Monday, March 25, 2019

Australia No Shortage of Engineers

Following on from politics of professions, and defining engineering, it should be clear that Australia does not have a shortage of engineers hindering the launch of potential mining and construction boom.

The construction is associated with the mining, it is the dependent infrastructure required by the mining activity. It includes bridges, roads and railways, and ports and harbours, and associated stormwater drainage and water resources management.There may also be need for storage and processing buildings along with offices. All established technologies with an established body of scientific knowledge concerned with planning, design, analysis, evaluation and management.

The mining is either open cut, underground. Underground mines seem to more typically have sloping access shafts than vertical shafts. The sloping shafts make it viable for vehicles to access the mine: thus trucks can be loaded in the mine. The alternative is a need for rail carts to be loaded or vertically raised skips. When these get to the surface they have to be unloaded, possibly onto belt conveyors and transferred to storage or loaded onto road vehicles for transport elsewhere. Thus extra handling compared to loading road vehicles in the mine. Though not all mines suitable for sloping access shafts. Any case the point is relatively ancient and established set of technologies, no "engineering" required.

Now it has been indicated in recent article I read, that there is increased use of the industrial internet of things (IIoT). New technology maybe, but not exactly as demanding as programming CNC machines, or programming PLC's. It is mostly plug and play technology, hooked up to the internet and controlled by software as a service. And it's not really new as sensors were added to remote belt conveyors some 20 years ago to monitor wear. Whilst factories, industrial plant and mechanical handling systems have been getting increasingly automated for decades. So once again no "engineering".

Just to be clear: Engineering takes place at the frontiers of science and technology.

Roads, Railways and Traffic Controls

Who as a member of the public believes it takes 4 years to learn how to design a road properly? If it takes 4 years to learn how to design a road, would you expect your local streets and roads to be the hazard they are?

Hopefully you agree it doesn't take 4 years, and if they do take 4 years then the roads should be better designed than they are. It does not take four years to learn the technical aspects of road design, the social, cultural, political and psychological aspects of road design may require further study but such are not covered. Since these latter subjects are not covered we have hazardous road network. In the current discussion however not concerned with demolishing the existing network and improving the network, just concerned with getting more of what we already have. Furthermore the roads concerned with are remote area roads, with heavy vehicular traffic and few users. Roads which once the resource is mined out will likely cease to be of any value.

Sure there are some roads in populated areas in the vicinity of ports and harbours. These roads may need widening to allow increased traffic flows, they may also need strengthening to carry higher loads. There will also be a need for modification and improvement to traffic control systems.

There will be need to assess the relative merits of road transport over rail transport. Railway locomotives can typically haul longer trains with heavier loads. Not aware of 1 km long road train. Once again road and railway technologies are established technologies with no need for "engineering".

For certain there is need for project specific drawings to be produced, and there are the so called "numbers" which need doing. But we as a society know what numbers, need doing. We don't have to survey learned journals to find new scientific theory, we don't have to devise a scientific hypothesis and conduct experiments to verify. The theory is established, and how it shall be applied to the established technologies is also established. Just have to look in the appropriate industry manuals, review regulations, and national codes of practice.

The people required are technicians, people conversant with the relevant tools and techniques for designing, analysing and evaluating proposed adaptations and implementations of the established technologies. If you don't like the generic meaning of technician, and prefer occupational classifications and refinement of words: then the people we need are Technologists, Associate Technologists, and Applied Scientists, Design Technicians and Trade Technicians, absolutely NOT Engineers.

Sure an engineer maybe able to do the job, but to be able to do so, they need a large amount of on the job training to become conversant with the established technology for which they will be held responsible. The point and purpose of educating and training the other occupations is that they are already conversant with the technology and how the science shall be applied to the design of such technology. Their education is not inferior to that of engineers, it is different, and better matched to the task at hand.

To reiterate my other essays. The 4 year B.Eng (AQF-8) typically consists of a common first year concerned with science and mathematics, leaving 3 years to cover some 2 to 5 major areas of practice. So that is 3/5ths to 1.5 years to cover each area of practice. So a programme in a specific area of practice can be designed to be a 2 year (AQF-6) or 3 years (AQF-7) programme. Such programmes if anything being superior to the 4 year B.Eng, because they provide greater coverage of the area of practice, more knowledge of the specific technologies. With all programmes having the same first year, an AQF-5 qualification in science and mathematics. Having the same foundation, it becomes easier to articulate to another area of practice.

Back to the roads and railways, these ribbons of impermeable surface pose a stormwater management problem. On the one hand stormwater needs to be managed around the roads and railways to prevent from getting inundated with water, which will hinder vehicle movement. On the other hand the road surface drains water to places it didn't previously flow.

So there are earthworks to be designed and managed during construction. There are materials to be provided to remote regions as well as people required for all the work: there are thus logistics problems to be solved. In a consulting organisation most of these tasks are carried out by different people, not by one person, but by teams of people. That is after graduation, someone with a B.Eng gets locked into a specific area of practice and specialises, and are typically hindered from moving to another area of practice: so a large part of their degree ceases to be of value. So industry not willing to retrain them in another area of practice and technology, and lack of appropriate study and qualification programmes to extend their knowledge themselves.

