Like Bill Hayden, I appreciate the wide-open soapbox.
"If I could change one thing in the world [within the U.S. engineering community]," to use your words, it would be to largely eliminate America's omnipresent engineering licensure exemption laws. I've concluded, based on studying the literature and on drawing on about a dozen disaster case studies described in Chapter 3 ("Disasters: Were Some Caused by Licensure-Exemption Cultures?") of my book Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament: Reform Education and Licensure for a Safer Society, that the bottom-line-first culture within some licensure-exempt engineering employers places the public at unnecessary risk. For decades, too many Americans have been killed, maimed, and injured, and much property has been damaged. Reason: Many engineering projects have not been produced under the guidance of and with engineering approved by competent and accountable licensed engineers whose paramount responsibility is public protection.
Why raise this issue in civil engineering forum? For two reasons. Some CEs work for licensure exempt employers-I empathize with them and wonder why and how they do what they do.
Second, some ASCE members have worked diligently, for over two decades, to reform the education and pre-licensure experience of CEs, with a hope that a few other disciplines might be stimulated to do the same. The goal was to raise the bar on preparation for professional practice and more effectively hold public protection paramount. ASCE members, as also members of NSPE, have attempted to reduce the adverse effects of licensure exemptions.
Raising the licensure preparation bar and reducing licensure exemptions means major change, which, of course, is opposed by many. Accordingly, ASCE has occasionally put its reform effort on hold – like right now.
In February, ASCE President Briaud convened a summit of civil engineering clients to obtain their views and use that input to decide if/how ASCE's two-decade reform effort should resume. We all have a stake in the results. My hope is for continued reform – ASCE and, more importantly, the public would benefit.
Thanks for the soapbox.
Stu Walesh PhD, PE
Consultant - Teacher - Author
Sent: 04-09-2021 01:18 PM
From: Christopher Seigel
Subject: If You Could Change One Thing...
Alright everyone, this thread gives you a chance to get on your soapbox.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? It doesn't need to be specifically technical or related to one direct facet of engineering.
For me, I consistently can't help but wonder what would happen if the entire developed world simply decided to wake up one morning and no longer purchase single-use water bottles.
There are many different entities out there that try to find creative ways to handle the growing global plastic crisis. Meanwhile, producers of these plastics show no signs of slowing down. Some of them are experimenting with "chemical recycling", but the current level of effort and nascent state of the research on that front doesn't inspire a lot of environmentalists. (Companies are placing big bets on plastics recycling. Are the odds in their favor?)
In contrast, private companies tend to respond to consumer trends and decisions very quickly when faced with the choice of adapting or going out of business. In that regard, private consumers wield considerable influence.
I want to acknowledge that I also understand that not everyone has access to clean water all the time, and that the private consumer does not always have a say in how to purchase certain products. (When two grocery stores both offer the same products in plastic packaging for example, one can't really choose a more sustainable option).
However, for those of us who do have the privilege to live with access to easy alternatives to certain single use plastics such as water bottles, I like to picture some of the ways that plastic production and distribution might change if everyone changed their mind about them overnight.
Do you guys have any soapboxes of your own?
Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE