Engineering is one of the most well-known and prestigious professions. Engineers build
structures that enhance mobility and protect people from elements as they work. The ability of a
country to develop is usually measured by the number of engineers the country produce every
year. A county that produces many engineers can develop economically because modern
technology that fuel economic growth is built by engineers. Seeing the important role played by
engineering profession in the country, American states have enacted laws that provide the
framework for regulating engineering practice. The laws are designed to protect the welfare of
people primarily and promote the profession by ensuring that only qualified people practice. In
terms of gender, men dominate engineering profession. Women engineers in the field face huge
Analysis of the effects of a legal system, societal norm, or professional practice on
Engineering, like all other disciplines, is affected by American legal system. One of the functions
of laws is regulation. Legislators pass laws to regulate behavior in all disciplines. Regulation is
required so that actions of professionals are lawful as well as ethical. An engineer cannot practice
before he or she is licensed. A graduate is required to be accredited first by an accreditation
board. The board requires that the applicant be a graduate of an engineering degree from a
recognized university. The next step is passing a written exam that tests the candidate’s
knowledge of the fundamentals of engineering. Later, the candidate should accumulate some
amount of experiences such as four years or higher. Lastly, applicants sit for another exam
referred to as Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) as well as engineering ethics. All the
states except the District of Columbia have engineering boards, and they are represented in the
national body that administers exams to graduate engineers before they are licensed. In some
states such as Texas, some of the requirements before licensing can be waived. Many states
make a distinction between graduate engineer, licensed engineer, and professional engineer.
University professors are usually professional engineer and governed by industrial exemption
clause. A non-licensed engineer cannot carry out public works.
The licensing boards at state and national level were set up by law in order to regulate
engineering profession and protect the public from poor quality work that places the lives of
people at risk for being undertaken by unqualified engineers. Other professions such as doctors,
accountants, nurses, and others are equally regulated, and the goal of regulation is protecting
people from sub standard services given by people who lack professional skills and training
The first state law passed to regulate engineering was enacted in 1907. This decree was deemed
necessary in order to promote the welfare of people. Previously, people who lacked requisite
qualification were doing engineering works. However, engineering works was becoming
increasingly complex by then that people with specialized skills and right educational
background were required. Due to lack of skills, work designed by unqualified people was
usually poor and caused fatalities in some cases. In appreciation of the growing complexity of
engineering work, the state of Wyoming passed a law in 1907 that required practicing engineers
to be licensed first. The state also created a board to administer exams for those wishing to join
the profession after acquiring the right academic credentials. Other states followed the example
of a state of Wyoming. By 1920, 20 states had passed engineering licensure laws and did not
accept or recognize licenses issues by other states. In 1921, the state of Iowa suggested that the
20 state board to work on modalities for interstate registration. In 1932, model law was ratified
that provided for uniform licensing guidelines. During the early days of creation of these boards,
the only uniform thing was the demand that applying candidates must have the required
education, experience, and pass examination set, marked, and moderated by the board. Exams
requirements differed from state to state. The first uniform PE exam was offered in 1966 and by
1984, all boards of examiners were administering national FE and PE exams.
Presently, licensure exams are normed nationally although some states administer their own
exams. Education and experience required is similar across states. Licensed engineers are
regulated by states and there are things they cannot do. The number of licensed engineers is a
third of total trained engineers. Unlicensed engineers work in areas that are exempted from
licensure. These areas include industry and academia. Engineers working in industry objected to
licensing of their practice. During the Second World War when American government needed
engineers to work for its war program, licensing was suspended for the period during the war and
this made regulation of engineers working in industries impractical.
According to the 10th amendment, states regulate engineers and goal of regulation is to
encourage only qualified people in the practice in order to protect people.
American legal system influences engineering professions because licensed engineers are
answerable for licensing bodies. If they are involved in ethical misconduct, licensing boards can
institute disciplinary action against the engineer. This ensures that engineers maintain the highest
level of ethical conduct.
The law ensures that practicing engineers have attained the required academic qualifications
before they are allowed to practice. Before these stricter requirements for engineers were enacted
in United States, it was common for unqualified people to undertake engineering work for which
they lacked the required educational background.
According to licensing requirements, an applicant sits for an exam that independently tests their
engineering knowledge. They are also required to demonstrate ability to behave ethically and
socially. The work of an engineer involves building structures that people live in. Ethical lapses
in the course of building can cost lives. