Monday, February 11, 2019

Not Opposed to Engineers, just those who Claim Sole Use of the Word and Distort Language

Just in case anyone has got the idea I don't like engineers, that is not so. The thing I dislike is professional cults claiming sole use of a word and then distorting the use of language.

Here in Australia, we had an institute of engineering associates, and in south Australia we had an industrial award for technical officers. The award being named: Draughtspersons, Planners And Technical Officers Award. {Though at the moment I cannot find a digital version. Hopefully I still have the printout to check its details. But fairly certain it also included South Australia in the title, though other states do have similar. Though some variations replace the term technical officers with technical workers}

The technical officers award referred to engineering technicians and engineering associates. The engineering associates were at a higher pay and responsibility level than technicians. The academic award was typically an Associate Diploma for engineering associates and some Advanced Certificate for technicians. In terms of the new Australian Qualification Framework, engineering associates would have an Associate Degree or Advanced Diploma (AQF-6), whilst technicians would have a Diploma (AQF-5) or Certificate IV (AQF-4). Technicians are not drafters and nor are engineering associates. Duration of education does not determine if a person can design or "engineer", it is the type of education which does.

Thus a 2 year Associate Diploma in Mechanical Drafting is not the same as a 2 year Associate Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. The latter can calculate forces, stress and strains, do the calculations necessary to make a mechanical system fit-for-function, or a structural system for that matter. Depending or where the engineering associate studied they may have sat in the exact same lectures as those studying for a 4 year B.Eng.

When the IEAust (now full trading company Engineers Australia) absorbed the institute of engineering associates in the 1980's, at first it seemed a good thing: as it made the IEAust similar to the UK institutions. Having all grades in the one institution should be good for a learned society tasked with disseminating knowledge, and otherwise identifying flaws and deficiencies in accepted practice (eg. Australia standards and codes of practice are highly deficient, but know real forum to discuss such.).

Unfortunately the move by Engineers Australia turned out to be a political tactic, and more aligned to sabotaging our technical workforce than improving it. As the only interest, of a large segment of Engineers Australia membership, is those with the 4 year B.Eng.

It is tiresome listening (reading), about these idiots claiming sole right to the title engineer, declaring that plumbers, train drivers, sound recordists, aircraft mechanics, steel fabricators are not engineers and have no right to the title. My question is compared to history, and contribution to scientific knowledge, contribution to developing technology, contributing to advancing society, what do these mere number crunchers do that is of value and worthy of title engineer? These people in the main only have a subset of the skills that their worthy ancestors had, and so have no more right to the title than a plumber or train driver.

These number crunchering B.Eng's are also of limited importance to society and civilisation: as they didn't discover the knowledge, didn't figure out how to apply to develop technology, didn't build civilisation and are certainly not required to maintain or advance it further.  Mostly they have used legislation directly or indirectly to push themselves into a place where they are not needed and are mostly an hindrance, and are otherwise not wanted. In the main design something once, and make millions of times. Design is also mostly qualitative not quantitative, so prowess with mathematics is not a benefit to the task: being a mere number cruncher makes the person a nuisance to a project not a benefit. And all the testing to get the B.Eng is about number crunching.

So when the institute of engineering associates was absorbed, the academic programmes were also ignored. With emphasis placed on the stupid notion that a clever country is the one with the most graduates with bachelor degrees, and the largest percentage of population with bachelor degrees. There is no point in having large numbers of people in design and management if got no one willing or capable of doing the making and building. The industrial awards give people with bachelor degrees higher wages irrespective of needs of the business: though there are some market forces at play, the market has to push wages above the minimums in the awards before it has any influence, and that may not happen if the award wages are too high.

The politics was increase the number of degree qualified engineers, get into management, limit employees to these people, and then seek legislation to further restrict work to the degree qualified. Warning: Queensland, the renown banana republic, Australia the land of the rum corp, why would the rest of the nation want to implement their silly form brigade (RPEQ's): it certainly does not have anything to do with technical competence and protecting the public.


