Stop Bullying

Re: Microsoft Dealt Title Blow, The PEGG, June 2004.

I have strong, opposing views on the Canadian professional engineering aggression towards the use of the word software engineering, and was naturally upset at the decision reported in The PEGG. While you will rarely find me defending Microsoft on any issue, I am ready to support its appeal of the judge's decision in Quebec.

The gist of Alberta legislation regarding professional engineers is consistent with Paul Bassett's remarks: the word "engineering" cannot be used in any context where it would mislead the public into believing one was a "professional" engineer. No one I know on this planet, except for politically motivated professional engineering groups, would be confused about the term "software engineer."

The reason this is consistent with Paul Bassett's remarks is that professional engineers are the last people that you would want to be responsible for software engineering. There is no confusion in all the world constituencies I have seen because it is computer scientists that provide the basis for software engineering as a discipline.

This is wholly in line with Bassett's remarks:

"It's kind of ironic that the engineers are arguing that they're trying to protect the public interest, when in fact the expertise for this sort of work lies outside of engineering per se," he said. "The accreditation that the engineering accrediting body uses is a one-size-fits-all sort of criteria. Whether you're a forest engineer or a chemical engineer or a systems engineer, it makes no difference."

What has become clear is that the professional engineering societies of Canada are leading the world in ill-informed, legal, bullying tactics, and doing only disservice and harm to the "public" they claim to be protecting.

I have more than 30 years' experience in observing the software skills of professional engineers, and I have to conclude that it is the professional engineering societies that put the public at risk regarding software engineering.

Randy Goebel
Professor and Chair
Computing Science
University of Alberta

Climate Change Causes Have Had a Hearing

Re: Climate Change Science Actually is Important, David Barss, P.Geol., Readers’ Forum, April 2004 PEGG.

Mr. Barss’s suggestion that the cause of climate change has not had a proper hearing is specious. The International Panel on Climate Change report is based upon review of the all peer-reviewed articles published in the atmospheric sciences and therefore represents the findings of the entire atmospheric science community.

The most recent report of the working group on climate change was authored by 120 of the world’s leading climate scientists with contributions from over 500 additional climate specialists. The report was peer reviewed three times by 300 experts in the field. The resulting document represents a remarkable consensus of opinion.

To suggest that the IPCC report is politically motivated, as some have indicated, represents an incredibly cynical view of the integrity of scientists. The document is also remarkable for its candor. Uncertainties are not discounted; they are reflected in the interpretations. To have another review by non-experts is unnecessary.

Mr. Barss’s reference to the many detractors overstates the scientific disagreement. The IPCC committee reviews all refereed articles in the field. If the detractors have published refereed articles in recognized journals, then their findings were taken into account.
If they have chosen to publish non-refereed articles or publish in obscure journals, then one must wonder why they have chosen not to have their findings reviewed by their peers. Are they more interested in influencing the political debate or are they truly interested in doing good science?

Mr. Barss’s statement that the cause of climate change remains unproven may be correct, in an absolute sense – the question can only be dealt with probabilistically – but this does not negate the credible evidence that indicates that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a major contributor to this change.

Much of the climate warming from 1900-1940 can be attributed to natural forcing (i.e. solar output and volcanic emissions), while natural forcing is not a plausible explanation for warming in the later half of the century. The increased heat trapping caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases is necessary to account for the rise in global temperature from 1976 to present.

The question debated amongst climate experts is not whether greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. Rather, it is about how much change will occur and how it will manifest itself.

The argument that we cannot afford to address climate change only makes sense if the impacts of climate change are discounted. Citing the death of 30,000 Europeans in the heat wave last year, Sir David King, chief scientific adviser for the British government, recently stated that the consequences of climate change are “far bigger in its manifestations than any terrorist action could possibly be,” and that “we face a period of massive economic and political instability.”

In Canada glaciers are receding and as a consequence melt water is diminishing. Flows in the Old Man and Peace rivers are at 60 per cent of their 1910 levels, and flow in the South Saskatchewan River at Saskatoon is at 19 per cent of historic levels.