Thus there will be specialists in:

  1. Roads
  2. Railways
  3. Traffic Management and Controls
  4. Stormwater Drainage
  5. Earthworks & Geotechnology
  6. Bridges
  7. Construction
  8. Logistics
All of which are established areas of technology, with established bodies of science. For all of which it should be possible to design a 2 year programme to educate and train a suitably qualified Associate Technologist. This isn't entirely new, Australia's Engineering Associates were already so capable, until the 1980's, when Engineers Australia elitist objectives scuttled them. If really want an "engineer" to be in charge, then we have enough available already: as the majority are not doing anything remotely worthy of the description engineering.

With appropriate AQF-5 qualification in science and mathematics, the capabilities of many drafters, planners and other technical officers can be increased. With AQF-6 qualifications in specific areas of practice and technologies, then the capabilities of many practicing engineers can be improved, whilst an army of people with appropriate skills can be educated in the first instance. Those with the B.Eng will be able to fast track through the AQF-6 programmes as they will only need to study the those subjects extending the area of practice and covering the specific technology. Those with the AQF-5 will only require one year of extra study to articulate to a specific area of practice.

Consideration of Required Numbers

I have previously suggested the world land area be divided into cells 5 km in diameter, of which I get 7,585,452 such cells. The world population is approximately 7.53 billion, so would get around 993 persons per cell. {Though when looking at in detail cells should be hexagonal not circular}

For Australia there are 391,752 cells, most of these cells are not populated, but at least one park ranger and/or environmental scientist could be appointed to each cell. With population of 24,234,900 people, we could assign 62 people per cell.

I believe membership of Engineers Australia is around 100,000 members, and top heavy, biased towards B.Eng. I also believe it only represents about 30% of those who graduated in engineering. So there seems potential to appoint one civil engineer to each cell. On the other hand there is probably less than one third of the cells requiring any significant development over the period of 40 to 50 year career. Whilst the hub of a city may require more than one technical specialist, it does require not more than one engineer.

By comparison compare India: 167,419 cells, and population of 1,409,517,397, enabling 8,419 persons assigned to each cell. Plus it reportedly graduates 1 million engineers each year, so it definitely has the potential to assign 1 civil engineer to each cell in India and for that matter also each cell in Australia.

These people however don't need to be engineers, and need to work as part of a team. There appears to be around 2.8 million people between the age of 15 and 24 in Australia. So around 13.7% should  be studying:
  1. Surveying
  2. Cartography
  3. Environmental Science
  4. Agricultural Science
  5. Geotech
  6. Civil Infrastructure
Not sure how current system works. But those in grade 12 used to study either all arts and humanities subjects with one science subject, or all science subjects with one arts and humanities subject. My arts and humanities subject was geography, my science subjects were: maths 1&2 (otherwise known as double maths), physics and chemistry.

So my proposed AQF-5 would expand on grade 12 science and mathematics in one year, then a further year to AQF-6, would have people capable of contributing to the above areas of practice. Furthermore, such AQF-6 level academic programmes are also more appropriate to foreign students who are supported by their respective governments to go get an education and return to help develop the nation. 

Getting Side Tracked with Other Issues

Mapping and charting the continent of Australia and its resources: sure we have such data already, but individual development projects require more detailed information. Development requires identifying location for new roads and railways, water catchments and flood mitigation technologies, along with farming and mining activities. The whole environment needs zoning and developing accordingly. For example why has agriculture been permitted to go beyond the Goyder line and become dependent on pumped irrigation? How do we sustain food production dependent on fossil fuels, both for fuel and feedstock for agrochemicals? Choices of individuals in the market does not lead to collectively sensible behaviour. Rather the results are not in the best interests of the population at large nor are they ultimately of benefit to the individual.

We have land, coastline and coastal waters to both manage, develop and otherwise look after.

Note that I didn't include mining in the list. This is because the priorty is to identify resources and zone the environment. Then get infrastructure to access the regions for agriculture and mining. For example passenger trains travelling at 200 km/h to 300 km/h are important to getting people to the remote interior. Whilst civil aircraft may have cruise speeds from 300 km/h to 900 km/h, it is railways and roads which open up the country not isolated airports. Australia can basically be enveloped by a rectangle E/W: 4000 km by N/S: 3860 km (includes Tasmania). So the interior is around 2000 km from the coast line. Typical rural road speed 100 km/h, so the interior is around 20 hours away. By rail, at 200 km/h it is reduced to 10 hours, and air at 900 km/h down to 2.2 hours. However we are not typically travelling that far into the interior for farming and mining, a lot closer to 500 km to 1000 km from the coast. Whilst the remote central interior is 500 km to 1000 km radius of Alice Springs.

Put simply to make it more attractive for people to work in the remote mining and rural tends we have to make them less remote: by developing the infrastructure which connects them to the more populated coastal regions: and they have to be connected, so that goods can be delivered from these regions to the coastal regions. Once we have supportive infrastructure in place, secured our water supply and food production, then we can consider new mines and expanding existing.

We already have 1,687,893 people educated to AQF-5 and AQF-6, and 2,882,838 people educated to AQF-7. The primary problem is they don't have the necessary experience and expertise in the established technologies. With 1,675,632 people in engineering and related technologies, and 634,774 in architecture and building, and 222,831 people in Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies.

So it seems if anything there is a shortage of people in agriculture. Farmers have been advising there is a shortage and a lack of interest, with concerns where the next generation of farmers will come from. The problem with farming is that it is now mostly a one person activity, with lots of machinery. So assuming a 40 to 50 year career, the next generation have a long time to wait, for their parents to retire. They want jobs now, and the lifestyle the big cities promise. Hence the largest area being Management and Commerce with 2,149,808 persons.

