To encourage engineers to become licensed professional engineers (PEs), the National Society of Engineers, Alexandria, Va., has initiated two new efforts including a proposal to change the model law for licensure.
"We believe it's absolutely imperative for engineers to become licensed as other professions are licensed, whether it's doctors, lawyers or accountants," explains Arthur Schwartz, NSPE's deputy executive director. "It's particularly important because engineers have a fundamental obligation to hold paramount the public health and safety."
PE licensure requires graduation from a four-year accredited engineering program; passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam; completing four years of practice as an engineer-in-training; and passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The proposal includes a credentials and portfolio review at the end of the engineer-in-training period. The second exam would focus more on professional practice issues, ethics, codes and standards.
NSPE proposes that unlicensed engineers who hold master's or doctorate degrees not be required to take the FE exam and that two to three years of experience suffices for these individuals.
While only one in five U.S. engineers are registered as PEs, Schwartz points out that engineers involved in facility design and construction are more likely to be licensed, because only PEs can legally sign and seal drawings.