NCEES Rejects Structural Engineering Proposal

November/December 2015

NCEES Rejects Structural Engineering Proposal

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying narrowly defeated a motion to establish in the council’s Model Law a protected structural engineering title and restricted SE practice.

The motion, proposed at the council’s annual meeting in August, grew out of an NCEES advisory committee that was charged with studying the issue of structural engineering practice and its regulation and recommending revisions to the Model Law and Model Rules. The current Model Law and Model Rules recognize a licensed engineer as a professional engineer, with no reference to discipline. Licensed professional engineers are then restricted to practice within their areas of expertise.

Before the council vote, NSPE encouraged state societies to express their opposition to the structural licensure motion to state licensing boards. The Society believes that the continued recognition of PE licensure as the defining qualification for practice is critical to guaranteeing the trust and protection of the public. Layers of licensing requirements would cloud that perspective and create uncertainty. In addition, PEs who are not fully competent to perform structural engineering are already ethically obligated not to do so, just as they are obligated not to practice in any areas that are beyond their established expertise and competence.

NSPE is fully committed to protecting and defending the PE license. In order to successfully define, promote, and protect the PE license, though, professional engineers in all disciplines need to stand united. Efforts to weaken engineering licensure or carve out particular niches within the profession undermine a system of laws designed to protect the public. All PEs must work together to fight attempts to damage the licensure process and place at risk the public health, safety, and welfare.

Read more on structural licensure.

The Future of Engineering Education

At its annual meeting, NCEES also adopted a position statement on the future of engineering education requirements for licensure as a professional engineer. The statement outlines future pathways by which a licensure candidate might gain the knowledge needed to meet these educational requirements, including the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering from an EAC-ABET accredited program and a master’s or earned doctoral degree in engineering in the same technical area from an institution that offers EAC-ABET-accredited programs, or the equivalent;
  • A bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in engineering from an EAC-ABET accredited program;
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited program that has a minimum of 150 semester credit hours, of which at least 115 semester credit hours are in mathematics, science, or engineering combined and at least 75 of these semester credit hours are in engineering; or
  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering from an accredited program and at least 30 additional semester credit hours of upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level coursework in engineering on topics relevant to the practice of engineering (engineering-related science, mathematics, or professional practice topics such as business, communications, contract law, management, ethics, public policy, and quality control) from approved course providers.

NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter believes this action is an example of the organization’s focus on providing leadership to protect the public and shape the future of licensure. “This is a complex issue with many stakeholders,” he says. “NCEES will use this position statement to guide its efforts to engage with those stakeholders and ensure that licensing standards continue to protect the public in the future.”

The NCEES Advisory Committee on Council Activities developed the position statement following a 2014 vote to remove from the Model Law and Model Rules the additional education requirements for engineering licensure that were scheduled to take effect in 2020. These requirements called for an engineering licensure candidate to obtain a master’s degree or its equivalent before initial licensure. Licensing boards will maintain autonomy in determining licensure requirements that will best protect the public while using the Model Law and Model Rules as best practice guides.

Access NCEES Position Statement 35, Future Education Requirements for Engineering Licensure, at