Though statistics outside of education, indicate the largest areas of employment are: education, health care and retail. Mining and agricultural collectively account for less than 5% of the population. However these industries have flow on effects, as in mining needs infrastructure so there's a flow on construction boom. Whilst mining and agricultural materials need processing, so there's a potential increase in local manufacturing.

Any how, we may have a small population, and if they were busy doing the right work, there wouldn't be any shortages of people. The apparent shortfall of people in agriculture just means that there are fewer people looking after the potential tracts of land, plus the populated coastal cells more in need of architects and civil "engineers" than agriculture and environmental science: thus no shortfall.

If we were to increase the workforce by 1 million people we could assign at least two people to each of the planning cells. That is one environmental scientist, and either a agricultural "engineer", a mining "engineer", or a civil "engineer". That is we could employ one years production of engineers from India. But what we going to get them to do?

Got a block of land 5 km in diameter in the middle of nowhere and in less than one year of surveying to identify its of no consequence, and just needs a park ranger assigned responsibility.

Have a block of land in the middle of a cattle or sheep station. Is it a matter for environmental science or agricultural science? Once all the land is zoned, it then primarily becomes the responsibility for park rangers, and environmental scientists.

Our coastal waters are the responsibility of environmental scientists and civil/coastal "engineers". Our farm land the responsibility of environmental scientists, agricultural scientists along with agricultural "engineers". Our mining lands the responsibility of environmental scientists, and mining "engineers". We operate in the natural environment, we draw resources from the environment, we exhaust waste to the environment. We need to understand and monitor the environment. First and foremost we need an army of environmental technicians and scientists.

These people will either hinder development of land for: farming, mining, cities and industrial plant, or they will significantly boost the ability to implement. At present there is public opposition to increased mining, wind farms and various farming operations. It isn't decreased monitoring activity we need it is increased activity which is required.

For example we have protests which suggest we should stop mining coal. This is naive and suggests we only use coal as a fossil fuel. Coal however is an important source of carbon (not an abbreviation for carbon dioxide) based materials. Similarly oil and gas are also feedstock for material production including agrichemicals. So we cannot just stop the mining, we still need the raw materials. Amongst the raw materials are polymers used for insulation, required for energy efficient buildings. We have to better understand the industrial food chain, not simply halt production.

We need better monitoring of our rivers and the use of water for irrigation, and better stormwater management and water resource management. Much of the work required could be provided by Certificate IV (AQF-4) qualifications. Some monitoring could be provided by appropriate sensors and the industrial internet of things (IIoT): but such need installing under the supervision and operating by some one at least at AQF-4 level. The IIoT reduces the number of people required to run around taking remote measurements.

So remote cells can be monitored by remote controlled cameras atop tall towers, alternatively remote controlled flying drones can provide the means of monitoring. The land becomes occupied and under surveillance. One person could then potentially survey more than one cell in a day, or if not necessary to survey each day, they can survey several cells each year: and then cycle round again each year.

We have the population to occupy and survey the land. More to the point there are 798,400 Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander, so they can occupy the land with at least two people per cell.

Whilst there are 673,100 unemployed persons, who can occupy the land with at least one person to each cell, with two to some cells. Assuming these people want to work, then we have the required army to train to Certificate IV (AQF-4) and Associate Degree (AQF-6) level. So why haven't we? Partly because wasting national resources educating people, supposedly to AQF-8  over 4 years, and then scrapping half that education once they have found employment. Better to spend 2 years educating people to AQF-6 in the areas of practice we actually need skills. In 12 months we have planners, drafters and trade technicians. In 2 years we have the designers we need.

It should also be noted that whilst some of the AQF-4 qualifications take 4 years, these programmes are outside the classroom and on the job doing work. It isn't 4 years of academic study, it is mostly on the job training, developing proficiency in the work. So we can get the trades people for getting on with the work in short time. The people required to supervise takes slightly longer, and the people required to determine the work which needs doing, will take longer still, but should not take more than 2 years.

Now the cells are just for a planning exercise: to declare the land can be occupied and that at least one person is responsible for each block of land. I can however plan a square kilometre with a 500 x 500 m hub, to have more than 5000 single storey sole occupancy units. The maximum densities so far recorded around the world are 100,000 people for each square kilometre. These people are clearly not mining or farming as they are not occupying suitable land. And as they are already occupying buildings they don't need buildings.

Given 5000 single storey dwellings are suitable for couples with a baby, and extending the dwelling to two storey would make suitable for 2 adults and 2 children, and so increase population to 20,000. It seems relatively easy to increase the population to 100,000 by increasing the buildings to 10 storeys (5x2). But what are the 100,000 going to do with their time? What are they doing? Focused on education, health care and retail doesn't seem very productive. But if we do have such educational capability, then we definitely shouldn't and wouldn't have a shortage of suitably qualified persons.

Now whilst we can increase the population density of our cities who would want to live in such cities? More importantly from where do we get the water supply, we already have water rationing. So we have more work to do before we go increasing the population to get more workers to do the work.

The fundamental task is to maximise the benefit from the available but otherwise limited resources. The people we have in charge don't appear to have such ability.

So the numbers are available. We, just couldn't manage a booze up in a brewery.

Anyway the point is that a single agricultural or civil "engineer" should be able to develop a cell 5 km in diameter over a 40 year career. If we want it developed faster then we need more than one "engineer" involved with planning and design.

