Important professional issues

August 2010 » Departments » COMMENT
Shanon Fauerbach, P.E.

Licensure, continuing professional competency, and education topics never go out of style with our readers, so this summer we’ve been updating you on these issues. First, in June, we covered engineering education, revealing the results of a survey of subscribers and civil engineering academics, as well as presenting updates on various movements to strengthen undergraduate education. (Check out “Exploring engineering education: How can we better prepare entry-level civil engineers?”) This month, you’ll find a couple letters we received in response to this article.

The underlying message in this story was how practitioners can participate in the education process. While I didn’t think to ask a question in the survey about how engaged respondents are with students, professors, and universities to help advance our profession, I got the sense from respondents’ narrative comments that there is likely more talk than action going on. The article shares simple ways you can help the future of the profession, even if you have little time to help. Get involved! It’s the perfect season to engage because the school year is just beginning.

This month our focus is on issues pertinent to the practicing engineer’s career: licensure, continuing professional competency, and certifications. Again we surveyed subscribers to take the pulse of the industry and the author, Theresa M. Casey, FSMPS, CPSM, assembled updates from various organizations. I think this extremely timely and interesting article should be required reading for all professional engineers practicing civil or structural engineering!

The last time we surveyed respondents about one of the issues covered in this month’s exclusive article was in 2006 for an article by Alee A. Sleymann, Ph.D., P.E., “Continued competency: An exclusive survey reveals civil engineers’ perceptions of the value of mandatory continuing education.” While the questions we asked this year differ in the wording, we can make some comparisons about how the industry’s feelings have changed. At that time, 29 states had adopted mandatory continuing education (MCE) as a requirement for license renewal. Today, 37 states require it — a significant increase in four years and perhaps a factor contributing to an industry more in favor of MCE than it was four years ago.

In 2006, when we asked if respondents were for, against, or neutral/undecided toward mandatory continuing education requirements for license renewal, 43 percent were in favor, 41 percent were against, and 16 percent were neutral or undecided. Summarizing this year’s findings, we can infer that 68 percent are in favor, 24 percent are against, and 8 percent are neutral or undecided.

Further, comparing 2006 and 2010 responses about the effectiveness of MCE as a method for assuring professional competency shows a tide change — now more than half of respondents believe in the merits of MCE. In 2006, only 41 percent agreed that MCE was effective, but today 52 percent do. Interestingly, while most people today believe that voluntary continuing education, in which the professional decides on their own the type and number of courses or training programs they will take, is most effective, more people think it is ineffective than four years ago. Maybe as more people are required to do MCE, they realize that voluntary efforts don’t really get the job done.

As always, we appreciate our readers’ responsiveness to our surveys and thank you for your openness and involvement with the publication’s efforts.

Don’t forget!
Aug. 25 is the Government Infrastructure eConference — it’s a free learning and networking event you can attend online. Learn more at www.governmentinfrastructure.com and on page 43.

Sept. 28-29 is the Best Firms To Work For Summit — it’s a great opportunity to learn how to improve your workplace. Remember: happy staff = happy profits! Learn more at www.bestfirmssummit.com and on page 38.


Shanon Fauerbach, P.E.,

sfauerbach@stagnitomedia.com

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