Five ASCE members, including Vermont Section President Bernard T. Gagnon, P.E., M.ASCE, testified in support of increased education requirements for the licensed civil engineer of the future during an informational hearing held February 5 by the Vermont Board of Professional Engineering. Vermont state representative Robert C. Krebs, P.E., L.S., F.ASCE, has proposed legislative draft language for the Board to consider reflecting Vermont’s approach to “raising the bar.”
At the hearing, Rep. Krebs proposed that the educational requirements for civil, environmental, and structural P.E.’s be modified to include a master’s degree or equivalent advanced coursework, reflecting the expanding body of knowledge that tomorrow’s civil engineering P.E.’s must obtain and the inability to fit that knowledge in the traditional 4-year undergraduate degree. The Krebs proposal would affect only those civil engineers who obtained their bachelor’s degrees after January 1, 2025.
In addition to the members who testified at the hearing, a number of others submitted letters in support of increasing the requirements, including the ASCE Vermont Section and the Vermont Society of Professional Engineers, each indicating the unanimous votes of their respective boards in favor of the proposal.
“Having engineers with additional education beyond the bachelor’s degree will enhance their technical, communication, and business skills,” testified Shawn Kelley, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, Region 1 governor, past-president of the Vermont Section, and member of the Committee on Education. “These enhanced skills will enable them to deliver increased value to the public as they work on projects. As we know, professional engineers have a duty to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare, and giving engineers these additional skills with more education beyond their bachelor’s degree will help them better meet those responsibilities.”
During the hearing, a number of mechanical engineers spoke in opposition to the proposal, citing concern that increasing the educational requirements for licensure for civil engineering disciplines would one day put pressure on other disciplines to do the same.
“Raising the Bar is an investment in the future,” wrote Amanda Hanaway-Corrente, P.E., M.ASCE, past president of the Vermont Section and chairperson of the intersociety Raise the Bar committee in Vermont, in a letter urging the board to support Krebs’ proposal. “We need to get ahead of the curve and proactively plan for the challenges ahead to ensure that our first commitment for the future remains the interest of the public and its safety and welfare.”
NCEES President Sets the Record Straight
In a column recently published in the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) February newsletter, President David Widmer, P.S.L, M.ASCE, set the record straight on the Council’s current position on the future of educational requirements for licensure.
In his column, Widmer states that the NCEES Council’s position has not changed and that delegates voted last August to move the master’s or equivalent (MOE) language from the NCEES model law to an NCEES position statement to avoid administrative confusion. The master’s or equivalent model calls for P.E.’s of the future to have a master’s degree in engineering or an equivalent 30 credits of advanced education (which can be obtained inside or outside the university setting) before becoming licensed.
“Both the motion and the debate at the annual meeting had nothing to do with killing the additional education requirement; the discussion had to do with eliminating the confusion with respect to the language surrounding the MLE 2020 and MLSE 2020 designations,” Widmer wrote. “Having these [licensure] concepts in a position statement will allow states to pursue education reform from a grassroots approach while giving NCEES time to work out the details of implementing the requirement.”
He went on to write, “Let’s stop the rumors that the education issue is dead and continue to work on the solutions to the problem to meet the needs of tomorrow’s engineers.”