Hello! Queensland floods: again! Super competent they are! Flood design, qualitative first, quantitative second. Qualitative: rain typically falls at the top of hills, runs downhill toward the ocean (high school geography). If have flooding then too much water, moving too slowly towards the ocean: so what's blocking it, what is holding it back? Why is it overflowing the banks of rivers, and designed drainage channels? Where is it falling and where is it collecting? This is all descriptive on the ground, what have we got? Very little complicated about it. What are the political hurdles? If you are a kid growing up in Queensland, what would you want to do, solve the flooding problem or join a professional cult? Hopefully you choose solving the flooding problem, because joining a professional cult won't provide the solution. Clearly civil engineers skills are deficient, clearly environmental engineers skills are also deficient. If the problem could be solved by application of established technology then wouldn't have a problem. If problem needs something new, then clearly the "engineers", are not actually capable of engineering: as they haven't proposed anything new and haven't implemented anything new. Thus the profession is a loss. The profession was a loss some 50 years ago: it's why my preference was to study science not engineering: history showed that improved understanding of the world led to development of new technology. Engineering is not about problem solving its about implementing established solutions: despite what they, the mob with the B.Eng, think they are capable of doing, they not have such capability. They need reducating to have such capability.

During the 2010/2011 Queensland floods it was relatively clear that the typical Queenslander house had been permitted to be modified. The vernacular construction brought about by experience and qualitative design,  put houses on stilts above the flood level. But now the space between the stilts has been filled in with an extra room. The room gets flooded: no surprise there. But water is now prevented from flowing overland towards the low points: rivers and ocean. Water, now cannot soak into the ground and flow underground. Simple qualitative stuff, ignored and now big problem. Climate change or dumb politics?

Here in South Australia, the driest state on the driest continent on earth. we get people complaining about flooding, when they are located where: gee where? The Adelaide flood plains. Bah! Humbug! That's just semantics. Why would the flood plains, flood, it's just a fancy name right? No! They are the flood plains? So why build there? Coz, its flat and close to business and industry and the land is cheap.

We do however have some development rules. First our stormwater and sewage systems are separate. The stormwater mains in the street was however designed based in certain assumptions of property development, such as minimum open space, and minimum landscaping requirements. Thus rainwater is expected to soak into the ground and flow away along the subterranean water table. It is not viable or overly practical or affordable to upgrade all the stormwater mains. Hence, most local councils require that the water flowing of the property is limited to the original design levels. So whilst there is subdivision, and blocks of land are getting smaller and houses bigger: there is a need to detain larger volumes of storm water on the property.

Consequence of this rule, is that apply to build a carport and find you have to also install a detention tank. The council may also provide an orifice plate which controls the release of water from the tank. The detention tank is not for rainwater harvesting it is for flood mitigation, it is meant to be empty at the time of a storm. Though rainwater harvesting tanks and detention tanks maybe combined, if designed to full fill both functions.

There is another issue, and that is water is required in the ground, holding back too much water, will result in the ground drying out. Or as noted on a recent commercial/industrial project the council may have concerns about holding back too much water because it affects the wetland component of their community stormwater drainage system (water sensitive urban design). So the quantifiable aspects of the design can be complicated, balancing the amount of water that needs to be allowed to run off and the amount which needs to be detained.

People using rainwater harvesting, and making use of greywater, also posed problems in terms of operating sewage system: has potential existed for too little water getting into the pipes to allow the system to work.

Any case as the driest state we shouldn't get flooding, and Queensland subject to tropical cyclones should be better designed to make flooding less of a disaster and more an inconvenience. Neither place is going to get where it needs to be by churning out more people with B.Eng degrees. The stormwater drainage systems need building, and paying for, but small changes, lots of them, can go a long way to reducing the problem.

We as individuals are all connected to a whole, and you, I, and our neighbours are all part responsible for flooding. So how much landscaping do you have that allows water to soak into the ground? How much pavement and roof area do you have flowing directly to the street or to the street main? How much do your neighbours have?

People solve problems, not elitist gits who hold knowledge to ransom. These so called engineers who want improved status, need to put more effort into enabling and empowering people, not making them dependent and creating legislation to make people even more dependent.