To do nothing to address climate change is to pass these problems on to our children, meanwhile compounding the problem. The question is not can we afford to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the question is can we afford not to do it.

By addressing the problem, in a meaningful way, a new wave of creativity and innovation will emerge.

J. Edward Mathison, P.Geol.

Edmonton CSChE Remains Unconvinced

Re: Inclusivity

The Edmonton Section Executive of the CSChE believes it is too early to take a wait-and-see attitude on the issue of inclusivity. After extensive communication with Council, and with other engineers and chemists, we remain unconvinced that there is a problem that the proposed additional membership category will solve.

We feel we should define and explore the underlying issues and assumptions to see if a problem exists, before we consider whether a new membership category is needed.
Few problems are limited to only one solution, and the best solution is rarely the first one proposed. However, successful solutions are also only achieved if there is first a clear and well-defined description of the problem being solved.

How can we accept any new membership categories as a solution when we don't have a clear definition and understanding of the problem, or even that a significant problem exists that would warrant this type of action? Changes to the EGGP Act should be made based on a clear need, not on vague policy decisions.

Where is the in-depth analysis of the problem? There are many tools for this analysis – for example SWOT, situation analysis, risk assessment, pros and cons – which can document the threat to the profession in the province, and be communicated widely to get buy-in that change is needed and that the solution proposed will be effective. In fact we understand that President-Elect Larry Staples, P.Eng., has been asked to lead a new committee to try and determine exactly what APEGGA’s mandate is under the act, so we could actually assess how well we are doing against it and determine if we have a problem.

Why would APEGGA members be asked to even consider a policy solution when the justification, costs, benefits and risks have not yet been fully addressed by Council? How can we say the public is affected by others "practicing engineering" when we still can't seem to concisely define what that means or demonstrate any adverse impact on the public that would drive change? Why is so much Council effort focused on this inclusivity– which appears to be a solution looking for a problem?

Before we survey people on the solution, we should survey to see if they agree on just what the problem is that the solution is supposed to solve. In our opinion, the quick survey conducted by APEGGA in May was asking the wrong questions so the results are relatively valueless.

" Inclusivity" is a feel good term because it's the opposite of "exclusivity," which is currently politically incorrect and taken to imply elitism. We don't believe that the majority of practicing engineers see themselves as elitists, because we have to work on a day-to-day basis with technologists, draftsmen, trades, inspectors, operators, scientists, business people, the general public and others to do our jobs. It just so happens we have a unique role, defined by government controlled statutes, that require specific intensive training, just as you must have a steam ticket to operate a power plant, or a medical degree to perform open-heart surgery in this province.

Anyone who wants to meet the basic training requirements can be a P.Eng., P.Geol or P.Geoph, so how is that being elitist?

Let's ask the membership some different questions:

1) Does the current operation of APEGGA put the public at increased risk? If yes, what is the source of the risk? What should be done to mitigate the risk?

2) Do you, as an APEGGA member, feel that you are part of an elitist organization?

3) Do you know any people who believe that the quality of their current work and ethics would improve if they joined APEGGA?

4) Do you know any people who meet the education and experience requirements, and are being unfairly excluded from joining APEGGA?

5) What definition of “professional practice” best meets your interpretation of the intent of the EGGP Act? a) Any applied use of science that is not specifically excluded in the act; b) Work or decision-making specifically defined by provincially or legally sanctioned statutes, codes, standards, contracts or regulations as requiring the specialized knowledge of a fully trained professional engineers, geologists or geophysicists to be performed properly, in the interests of protecting public safety, well-being or the environment.

6) Rank the relative priority of issues that APEGGA Council should be focusing on: a) Defining what is meant by "professional practice" and APEGGA's mandate; b) Preventing the formation of any new organization(s) which may ask for authority to license university-educated individuals not currently eligible for membership in either APEGGA or ASET; c) Methods of expediting the registration process for immigrant engineers; d) Dealing with the issue of out-shopping of Alberta EGG work to offshore locations; e) Defining activities of high risk to public safety or interests that should only be done by professional engineers, geologists or geophysicists but currently aren't required to be by statute?

