Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Associate Technologist

So I try to get away from using the word engineering, but not so easy. For example I participate in forums on Linkedin, explicitly refer to structural design, and I get endorsements for structural engineering. So I switched endorsements off.

Even though I resigned from Engineers Australia, and can therefore toss its code of ethics in the bin, I still try to comply with and aim higher. But they keep on doing things that annoy me.

As I indicated in previous posts they absorbed the institute of engineering associates, and then basically terminated the concept of engineering associates. For some reason they seem to have some stupid notion they are equivalent to drafters.

The building industry employs CAD jockeys who are not even qualified drafters, they have little notion of true lengths of lines and true shapes of planes, little ability to draw and develop sections and intersections. They cannot solve dimensional and geometric problems. They don't build on paper they just put lines on paper. Besides lacking knowledge of the technology they are documenting, they also lack knowledge of presentation and communication.

A drafter, in past should have had an Associate Diploma in Drafting, whilst an engineering associate should have had an Associate Diploma in Engineering. They are two different kinds of people, it is not just the duration of education which determines capability, but the also the content and focus of the education.

So for example in terms of structural/mechanical design if you did not study engineering mechanics (statics & dynamics), and did not study the mechanics of materials, then you are not an engineering associate. Having an Associate Diploma or Advanced Diploma is not the deciding factor as to whether you are an engineering associate.

So there have been several factors at play, scuttling our technical workforce. Engineers Australia ignoring the education of engineering associates, inconsistently referring to them as engineering officers and engineering associates, signing the WFEO Dublin accord and equating them to technicians.

Subject to our traditional industrial awards, and WFEO Technician is potentially superior to our technicians, who typically educated at AQF-4, not AQF-6. However they are inferior to our more traditional engineering associates because whilst educated at AQF-6 they have a different focus.

I therefore suggest we resurrect our and improve upon our traditional engineering associates, by dropping the reference to engineering, and renaming them to Associate Technologists (no one currently graded as engineering associate qualifies. They will have to demonstrate competence for the role of Associate Technologist)

There is no need to qualify the word technologist. Whilst in the past I would have considered a technologist someone who studies technology, with respect to its history and impact on society, the prime requirement is that they study technology and are highly conversant about such, including the technical science and technical mathematics which relate to its proper design.

The Technologist thus has AQF-7 education, and the Associate Technologist has AQF-6 education, and one articulates to the other via an extra year of study. Where the extra year of study may well include history and influence on society.

Taking note that if the architects education is relevant to the proper design of buildings, then it is inadequate when it comes to structural, mechanical and electrical systems. Yet when we compare the education of the so called "engineers" their formal education is inadequate with respect to buildings, history and influence of technology on society.

So we  have these professional cults, and they wish to dictate over us, contending we the public are stupid and don't know what is good for us, so they the educated have to make decisions for us. I must have missed the memo, when democratic society consented to this autocracy by other means. These professional cults do not have any where near adequate education to be making decisions for us, we as a population should know so just from the hassles we have with the built environment, hassles with the technological environment.

So let's get back to some basics and draw a line in the sand. The rise from one AQF level to the next requires and increase in depth of knowledge, increase of independent thought, and increased personal responsibility. So an AQF-7 award requires subject matter which increases in depth over a 3 year schedule. Now assuming it is unreasonable to study a single subject for a minimum of 3*1500=4500 hours, then accept that can have a maximum of 5 independent strands. That is no strand is permitted to be less than 900 hours, programmed over 3 years. Or 4*300=1200 hours programmed over 4 years.

Further the rise from one level to the next based on minimum of 80% pass mark at the lower level. No need to adopt FE/PE exams like the USA, people aren't going to get through the academic programmes in the first place. No need for licensing because we educate people for the task at hand, and we don't demand knowledge and skills beyond those required for the task. The leadership role demanding vastly more knowledge and skill than currently accepted: in formal authoritarian hierarchies that is.

We may end up with fewer people with bachelor degrees, but those who have them will be the intellectual elite. Whilst we will otherwise have a mighty army of people with Associate Degrees, most likely multiple such degrees. These people will do the job better than  those of the past because they will be specifically educated for the task at hand: and better trained for the task through training academies.

A building is a technology, and it comprises of various technological subsystems: structural, mechanical and electrical.  An architectural engineer studies all 3 subsystems, civil engineers just structural, mechanical engineers the mechanical systems HVAC and plumbing, and the electrical engineers the electrical systems. But the other engineers do not study these systems relative to buildings, or for that matter relative to any specific technological application: its mostly applied science with notional concept of the application. It is notional because there is an almost infinite variety of things the science can be applied to, technologies which don't yet exist.

An architectural engineer could possibly design the entire building, but they most likely will specialise in a single subsystem. No matter which subsystem they specialise in, there will be more to learn on the job. Similarly civil engineers will specialise, and so one will design the stormwater drainage system, another will design the structure. Their breadth of education largely becomes redundant: interesting, maybe useful, but not absolutely necessary.

So the education of the Associate Technologist recognises this breadth in other programmes, and reduces the breadth and creates a focus on one area of practice. If they need to or desire to they can increase their breadth by completing additional AQF-6 qualifications. But if the technology requires it they can increase their depth by moving up to AQF-7 and becoming technologists.

As for becoming this thing called an "engineer", I suggest that it be split into two programmes, B.Tech and B.EngSc, and stick with the traditional 3 year degree for each: thus 6 years duration. Unless give status for overlapping technical science and technical mathematics.

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[13/02/2019] : Original