TECHNICAL COMMITTEE NEWS

Committee evaluates member responses to Policy 465 survey

Technology survey also being considered

Carol S. Estes, P.E.
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City Office

One of the missions of the Engineering and Technology Committee is "to influence public policies that will strengthen the application of engineering principles and management of public works." The committee accomplishes its mission by drafting policy and position statements related to engineering and management which are later acted upon by the APWA Board of Directors. The statements are developed both from the large "human database" of member experience and state-of-the-art practice. The challenge is to represent the diverse cross section of membership and find a consensus of the majority of the members. Creating a forum in which more than 27,000 members can express their views is no small task. One such task is the development of a position statement regarding the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Policy 465.

ASCE Policy 465 supports the concept of the master's degree as a prerequisite for the practice of civil engineering at the professional level. APWA members who have an interest in or a functional responsibility for "engineering" represent a large part of the membership and more than 3,000 hold a membership in ASCE. Many of those have strong feelings concerning Policy 465.

To form the framework of a position statement on Policy 465, late last year the committee decided to prepare a short e-mail survey and send it to members with known e-mail addresses who had expressed an interest in the subject. The survey asked each respondent to select the statement which most closely represented their views on the policy. They were:

  • I support ASCE Policy 465 and believe that obtaining a master's degree or equivalent should be required as a prerequisite to the licensure of professional engineers.
  • I believe that the educational requirement for a bachelor's degree is adequate; however, the amount of years of relevant work experience that is currently required prior to qualifying to take the licensure examinations should be increased.
  • I do not support ASCE Policy 465 and feel that engineers are adequately trained and prepared under the current prerequisites for licensure.
An area was provided for survey respondents to type in any comments they cared to make. The results were quick and interesting. 417 members returned the survey and nearly all took the time to express their views. It is clearly an issue many members feel strongly about. The final summary indicates:
  • 15% of the respondents support ASCE Policy 465.
  • 29% of the respondents feel a bachelor's degree is adequate but there should be additional years of relevant work experience to qualify for the exam.
  • 56% do not support Policy 465 and feel that engineers are adequately trained and prepared.
Comments received in the survey are extremely diverse. Some are insightful and some are practical. Many are passionate. All will be useful if a position statement is developed.

Word has come that ASCE is revisiting the issue and that the Policy 465 will further "evolve." Further action on a position statement is suspended pending the outcome of the ASCE revisions.

The committee is now considering a "technology" survey for the coming year. The purpose of the new survey is five-fold:

  • To establish communication between the Engineering and Technology Committee and APWA members.
  • To research how public works is changing and gauge the influence of technology.
  • To develop new educational opportunities for APWA members.
  • To develop potential articles for the APWA Reporter.
  • To investigate topics for future Congress sessions.
The new survey would differ from the Policy 465 survey in several ways. First, the technology survey would be more comprehensive. It would ask more questions, including general identifiers such as agency size and structure. Second, it would be distributed and received by traditional mail ensuring that the committee hears from those without Internet connections. Third, the survey would be distributed to a smaller, more random sample of member agencies. The survey would sample across all interest and responsibility areas. If a survey is approved by the APWA Board of Directors, it could be distributed in the 2003/2004 fiscal year.

No matter what form surveys may take, one thing is clear: Many members feel strongly about the issues confronting public works, and the Engineering and Technology Committee is listening.

Members of this year's committee include: Kurt Corey, chair, Eugene, Oregon; John German, At-large Director; and members Paul Cooley, Encinitas, CA; Maureen McCauley, Goderich, Ontario; Alan Garcia, Pompano Beach, FL; Neil Grigg, Fort Collins, CO; and Robert Wagner, Yuma, AZ. APWA Staff Liaison is Carol Estes.

Carol Estes can be reached at (800) 848-APWA or at cestes@apwa.net.