While we wait for the above survey, we will continue to provide Council with our input until they more fully understand our position on this issue. We also look forward to the September PEGG publishing the complete and unabridged or edited report on the Board of Examiners’ position on new categories.

Bruce Peachey, P.Eng.
CSChE Edmonton Section

Process Flawed

Recent actions by the lead administrators and Council again demonstrate the lack of an open and democratic process within APEGGA. The recent inclusivity initiative is the third major initiative in recent years (the mandatory Continuing Professional Development program and the creation of the registered professional technologist categories are examples of senior administrators and Council trying and succeeding) to impose major change on the membership without regard to its wishes.

Twice in the past and apparently now as well, Council assumes it has the right to impose on the membership because it was elected. If anyone read the propaganda that came with our last election ballot, all the candidates, save one, strongly endorsed inclusivity. So it is no surprise to read in the May PEGG that the past Council reaffirmed it views with newly elected members observing.

That appears to be a way to indoctrinate the new members to ensure continuation of the policy.

Further, the article has a tone that the old Council has turned this initiative into a crusade, as were the CPD and R.P.T. initiatives. Statements such as “Council believes the new categories are clearly part of APEGGA’s duty to the public” clearly show this crusade is one where members’ input will be ignored.

Now that we have a crusade, what are the odds that Council will listen to the membership?

How many people saw the secret survey Council undertook on inclusivity? The interesting part was the undertone of the survey. Clearly, it was to find a way to sell this initiative to the membership.

A reliable rumour has that the survey had a few problems. First, there were numerous people who expressed their uninvited opinion. And the results, even after hand sorting, did not produce a clear result.

I bet a loonie that Council will not release to the members the unsorted results of the survey and will sugarcoat the sorted results. It would only serve Council’s purpose to release an “interpreted” version of the survey. I believe Council should give the raw facts to members and let them draw their own conclusions.

There also is another disturbing trend occurring within APEGGA, and that is that the executive director is assuming a central role within numerous issues.

The address made by the executive director at the AGM is an example. This is a major policy address. This address should be made by the elected president of APEGGA. It is the president’s job to sell policy, not a bureaucrat’s.

The ED’s role is to implement policy after it has been adopted by the organization. It leads one to wonder how far the role has grown within APEGGA.

This also makes me wonder about the role the managing editor of The PEGG. The Inclusivity Reaffirmed article written by the editor is clearly propaganda to push forward the initiative.

Should the managing editor be pushing policy? Or is he to be unbiased presenting all views equally?

I believe it is not healthy to have an editor that clearly is biased. It could stifle debate on the issue. After all, The PEGG is the only forum for the membership to discuss the issues at this time.

The article could have been written reporting events at the Council meeting without the thick layer of promotion. Just the facts, thank-you. Leave the salesmanship to the president’s column.

How do we address the democratic deficiency that exists within APEGGA?

1) We need lead administrators who clearly understand their roles within APEGGA. They are to be the unbiased executor of policy. Not the creators, promoters or champions of policy. We have an elected Council which has this responsibility.

2) The editor must be given journalistic freedom to report all events in an objective and truthful way without “assistance” from administration or Council.

3) The Nominating Committee process needs to be reformed. The perception, now documented with our last ballot, is that they only find candidates that are friendly to the positions that the previous Council wishes to promote. Further, the committee only seems to ask people who are already part of the APEGGA system (they served on a committee previously).

I propose a more random process. It has worked well for other groups.

The province should be divided into regions. Then, from each region, a random phone list is generated of persons with 10 years of registration (for the experience level). The nomination committee then calls the random phone list until there are two or three volunteers to let their name stand for election.

Thus, a wide set of views and concerns can be seen within Council.

Senior APEGGA administrators should have no role in the nomination process. There are defined rules as to how the nomination committee is formed and who is to be involved.

