An ASCE membership login is required to participate in discussion forums and ASCE Mentor Match. Interested in becoming an ASCE member? Join Now. Need to renew? Renew Now.
Hi Randy, thanks for the questions and the overall opinions posted.
I thought that the article, copied below in part, provided a foundation for the discussion you present.
Jan 18, 2019 | News
"Why is important to have the licensed PE working on your project? First, they will likely be among the most experienced, knowledgeable engineers. PEs can administer their stamp or seal to reports, plans, drawings, and calculations, sometimes a legal or safety requirement for the project. Litigation proceedings sometimes call for the testimony of an expert witness, someone highly skilled and experienced in their field."
"Professional Engineers are also bound to a code of ethics, and expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. The fundamental canons of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers include holding paramount the safety, welfare and health of the public, performing services only in areas of their competence, and to conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully. Utilizing a PE for your project ensures credibility, dependability, and competence."
I believe that you need to be very careful that you do not exceed the bounds of engineering license that you have. I am not sure what WI allows with respect to overlap with engineers and surveyors, but in the 4 jurisdictions in which I am registered, engineers are not allowed to perform surveys, and surveyors are not allowed to do engineering. The line is pretty clear in Texas. Engineers can't certify boundaries or elevations, which are both critical to a successful engineering project. If you believe that you have the necessary surveying experience, apply to the board, take the test if asked to, and become cross registered as a surveyor.
I had a similar thought. In Oklahoma the licensing board is joint, but as far as I recall from reading the documentation, an engineer cannot claim surveying within their knowledge area under their PE license. In our firm we have added some surveying, but the guy heading that up has his PLS also.
Besides the license, I would also want to ensure that insurance covers that work and get a legal opinion from someone with AEC industry expertise.
I'm not sure why it would be more cost effective to have a PE do the survey instead of a PLS in general. Probably best not to blur the lines between the two separate Professional licenses.
In Milwaukee, we have always had technicians that perform construction staking for paving, sewer, water, and bridge projects for well over a hundred years. They also do initial background surveys and lay out base lines for these projects. They do bench mark circuits, re-establish section corners based on ties, and other surveying tasks. For this type of work, it wasn't necessary to have the level of proficiency as a RLS. Some of the techs went on to get their licensure based on that experience, mostly so they could run a side business. A few years back we hired a RLS on staff to train technician field crews and make sure everything was done according to a standard. He found that there was a lot of sloppy procedures and lack of formal training that did not produce really good results. Maybe good enough for general work but not much more. Even though some had been doing the work for many years, they did not have RLS-quality work. So, experience by itself, without proper and continuous training doesn't mean a lot.
Then there is the type of work. For general construction staking of roads, it is not rocket science. Of course, if you don't do proper checks while laying out lines, you could build a road in the wrong location which is never good. Laying out other infrastructure is going to require more care and you want someone with better training and possibly licensure. An engineer or technician who is experienced at laying out roads is not someone you want to have staking out a large, towering building or any sensitive infrastructure. I would hesitate to make a blanket statement that a RLS is not required for all construction projects or surveying and would suggest you think about what a PE or technician should be allowed to do surveying work for. Any PE may have had one or two semesters of college surveying and is not capable of doing anything but basic surveying work. An RLS in the State of Wisconsin should be much more knowledgeable about any type of surveying work and the accuracy required.
In your case, there should be nothing stopping you from getting a RLS license.
Summer, daytime, located in a town where roads with land boundaries are shared, in part with adjoining towns.
Clear, sunny day, with no rain predicted.
Town Highway Crews widening the intersection of five (5) roads with town boundaries not "Neatly" configured.
The supervising Town Highway engineer, a licensed P.E., has to leave the site for a meeting some 20 minutes away. Before he leaves, he walks the man (non-licensed L.S.) who normally does the so-called highway construction engineering surveys over to a location about 12 to 15 feet off the paved road and onto adjoining land. He points to the top of quite an old survey boundary monument, exposed vertically about 2 inches. He quite clearly tells the man that under no circumstance is this monument to be disturbed!
When the Town Highway Engineer returns, he gasps when he sees that the very road corner where the boundary monument was located has been entirely removed. He parks and then begins to briskly walk towards the fellow who was instructed to assure the monument was not to be disturbed.
The unlicensed construction surveyor holds up his hand, and with a wide smile gestures for them to meet at the rear of his pickup. He, quite pleased with himself, points to a spot within the back of the truck where the boundary marker/monument now sits. . .cleaned and resting on a cloth.
"See," he tells the engineer, "it's safe, not even chipped!
p.s. The above is a factually true incident. I actually happened by the site right when the two guys went to the back of the pickup truck!
pp.'s And as "Required," the monument was not disturbed.