveyors throughout the United States to bring attention to their profession.

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping has a website, (now defunct), with information about what surveyors do and resources for persons interested in learning more about the profession.

Twice a year, thousands of candidates seeking professional surveying licensure attempt either the FS or PS exams at sites throughout the country. Visit the NCEES exams page to learn more about these exams. For general information about the licensing process for professional surveyors, visit the licensure page.

“NCEES has been associated with surveying licensure since the beginning, and we’re proud to continue this tradition and raise awareness of this exciting career,” said Executive Director Jerry T. Carter.

NCEES encourages professional speakers to promote the surveying profession to students. If you are interested in obtaining a Surveying Speaker’s Kit or becoming a speaker, visit the speakers page and complete a contact form.

Licensure Exchange February 2010

Read the latest issue of Licensure Exchange, the NCEES publication dedicated to opinions and ideas regarding the licensure of engineers and surveyors.

Licensure Exchange February 2010 (PDF)

  • The President’s Message: NCEES hosts summit for engineering leaders
  • From the Treasurer: Careful review of budget necessary to protect Council assets
  • Headquarters Update: NCEES gets a fast start to the new year
  • Examinee management system set for October 2010 administration
  • NCEES supports EWeek outreach activities
  • Teaching engineering design may boost learning of science and math
  • NCEES renames FE exam module
  • October 2009 exam pass rates
  • Enforcement Beat: Registrant responsibility extends beyond our own work
  • Jury prepares to judge NCEES Engineering Award

Browse the Licensure Exchange archives.

NCEES renames FE exam module

NCEES is renaming one of the modules for its Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The Other/General module will be known as the Other Disciplines module beginning with the April 2010 exam.

While the content of the module has not changed, the new name more accurately reflects the examinees for whom the module is intended.

All FE examinees take a common module in the morning and one of seven modules in the afternoon, choosing a discipline-specific module (Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Industrial, or Mechanical) or the Other Disciplines module.

“In most cases, you should choose the module that best corresponds to your degree. If your degree is not in one of these major engineering disciplines, you should choose the Other Disciplines module,” said Tim Miller, P.E., director of exam services at NCEES.

Miller explained that examinees with degrees that fall into the discipline-specific modules typically have higher pass rates when they select the module matching their degree rather than the Other Disciplines module.

“The afternoon portion of the FE tests knowledge that’s usually gained in the final two years of an engineering degree, so it makes sense that examinees would perform better on the module corresponding to their specialty,” he said.

Licensure Exchange December 2009

Read the latest issue of Licensure Exchange, the NCEES publication dedicated to opinions and ideas regarding the licensure of engineers and surveyors.

Licensure Exchange December 2009 (PDF)

  • Comity without concessions: A look at foreign credentials evaluations
  • The President’s Message: Member Board administrators prove invaluable to fulfilling NCEES mission
  • Headquarters Update: The next big project always seems bigger than the last
  • ANSI approves surveyor standard
  • Committee Focus: 2009–10 committees, task forces set agenda for Council action on licensure policies
  • Enforcement Beat: NCEES encourages uniformity in CPC guidelines
  • In Memorium: Walter LeFevre, Ph.D., P.E.

Browse the Licensure Exchange archives.

NCEES launches new website

NCEES has launched a new website designed to help its audiences more easily find NCEES services and information.

Students, engineers, surveyors, international constituents, educators, and volunteers will find portals that lead them to the information relevant to their needs. The color-coded tabs at the top of every page are a guide to NCEES services: exams, records, licensure, credentials evaluations, and licensing board information. My NCEES, a members-only section, provides licensure board members and staff, enforcement staff, and exam volunteers with information specific to them.

The launch of the Web site is the most recent step in the NCEES rebranding initiative, which was rolled out at its Annual Meeting in August. The rebranding initiative includes a new logo and a new tagline—advancing licensure for engineers and surveyors—that are an integral part of a larger marketing plan to unify NCEES services and align its marketing with the strategic goals of NCEES.

“The ultimate goal is to better support our mission and provide better service to our constituents,” said NCEES Executive Director Jerry T. Carter.

Contact: Keri Anderson, Manager of Corporate Communications