Thrust Must Not Lower Professional Standards
Re: Membership Reaches 40,000 Mark, The PEGG, November
The article states, “APEGGA is striving to become a
more inclusive regulatory body by adopting the ‘Kananaskis
Model,’ which would have the Association welcome a
broadened range of engineering geoscience and related practitioners.” We
appear to have adopted this concept without a clear discussion
of precisely what “inclusivity” is, and of the
changes it will mean to our Association, and, most importantly,
to the professionals which it represents.
It appears that if the proposed changes are implemented,
a large number of individuals who at present do not meet
the standards of APEGGA membership could join. Council recognizes
that potentially thousands of people would be eligible.
The requirements proposed for the new categories of membership
will be less stringent that the existing ones for professional
engineer, geologist and geophysicist. The important question
is, do these less stringent requirements represent an acceptable
lowering of the standard of professional knowledge and experience
needed to protect the public in Alberta?
The creation of limited scope-of-practice categories of professionals, while
retaining the use of the title of engineer, geologist or geophysicist in any
form, may fail to provide enough distinction between the types of licensed
individuals for informed understanding by the public. It also undermines the
recognition of the “full” professional member category: to emphasize
to the public the differences between the categories of members will be a defensive
action; the mere existence of several tiers of certified competence weakens
overall credibility of the profession by creating uncertainty.
In most professions, entrance standards are raised with
time, not lowered, as the body of knowledge increases and
the record of experience necessary for independent practice
lengthens. APEGGA is no exception and for decades its standards
have been continually adjusted upwards to reflect the increasing
responsibility of its professionals. Any action to accommodate
more membership in APEGGA by reversing this trend should
be evaluated carefully.
It is unclear which are the related disciplines targeted
in the “inclusivity” drive. That drive, however,
should not be confused with efforts to assist foreign trained
engineers, geologists and geophysicists in obtaining professional
status with APEGGA. That specific challenge is being partially
addressed in From Consideration to Integration, a joint venture
between Human Resources Development Canada and CCPE.
Discussions so far on that issue show that it is entirely
possible to develop approaches to better integrate qualified
foreign-trained applicants without broadening the scope of
membership or creating new classes of APEGGA professionals.
The simpler alternative to the changes proposed to achieve “inclusivity” is
to continue working toward our mission: “To serve society
and protect the public by regulating, enhancing and providing
leadership in the practice of the professions of engineering,
geology and geophysics.”
Or we may decide that our goal should be, exclusively, to
protect the public by promoting excellence in the practice
of engineering, geology and geophysics. Any change in the
direction of our professional standards merits careful, deliberate
consideration by the entire membership before it is adopted
by APEGGA, with full understanding of the implications.
Dr. Philippe Erdmer, P.Geol.
Academic Examiner, Board of Examiners
Dr. Gary Faulkner, P.Eng.
Chair, Board of Examiners
Engineers Play Role
In Shift from Fossil Fuels
Re: President’s Notebook, Mega-Project Management,
The PEGG, January 2004.
APEGGA President Mike Smyth, P.Eng., mentions our almost
total fiscal dependence on the extraction of fossil fuels.
He is right to do so.
He correctly points out that oilsands mega-projects are threatened
by cost over-runs and the finite nature of oil as a resource.
However, he neglects to mention the threat from market reversals.
The world will eventually begin to address the reality of
global warming, and continuing to deny its existence is becoming
akin to believing the earth is flat. Climate change is almost
universally accepted as evidence pours in daily.
As the world accelerates activities toward the wise use of
fossil fuel assets and radically reduces dependence, there
will come a steep decline in the value of those assets. This
may not come for another five, 10 or even more years, but
it will come, and well within the proposed lifespan of an
No amount of crying about NEPs or carbon taxes will suffice
because the world market and consumption levels will dictate
Already Shell, BP and others are developing alternate strategies
for a post-petroleum world. Engineers are devoting their
energies toward such efforts as hydrogen technology, wind
and solar power development, and a high efficiency economy.
Instability in the regions with most of the easily extractable
oil reserves is at its highest point ever. The new government
of Ontario has promised to phase out coal-burning power stations
So, to answer the APEGGA president’s question, we engineers
must take on the responsibility of economic diversification
and become a major player in the new, wise-use economy.
Denmark has cornered the market in wind turbines, one of
the fastest growing commodities today. Solar panel designs
are becoming smaller and more efficient every year, some
are now designed to be roof shingles. Cogeneration is being
adapted into many new developments because it makes economic
sense. The federal government created economic incentives
immediately after Kyoto was ratified, and the new Paul Martin
government is set to increase those incentives.
As more of these developments come and users discover their
economic advantages, the process will accelerate. The only
reason inefficiency has been so popular in the past is that
the fuels were subsidized and plentiful, and the environmental
consequences were not factored in. This scenario is no longer
acceptable to the majority of breathing people.
So, fellow engineers, let’s put our shoulders to it
sure Alberta remains the top economic performer in the 21st
David J. Parker, P.Eng.
Not Demystified at All
Re: Shaking Up Interest, and The Earth Really is Moving
Under Our Feet, The PEGG, January 2004.
A reader is led to presume that the subtitle’s words,
earthquake demystification, reflect Dr. Rogers' intent and
that his expressions, "tectonic plates rubbing against
each other," a "subduction earthquake in 1700," and "scientists
[discovering how] to 'listen' to tectonic plates slipping
under Vancouver Island," do serve this purpose as grand
Unsaid on the subject of plate rubbing, however, is that
rock at subcrustal pressures is plastic. It deforms and is
not subject to brittle fracture. Stress cannot build up.
Stress release cannot be the cause of deep earthquakes.
As all the big earthquakes are deep, their science is not
explained and certainly not demystified by talk of plates
Unsaid on the subject of subduction earthquakes is that
subduction itself is a fanciful idea that violates common
sense and known engineering principles:(1) A less dense (subducting)
rocky mass cannot "sink" spontaneously into a medium
of greater density; and (2) basal friction below a body the
size of a continent is far too small by many orders of magnitude
to drive the continental "plate" to surmount the
adjoining "oceanic plate," causing the latter to "subduct."
Subduction is a theory lacking in essential support.
Also unsaid is how the scientists know they are hearing "plates
rubbing" when they "listen" to their seismic
vibrations. Usually, one hears what one is predisposed to
hear, i.e. what is expected – in this case the passing
fad, plate tectonics, pop science.
Readers who want to delve deeper should visit www.polarpublishing.com,
which features books I’ve written or edited.
C. Warren Hunt, P.Geol.
Quake Facts Wrong
Although I laud any attempt to demystify earthquake seismology,
a quasi-professional journal such as The PEGG really ought
to get its facts straight. You publish this for professionals
and we should be able to rely on the data you print.
I cannot believe that Dr. Garry Rodgers claimed the last
earthquake in Alberta occurred in 1984 in the Crowsnest Pass.
He certainly didn't hold that opinion the last time I talked
The Canadian National Earthquake Data Base shows five earthquakes
of magnitude greater than 4.0 since 1985 in the latitude
longitude block that contains Alberta. Two of these were
within the political boundaries of Alberta.
There are quite a few seismic events in southeastern B.C.,
but Alberta is by no means quiet. If we reduce the lower
threshold to magnitude 3.0, there are many more. The result
is even more interesting if you look at a map of all reported
earthquakes in Alberta.
I suspect that what Dr. Rodgers actually said was that there
aren’t very many significant earthquakes in Alberta.
He apparently neglected to mention, however, an odd event
that occurred in the 1950s near Snipe Lake. There isn’t
very good data but a magnitude of 5.2 seems plausible for
You can verify these things yourself if you want. Visit
Dr. Edo Nyland, P.Geoph.
Professor Emeritus, Geophysics
University of Alberta
Re: Sending Engineering Work for Canadian Projects Overseas
May Lead to Ethical Dilemmas and Threaten Public Protection,
by Nigel Histon, P.Eng., The PEGG, November 2003.
The referenced paper raises very important matters about
the future of our professions in the new global economy.
While the general spirit of it is undoubtedly right, there
are some points that I cannot agree with.
The concern that foreign engineers don’t fall under
APEGGA's jurisdiction, hence they cannot be effectively
controlled, doesn't bother me at all. It is not a concern
of an engineer-doer (the term I like to use) but a scream
of a bureaucrat when he sees that something evades his
control and regulation. Also, in many countries the engineers
are just as effectively controlled by their local associations.
The concern that Canadian projects are better served by
Canadian engineers, familiar with local conditions and codes,
is valid but it doesn't justify a tenfold increase in price
when it is done in Canada as opposed to the "Third World.” The
urge to get things "quick, cheap and dirty" has
penetrated our society.
In any department store, 150 per cent of merchandise is made
in developing countries. It is generally of very low quality,
but it is affordably priced and there is lots of it. I suppose
our Canadian workers could do it better, but the public falls
for the cheap.
And the concern for the "best protection" of the
interest of the public? The public wouldn't care one way
or the other. It only recalls of engineers when something
fails. The design work coming from overseas is acceptable
quality, otherwise it wouldn't pose a problem to us.
So let's face it: the only party at a loss from globalization
is us, the engineers (or geoscientists). We indeed may wake
up one day and find that there is no more work for us here
But what can we do? There is no way we can compete with those
who are willing to work for far less.
That's why we need to join our forces and lobby for the
government to impose protectionist measures in our professions
to guard the local market. Not unlike the regulation for
RRSP investments: 80 per cent of the eligible money must
be invested in Canadian funds. Say, in a Canadian-built project,
80 per cent of engineering work must be performed by Canadian
The government would be interested in it too: if all the
work escapes overseas, who will pay taxes?
Konstantin Ashkinadze, P.Eng.
Re: Military Engineers Donate Books Marking Their Centennial,
The PEGG, January 2004.
There’s a face familiar to me among the military Engineers
pictured, but I quickly realized you need a course in military
ranks and possibly in subject identification as well.
Ralph Gienow, Lt.-Col. (Retired), is second from the left.
The gentlemen making the presentation wearing the four stripes
is a colonel, not a general. And it looks like you might
have the rank correct for the gentleman on the right.
Lt.-Col. (Retired) Keith J. Rieder, P.Eng.