Dave Kachorowski

Executive Director’s Notes:

The “secret survey” referred to is a survey carried out by staff in order to better be able to advise Council. It was sent by e-mail to 2,500 members selected randomly by our computer so that is hardly secret. We are aware that Mr. Kachorowski was one of the members selected and that he attempted to corrupt the results of the survey by broadcasting it to his associates and requesting that they respond negatively to the questions contained therein.

This represents a deliberate attempt by Mr. Kachorowski to interfere in the legitimate business of APEGGA and is unacceptable conduct on the part of a professional member. Fortunately the computer program rejected responses from respondents who were not part of the randomly selected sample so the results obtained were considered accurate within the expected accuracy of the survey methods employed. Interestingly, a review of the rejected returns indicates they would not have affected the results in this case.

As most members know, the Nominating Committee comprises of professional members who volunteer to serve in this capacity for a two-year term and are approved by the Annual General Meeting in accordance with the bylaws. One-half of the members are replaced each year. Members of the committee are free to recommend any professional members they choose as nominees for election to APEGGA Council and are not given any direction from Council whatsoever.

Full terms of reference for the committee are available on the APEGGA website.

H. Neil Windsor, P.Eng.
Executive Director and Registrar

Justification Needed

I, like other members I have talked to, am trying to understand the issues around inclusivity. I am doubtful about its need and I am concerned by the manner in which APEGGA Council and The PEGG have promoted it and are dealing with objections to it.

After over two months of rhetoric about wanting to enhance member communications and consultation, it is time that Council put forward some substantive justification for proceeding with this initiative.

I thank Ken Porteous, P.Eng., PhD, and others for publicly alerting the general membership to the inclusivity concerns. From my reading of the published information and from the response I received from President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng., to my e-mail in April, I have seen nothing that would indicate that inclusivity should be given serious consideration.

All appearances are that the inclusivity initiative was ill-conceived and that Council, The PEGG, and closely associated members are actively suppressing the reasons they have for proceeding in the manner they have chosen.

Dr. Porteous has pointed out some apparent bias from the Nominating Committee. I see no reason why Dr. Porteous should apologize for the appearances, as seen by many members, of the Nominating Committee, even though Tom Greenwood-Madsen, P.Eng., of the committee suggested in the June PEGG that he do so.
Then in a letter published in the June 2004 PEGG, Fundamental Questions Remain Unanswered, Dr. Porteous suggests there’s a “hidden agenda” of increasing membership, and encourages new Council members to undertake an “independent review of inclusivity.”
I see no reason for the executive director to challenge Dr. Porteous’s comments. Dr. Porteous’s concerns are held by a great many APEGGA members and to dismiss them does not serve the profession or its members.

Inclusivity appears to be an ill-conceived program and the manner in which the Council continues to stonewall and stifle contrary opinion is an embarrassment to the Council and the members they represent.

The questions have been asked, it is time for some answers.

John Glasswick, P.Eng.

The Nature of Exclusion

I write as a member of the B.C., Alberta, and Washington State professional engineering associations.

Let us get one thing straight. Professional associations are exclusive by nature. Membership in these associations is meant to convey to the public that fact that members credential have been examined, and that all are qualified to practice their chosen profession.

You are either a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or professional engineer; or you are not. There is no such thing as an almost doctor or lawyer. We do on see para-doctors with licences to practice some medicine.

The current drive to give partial engineering licences to technologists and technicians is not only plain nonsense. It represents and abdication of our responsibility to the public.

Let’s get something else straight. Technologists are very good at what they do. They can produce good work, form companies, hire anyone they wish and be successful. This is good.

What a technologist or technician cannot be, pretend to be, or be permitted to act as, is a professional engineer.

There is more. There is no need to licence technologists or technicians. They cannot practice professional engineering. They cannot, and should not be able to, take professional engineering responsibility of their work.

The promotion of “inclusivity” in our profession is cruel folly and must be curtailed immediately.

R.G. Fraser, P.Eng.
Vancouver, B.C.

Drive to Dilution

The drive towards inclusivity, like the issuing of more shares in a company, always results in a rendering down and dilution of the standards and values of the original material.

This is the bedrock of the discussion.

