LICENSE OR NOT TO LICENSE
Director's March editorial Time for a Change hit the mark
that the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) ought to
focus on broader issues than licensure, and specifically on professionalism.
Indeed, licensure is a narrow area within the band of issues facing
professional engineers. However, two aspects of Director's editorial
concerned me. First, I would like to encourage him to get registered.
Second, I would like to encourage more focus on the definition of engineering
than we have within a lot of niche fields, such as financial engineering.
Regarding registration, the many practicing engineers who give attention
to licensure need the support of deans of engineering to continue to
uphold programs such as the FE exam, the PE itself, and legal issues
regarding the practice of engineering. The dean of a major public university's
college of engineering is the top engineering educator in an area, and
his or her actions send important signals to the local professional
second issue, my own study of the waxing and waning of engineering professionalism
convinces me that engineering has a challenge to maintain identity and
respect as a profession. By proliferating into small niches
that have little curricular cohesion with traditional fields, we work
against focusing our identity.
S. Grigg Professor,
Department of Civil Engineering
Colorado State University
I am pleased
that Professor Grigg agrees that NSPE ought to focus on professionalism.
With regard to licensure, I support this in those areas where it is
needed. However, I cannot give blanket support to the notion that all
engineering students take the FE exam or that all engineers be licensed,
because I have not seen convincing arguments to justify unequivocal
support of either.
With regard to Grigg's second point, I do not see how embracing change
and acknowledging the growing interest in the application of engineering
principles beyond the traditional areas, such as civil,
electrical, and mechanical engineering, detracts from the concept of
professionalism. Other professions have clearly evolved over time; for
example, there are medical specialties today that did not exist 50 years
ago. Why should it be any different for engineering?
Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering
University of Michigan
you for the sanity reflected in Aarne Vesilind's Working Toward
Peace in the May/June issue of Prism. The wonders of engineering
are manifold, and the act of engineering design is often joyous, but
it is simplistic (if not dangerous) to believe that the solutions to
humanity's problems (be they terrorists or global warming) will come
primarily through the deployment and development of technology. It is
vital that voices like his be heard.
Associate Professor, Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Science
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
March 2002 issue of Prism, Henry Petroski remarked in his article Remembering
the Future that the first woman to receive a civil engineering
degree in the United States is believed to be Nora Stanton Blanch, Cornell
University, class of 1905. Actually, the first woman to receive a civil
engineering degree in the United States may well have been Julia Morgan,
who received hers from the University of California, Berkeley in May
1894. She also went on to become the first woman to receive the Certificat
d'etude, the certificate of study in architecture, from the Ecole des
Beaux-Arts in Paris in December 1901. Those who would like to learn
more about Julia Morgan's life and career may enjoy reading the American
Women of Achievement series' volume on her life, written
by James Carey and published by Chelsea House.
Professor and Head, Geological Engineering Department
Montana Tech of The University of Montana