I got side tracked again mostly because I couldn't find an article I was looking for.

The gist of the article is that Engineers Australia takes pride in having scuttled our technical workforce by eliminating the institute of engineering associates. Legislation like that in Queensland is flawed because it has a poor definition of engineering.

I don't have a problem is engineering is defined without reference to education level, and without reference to the words: engineer and engineering.

For example:
  1. Engineers Originate, Technologists Adapt, Technicians Apply
  2. Engineering takes place at the frontiers of science and technology
  3. Engineering: the art and science of maximising the benefit from the available but otherwise limited resources
  4. Engineering: rational scientific approach to planning, design and management
None of these 4 definitions requires a 4 year B.Eng. More importantly it doesn't declare that duration of education is relevant to competence. The need for legislation comes from achieving the accepted level of performance from established technologies. For example the public has certain expectations about stormwater management systems: if they get flooded they assume there is either a defect in the design or the implementation. They do not assume it is beyond our society's ability to understand the problem, and beyond our ability to find solutions. Though they may expect there is some political obstacle to implementing the known solution.

The point is, if definition (4) about rational scientific approach to planning, design and management applies, then the traditional 2 year qualified engineering associates are competent to do the work. The problem is finding organisations where they can get the experience to put their education to work: as the majority of those with a B.Eng did not climb a ladder, they took a shortcut and they jumped to the top. They do not know the capabilities of others, and therefore they assume job requires a B.Eng and the engineering associates are disrespectfully or ignorantly relegated to being drafters:  alongside cad jockeys who aren't even qualified drafters.

Ah! But! The Grenfell tower, the Lacrosse tower, and the Opal tower, they should have been designed by engineers! No they shouldn't they should have been designed by people competent in the design of buildings and building structures. See anything in the term civil engineer which implies competent in building design? See anything in the word architect which mentions buildings? What is an architect, a failed graphic artist, messing up our environment: they don't seem capable of much, of anything else?

So restrict to architectural engineers/technologists? Well no! Because has I indicated in previous post, they either focused on buildings: structure, electrical and mechanical systems, or on bridges: structures and aesthetics. So how do we know we have the right architectural engineer, no better than civil engineer. Furthermore the problem isn't with these upper levels. The problems at the lower levels. So got a valid specification, how do you control the supply line? How do you know that the material which arrives on site is the fire protected version of a product? How do you know the strength of the steel bolts? The supply chain needs controlling. In manufacturing, reputable manufacturers would test all inputs, and inspect and test suppliers capability.

As for the NCC/BCA who cares about it? The ABCB deliberately removed information from the loading code and put it in the BCA, to get structural "engineers" to use the BCA. All the BCA does is list structural standards. At the time the Australian standards catalogue was a lot lower price and a lot more useful reference: because you design things from first principles and then look for community expectations of performance.

Further the NCC/BCA is not about buildings it barely mentions buildings, nor is about construction or structures in general. It doesn't cover bridges, radio masts, light poles etc... It doesn't cover infrastructure such as steps, jetties, fishing platforms, sports nets. It is not suitable as a single point of reference for the built environment.

The NCC/BCA is primarily about spaces. Energy flow into and out of the space, people moving into and out of spaces. It basically doesn't mention the building envelope, the building fabric, or building components. Such things as ground floors, suspended floors, below ground floors, walls, ceilings and roofs: no required performance criteria. Performance criteria are required for these building components, because performance criteria for the space they enclosed is not good enough. Floors have too much bounce because no criteria for floor vibration. It is not appropriate to put in the loading code AS1170 series of standards, even though most structural standards are largely concerned with buildings and no other structure. The structural standards however are applied to structures other than buildings: other standards however provide more product specific criteria: like the crane code for example. So criteria for floors should be in the NCC/BCA. Also construction tolerances should also be in the NCC/BCA.

There is no value forcing people to become familiar with a code of practice, when the code doesn't provide anything of value, and the NCC/BCA provides little of value: except maybe the deemed-to-satisfy fire rated forms of construction: which are increasingly being ignored by wannabe fire engineers.