The proposals are for international applicants, for those with academic backgrounds that do not match APEGGA’s established syllabi, and for those from assorted sciences and who would probably be better advised to set up their own association to deal with their specific talents.

In each instance standards are the issue.

Surely APEGGA, while maintaining its own high standards, could liaise with other organizations which, although slightly different in composition, such as the assorted scientists mentioned in The PEGG articles, also maintain a specialist faculty which values high standards in its own ranks.

While one can sympathize with the second group, that is no good reason to lower the standards of APEGGA. Life is not fair, but to deliberately subordinate the qualifications of the majority in favour of a minority seems to be grossly unfair.

“ Internationally trained practitioners” are coming to Canada to partake in the Canadian quality of life, which was developed and built on Canadian values, Canadian standards, Canadian blood, Canadian sweat, Canadian examinations, Canadian financial resources, Canadian tradition, Canadian heritage and Canadian tears. While it should not be the aim to “exclude” deserving practitioners who desire to embrace all that Canadians are, one should be careful to avoid the trap of “including” a minority who wish the majority to bend to their demands and requirements for inclusion into a system they did not found, build, develop or finance, but wish to exploit for their own personal gain.

Despite the noble sounding rhetoric emanating from politicians and people in leadership positions, Canada’s high standards and values are being diluted insidiously. It would be sad to see APEGGA follow suit. The empirical evidence of history proves that once lost, it is extremely difficult to rebuild standards, values and morality in any society.
By the way, as an example of the insidious nature of decline, there is no such word as “inclusivity.”

L. MacKenzie
(Spouse of a Life Member)
Umhlali, South Africa

Editor’s Note: Although standard dictionaries do not include “inclusivity,” its usage was quite well established before APEGGA adopted it. A Google search, in fact, turns up 59,000-plus citations.

Fewer Inclusivity
Restraints Needed

I express my concerns about inclusivity because I am an example of a person who would not be considered eligible to become a P.Eng. under this new proposal. My area of expertise was as an electrical engineer with specific expertise in microwave engineering. I gained this expertise while doing research in physics for a PhD degree.
Indeed, I was one of very few persons with such expertise in Alberta for many years prior to my registration. My lack of registration created a problem since I could not offer my services despite my expertise. It took the concerted efforts of some enlightened engineering educators to help me obtain my registration.

It is not necessary to restrict the area of practice of those persons with legitimate expertise in an area of engineering and frequently more comprehensive and in greater depth than most engineers would have, just because they lack an undergraduate engineering degree. No registered engineer attempts to consult or offer services outside his/her area of expertise, as that would contravene APEGGA licence regulations as well as professional responsibility and ethics.

The fact that one holds an undergraduate degree in some branch of engineering does not guarantee that the person is an expert in any particular area. Every engineer develops narrow areas of expertise and this is usually gained through practice and experience. Indeed, this is the strength of the profession.

Today, there are few if any engineers who have a comprehensive understanding of the entire field of, say, chemical or electrical engineering. The knowledge base is far too large. It is, therefore, not necessary to impose the restrictions on the practice of those registered who lack an engineering undergraduate degree and to impose on them a different professional designation. Globally, engineering is now practiced by many professionals who do not have an engineering education because of the degree of specialization now necessary to provide first-class, up-to-date information to clients is not always available via the engineering education route. A professional in any field of endeavour is one who has expertise in that field and this can be gained in other ways than through university education in that field.

APEGGA should stop trying to turn the clock back and move forward into the 21st century. It should introduce flexible regulations to encourage trained scientific professionals to be included in the eligible membership of APEGGA without the proposed constraints.

Failure to do this will only encourage the misuse of the term "engineer" by those who may not be adequately trained and not have the expertise to offer such services to the public.

H. A. Buckmaster, P.Eng., P.Geoph., PhD, P.Phys.
Victoria, B.C.

Dr. Porteous expresses the frustration of many of us seeking to understand the inclusivity issue. We have made similar speculations.

Equally annoying is the non-response and denigrating language used by the executive director and others defending APEGGA's position, including the rather misleading headline in the May PEGG and website FAQ suggesting that the inclusivity initiative was being met with wide acceptance by the membership.

