Council Favours Voting Rights and Elected Seats for R.P.T.s

Editor’s Note: Following is a report on the most recent APEGGA Council meeting, held June 24 n the APEGGA Conference Centre in Calgary.

Registered professional technologists should be allowed to play a greater role in their Association’s business, Council decided. An R.P.T. should be able to vote in APEGGA elections and referendums, and hold elected APEGGA positions, a Council motion recommends.

However, Council stopped short of extending the same rights to members-in-training. Some councillors were concerned that M.I.T.s need to earn the experience necessary for full rights and that they still practice under supervision.

There was some discussion that those M.I.T.s who have passed their professional practice exams are deserving of the rights. However, that idea was dismissed because it would create two classes of M.I.T.

R.P.T.s have the right to practice in narrow, defined scopes approved by the Board of Examiners. Their work within their scopes does not require the supervision or stamp of a professional engineer, geologist or geophysicist.

The Acts, Regulations and Bylaws Committee will now develop act amendment proposals for the additional R.P.T. rights. Changes to the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act have to be made by the Alberta Government.

Changes that originate with APEGGA must be passed by an APEGGA Annual General Meeting before going to government.

Restricted Titles OK In M.I.T. Job Names

To bring policy in line with practice, Council decided that APEGGA members in training will now be able to hold employment titles that include the terms engineer, geologist or geophysicist. However, they must make it clear on business cards and other listings that they are still training and therefore not yet professional members.

Until this decision, an engineer-in-training could not, strictly speaking, be legally referred to as a project engineer. Similarly, a Geol.I.T. could not be a field geologist, and a Geoph.I.T. could not be a junior geophysicist.

However, APEGGA’s Compliance Department, charged with upholding exclusive right-to-title provisions in the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act, was reluctant to pursue cases against M.I.T.s. They do, after all, hold a type of APEGGA membership, and Compliance is more concerned about protecting the public from actual abuses by non-members.

M.I.T.s work under the supervision of professional members and do not stamp their own work. They cannot use the titles P.Eng., P.Geol. or P.Geoph. until they have completed four years of experience and passed their professional practice exams. That won’t change under the new policy.

Staff looked at the policies of other Canadian associations, finding that some do allow M.I.T.s to use the restricted titles while others don’t. Under the new APEGGA policy, use of the member-in-training classifications E.I.T., Geol.I.T. and Geoph.I.T. are acceptable with the actual job title.

That means all the following descriptions are allowed:

• John Jones, E.I.T., Project Engineer
• Jane Smith, Geol.I.T., Field Geologist
• Jim Johnson, Geoph.I.T., Junior Geophysicist.

APEGGA Challenges Power Engineers
Over Trademark Application

Members of the Alberta Institute of Power Engineers have the legal right to use the term power engineer and the professional designation PE. It’s a designation exempted from right-to-title provisions in the EGGP Act.

But the institute wants to trademark PE with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and that could pose problems for U.S. engineers working in Alberta or Canadian engineers holding dual licensure, Council heard. In the U.S., the official designation for a professional engineer is PE.

About 200 foreign licensees are working here who qualify as professional engineers with one or more state licensing boards. “While it is true that their official title under legislation in Alberta is P.Eng., they may well self-identify as PE in official documentation used in Alberta,” says a staff report to Council.

Also, many full APEGGA members are qualified in the States and carry the PE title as well as P.Eng. They normally live and work in Alberta, but often use PE to identify themselves in reports, proposals, drawings, designs and business letters.

If the Alberta Institute of Power Engineers is successful in its trademark application, other uses in Canada could be deemed illegal. APEGGA’s legal counsel will file an objection.

“ The AIPE representatives verbally assured us that there was no intention to pursue the use of PE by a professional engineer in the event that they have the trademark,” says the report from Deputy Registrar Al Schuld, P.Eng. “However, the nature of a trademark creates the possibility of such an action.”

Strategic Planning Loop Widened

Council has created a Strategic Planning Task Force that seeks to keep APEGGA stakeholders in the planning loop. Under the approved terms of reference, the task force’s purpose is to “prepare an updated Strategic Plan, and to formalize an annual strategic planning process which encourages stakeholder input.”

The terms of reference call for the plan to be modelled after the best practices of organizations similar to APEGGA. An interim report is slated for the November 2004 Council meeting, and a final report for June 2005.

On the task force are Past President Mike Smyth, P.Eng., President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng., public Council member Larry Ohlhauser, M.D., Vice-President Dave Chalcroft, P.Eng., and Council members Ian McIlreath, P.Geol., PhD, Chrys. Dmytruk, P.Eng., and Barbara Howes, P.Eng.

How High-Tech Should Voting Be?

APEGGA currently uses a regular mail-in vote for members to elect councillors. But shouldn’t an Association of applied scientists be doing the job in a more high-tech way?

Not necessarily, a report to Council on electronic voting suggests.
APEGGA does use an optical scanner to count votes, under the scrutiny of a volunteer committee ultimately responsible for making sure the count is accurate and fair. But to shift voting onto the Internet, APEGGA would need to ensure there’s a verifiable audit trail and that the software comes up to necessary accuracy standards.

Voting booth touch-screen systems that can’t be audited are particularly suspect. And the punch-card system used in the 2000 Florida presidential elections was also flawed, introducing the world to such problems as “hanging chads” and “butterfly ballots.”

Says the report to Council: “The availability of relatively secure and reliable Internet-based transactions has led to a variety of proposals for paperless voting in a variety of organizations. (But) try putting ‘electronic voting’ into a Google search and you will note the huge number of issues that arise.”

Member Advocates Program
On Peace and Conflict

The University of Alberta should lead Canada in the creation of an undergraduate program on peace and conflict, an APEGGA life member says in a proposal sent to Council. Retired engineer Ron Grantham, P.Eng., says the program would provide in-depth, practical knowledge about the preservation of peace and the resolution of conflict.

“As a member of professional engineering associations for 56 years, I never thought I would ever become a peace activist,” says the engineer. “That is, until I learned that in the 20th century 183 million lives were lost in warfare – of which 60 per cent were civilians, mostly women and children.”

Mr. Grantham has been discussing the idea with the Alberta Government and the university since December 2003. His letter sought an official APEGGA endorsement.
Council wished Mr. Grantham well on the project, but noted that endorsing the creation of particular university programs is beyond APEGGA’s mandate.

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