Monday, January 31, 2011
teachers were correct that only qualified persons are employed in jobs, then
clearly the qualification of engineers and architects was and still is
inadequate. Since architects and engineers are educated to reach their
positions, then clearly the education system is also defective, and the
educators themselves less than competent. It is thus stupid to waste time
arguing with people who are narrow minded: and not even aware that they are
part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Organisations like engineers australia (IEAust) are tasked with the
self-regulation of the engineering profession. They do not do a very good
job of assessing technical competence in specific areas of practice and
protecting public health, safety and welfare. Their primary concern is the
use of the trite and silly title "engineer", and restricting its use to
persons with a B.Eng. I have no problems with who they restrict the title
to: it is an irrelevant title and does not have anything to do with
technical competence and the needs of society and industry. So fine, great,
those with a B.Eng are engineers. They may also progress to being capitalist
profiteering professionals CP.Eng, still further trite title, which still
doesn't have anything to do with the needs of industry and society. All such
titles, post nominals and credentials are concerned with the status and
prestige of the individual, not the needs of society, and not properly
assessed technical competence.
In Australia as with many other countries we have a national qualification
frame work, named the Australian Qualification frameweok (AQF), associated
with are national training packages.
AQF : http://www.aqf.edu.au/
Training Packages: http://www.ntis.gov.au/
At present most of the training packages do not extend beyond AQF advanced
diploma, and this is because industry and society does not require higher
levels of education to develop and maintain its technological systems.
Engineer is a profession, it is an invention, just like a TV or a car, it is
not concerned with any job function or task within society or industry: it
is concerned with the status of the individual. Thus both educational
institutions and industry are both hampered in supply of technical
personnel. There is a myth that if the IEAust does not accredit a technical
study programme then cannot practice in industry. That is nonsense: the only
industries which give a damn about what the IEAust thinks are those who
employ a large number of persons who are members of the IEAust. In the main
nobody cares. What industry and society does care about is technical
competence, and it cares about the proper assessment of technical
competence. But we have one organisation in Australia which has a strangle
hold on qualifications: it only promotes engineers. It gives scant attention
to engineering associates and engineering technologists. Why did the IEAust
absorb the institute of engineering associates, then then existence of such
almost disappears? It most definitely was not to build a solid foundation
for the practice and application of engineering science. It has been most
definitely to promote the B.Eng over and above any other educational
For it is not just engineering associates that the IEAust attacks and
insults, it is also scientists and applied scientists. Apparently our
civilisation is dependent on persons with a B.Eng, we have to say that,
because B.Eng is their definition of engineer, and don't want to confuse
that with the publics definition of engineer. Telford was an engineer: not
because he designed and built bridges, but because he operated at the
frontiers of science and technology: he did not have a B.Eng. Neither did
the vast majority of people who made things happen. If we were dependent on
persons with a B.Eng for our civilisation then we would still be stuck up
trees eating bannanas.
The academic study programme of a B.Eng fails to impart the necessary
knowledge required to deal competently with established technologies. For
Telford and Navier bridges were a scientific and technological frontier, in
the modern world, they are not, and failure of bridges either in operation
or during construction is unacceptable: if within the realms of the
established science and technology to avoid such failures. Most recent
failures could have been avoided if the technical competence of those
responsible for design, regulator approval, and construction supervision was
properly asessed. The IEAust is failing to carry out this assessment.
I therefore contend that it is necessary for the Federal government, to
implement a dynamically adaptive register of approved persons. I will
describe this in detail at some point in the future.
In simplest terms, in the first instance anyone routinely operating in a
given area of practice can be registered and become approved persons (AP).
