Benefits of Board Certification
There is an obvious need for structural engineering professional organizations to work together to elevate structural engineers. This is important not only for the organizations, but for the future of the profession. All members of SEI and NCSEA should be SECB certified, to show their support for, and give back to, the profession that has given them wonderful careers and great satisfaction.
Committed to Excellence
Structural engineering, a highly specialized discipline with a strong commitment to the public good, is finally being regarded differently from other engineering disciplines, due to post-9/11 awareness about security and life safety. Nonetheless, clients, as well as the general public, do not always understand the importance of having “structural engineers” and not just “professional engineers” on their design teams. Helping the public differentiate structural engineers, and understand their commitment to a higher level of excellence, is vital to public safety, as well as the profession. Until structural engineers can all put “SE” after their names, having “SECB” on their business cards will continue to be important for universal recognition, even if they already have “SE” after their names.
In the architectural profession, architects are known by the “AIA” after their names (“RA”, the designation for their license, isn’t good enough). The structural engineering profession must reach a point where people demand to see “SECB” after every structural engineer’s name. “F.SEI” and “F.ASCE” are good credentials, but people recognize these accreditations more for their academic value than their qualified-structural-engineer validation.
Consider the USGBC LEED credential. This was a small group that grew out of AIA but now has more members than AIA. It’s a credential that basically indicates an ability to add up points, but clients expect to see it on the business cards of all architects and mechanical engineers. The perception has certainly arisen that a mechanical engineer with “LEED AP” after his/her name is better than one without it.
Benefiting the Community
It is vital that structural engineers use their collective resources to educate the public on the differences between “structural” and “professional” engineers. Structural engineers have specialized knowledge that makes them the first ones called to assist after disasters like the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti. (It was not environmental engineers, or highway engineers, that went to Oklahoma after the tornado to see what they could learn.) The ultimate goal of SECB is to create a licensing system that will enable structural engineers to put the “SE” after their names. Until then, the next best thing will be to have SECB on their business cards. Structural engineers who are not already SECB certified should submit their applications now (http://www.secertboard.org/application/).
Although SECB certification is voluntary, all structural engineers need to come together and recognize and accept that becoming an SECB certificant today, although somewhat intangible, is extremely valuable for the profession. All structural engineers should be part of, and show evidence of, a united effort towards the common goal of SE licensure.
If you are not SECB-certified, obtain certification soon, while the 16-hour SE exam is waived and the application fee is discounted for SEI and NCSEA members.
If you are SECB-certified, encourage others in your office to become SECB-certified as well. Structural engineers must unite to give structural engineering the prestige it deserves.
SECB Board Member, Edward M. DePaola, PE, SECB, F.SEI
President & CEO
Severud Associates Consulting Engineers, PC