Just to note that is 5000 single storey or 10 storey dwellings designed once, and implemented 5000 times. Our building and construction industry in South Australia, oscillates between 5000 and 15,000 dwellings each year. So it would take less than one year to build a town. Does a mining town need more than 5,000 people or 100,000 people? Roxby Downs population 4500, Broken Hill population 17,814. Or take Leigh Creek (SA) population reduced from 2500 to 245. Mining towns are short lived. Some are unlikely to last for more than one generation: children are unlikely to follow in their parents footsteps and go work for the mining company.

Humans have legs, they are meant to be mobile. So not just about mobility across occupations it is also mobility across the planet. No one wants to buy a house in a place it will get abandoned, and no one else will want to buy. The houses cannot be permanently anchored to the earth's surface, the houses need to be transportable. So the road network as to permit transport of houses into the region and out off the region. So people are mostly going to want to live close to the developing cities, and the services they offer. Thus it is important to improve transportation infrastructure between the coastal cities and the interior rural and mining towns. If want to get people to live and work there, and do so for a reasonable duration, then access needs to improve. The towns need an adequate supply line bringing goods into town. Then they need personnel to provide all the appropriate services.

Also say it takes a team of about 5 people 90 days to build a house, then in 1 year they can build 365/90= 4 houses. So 5000/4 = 1250 years, or over a 50 year career, 50x4=200 houses. But want the houses built in 1 year, so need 5 people/team x 1250 teams=6,250 people. Thus needs more people than in the town. On the other hand in the detail the 5 people are not working continuously for 90 days. The plumber and electrician certainly aren't, they contribute at most about 2 days each. So they can each do 365/2=182.5 houses each year. So 5000/182.5=27.3, so would need about 28 plumbers and 28 electricians. For one years worth of work and then stop. If we shift the work into a factory we cut down on travel between sites, and the work can be reduced to a few hours. In short if we build a temporary factory at the destination, then the 5000 people are more than enough people to build their own houses in one year. The trip from factory to site also reduced. So trucks supply materials to the one factory rather than multiple sites.

Apparently in Australia there are approximately 105,000 homeless people. Thus 105,000/5000, so around 21 small towns, which if they are provided with resources and opportunity they can build themselves in one year. The 500m x 500m hub of the town I described is where retail stores and services are located. So the town would have own schools and hospital.

The most likely system implemented though is multistorey building, or infill housing, making use of existing stores, maintaining if not increasing unemployment.

There is a problem concerning getting the job done, and dragging the job out because don't have other work to go to. But there is plenty of work to do, obviously because they are declaring occupational shortages. More work just requires imagination, backed by resources and opportunities.

Most of the problems in this country and the world can be solved if we just got to work implementing the known solutions. Apparently 150 million world wide homeless, and 1.6 billion lacking adequate housing. So governments need to provide license to occupy and use land, and the resources and opportunity, and all can build their own homes. Furthermore the problem of shelter resolved in one year: technically. Socially and politically is another issue.

I mean what's the problem with implementing the millennium development goals in one year, of 7.53 billion only 1.6 billion people need shelter and there is enough for them to set about building their own homes. It's not even as if the development goals were about eliminating problems, they were half baked. Even the new sustainable development goals are half baked. Like end extreme global poverty by 2030. First redefine extreme poverty, so there isn't much of it, so it is then easy to eliminate over an excessively long period.

The primary problem is logistics, getting goods and services to and from the locations. Developing supply and distribution networks. How do we mobilise the world population and get them going to where the work is?

How many plumbers does Africa need? I have already indicated requirement to get houses built. But once the houses are built how many need to be retained? One rough statistic is in any given year around 5% of households will need some kind of maintenance service. So 5% of the 5000, so that is 250 each year. Most of the activity will take less than one day. Assume 50 productive weeks in one year, and 5 days per week, then have 250 productive days per year. So one plumber for every 5000 dwellings on condition that all demands do not occur on the same day. The more plumbers we have to cater for the multiple emergencies in the one day, and the less work any individual plumber does in a given year.

So with less guess work and more robust data sources than I have, it should be possible to map out a good estimate of how many plumbers the world needs and where they need be located, and do likewise for other occupations. There is no shortage of people. Though they may need training, such training should not take long.

Related Posts

[25/03/2019] : Original
[05/05/2019] : Minor Edits and Added Formatting

Saturday, March 09, 2019

So where does my Irritation with Engineers Stem From?

My irritation with, "what is and is not engineering", stems from the viewpoints held by organisations like Engineers Australia, and the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO), and legislation such as they have in the USA, and legislation in Australia currently limited to the states of Queensland and Victoria.

Engineers Australia (EA) is the full trading company, of the institution of engineers Australia (IEAust). I never really considered the IEAust to be much of a learned society, it is not guardian of a body of knowledge and it doesn't actively share and disseminate  knowledge, to raise understanding or spread awareness. Most especially it does not provide any forum in which deficiencies in practice can be highlighted and fixed. Published information is important as a common point of reference.

Anycase in the late eighties and early nineties I mistakenly believed it was moving in the right direction and Australia's technical workforce would be strengthened. First it absorbed the institution of engineering associates. I believed this was a good thing and that knowledge would be better shared and it would reduce repetition of public information programmes.

