Sunday, October 27, 2013

More Irritation with Engineers Australia and APESMA

I thought I had shut down all input from social networks associated with these groups, so that I wouldn't be distracted by their nonsense, but seems I was wrong: some leaked through.

It seems APESMA, the association of professional engineers scientists and managers Australia has created new internal groupings or something, and so Professional Engineers Australia has emerged.

I guess they didn't like resurrecting the original name which was something like: APES. A name which some probably think is an apt description of engineers. It certainly reflects my understanding of the letter 'P'  in CP.Eng. Nearly 5 years they took to dream this post nominal detritus up to improve status: not sure how capitalist profiteer, or cretinous primate, improves status. See once something is released to the market it takes on a whole new live of its own: and since engineers are seen as ignorant of the environment and the consequences of the technologies they release, it is clear that any post nominal dreamed up needs to be such that it does not provide an easy hook into reinforcing the communities negative views. It should be noted I only listed the relatively polite possibilities for CP, I'm sure people can find more interesting expletives to use.

However,  back to the issue, I do not see any value in creating these separatist elitist clique's.

Further the issue of importance is that Engineers Australia sought to redesign the industrial environment, and poorly executed its implementation. It introduced the concept of engineering technologists, without creating an industrial award for such. It ignored the technical officers awards and renamed engineering associates to engineering officers. It further ignored the technical officers awards which placed engineering technicians subordinate to engineering associates and equated engineering associates to WFEO engineering technicians. With the federal system, most of the state awards have been scrapped, and currently there appears to be only one federal award and that is for technical professionals: which doesn't cover the full technical team.

Further in the design of this new industrial environment, it is inappropriate to hold the new members of the engineering team as responsible for creating their own little groups and promoting their occupation. It is meant to be an engineering team, and each member of the team has an identifiable skill set not held by other members. Engineering Associates form the solid foundation on which the pinnacle stands firm, they are essential. The professional engineers and engineering technologists are not essential.

The engineering associates deal with the firmly established technologies, for which the technical science is well established and the risk and uncertainty is extremely low: and they are supposed to be educated in specific areas of practice not broad engineering disciplines. Engineering associates are responsible for the technologies we have and are dependent upon, their body of knowledge defines the frontier of science and technology. Just because a technology was originally designed by an engineer, does not mean that an engineer is needed to redesign apply and adapt that technology.

By promoting occupational cliques and professional elitism, we are eroding the foundation. Further more the resulting professionals are something far less than the learned elite they contend to be.

It also causes industrial relations problems. If work is well within the capabilities of an engineering associate but an engineer typically does the work, then to pass the work over to the engineering associate raises the contention that the engineering associate is doing the work of an engineer and therefore should be paid as such.

On the other hand if the work is with in the capabilities of an engineering associate then the engineer doing the work should be paid as an engineering associate not an engineer, ignoring the potential the B.Eng provides and pay according to their actual contribution not according to their education. This industrial relations system also hampers developing new technologies and then handing over to engineering associates once the technology has been established.

Once a technology is released to the market it will be put to uses far beyond the intents of the designers, and likely have impacts beyond their imaginations. Engineers Australia has basically demonstrated poor planning, design and management skills with respect to the industrial products it is trying market. These human cogs it has defined don't really fit anywhere. Industry is basically being forced to buy what is being supplied rather than what it really needs. But then again it could design and make what it needs: or is there something preventing them from doing so? I'd contend the professions are an obstructive obstacle.

I contend that Engineers Australia is attempting to float a pinnacle in fresh air, rather than stand it on a firm foundation. The contention has been held that some of the big mining and infrastructure projects have failed to launch due to a shortage of engineers.

My contention is they failed to launch due to having eroded the foundation of the engineering team: namely the trades people, the drafters and the engineering associates. These people form the army which makes things happen, engineers have the vision to give them direction and put them to work.

I contend we are creating a society which is top heavy. We should stop promoting professional engineer to school leavers, and instead promote engineering, and get them in at the ground floor. With plenty of opportunity for the best to step up the ranks towards professional engineer.

At present the professional engineers, the CP.Eng's are less than the learned people they contend to be.

That has a two fold effect. One is that industry has no faith in CP.Eng as a reliable indicator of technical competence, and therefore will not select employees on the basis of such accreditation over and above any other qualifications. Secondly persons not having CP.Eng credentials, don't see those with CP.Eng as being competent, and therefore see no reason to join such class of individuals.

In fact it can work the other way round. Clients themselves having got some rubbish from a CP.Eng go looking for a real engineer: that usually means older engineers and/or engineers with overseas qualifications. People who actually gained experience working on serious projects, under the supervision of a properly qualified individual, and who then went through some relevant qualification process for their discipline. The CP.Eng credential is based on some generic rubbish, and is an unreliable test of technical competence: it is based on far too great an assumption that the competence comes from the B.Eng: the required technical competence never has come from such degree. Some CP.Eng's are competent, the issue is that its an unreliable indicator: as we do not know what they are competent in, nor what they are deficient in.

For example a lot of the civil/structural engineers operating in the area of manufactured structural products are a public menace. Besides lacking adequate knowledge of structures, they also lack knowledge of industrial product design. The result is poor service to the manufacturer/suppliers of the structural products and poor service to the greater community. Those carrying out certification work for the regulating authorities are no better.

A lot of the work which passes through the office is well within the capabilities of engineering associates, it is dull for engineering technologists, the work is flowing in because people think they need an engineer. This work should be flowing to engineering associates in the first place.

The regulators should stop refer to the need for engineering and the need for engineers reports. The requirements of the system are adequate evidence-of-suitability, and often the engineers are not capable of supplying adequate evidence: as they lack adequate knowledge of the technology they are supposed to be assessing and otherwise fail to properly research such established technology, or otherwise don't have the time.

Established technology is the realm of engineering associates, or as I prefer Associate Technologists. Forget about recent years in which engineers have been relegated to being the tools of regulators. The proper role of an engineer is pushing forward the frontiers of science and technology. Their education is for such purpose and they lack adequate knowledge of the established technologies, and industry is unreliable as a trainer.

The Associate Technologist is meant to be educated in the specific area of practice not a broad engineering discipline. Their task is to maintain the technological base of our industrial society. Buildings shouldn't fall down, bridges shouldn't collapse, machines shouldn't blow up. All of this is established technology.

After an engineer as originated something, the ingenious leap of logic is no longer necessary. A new generation of technologists and Associate Technologists can be trained to apply and implement such new technology.

We are pushing the elitism of the professional engineer and failing to train the people we really need. Lets make sure we build and sustain an army of competent Associate Technologists before we push the elitism of professional engineer.