APEGGA Urges Co-operation
On "Engineering" Titles Issue
The use of the protected titles "engineer" and "engineering"
continues to be a concern to APEGGA and to the other provincial/territorial
associations responsible for regulating the engineering profession
in Canada. Emerging disciplines, such as "software engineering,
biomedical engineering" and a host of other designations complicate
enforcement of the provincial/territorial legislation significantly.
The intent is clear, the titles are protected to give members of
the general public confidence that when they retain a person or
company using these titles they are receiving advice from fully
qualified, experienced and licensed professionals. Professional
associations, like APEGGA, are charged with the responsibility of
enforcing the provisions of their respective Acts.
The solution to the problem would seem to be quite straightforward
— determine what is the practice of engineering, and what is not,
and restrict the use of the protected titles to those who are, in
fact, practicing engineering. The difficulty comes in making this
determination, especially when many of these persons are not registered
with APEGGA. This matter is being addressed at the national level
but we must continue to work at the provincial level as well. Raising
awareness of this issue among our Members and to others is an important
first step. We must work with educational institutions at all levels
to see that only properly accredited engineering programs apply
the term "engineer" in the title of the degree or diploma
being offered. And we must make industry aware of the importance
of using correct titles in reference to their job descriptions and
of hiring only fully qualified and licensed professionals to fill
positions that require these skills.
Educational institutions have not always shown the level of concern
that we would expect. Several universities in Canada, for example,
are offering programs with titles such as "software engineering"
which do not lead to an engineering degree and do not qualify graduates
for registration as a professional engineer. This is misleading
to the students and to the public. Unfortunately, this is largely
driven by industry which is demanding "software engineers"
when what it really requires are "software developers"
or "computer scientists". It thus becomes a marketing
issue for the education institutions who react largely to market
For some time, discussions have been ongoing between the profession
and Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) concerning a "software
engineering" program being offered by the university’s Computer
Science Department. Memorial acknowledges that this is not an engineering
program and does not lead students to an engineering degree. Negotiations
failed to reach a compromise and so an action was filed in the Supreme
Court of Canada by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers
(CCPE) in conjunction with the Association of Professional Engineers
and Geoscientists of Newfoundland (APEGN). Recently, just prior
to the scheduled hearing in the Supreme Court, negotiations began
again and resulted in an agreement being signed between CCPE and
MUN/AUCC (the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada).
APEGN did not agree with the terms of the agreement and refused
to participate in the signing.
The agreement required the court action to be withdrawn and sets
guidelines for the establishment of a panel to be comprised of representatives
of the engineering profession, the information processing profession,
the engineering academic community and the computer science academic
community, with an impartial chair. The panel is to be given one
year to study the issue in detail and report with recommendations
on how it might be resolved. The recommendations will not be binding
on either party but both sides have pledged to use their best efforts
to have them implemented.
In contrast to this, APEGGA Council hopes to build upon the positive
approach taken by the two universities in Alberta, the University
of Calgary and the University of Alberta, both of which offer programs
that are delivered co-operatively by the engineering and computer
This approach is in the best interests of the students, the profession
and the public we serve. If applied nationally and supported by
industry there would be no confusion, no disharmony and no expenditure
of energy, time and resources dealing with what should be a very
simple issue. Universities and other institutions should realize
that there is no desire to restrict their academic freedom in any
way or to interfere in the important work they do. But the safety
of the public is paramount and must not be compromised in any way.
The model offered by the Alberta universities represents a method
of resolving this unfortunate issue and we applaud their initiative
and common-sense approach. APEGGA Council fully supports this co-operative
spirit and would encourage institutions in other provinces to follow
the example set by the University of Calgary and the University