Terri-Jane Yuzda

Over the Top
Sebsibe Asfaw, P.Geol., at left, receives congratulations from APEGGA President Mike Smyth, P.Eng., for becoming the Association's 40,000th member.

40,000 MARK

Milestone acknowledged as Association strive to become more inclusive


About six years ago, he arrived in Canada from Ethiopia to build himself a better life. Sebsibe Asfaw, P.Geol., has done that and something else entirely: he's lifted his Association to new heights by becoming APEGGA's 40,000th member.

"It's great to have my credentials recognized and to be accepted as a professional geologist," the Calgary resident said. "And I'm really thrilled to be recognized as APEGGA's 40,000th member."

This is a personal milestone for Mr. Asfaw, and it's also an APEGGA milestone - one that arrives as the Association faces perhaps the biggest challenge of its 84-year-history. 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 and geoscience practitioners. The model would create more rungs and ladders of membership, which would be based on types of training and experience, as well as specific, defined scopes of practice.

As The PEGG went to press, plans were being made to honour Mr. Asfaw in Edmonton.

The 41-year-old geologist with GeoLOGIC Systems Ltd. of Calgary has met all the academic, experiential and other requirements necessary to be a professional member in Alberta. He has a master of science degree in exploration geophysics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, as well as a bachelor of science degree in geology from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

In addition to extensive experience in Ethiopia, Mr. Asfaw has worked in the geoscience field in Calgary for nearly six years. At GeoLOGIC, his responsibilities include picking formation tops from suites of logs for individual wells in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, and preparing geological cross-sections and various types of maps.

APEGGA President Mike Smyth welcomed him aboard. "I'd like to congratulate Mr. Asfaw on being our 40,000th member and also for receiving the P.Geol. designation," said Mr. Smyth. "On behalf of Council and APEGGA, it gives me great pleasure to welcome him to the ranks of Alberta's largest professional association. We wish Mr. Asfaw a successful and fruitful career as a licensed Alberta geoscientist."
Mr. Smyth also spoke of APEGGA's place in Alberta, now and down the road. "This milestone speaks volumes about the growth of our professions in Alberta and the important roles we play. Engineering and geoscience teams are major components of the province's economic engine.

"Our most vital job, however, as professional members and as a professional association, is protecting the public well-being," Mr. Smyth said. "We will continue to be vigilant in that area, no matter what milestone we reach."

Executive Director and Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., concurred. "This is a major milestone, there's no doubt about it. We celebrated 30,000 members in 1998, and here we are again just five years later, celebrating 40,000. We are by far the largest professional association in the province, licensing and regulating 40,000 members in the interests of public safety."

As impressive as the number may be, this is no time to sit back, Mr. Windsor said. In fact the Association faces a major challenge in creating new categories of licensure to ensure an even higher level of public protection in Alberta.

"APEGGA is looking to the future with a vision that will address licensure problems that have been around for a long time. We have people who want to be licensed by APEGGA, but they don't qualify for any of our designations. Right now, many of these individuals are performing engineering and geoscience. These are highly skilled individuals, but they're not licensed or regulated by anybody," said Mr. Windsor.

"It's our responsibility to the people of Alberta, on behalf of their government, to find a way to license and regulate the practice of engineering and geoscience, wherever and however it's happening in this province."

This emphasis on what APEGGA has dubbed "inclusivity" will not detract from current professional designations in any way, Mr. Windsor emphasized. In fact, inclusivity will offer a greater level of public protection, because more practitioners will be in the APEGGA fold.

The process has already begun. Right now, APEGGA is devising a provisional license for engineers and geoscientists who have immigrated here and qualify for licensure in every way but one: they don't have enough North American experience. The provisional license will give them a level of professional status while they gain the experience they need.

Also, over the past several years APEGGA instigated the registered professional technologist designations in engineering, geology and geophysics. Currently, about 100 APEGGA members use the R.P.T.(Eng.) designation, the more established of the three designations. Experience and education allow those with the R.P.T.(Eng.) designation to work without the supervision of an engineer, but only in appropriate, specifically defined scopes of practice.

"We'd like to create more opportunities for more technologists at various levels, and let them be a part of this new scheme of things as well," said Mr. Windsor.



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