However I later read an article which indicated that the reason the institute of engineering associate's was absorbed, was to deliberately dismantle an occupation. It has to do with Australia's industrial relations system, the ACTU and TLC's, and industrial awards. One of the primary awards prior to the modern award system, was the metal industry award. This started with unskilled labour, moved up through trades people, technicians, engineering associates, scientists and engineers. The award defines wages and working conditions. So irrespective of the business and its needs, an engineer gets paid more than a tradesperson, and more than an engineering associate.

An engineer has a 4 year bachelor degree (B.Eng), whilst an engineering associate had a 2 year Associate Diploma. Associate Diploma's were typically associated with educational institutions which did not have the required charter to issue bachelor degrees and therefore issued 3 year Diploma's. The associate diploma's were thus shorter than the diploma's. When the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) was brought in, the meaning of diploma was messed up: as a diploma is now around 1 year duration and an advanced diploma 2 to 2.5 years duration.

An engineering associate could do a lot of technical work based on first principles, no need for fancy software: more importantly such software didn't exist in any case. However duration doesn't define capability, content does. There were many associate diploma's some in engineering and some in drafting. The ones in engineering define an engineering associate those in drafting should not. However, to some extent it benefited EA to deliberately confuse the two qualifications, as its only concern was the 4 year B.Eng. Thus members of EA complained that engineering associates shouldn't be amongst their ranks, that drafters shouldn't be amongst their ranks: that it was an institution of engineers and no other occupation. Its membership also confusing the function of the IEAust with that of the labour union APESMA (or whatever name it had at the time and has now).

The result was that the academic programmes of engineering associates were watered down, and design-drafters added to the ranks of engineering associates, compounding the MIEAust/FIEAust view that drafters shouldn't be amongst the EA membership. Then EA signed the WFEO Dublin accord equating the engineering associates to technicians. As indicated above the industrial awards placed engineering associates above technicians: so the Dublin accord is disrespectful and insulting.

Now the MIEAust/FIEAust seem to spend a considerable amount of time complaining that train drivers and plumbers are not engineers. But thus far they have only been able to define that an engineer has a 4 year B.Eng and basically anything they do is considered engineering. Such is both a poor and unacceptable definition.

Also unions have tended to hold the view that potential is more important than actual contribution. So if job can be done by an engineering associate but occuptant has the B.Eng, then should be called engineer and paid at level of an engineer: even if the occupant is a dullard who is never going to contribute anything of higher value. Education is based more on ticket to high paid employment not actual interest. Therefore if can push the engineering associates out, it then becomes possible to raise the pay for the job, by redefining as the work of an engineer.

The governments clever country programme mostly based on increasing number of people with bachelor degrees, not increasing number of clever people. So give rise to professional cults built around bachelor degrees.

However, the AQF is about increasing occupational mobility, both sideways and upwards. Moving from one level to the next should represent an increase in depth of knowledge, increase in independent thought, and increase in personal responsibility. Whilst different awards increase breadth of knowledge. Clearly there are many different jobs which are dependent on knowledge in science and mathematics, so where is the common base qualification in such subjects?

Now I have never considered modern engineers to be anything more than technicians, low level industrial mathematicians. It is relatively clear from the built environment and the technology which surrounds us, that the knowledge and skills of engineers is inadequate. Engineers Australia and other organisations argue about such inadequacy of the education, but are unwilling to add extra content and increase the duration, or expand content and maintain duration of the programme by reducing coverage of each topic.

In Australia the typical bachelor degree is 3 years duration, and an honours degree typically adds an extra year. In the past an honours degree was minimum requirement to start a masters degree. The B.Eng is 4 years duration and therefore it has been equated to an honours degree (AQF-8), but it isn't anywhere near the equivalent to an honours degree. Occupational degrees are inflated with industrial experience, and project work: content which is not academic and has no real place in a degree.

Sure for years there were complaints and there still are complaints that education is inadequately linked to needs of industry, however industrial experience doesn't fix this issue.

The issue is STEM. Forget about STEAM and arguing about adding the "A", we need to drop the "E". Science and Mathematics are the tools used to plan, design, analyse, evaluate and manage technology. It is the technology which people need to be conversant with. A B.Eng doesn't provide adequate knowledge about the technology.

We create legislation to protect the public. The intention of the legislation is to ensure new implementations of established technologies achieve expected levels of performance. People who are not adequately conversant with the technology cannot possibly achieve such objective. Thus legislation based on the B.Eng grants the wrong people a monopoly.

But this does not matter to Engineers Australia and the over all politics of the situation.

Following the clever country programme, go produce more people with bachelor degrees, fast track these people to some higher status indicating they have appropriate work experience doing something which is being called engineering. This higher status is indicated by MIEAust CP.Eng NER. Having gained high numbers of these people, can argue that creating legislation won't create a shortage. However, a shortage is exactly what they want. They believe their wages are not high enough, that their importance is undervalued by society. They want to charge higher fees, and a monopoly will grant them the potential to hold the population to ransom.

An engineering associate who represents a substitute product is a threat, whilst an engineering associate who represents a complementary product to the engineer is not altogether required.

So taking that a B.Eng is an inadequate qualification, that B.Eng MIEAust is slightly better, and that B.Eng CP.Eng is still better, but all are incompetent to some extent, does it matter? The answer is no, it works in EA's favour. Clearly if a B.Eng CP.Eng cannot get it right, then need to further expand their education, and training, and make the selection criteria more rigorous. So had the numbers to get the legislation passed. Once the legislation is in place, and clearly the people on the register are not competent enough, then start to increase the rigour of the assessment, people are dropped from the register, and fewer people get on the register in the first place. A shortage arises, and fees start to increase: objective achieved.

