Some elements worth discussing - an engineer must understand all of the scientific principles behind a technology. The engineer will understand the manipulation of these principles to provide function to members of the general public. Appreciating that the public is unaware of the technical and scientific details behind engineering, we must also endeavor to protect them from the results of our decisions.
In comparison we can think of the medical profession that must also use sciences such as physiology and pharmacology. Knowledge of these areas is used to benefit patients. One primary difference is that physicians are ultimately responsible to their patients, whereas engineers are responsible to the general public. A simple (naive) anecdote of this difference can be found is the over-prescription of antibiotics. Physicians are encouraged to overprescribe antibiotics to any patient who shows need to protect the patient. An engineer in the same situation would be encouraged to prescribe only as needed, to reduce the chance of breeding resistant forms of bacteria. To carry this example further, the physician is obliged to protect the patients privacy, but the engineer may disclose confidential information to protect the general public. There are also some important similarities between engineers and physicians. Both groups are self regulated by associations of their peers. These groups are legally recognized, and given certain limited powers to investigate and enforce legislation.
CCPE (Canadian Council of Professional Engineers) - The provincial engineering associations are all members of the CCPE. This allows the associations to also have voice at a federal level, and for international affairs.
P.Eng. (Professional Engineer) - The designation given to an engineer licenced by a professional association. A typical examples of usage might be ‘Joe Smith, P.Eng.’, ‘Joe Smith, B.A.Sc., P.Eng’, ‘Dr. Joe Smith, P.Eng.’, etc.
E.I.T. (Engineer In Training) - A temporary designation to describe an engineer who is registered with an engineering association, but not yet licenced. The engineer registered this way will receive limited access to the local chapters and the services of the PEO.
The Engineers Ring - This ring is not an official symbol, but is commonly worn by those engineers that graduated from Canadian universities. Those who wear the ring do so remembering that it is a reminder of the horrific results of poor work.
CEAB (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board) - a national review panel that examines engineering programs for adequacy. If a student graduates from an accredited program their technical adequacy will be accepted by any of the provincial associations.
Technical Internship - Every engineer is obliged to practice for some time under the observation of a licenced professional engineer before they apply for a licence. Letters of recommendation are required to verify that the candidate has been exposed to the practice in general, and that they are of good character. At present the maximum period is between 2 to 4 years.
Academic Requirements Committee (ARC) - In some cases engineers have not come from an accredited engineering program. They apply to a technical assessment committee. They will examine the candidates background, and accept the candidate as adequate, or more frequently make further requests. These are often in the form of special examinations, review of theses, etc.
The Stamp - This is an unquestionable mark of support by an engineer. The stamp includes the engineers name, and the licensing association. When applied to a drawing, report, or other document, it indicates that the engineer has reviewed, and fully agrees with the contents. In some cases engineers are requested to stamp the work of others, this should only be done after careful consideration of the work, anything less is malpractice. There are three stamps commonly in use: the members seal; the licensees stamp; the specialists stamp.
Professional Engineer - A “professional engineer”, as opposed to an engineer is licensed to practice. The title engineer alone is used by many individuals, but the title professional engineer can only be used by a licenced engineer. The engineering associations actively prosecute individuals misrepresenting themselves as professional engineers.
Discipline Committees - When an engineer has been accused of professional misconduct, they will be called in front of a review panel to review technical and ethical details of the charges. The proceedings are published and sent to all association members. The committee can levee fines, revoke licenses, require testing, etc. This is separate from the other courts, and any results here do not preclude further court actions.
Engineering Corporations - Any company that puts itself forward as an “engineering” company must have the permission of the associations and must have a professional engineer in a controlling position.
Consulting Engineers - This is a step beyond a basic license. The intent is to distinguish between a recognized specialist, and a basic practitioner. The license holder is permitted to use the title “consulting engineer”.
Limited Licence - a person of some technical background might not qualify to become a professional engineer, but as a result of extensive experience (10 years or more) will be given a limited licence. This is typically limited in both scope of practice and use (eg. restricted to current employment).
Temporary License - a license that is granted to an engineer who would be fully qualified for a provincial license, but only requires one for a short term job. For example, an engineer from Alberta might require a temporary license to work on a project in Ontario. In some cases the limited license might be required to collaborate with a member of the PEO.
Branch of Registration - the primary discipline of education. Although an engineering license is not limited to a specific discipline, the practitioner is expected to only work in areas they are competent in.
Certificate of Authorization - a certificate will be issued to an engineer with a normal or temporary license to offer services to the public. This typically requires registration with the PO. If the certificate is for an individual, proof of liability insurance is required. If the certificate is for an engineering corporation/partnership, the engineer directing the company will be listed.
Insurance - to offer services to the public a Certificate of Authorization must be held. Indirectly this means that the public can always count on a licenced engineer, and liability insurance. In Ontario this is $250,000 minimum per suit and $500,000 per year.
• Character is assessed by confidential letters of reference. These are obviously somewhat arbitrary, but the best letters are from senior colleagues familiar with the guidelines of professional practice (i.e., P.Eng’s).
• Experience is required, previously this was 2years minimum (with one year allowed for graduate degrees). This is now increasing to four years. The main reason for this change is that after only two years the experience gained is not sufficient for the autonomy allowed by a license, and in some cases the public might be at risk.
• Experience is gauged as some employment in an engineering environment where the basic elements of professional practice are carried out. By necessity this would require that another professional engineer is “looking over the shoulder” of the candidate. This experience should also be primarily gained in the jurisdiction where the candidate intends to practice.
1937 At the urging of members of the engineering profession the provincial government changes the engineering act to make licences mandatory, and setting up the APEO as a self regulating body allowed to impose regulations and maintain discipline.
1970 The role of the Council is redefined in the Professional Engineers Act, Chapter 366, Revised Statutes of Ontario 1970. (The Council governs the PEO). The membership was expanded to include one layperson, and one member of the Ontario Bar.
• Each year for election of the president, 1st and 2nd vice president and councillor-at-large, a central nominating committee proposes candidates. Other nominations are welcome. Regional nominating committees suggest regional candidates.