Powerful Pacific Northwest
Backs Legislative Changes To
Improve Cross-border Licensing
of Engineers


APEGGA President

Another summer has passed, and I’m sure you all took advantage of the good weather when we had it. Summer is traditionally a slow period for APEGGA, but this past one was busier than usual.

APEGGA attended the 14th annual Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Summit, held this year in Victoria, and was represented by Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., and President-Elect Larry Staples, P.Eng.

Our involvement in PNWER is a powerful tool in the ongoing initiative to improve mobility of professions between Canada and the U.S. It’s also a direct reflection of the importance of APEGGA and our engineers, geologists and geophysicists in the economic development of this powerful region.

Quoting directly from the PNWER website: “PNWER is a statutory, public/private partnership composed of legislators, governments, and businesses in the Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and the Western Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory. PNWER promotes greater regional cooperation by governments and business to enhance the region's global competitiveness, while striving to maintain or improve its environment.

“If it were a nation, PNWER would rank 11th among the world's leading industrial economies, with combined population of more than 18 million and an annual gross regional product of over $350 billion (USD). PNWER was created in 1991 by uniform legislation passed in each of the member jurisdictions.

”All state and provincial legislators in the region are members of PNWER, as are the governors and premiers. In addition, private sector members, counties, economic development commissions, industry associations and similar entities may join PNWER.”

APEGGA has been a member of PNWER and attended meetings for the past several years, with the primary purpose of promoting cross-border mobility for our members. At this last meeting, Mr. Windsor and Dave Curtis, P.E., Executive Director of the Idaho Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors, championed a resolution that encourages licensing authorities to seek legislative amendments needed to enable recognition of licenses held in other PNWER jurisdictions, where the requirements are substantially equivalent. Several members signed – Idaho, Washington, Alberta and B.C., and others indicated significant support.

This is a significant step forward in achieving cross-border mobility for Alberta engineers, and it has come about largely through the patient, persistent and effective work of our executive director in dealing with the other PNWER member boards. In fact, Mr. Windsor and Mr. Curtis jointly received PNWER’s Hot Potato Award for their efforts.

This award is given annually to recognize outstanding work on a particularly difficult issue, and we can all be proud of Neil’s work on our behalf.

Other Cross-border Connections
APEGGA also attends meetings of the U.S. NCEES, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

For licensure in the U.S., individuals are required to pass two exams, set by nationally by NCEES. The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which is administered to graduates of engineering degree programs, and provides assurance of attainment of fundamental skills. The second is the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, which can only be taken after four years experience and is meant to provide assurance of attainment of engineering skills that can only be gained by experience.

APEGGA has been attending these meetings for several years. Again, the issue is mobility, and especially recognition of Canadian academic training. APEGGA is widely recognized as a leader among Canadian engineering associations for our work in this arena. Mr. Windsor and CCPE President Darrel Danyluk, P.Eng., a past president of APEGGA, have worked hard and have developed a significant degree of trust and respect for Canadian associations and their regulatory practices.

One result of this work is the recent acceptance of APEGGA as a proctor of the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exams. Many Canadian engineering graduates have now taken the exam through APEGGA and have demonstrated the excellence of Canadian engineering education.

The most recent session resulted in a 100 per cent pass rate! This is substantially better than the examinees’ U.S. counterparts, and will be very helpful in our continuing bid for recognition of Canadian credentials. We can be very proud of our Canadian education and accreditation system.

One last note in closing. U.S. state boards, the groups that license engineers in the U.S., have much in common with Canadian associations. There is concern about declining licensure and the difficulties inherent in dealing with emerging technologies. There are members who are concerned about perpetuation of the exclusive nature of the licensure process, and those who believe that the tried-and-true processes are the best and only way to proceed.

U.S. licensing bodies are challenged to find ways to deal with their rapidly evolving professions, just as we are, and the concerns are remarkably similar. Our solutions are likely to be similar, too, and they will be arrived at through careful consideration of alternatives.

The strong and overriding need, on both sides of the border, is to find ways to encourage licensure while maintaining the high standard of entry and protection of the public interest that we now enjoy. It will be an interesting journey for us all.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can e-mail me at, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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