It appears the answers many of us are seeking are in the later pages of the June PEGG, CCPE Announces Integration Ideas. The article states that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has been funding CCPE for a program called From Consideration to Integration, or FC2I, which is tackling the difficulties of licensing and employing international graduates.

The idea is that barriers to professional licensure of overseas engineering graduates must be reduced or even eliminated so that foreign trained technical practitioners may enter the professions more easily than in the past.

The big picture? Canada is in a global competition to attract highly skilled professionals and the previous barriers to entry into many professions (these include medical practitioners, among others) are no longer serving their purpose and need to be re-evaluated.

Of course, this begs many questions, not least of which is whether the CCPE and APEGGA are acting as agents of government or as representatives of their membership in how they have brought the FC2I initiative to the membership? It appears to be the former, unfortunately.

Let's hope that President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng., takes the opportunity to implement her promise to better communicate and consult with the membership in a more comprehensive and forthright manner than her predecessor.

This should bring a different quality of discussion to the table and hopefully more illuminating answers than we have received to date. As professional members, we are due direct, meaningful communication and data from our Association, including HRSDC projections on the number of new technical registrants, financial impacts, professional reciprocity and impact on professional status.

I, for one, will be listening with avid interest.

John Aumuller, P.Eng.

Report Layout Suggests Bias

I wish to echo references in Readers’ Forum, to indications of an apparent bias within the Nominating Committee. The cumulative impression arises that perhaps only selected individuals supportive of current APEGGA-insider thinking are being courted for office.

In the February 2004 PEGG the Report of the Nominating Committee was presented in large bold type, wherein seven names were entered under the heading 2004 Candidates for Council. This was followed by a second separate heading in equal sized type, Mail-in Nominations, introducing three other names.

All 10 names were subtly enclosed in a thin-lined box, so that one could surmise that all 10 were indeed candidates for Council. However, as the last three names were segregated from the others, I was left with the distinct impression that mailed-in nominations, names not selected by the Nominating Committee, were perhaps not as desirable, suitable, or appropriate - and one could wonder if these segregated candidates were perhaps not as malleable to a perceived cosy group of like-thinking people now running APEGGA.

The same clear differentiation and visual segregation also took place in the Nominating Committee's presentation of the Vice-President candidates. Again, by the presentation style, the overt suggestion is that the Nominating Committee's considered opinion (along with whatever back-room political wheeling-and-dealing may be involved in orchestrating the nomination slate) is a superior offering to APEGGA membership, and somehow preferable to the mailed-in nomination from a number of concerned individual members.

I put it to the membership that inclusivity should be practiced more diligently inside APEGGA, for instance with acceptance of the legitimate participatory actions of individual members (actions such as nominating a Council candidate by mail-in) without visually segregating such candidates from those that might now be perceived as the "mainstream conformist" candidates put forward by the Nominating Committee.
It is indeed useful to the voter to know which candidates were mailed-in nominations (by an asterisk, for instance, with all candidates presented together in alphabetical order), but please let us portray all legitimate candidates as equal.

When a number of individual members galvanize to put forward a candidate, I suspect this is an attempt to provide a voice to address a perceived serious concern, and such action should be openly encouraged if APEGGA wants to stay connected to its members.

As a member who has not been involved in a mail-in initiative, I tip my hat to those members who have in this way attempted to improve APEGGA from their perspectives, and especially to those who allow their names to go forward as candidates in such circumstances. I look forward to a more equitable portrayal of such initiatives in the future.

Tony Griffin, P.Eng.

Membership Views Not Reflected

Mr. Greenwood-Madsen of the Nominating Committee took exception to someone pointing out that all the committee’s nominees held the pro position on the important issue of inclusivity. What he left out, however, is the fact that on the basis of most recent letters in the Readers’ Forum, the Nominating Committee's nominees did not reflect the view of most APEGGA members on this important issue.

