February 2006 ISSUE

President’s Notebook

Let’s Improve Member
Voting Record


Iraq — where voters fear for their lives — draws a bigger precentage than Canada and APEGGA, when it comes to elections. See if you can put an X through apathy by returning your mail-in ballot for Council, President-Elect and Vice-President.









APEGGA President

As I pen this Notebook our national election campaign is in full swing. All of the door-knocking and promising will, in all likelihood, have resulted in a voter turnout of 50-odd per cent. You will know the full results by now.

Think back to the election in Iraq, late last year, where more than 50 per cent of the voters believed that participatory democracy was so important that they were willing to literally risk life and limb to do their part.

Late winter is also election season within APEGGA. In this PEGG on page three, you can read the names of the public-minded candidates who have agreed to run. Soon you will be receiving their biographies and the 2006 ballot in the mail.

I urge you to take time to read the biographies and make thoughtful choices about who will steward your profession for the next few years.

Historically, we see about 18 per cent of our professional members returning their ballots. Pretty apathetic, isn’t it? It would be wonderful to see 36 per cent or more this year. Please do your part.


Why am I proud to be an APEGGA member? The top 10 list starts now - and I'll keep adding to it over the next nine editions of my column's appearance in The PEGG.


Participation: I have the power to participate in and shape the future of my profession.


The Power of the Ring: When I am introduced as a professional engineer, people assume that I am smart, practical and have an interesting career. (Not a bad starting point, and geologists and geophysicists are in on this one, too.)


Professionalism: The standards for my work (Practice Standards, CPD requirements etc.) are set by my peers, who understand the practicalities of what I face from day to day.


First Principles: I understand how stuff works. (Sure it’s geeky — but it’s interesting, too.)


Building Our Future: Whenever I have a chance to work with young engineers, geologists and geophysicists, I am always very impressed — and very confident about the future of our professions as well as the future of Alberta and Canada.


Bragging Rights: I have bragging rights whenever I drive by a project in which I have played a role!


Effective Stewardship: APEGGA does a good job of weeding out unqualified or unethical practitioners, who could, by association, drag down my reputation and my ability to earn a good living.


Valued: Clients, neighbours and friends ask my opinion on practical matters. (They seem to think I have a logical mind.)

The Taxi Driver Myth
It’s an urban myth: an engineer from outside of Canada is forced to pay the bills by becoming a taxi driver.

Well, it has popped up again — this time in the Calgary Herald on Jan. 5. As part of an article on election promises about easing barriers facing immigrants, mention is made of a Libyan national who has tried to find work as an engineer.

The story says the person is “like thousands of highly educated professionals unable to get their foreign credentials recognized here.”

How many times in recent months have we heard this or a similar story? Sufficiently often that it starts to sound true — and that starts me worrying about the public perception of our profession.

I cannot speak to how easy or difficult it is for immigrants to enter professions other than those regulated by APEGGA. But here are some facts about your Association and internationally educated graduates.

  • From 1997 to 2004, approximately 6,000 internationally educated applicants were reviewed by the APEGGA Board of Examiners.

  • Of these, 78 per cent were licensed on the basis of their educational qualifications, work experience and character references. At least one year of experience has to be North American and an English competency exam may be required. Also, as with all applicants, the Professional Practice Exam must be passed.

  • A further 14 per cent were licensed after passing exams assessed by the Board of Examiners to verify their academic training. The large majority of these applicants were assessed three or fewer exams, although some needed to pass as many as 20.

Add that up and about 92 per cent of internationally educated graduates who apply to APEGGA will be licensed to practice as professional engineers, professional geologists and professional geophysicists.

Remember, too, that many internationally educated graduates come from countries that do not regulate the practice of engineering, so there are no home-country standards which would allow ready comparison with APEGGA standards for admission. Some applicants have practiced for years as “engineers” in their home country, but upon detailed evaluation by the Board of Examiners do not have either the academic qualifications or the professional level experience to meet Canadian requirements.
The number of internationally educated graduates increases each year. Although, as I’ve shown, most do end up receiving their licence, your Association deals with these applications without in any way compromising the high standards at the core of APEGGA’s mission.

Responding to this surge has required huge efforts by the 40-plus volunteers on our Board of Examiners. Procedures have been streamlined to make the assessment of foreign academic credentials better and quicker. All of the provincial associations are working cooperatively through the From Consideration to Integration program, led by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers.

APEGGA has implemented many other substantive im-provements in the way we interact with internationally educated graduates — too many to mention here. I believe that we are a professional association that has responded magnificently to the challenges of welcoming immigrant professionals.

It bothers me that isolated, hard-luck stories are ferreted out and used to cast casual aspersions on APEGGA and our sister organizations. I know that some immigrants face substantial obstacles and discouragements, which those of us who graduated in Canada often do not fully appreciate. But let’s be sure to tell both the success stories and the problem stories, so we understand the whole picture.

When you’re in the coffee room and this issue is discussed — speak up and tell the facts about APEGGA! When you are at a town hall meeting with your local politician and this aspersion is casually cast — stand up and tell the facts about APEGGA!

As always, I invite you to share your ideas and questions with me via president@apegga.org, or to share them with all your colleagues via a letter to The PEGG editor.