But we already have experienced the situation of failure of several proclaimed potential mining and construction booms due to a proclaimed shortage of engineers. This has then resulted in exploitation of foreign workers and visa requirements. It takes time to become conversant with our industrial relations system, and realise that membership of EA is voluntary. Basically the visas expire, the workers are expelled, and another batch are brought in: when they should be granted permanent residency and continue with the job. Given that construction comprises of short term intermittent contracts it is difficult to monitor.

But a lot of this work doesn't require the 4 year B.Eng, and it didn't in the past. This is workplace politics not efficient design of jobs and workplaces.

The Associate Technologist

This is where my concept of the associate technologist comes into play. Accepting that engineering is that work done by persons with 4 year B.Eng, then modern industrial society has little need for engineering and little need for these engineer things {a manufactured product thrown of an educational assembly line}.

Nor does society have much need for the 3 year B.Tech. Most of the work can be done by persons with a 2 year Associate Degree (not the advanced diploma).

It is not the 4 years which is important, it is the subject matter which is important, and the perspective taken on the subject matter. A learned society needs people with a common educational base, so that communications, and publications can be written assuming such foundational knowledge and understanding.

So most 4 year B.Eng programmes now have a common first year. To reinforce the AQF, the occupational groups of: Associate technologists, technologists and engineer should all have the same common first year. The common first year will be an AQF-5 (diploma) in technical science and mathematics. Whilst WFEO technicians will have a 2 year Advanced Diploma (AQF-6), and pursue a different perspective: their first year will not be common with the other occupational groups.

As I have mentioned before the 4 year B.Eng contains breadth, it does not contain any dependent subject strands 4 years in length: it is basically an optimised bundle of AQF-6 qualifications. The breadth tends to comprise at most 5 areas of practice. So that is 3 years to cover five subjects, or 3/5ths of a year for each subject. Even if the breadth is reduced, it rarely is a single subject, so consider at least 2 subjects, so 3/2 or 1.5 years per subject. So a full programme in a given area of practice is 1 and 3/5ths of a year to 2.5 years. In either case more subject matter in the given area of practice can be included, to more thoroughly cover that which would otherwise be learnt on the job. (I am not impressed by M.Eng qualifications in structural engineering, which merely cover national codes of practice. Such are rubbish and unworthy of masters description. Such nonsense should be stopped)

Given programmes ranging from 2 to 3 years for specific areas of practice, would expect that the graduate associate technologists and technologists have greater knowledge than graduate engineers, and are far better suited for the task at hand than the graduate engineers.

I would then expect that, the dud invention, which is the 4 year B.Eng will expire and cease to be. Whilst the 3 year degree becomes the entry requirement for a 2 years masters degree through study: bringing total duration to 5 years. However, I don't believe there is adequate subject matter for depth to extend to 5 years through study. Whilst research degrees tend to be little different than, getting on with the everyday job of design and analysis. Put another way, why pay to get a masters degree when doing little different than would be paid for in the workplace. So the validity of masters degrees needs to be investigated.

Further to this is the government should provide greatest support for AQF levels 6 and down, whilst reducing support for levels 7 and above. I suggest that first priorty should be to create an army of people qualified at AQF-6, and then take the top 20% and encourage them to pursue AQF-7 and higher.

To which end I also suggest that it should not be possible to go from school to university, or at least not start on a qualification above AQF-5. Any programme longer than 1 year duration should be broken down into shorter qualifications. So further contributing to the demise of the 4 year B.Eng (AQF-8): the first year becomes a Diploma (AQF-5), the second year an Associate Degree (AQF-6), the third year a B.Tech or B.Sc (AQF-7), and the 4th year a graduate diploma (AQF-8), and the fifth year a masters (M.Tech, M.Eng, MEngSc).

And no one does engineering, and if we need to legislate we legislate planning, design, analysis, evaluation and management and do so with clearly defined areas of practice. We do not and should not allow the emergence of professional cults, and should not allow such cults to pursue objectives directed at holding us to ransom. We have enough problems with health care, we don't want to create other areas where more efficient systems cannot be implemented because a professional cults interests take priority over actual needs of society.


If the advanced diploma's will take a different path than the associate degree, there will be no common first year, though there will be common subjects. Basically subject matter which is irrelevant to the area of practice is eliminated from the advanced diploma program. Therefore less mathematics and less general science in the first year. The programmes will contain more qualitative coverage of subject matter and more practice work. Whilst two years in duration there will also be less depth covered. In short they will have the knowledge necessary to cover the majority of projects (eg. 80%).

They will be granted status to complete the AQF-5 in technical science and mathematics, and also the associate degree (AQF-6). Such study programme should require no more than 1 year to complete.

The advanced diploma will meet the requirements for WFEO (Dublin Accord) Technician. The Associate Degree will meet the requirements for Associate Technologist, more closely related to Australia's traditional engineering associates but better.

The Associate Technologists would achieve the educational requirements of the WFEO (Washington Accord), by completing associate degrees in 5 areas of practice, which given the common first year AQF-5 in technical science and mathematics, means 1 additional year of study for each area of practice: bringing the total study time to 6 years and surpassing the WFEO 4 year requirement: as will now contain far more content in each area of practice.