This seems to be more than mere chance and should have been corrected regardless. It is a pity that Mr. Greenwood-Madsen cannot see that the Nominating Committee owes a public apology for selecting nominees that universally do not reflect the views of APEGGA membership on an important issue – and that Dr. Porteous does not for pointing it out. Mr. Greenwood-Madsen's letter leaves one pondering how members of the Nominating Committee are selected, and what instructions they are then given.
When one removes the outer layers, inclusivity still describes a process whereby individuals who are, or want to be, practicing engineering without providing the education and experience required to receive the current APEGGA designation, are rewarded. Simply stated, inclusivity is dangerous to the public, and to APEGGA.

Karl Miller, P.Eng.

Why Not Refocus Mandate?

Several years ago APEGGA hired KPMG Consulting in part to determine what proportion of Alberta-based geoscientists are licensed members of APEGGA. The consultants determined that 59 per cent of practicing Alberta geoscientists qualified for registration with APEGGA are actually registered.

That means that over 40 per cent of geoscientists were not registered. Has this number changed? By how much?

APEGGA's mission is restricted to "the practice of the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics." Why does APEGGA insist on expending its finite resources on creating a new groups to register through inclusivity when it is hard-pressed to fulfill its current mandate?

Is it possible that my dues are financing a dysfunctional organization that has strayed from its mission statement?

Jim Letourneau, P.Geol.

Name Will Lose Appropriateness

If the currently proposed "inclusiveness" (in the interest of clarity, let's try using a word that is part of the English language) initiative is eventually accepted, acceptance will have to be accompanied by a change in the name of the Association. After all, not all of the members will be professionals.

Michael Doty, P.Geoph.

Foreign Acceptance Unevenly Applied

I am truly amazed with the reactions expressed by some APEGGA members in recent issues of The PEGG, regarding inclusivity. The government has been pressuring APEGGA and other professional associations to relax licensing requirements by allowing foreign professionals to contribute to the public with their skills.

For example, I don’t think that APEGGA members would disagree that foreign medical doctors washing dishes in restaurants for minimum wage are doing the best service to the Canadian public. Many of them are skilled practitioners but have no chance to prove it.

APEGGA leadership has chosen a wrong route to accommodate the government move. The right step would have been to relax the current registration policy regarding accepting foreign degrees.

Apparently, only foreign professionals with degrees from the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Ireland, Hong Kong, South Africa and France can register without taking confirmatory exams. To justify that, APEGGA claims that those countries have an engineering educational accreditation system similar to that of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

That’s not good enough. If APEGGA is to protect the public interest by allowing qualified foreign professionals to practice, it should conduct due diligence by compiling and translating curricula from other universities. In fact, foreign candidates applying for membership could do this at no cost to APEGGA since most universities provide this information.

Why does APEGGA reject a degree from Germany, China or India? How do you think this registration policy could be defended in a court of law, on potential charges of unfair discrimination?

If you look at the situation in Canadian graduate engineering schools, you will quickly realize that Chinese and Indian graduate students set the standards of excellence, although they enter graduate studies with degrees which are not acceptable to APEGGA.

APEGGA should have never been given authority to judge foreign degrees. Only Canadian universities should be allowed to do that. If so, we would never have a situation where the same foreign degree unacceptable to APEGGA is accepted with open arms by Canadian universities.

The most serious impediment to foreign engineers is not the lack of professional practice in Canada, but APEGGA’s policy of accepting academic credentials. A foreign professional raising a young family under pressure to make a living is put in a difficult situation when asked to take two closed-book exams in the same day, which requires months of preparation. This is overkill if the idea is to merely demonstrate the knowledge of engineering principles.

Also, APEGGA used to allow graduates of foreign degrees who completed master’s or PhD programs in Canada to register without any additional exams, but even that recently came to an end because, in some cases, such candidates are required to write engineering economics exams. I suppose the moral of this is that only graduates from Anglo-Saxon schools have been exposed to the right ideas when it comes to economics!

No wonder governments are trying to intervene. I am not a proponent of government intervention in everything, but it should also be recognized that self regulating alone does not always guarantee the best protection of public interest.

Nesa Ilich, Ph.D., P.Eng.

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