The Nebraska Blueprint -- February 1935


What Is Registration of Engineers?


PROFESSIONAL men of any calling are always on the alert to see that the ideals and the standards of their respective professions are advanced. It is not sufficient that these be maintained upon the unchanging level. They must be raised, for knowledge is increasing.. It would be criminal for the practitioner to be satisfied to give the same quality of service that was acceptable a decade or two ago. The doctor, the lawyer, the engineer, the teacher, the minister, must keep abreast of today's material advances and thought, in order to fulfill their missions to society, in order to do their plain duty— even in order to satisfy their own aspirations.

The professional man is a bound servant, knowing no master but his profession. For it he will labor and toil. He will expend his strength and his life. For he is aware that with his life he protects the lives of others. In the integrity of his work lies the security of society.

A professional group of men is a body of individuals closely knit together by the bonds of scientific training, experience, and objectives. They have in common a knowledge in their special field quite beyond that held by other men; a facility in doing which cannot be attained by amateurs; an understanding of principles which gives them the power safely to extend their practice beyond the limits reached by clever imitators. A professional man is resourceful even beyond the confines of his personal experience.

It is with these things in mind that twenty-seven states have enacted laws forbidding the professional practice of engineering by any except those who prove their competency. These qualified men are required to maintain their registration in order to be eligible to seek or to do engineering work.

Nebraska has no such law, but one is before the legislature as I pen these words, which may or may not go upon our statutes. Certain it is that before long, such requirements will be made in our own State.

Moreover, our graduates sseking independent practice in other states will need to comply with the laws there. What are features of these laws?

 In general, the objective of the law is "to safe-guard life, health, and property."

A State Board of Examiners is established, to administer the act.

Competency to practice engineering is judged by careful examination of the applicant's record of training and experience, and by the use of written and oral tests, as the Board may direct. Each year of work satisfactorily completed in a college of engineering counts as a year of active practice. Graduation from such a course gives four years of credit. Acceptable records of practice must total about eight years. This is to be acquired under registered engineers.

Initial fees in various states stand at $15 to $25, with annual renewal fees of $3 to $5. Many other details are covered by the statements as to procedure, rights, penalties, etc. Those practicing the profession at the time of adoption of the law are protected in their established rights by the so-called "grandfather clause."

A very illuminating and significant series of syllabi appears in the Proceedings of the National Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners, of 1931, (pp. 63-75), showing the recommended scope of the examinations.

The lists go into some detail under the general headings of mathematics, applied sciences, graphics, materials of construction, elements of structural design, elements of mechanical design, elements of electrical design, and engineering administration.

It is recommended that one part of the examination be common for all candidates. This is to be followed by a specialized examination directed to the classified fields—civil, electrical, etc. Proposed topics are listed in the two fields just named, and also in mechanical engineering, mining engineering, and chemical engineering". Others would appear as occasion might demand.

We shall hear more about this general topic at the Roundup, to be held in Lincoln late in February. Engineers of Nebraska are sponsoring the bill this winter, which provides for a beginning of registration in our State. There are fifteen other states where there is agitation for similar new enactments. This leaves only six states "cold" to the proposition. It will be well for our readers to inform themselves of the requirements which are now in effect, the "geography" covered by these laws, and the additions in prospect,