And here's a thing! Polymers, plastics they tend to be flammable. Maybe ditch digging mud waddlers not aware of such. But they are flammable, so why would anyone approve such material unless have extensive information about its suitability as a construction material? Oh! Yeh! they use thundering great blocks of the stuff under the footings.

As for aluminium well it melts relatively easily. Ok! I  melted the egg poacher as kid.No one told me needed water in it. I just put margarine in the plastic cups. Ok! Now we're stuffed. Ok! So there are advanced "engineering"  polymers which can be specifically developed for high temperature situations: and they may be nonflammable.


Ok! Side tracked again

The point is that people who hold, as their main concern, a ticket to employment, and membership of a professional cult, have little interest in science and technology and defective planning, design and management processes.

If you hold the view, that if it was important, it would be in the code, then you are not going to seek to do better than the code. If you hold the view, that formal education imparted all the knowledge required for the job, then you are not going to read industry manuals, or technical journals. The B.Eng gave you what you need for the job and that's all that is required. Screw history and how the knowledge came to be in the first place: all that needs to be known is already known. They have the authority to declare: do has I say. They don't care if it's illogical, unreasonable or devoid of common sense, they got the legal power to enforce. So people don't give them anything. reject legislation which grants greater power to these imbeciles, and push to have existing legislation removed.

The thing we really need is improved education so that it is appropriate for the task at hand, and appropriate legislation which properly controls process. If have appropriate education and appropriate legislation controlling process: then can also get rid of licensing for plumbers, electricians, builders, and drop registration of architects and engineers, and drop whatever the medical profession has. No! we won't end up with problems as a direct result: none of the legislation prevents the problems as it is.

A simple registration system, just requires the institutions of higher learning to register all graduates on a national register. No need for an annual registration fee, no need to remove any one from the register. If they are not doing things right, then they need to be on a register not struck from the register. So we don't need to register the competent, just the incompetent.

Take a builder for example. If not blacklisted then probably ok! However, maybe it's their first job, so could be risky. Does licensing resolve this issue? No it doesn't. But what do we expect? Mostly, that people start at the bottom, prove themselves and work their way up the ladder of demonstrated competence. We expect certain stable institutions and businesses. We expect that people acquired their skill under the supervision of people with significant experience, not the supervision of people with trite experience. If not familiar with their former supervisor or the work of the former supervisor then maybe we don't want to take the risk.

But maybe we do decide to take the risk. In doing so, we expect there could be a loss, and we need to control the extent of the loss. In other words you don't gamble or bet if you cannot afford to lose.

If we decide to take a risk, then we need a back up plan, and a control system to limit our losses. Part of which is an alternative supplier who we have more confidence can supply with significant lower loss. So we would probably have a short list of at least 3 suppliers, and a set of criteria for putting the supplier on the list. So not just going through the yellow pages and concluding some business exists and is in your area, and available for work at an affordable price. Hopefully we are making a more informed judgement than that, and getting more specific.

Like met the builder, and clearly couldn't read the drawings and therefore unlikely to build the building described on the drawings, therefore doesn't get on the short list. We question, we interrogate, and if the builder treats us as an idiot, then we don't employ them. The builder or any other supplier should be able to answer your questions and provide the confidence you need to understand what is going to be provided.

Now take this thing called engineering. I don't know what you want and I don't know what it is going to cost. No confidence there, and lack of options, so go ahead anyway. One thing is for certain, you don't expect a massive bill. I read an article where a farmer wanted some highly specialised mechanical handling system, after a year or more still had no suitable system, and the cost was extortionate.

How do we protect such people? It starts with process. Simple question what the hell was the project? You do not spend hundreds of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars without clearly identifying the project, and without breaking the project down into manageable stages. Stages at which the project can be terminated and prevent any further loss or waste. It doesn't require specialist training in management to figure out. You just don't jump to the top of the ladder, you'll miss, you'll fall, you'll get hurt. You climb the ladder, properly, step by step.

But has we were constantly being told when studying management: it ain't common sense.

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[11/02/2019] : Original