There will be few masters to specialise, as such specialisation will be covered by completing AQF-7 award (B.Sc, B.Tech) in the single area of practice, such as structures.

Occupational inflation of qualifications shall be halted. All academic programmes will be reviewed for division of breadth, and compression of depth into the minimum number of years. Breadth is permitted only to the extent, where two or more subjects branch into a higher level subject. For example mathematics and physics branch into engineering mechanics, which then flows onto mechanics of materials. But most of physics is irrelevant to engineering mechanics, therefore the dependent physics can be kept to a minimum. Furthermore both engineering mechanics and mechanics of materials could be covered in 1 year, instead of being spread over 2 years: but to do so would require eliminating breadth of subject matter from the year.

The point is we need people with B.Sc Applied Mechanics as much as we need people with B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering. The former has depth of knowledge whilst the latter has breadth. Mechanics should be taught by someone with the degree in applied mechanics not mechanical engineering. In terms of current qualifications therefore expect someone with B.Eng to get a B.Sc in a specialist subject area before permitted to teach that subject at bachelor degree level: they will also require qualifications in teaching. Though they can use B.Eng (AQF-8) to teach at AQF level 6.

When everyone matriculates then its value diminishes, but still everyone who is able should matriculate. A nation's priority should be to educate the people it needs to sustain its society and it should not kowtow to the wants and whims of professional cults. If a job cannot be performed by someone educated at AQF-6 then that job needs looking into in detail. Chances are it may require more than one AQF-6 qualification, but more likely it requires one AQF-6 qualification and additional AQF-5 qualifications.

Current Education

If think this does not apply to your profession, think again: it shall be applied across the board no exceptions. So includes medical doctors and lawyers amongst others. Traditional degree for doctor in some countries is: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. Or there is the University of Sydney double degree: Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine.

Also note how concurrent double degrees currently can be studied in less time than the time normally required for both degrees. For example double degrees in law at Adelaide University: example given is Bachelor of Arts (three years) and Bachelor of Laws (four years) can be completed in five years if studied concurrently. whilst the duration of the law degree itself varies as follows: if you are a graduate, the duration of the program is three years full-time (or equivalent) as opposed to four years for non-graduates. Similarly get double degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)(Mechanical) with Bachelor of Science, and complete in 5 years compared to (4+3)= 7 years. Or Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)(Mining) with Bachelor of Science, once again in 5 years. Such programs have the potential to increase both breadth and depth.

If can do this at the bachelor degree level (AQF-7), then can equally well do this at the level of AQF-6. For certain in terms of status people want the bachelor degrees. However in terms of creating a flexible and mobile workforce AQF-6 and lower are more useful.

For example mechatronics can be defined in terms of AQF-6 qualifications in mechanical and electronic technologies. Since such technologies likely employed in a manufacturing environment then additional qualifications in planning and management would be useful. Given work also typically done under contract, qualifications in contract and commercial law also useful.

If consider a 40 to 50 year career and need for continuing professional development, and consider that part time course typically takes double time of full time. Then a 2 year programme will take 4 years part time. A person can study part time and work full time, so that is 10 to 12.5 study programmes over a career. Basically enrol in an educational institution and remain for life.

So basically everyone has potential to complete AQF-5 or AQF-6 in:
  1. Science & Mathematics
  2. Design & Technology
  3. Graphic Arts & Fine Arts
  4. Arts & Humanities
  5. Business & Management
  6. Political Science & Law
  7. Health & Medicine
  8. Teaching & Education
They can also complete many qualifications in trade and crafts at AQF-4 and below.

Consider everyone attending an educational institution and becoming a part of a great repository of all human knowledge. Contrast with our ancient past and everyone attending their local village church. The capacity of the population to judge will be considerably enhanced. Public spending will require more rigorous assessment, as will infrastructure and mining projects.

Now whilst the focus is AQF-6 it doesn't mean that AQF-7 will disappear, rather it will mean that AQF-7 qualifications will have the depth they are meant to have, and people will have increased potential to pursue the most appropriate AQF-7 qualification. The multiple AQF-6 qualifications will give them breadth, and provide foundation for deciding higher level of study. Furthermore we can mandate that requirement for AQF-7 is at least two independent AQF-6 awards (eg. arts and science).

So no token generalist subjects thrown into the degrees, rather demand greater breadth in the first place. Not sure if still holds, but at one point the universities threw mandatory second language into the generalist subjects in engineering degrees. Not altogether necessary as typical student would have previously spent 2 years at school studying a second language, and really needed to build on that to attain a level of conversational fluency. However such is of secondary importance to the primary area of study. Therefore it is better to leave out and place in additional award.

So the engineering institutions/organisations are considering increasing qualification requirement to masters degree (M.Eng), but cannot get agreement from membership. Engineers are criticised for not having appropriate breadth of knowledge regarding technology, history, culture and society. Engineers also criticised for not designing systems which have adequate fitness-for-function.

Continuing education and AQF-6 qualifications assist to resolve these issues. The AQF-6 qualification makes them more competent in the specifics of an area of practice and associated technologies. The AQF-6 qualifications also give them greater breadth of knowledge to better understand the impact of technology.

We can then identify MIEAust as a qualification, rather than post nominal detritus. It becomes a qualification because neither B.Eng nor M.Eng will be good enough to get such qualification: such qualifications lack both required depth and breadth. Depth is lacking with respect to a given technological system, and breadth is lacking regarding that which is beyond technology.

