At its October 5-6 meeting at the ASCE annual conference, in Panama, the ASCE Board of Direction took action on several important engineering licensure issues, including early taking of the PE exam, while also hearing a statement from the President-Elect of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) on that organization’s continuing commitment to the concept of additional advanced education prior to licensure.
NCEES President-Elect Michael Conzett, P.E., M.ASCE, addressed the ASCE Board last week to explain the Council’s recent vote to remove the 2020 master’s or equivalent (MOE) educational requirements for licensure from the NCEES model law and rules, thereby addressing administrative concerns. The Council instead directed a committee to draft an NCEES position statement to reflect the additional education concept. The Council is scheduled to consider that position statement at its next annual meeting in August 2015.
Conzett emphasized that NCEES continues its commitment to support additional engineering education beyond a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite for future licensure, which is reflected in the current NCEES strategic plan. Conzett noted the long history of NCEES support for MOE and highlighted the conceptual work that has been done to establish a registry that can approve course providers for the additional education. He also mentioned that efforts continue within NCEES to formulate a different (non-master’s degree) pathway for the additional education, one addressing the preferences of other engineering disciplines.
Moving the MOE requirements from the model law and rules to a position statement will make future pursuit of MOE more in line with past history, Conzett stated. Continuing education requirements for licensure renewal, which were first passed in Iowa in 1979, were first adopted by NCEES as a position statement. Only after a number of states passed continuing education provisions for their licensure laws did NCEES, in 1993, add the requirements to its model law. Conzett said the road to enacting MOE in states can now also take that “bottom up” approach.
“The approach may be different,” said Conzett, a long-time supporter of the master’s or equivalent concept, “but the idea of additional education prior to licensure is still there.”
ASCE Takes Stand on Licensure Issues
At its July meeting, the Board had directed the committees charged with licensure and public policy to review the Society’s policies related to professional licensure, with the goal of clarifying and strengthening ASCE’s positions on issues ranging from continuing education to the scope and timing of the PE exam. Once approved, these policies would allow ASCE and its Sections and Branches to provide clearer and more consistent input on licensing law issues.
As a result of the committees’ review, three revised policies, as well as a new policy statement on the purpose of the Principles and Practice of Engineering Examination, were approved by the Board in October. The Board unanimously approved revisions to ASCE PS130, Licensure of Professional Engineers; ASCE PS425, Continuing Professional Development for Licensure; and ASCE PS432, Licensure Examinations. The changes adopted include specifying support for a minimum of 15 PDHs per year for licensure renewal, outlining criteria to ensure uniformity of continuing education requirements among states, and expanding and updating ASCE’s position on the scope of the FE and PE exams.
The new policy statement details ASCE’s position that the PE exam should serve as a rigorous assessment of an individual’s ability to apply engineering principles in professional practice and that significant progressive engineering experience should be necessary to pass the exam. The Board also directed the Committee on Licensure to develop a policy statement in support of requiring individuals to complete the experiential requirement prior to being eligible to sit for the PE exam. That draft policy statement will be brought to the Board for further consideration at its January meeting.
Flood Risk Management, Performance-Based Ownership Policies Approved
The Board also approved a new Flood Risk Management policy. Based largely on recommendations included in the recent task committee report Flood Risk Management: Call for a National Strategy, the policy urges all federal, state and local agencies, in collaboration with the private sector, to adopt flood-risk management plans focused on identifying risks and developing and implementing a portfolio of approaches to deal with these risks.
A new policy, Performance-Based Ownership of Infrastructure, was also approved. Initiated by ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council as part of its initiative to significantly reduce the life-cycle cost of infrastructure by 2025, the policy encourages owners of civil infrastructure to use performance-based standards for procurement, design, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning.