March, 2000

Regulating the Engineering Title

By D.M. (Dave) Todd, P.Eng.
APEGGA Director Compliance

There is a proliferation of educational and training institutions offering unaccredited Certified Engineering Programs and granting titles such as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) to their students. Consumers of the services provided by the graduates of these programs should be aware that they are not registered Professional Engineers, and as such are not entitled to use the word "engineer" in their title.

If graduates of these programs use the word "engineer" in their titles, they, and not the course providers or educational institutions, are subject to prosecution under the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act (EGGP Act), Section 3(1). This section prohibits the use of the word "engineer" in combination with any other name, title, description, letter, symbol or abbreviation that represents expressly or by implication that the individual is a Professional Engineer. APEGGA has, and will continue to pursue all title violations as they are discovered and reported.

However, APEGGA’s Council appreciates the need to take more aggressive action on this issue. At its November 1999 meeting, Council approved the Enforcement Review Committee’s plan and budget expenditure to undertake a concentrated, proactive Enforcement (Compliance)/Communications Awareness Program in 2000, aimed at both title and practice violations in the computer industry. The target audiences will be:

  • Educational institutions offering unaccredited computer, software and/or network engineering courses/programs;
  • Students and graduates of the above institutions; and
  • Non-registered practitioners in the computer industry.

APEGGA Council approved the enforcement review committee's plan and budget expenditure to undertake a concentrated, proactive enforcement (compliance)/communications awareness program in 2000. Aimed at both title and practice violations in the computer industry.

A major emphasis will be a focused advertising, letter writing and personal contact campaign aimed at MCSE students, graduates and the educational institutions/course providers. The current situation is that a letter of commitment has been received from Microsoft Canada confirming that it will not use the word "engineer" in job titles of its own employees working in Alberta. However, a similar commitment has not been forthcoming regarding the use of the word "engineer" in the MCSE title.

The issue is strictly about title. The programs themselves are not the problem, as the activities of the graduates are not considered to be the practice of engineering. The message to course providers and educational institutions will be that they are misleading their students. They have a responsibility to their students to clearly advise them of title and practice restrictions under the EGGP Act of Alberta and similar legislation of other provincial regulatory associations in Canada. Cessation of granting of the engineering title to students, as well as the removal of the word "engineer" from the program titles, advertising and background information or replacement with a more accepted word are essential.

The initiative to pursue the above program was conceived from an article published in the Engineering Times (the publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers in the United States) entitled "Protecting the Engineer Title: We Did It" (May 1999). The article described the success of a similar program in the state of Pennsylvania.

In Canada, the constituent associations of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers have been advised of APEGGA’s initiative and they are being encouraged to implement similar programs.

Members who have documentation of the misuse of the MCSE or any other title by non-registered individuals or institutions, are invited to contact Ms. Louise Heron (e-mail in APEGGA’s Compliance Department in Edmonton.

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