Regulatory authorities only accept documented proposals reviewed and
endorsed by persons (AP's) on the register. If the proposal is severly
defective, then the AP risks being struck from the register. Being struck
from the register doesn't stop the person from practicing in the area of
practice, it just means that they can no longer endorse their own work, they
have to turn to a more suitably qualified person: someone who is registered
as an AP. Thus whilst more challenging work may flow in their direction,
they have a vested interest in seeking the services of more suitably
qualified AP to review and endorse their work than to do so themselves. This
in turn has the potential to keep costs of supply realistic. Simply projects
can be tackled at low cost, using efficient resources: for example drafters
instead of architects, or salespeople instead of drafters. But as the
project gets more complicated, and people attempt to by pass the
complexities of design and simply get a drawing passed by a regulator, the
cost of supply is pushed up because they will have to pay for the services
of a suitably qualified AP. If an unsuitably qualified AP attempts to go
through the regulator, they will be removed from the project, and risk being
removed from the register. Once removed from the project, a suitably
qualified AP will have to be found and their fees paid. The original AP
could be fined, but I generally don't support such penalties. I prefer a
system which reinforces positive behaviour rather than punishes negative:
how to achieve that I haven't quite figured. However as long as people know
their limitations they will remain registered. Those that don't know their
limitations will cease to be registered. After initiation getting on the
register is dependent on being able to complete work with little revision
demanded by an AP. In other words a portfolio of worked endorsed by an AP
and approved by regulator becomes qualification for being on register. The
person has past work as example of what is expected from them, so they have
to stick to that and improve upon if they are to remain registered. So they
can save themselves some time with review and endorsement of routine and
familiar work, by doing themselves, but for more complex work encouraged to
get another to act as AP. Even if the AP is suitably qualified and
experienced it is still beneficial to get another AP to review and endorse
the more complex projects rather than rely on own ability under the
pressures of the project. That is design can go round in many circles, get
an other to look at final proposal to check that didn't miss assessment of
some characterisic in the final cycle can help avoid mistakes and future
We need quality robust control systems based on the AQF and the needs of
specific industries, not the desires of professions. It is not just in
design and engineering, it is across all areas of society where by
membership of a profession is taking precedence over actual needs of
society. People are wasting time in education and training programmes that
are not necessary and at the same time failing to acquire the knowledge and
training that they do require.
It needs to stop!
Friday, January 28, 2011
not, pressing follow didn't seem to change to following. May have changed
may have not. Figured I would leave it and try again some other day.
Having problems finding building users. Probably more important things to
do, than create twitter accounts and tweet anything. Though twitter could be
useful for getting information to and from site, and otherwise setting up
interesting discussion groups. Similarly for engineering and design.
That is the other issue the alternative uses of words. It being the
internet, the majority of references to builder, designer, architect and
engineer refer to website design.
Spent some of the day on LinkIN expressing my view on design for floods,
earthquakes and hurricanes. Some civil engineers just don't seem to
understand risk and uncertainty. Got crazy notion that we can design systems
to be safe, flood proof, earthquake proof, and hurricane proof. All nonsense
of course, not possible. We can only design for a low risk of failure, not
for zero failure. Consequently it is necessary to be prepared to respond to
the failure event.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
imposed from outside. However unlike any where else I went to school,
Australia didn't teach me anything about the flag.
So here's my perspective:
The flag contains the tricolour: red, white and blue: representing the three
sisters of the French revolution: liberte, egalite, fraternite. The union
Jack does not represent the English crown, but the union of the kingdoms of
Britain: it comprises of the flags of the patron saints of each kingdom.
Thus representing the values and virtues of such saints.
The union jack is small off into a corner: Britain is relegated to history.
But the historical contribution is significant: it is the land of the Magna
Carta, the land where the king was tried for crimes against the people. Such
sets the scene that no one is above the law, not even the monarch. It is
land of John Stuart Mill and John Locke important contibutors to modern
democracy. It is the origin of the Westminster political system with its
upper and lower houses. It is the land of Adam Smith, and also where Karl
Marx wrote Das Capital whilst observing the industrialisation of Lancashire
and the exploitation of the working classes. It is the land which gave
industry to the world. And since its culture is industrialisation, and such
is copied around the world it has trouble defining its own identity.
Australia took this heritage and built upon it.
The large blue background of the flag: represents the heavens of the
southern hemisphere, and yet also the oceans surrounding an island
continent, as well as the vast open spaces. Vast open spaces, which are not
cluttered with complex industrial systems, nor polluted and contaminated.
This vast open space is a further symbol of freedom. Whilst the southern
cross provide direction and a guiding light in the southern hemisphere.
Australia one of the few privileged nations of the southern hemisphere: a
beacon to others in the south.
Of course we could change the flag:
Say a green background to represent the importance of agriculture. A golden
eagle to represent our freedom and independence. A red bar to represent the
blood split in wars fought in foreign lands, and the blood of the indigenous
people that was spilt. A black bar to acknowledge the importance of the
indigenous people. And a yellow orange bar to respresent the importance of
the mining industry. Only one problem: the flags taken it's the Zambian
Change the flag if you want:
But there is no point if nobody can relate to the flag, and no one is taught
it origins and history. History is important to a nations status, and people
have fought and died to defend the values that people have attached to the
A new flag would require getting use to: not just Australians but the rest
of the world. And I don't think marketing guru's can compensate for a lack
of history associated with a new flag. Of course marketing could provide us
with a popular and a cute flag. But would we value and defend it, or would
we just have as many people wanting to change it to something else.
And in a global village, where we are citizens of the world, just how
important is the flag of a nation any case? For that matter how important
are the nations? Personally I think nations and their geographical
boundaries are obsolete and a general hindrance to further human