Thus with new era will require something along the lines of:

  1. AQF-7 Science & Mathematics
  2. AQF-6 Design & Technology
  3. AQF-5 Arts & Humanities (geography, history)
  4. AQF-5 Business & Management (supervision, planning)
  5. AQF-5 Political Science & Law
  6. AQF-5 Teaching & Education (training, mentoring)

So that's a total of (3+2+1+1+1+1)=9 years full time. Assuming first 5 years are before start work, that leaves 4 years full time, or 8 years part time. So no one will become qualified until have at least 8 years of experience. Or assuming they start work after get AQF-6, then have 7 years of full time study to complete, taking 14 years part-time. Therefore set minimum experience at 14 years, they start out as GradAIEAust (irrespective of education), then become AMIEAust, and progress through TMIEAust, then ultimately MIEAust. (NB: The problem we currently have is jumping to MIEAust CP.Eng far too quickly)

The objective should be to get people into the workplace as quickly as possible doing  the work which needs doing: but not giving them undue status and prestige beyond their capabilities and contribution.

Female Participation

As for increasing female participation. Well a 1 year AQF-5 in technical science and mathematics provides potential and opportunity to pursue multitude of related occupations. also more people are required to draw, plan, and make than are required to crunch numbers (and a brainless unimaginative block of silicon can crunch numbers, so not a particularly desirable skill.). Easier to displace drafters and line supervisors than the trades. A design office should have more drafters in it than engineers. Drafters can be employed on contract on an as needs basis. Getting some 50% of drafters to be female, could probably be done in 2 years: train them this year, employ them next year. However, these drafters are not there to stay as drafters, they are studying part time to become "engineers". They have their foot in the door and are gaining experience, and each day they put a little bit more of their continuing education to use.

Also to be noted, is that as drafters retire or drop out of the workforce for other reasons, they basically get replaced by anyone near suitably qualified. For example studied mechanical get employed in structural or doing civil drawings. Studied civil get to do mechanical. As a drafter your task is to communicate information, not to design or solve problems, therefore working under the supervision of the engineer/designer. If you demonstrate the skills to jump ahead and act as design-drafter, then management will want to keep you around. If need constant supervision and drafting presentation needs constant correcting then your presence not important. In short drafters get replaced by design-drafters, and in turn by engineering associates. For small projects however it is inefficient to employ drafter and engineer, and both can be replaced by one engineering associate. Employee engineers are typically too expensive to have them producing own drawings, engineering associates are not.

Point is that can build an army where there is scope to build an army. For example this article: Female GPs outnumber male GPs for the first time in Australia, the specialities are just that, specialisations requiring very few people, but GP's are near enough everywhere. If there isn't one around then probably scope to introduce one: especially in remote rural and mining towns.

Little point complaining there are not enough female scientists or engineers, when also few female drafters and lab technicians. The bachelor degree in nursing for example along with potential for higher degrees, has probably increased the potential for female nurses to pursue further study and become doctors. Simply because they have their foot in the door of the universities, and more than likely attending some subjects which overlap with the studies of the doctors. How many females starting nursing switch to medicine?

Proper breakdown of study programmes, progressing from AQF-1 to AQF-7 is likely to attract more people to study to higher levels. When I was at school few people wanted to waste more time in education, they wanted to get to work earning money (or mostly claiming unemployment benefit). And that was approaching end of grade 10. The thoughts of another 2 years of schooling followed by 3 to 4 years of university wasn't desirable. But if one year of study, gets you into the workforce, contributing and earning money, whilst pursuing continuing education, well that becomes more tolerable. The bachelor of nursing degree for example should be equally broken down into smaller programmes, so that it is mandatory that start as enrolled nurse and progress to registered nurse, and likewise start as nursing assistant and progress to enrolled nurse.

Or there maybe other problems: Gender Equity in Medical Specialties, considering the army of female nurses: Nursing and midwifery workforce 2015 and registered nurses out number enrolled nurses (which seems like a major problem: top heavy organisation, not enough workers). And this is further description of potential problems: Red Cross to use nursing assistants on blood donors. Actually the army of female nurses probably just represents large number of females with bachelor degree who now have potential to pursue further study or research not necessarily related to medicine but more focused on social studies and health care. They don't become doctors because the proclaimed shortage of doctors is political, and the political barriers need to be overcome to improve health care rather than support the profession of doctor. Hence further education more in social studies.

And education is no exception Private school principals say culture must change. Here the issue is: do we need private schools, and the culture which supports them? That is what is the fault considered with the state schools? If a child is not interested in learning, then a private school isn't going to make much difference. If the child is interested in learning then a private school contributes zero of value: the child does the learning not the teacher. In the main the child needs access to study materials not teachers. As I mentioned in earlier posts, we should scrap grade 11 and grade 12, and start directly on AQF awards. Which thus means moving to TAFE or moving TAFE programmes into schools. The status of private schools should then diminish: and government funding be reduced not increased.{Parents typically seek to get their kids into private school for at least grade 11 or 12, if they cannot get them in from the beginning or otherwise cannot afford full schooling in private school. Personally I think its a waste of money.}

However that approach requires modifying the AQF, as I proposed in earlier post where I increased the number of levels to 15, one more than the original 14 levels, 5 more than the current 10. Where I also introduced Certificate I to V, Diploma I to V and Masters I to V.

Related Posts

[09/03/2019] : Original
[10/03/2019] : Minor Edits, and added more after the end.
[25/03/2019] : Minor Edits