Orange County Branch Newsletter

December 2011

President's Message

PS 465 (aka RTB) AND B+M/30 & E (aka BOK)= $$$+R

PS 465 (aka RTB) AND B+M/30 & E (aka BOK)= $$$+R

Want to make more money? Want to get more respect from the general public? Support ASCE's PS 465 (aka RTB) AND B+M/30 & E (aka BOK). I know what you are thinking, my article title got replaced with some HTML code right? Or maybe my newborn was banging on the keyboard while I was typing. Then again all engineers like a good equation right? Well the ASCE has a lot of momentum going with a couple key initiatives that I summed up in that simple formula. Now I am guessing you all want to know what all that means right? Well here you go:

PS 465 = Policy Statement 465

RTB = Raise the Bar

B+M/30 = Bachelor's + Master's or 30 Acceptable Credits (PDF link)

E = Experience (PDF link)

BOK = Body of Knowledge

R = Respect (link to article by our society president Andrew Herrmann)

So how does that all lead to $$$ and respect? Well let's establish a couple facts about other professionals. As stated in PS 465, while the education requirements for physicians and attorneys have been increased with the growing demands of their respective professions, the requirements for the practice of engineering have remained virtually unchanged. Today, many other professions beyond medicine and law require education beyond the baccalaureate degree including pharmacy, architecture, occupational therapy and accounting. In fact society President-Elect Greg DiLoreto, PE F.ASCE shared this graphic with us at the November dinner (a picture says a 1,000 words right?)

Is our job that much easier? Is there really less knowledge that we should have as Civil Engineers? I'd say no way. What PS 465 states is:

"The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the attainment of a Body of Knowledge (BOK) for entry into the practice of civil engineering at the professional level. This would be accomplished through the adoption of appropriate engineering education and experience requirements as a prerequisite for licensure."

This is in line with NCEES' model rules for all engineers, but the full policy statement was written specifically for Civil Engineers. The ASCE board of directors adopted PS 465 on April 24, 2007. The BOK part of the equation is B+M/30 & E. The issue we have is that the civil engineering profession is undergoing significant, rapid, and revolutionary changes that have increased the Body of Knowledge required of the profession. These changes include the following:

  • Globalization has transcended the historically recognized worldwide geographic boundaries primarily as a result of enhanced communication systems.
  • Information technology continues to make more information available; however, the analysis and application of this information is becoming more challenging.
  • Complex systems are requiring integration of our knowledge and skills outside of traditional sub-discipline focus.
  • The diversity of society is challenging our traditional views and increasing our need for improved interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Many clients are searching for leadership in new management approaches that equitably manage risk as well as improve cost, quality and safety performance.
  • New technologies in engineering and construction are emerging at an accelerating rate
  • Enhanced public awareness of technical issues is creating more informed inquiry by the public of the technical, environmental, societal, political, legal, aesthetic, and financial implications of engineering projects.
  • Civil infrastructure support within the United States is rapidly changing from a focus on development and operation, to the innovative renewal, maintenance, and improvement of existing systems, and the visionary development of new systems.

One of the rationales for the BOK is the "retention of a four-year undergraduate engineering education (as opposed to 5+ years) has contributed to the lowered esteem of engineering in the eyes of society, and prospective students and the commensurate decline in the perceived value brought forth by engineers relative to other professions." Another rationale is academia is being  forced to try and squeeze more content into the baccalaureate curriculum while at the same time reducing the credit hours necessary for the baccalaureate degree. The result is a baccalaureate civil engineering degree satisfactory for an entry-level position, but becoming inadequate for the professional practice of civil engineering. Of course this won't happen overnight. The education requirements are most likely still 10-15 year out and of course, everyone prior to those changes will be grandfathered in. The NCEES is behind it but not all the state boards are necessarily behind it at this point. I think they all agree in principle that changes are needed, they just have different ideas on how to get there.

One of the interesting points about the 30 credits is that only half of them need to be specifically engineering coursework. The intent for the non-engineering classes are to help us be more well-rounded. Those of us out of school most likely didn't get training in the professional/soft skills that are essential for a lot of us. An interesting statistic from the frequently asked questions that are linked to at the bottom of this article is that those BS engineers with a master’s degree in engineering or a science master’s are about half as likely to progress to senior management positions as those BS engineers with a master’s in business or even in social sciences. So by allowing half of the 30 credits to be non-engineering coursework, the ASCE hopes to help us all be more well-rounded. Another interesting indicator that is concerning is we have seen a slippage in engineers holding the role of the State Secretary of Transportation.  As of January 2002, only 18 of the 50 secretaries had bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering.

What about respect? Our current society president pointed out in a recent blog post that we get no respect as engineers. As he said, while the general public has labeled us as trustworthy, we "get virtually no respect or recognition for what we do. It’s probably our fault. We are by our training a modest group, we don’t look for glory, and it sure doesn’t seek us out". On his wall he has a poster from ACEC that says, “You can’t  –  drive to work, cook that pot roast, bake that cake, shower after jogging, watch 60 minutes, toast the bread, brew the coffee, call your mother, be cool in summer, wash your sweat suit, dine out, play computer games, medicate your colds, build your new house, listen to “ol’ blue eyes,” ride your bike, video that wedding, vacuum that rug, recycle your garbage, play baseball at night, be warm in the winter, fly to Hawaii, check the time, flush the toilet, buy a fresh tomato in winter, fill that cavity, use the cash machine, mail those letters –  without an engineer.”

So what can you do? Spread the word! Tell your colleagues about this. Join the "Raise the Bar Network" here. I want to leave you with this statement that the society came up with in response to a question about how the cost of engineering services will probably increase. It was encouraging to me:

If the requirements for academic preparation for professional practice are increased, then the both the cost and the quality of engineering work requiring professional services should increase.  Salary expectations of individuals are likely to increase modestly, based on historical data.  Consulting engineering firm overhead will increase modestly, to compensate for the portion of educational costs of individuals borne by firms.  The increase in the cost of professional engineering services is likely to be partially offset by the significant market that will develop in the “built environment” for non-licensed engineers with BS degrees who will be integral parts of engineering teams.  The overall increase in the cost of engineering services has been estimated by some to be a couple of percentage points.  ASCE contends that the increase in quality of engineering services will more than make up for the added cost.

Any comments? If so, please start a discussion on our Facebook page or our LinkedIn page or reply to us on Twitter.

Please note that I pulled a lot of the info above from the frequently asked questions that you can find HERE.

Related Groups/Committees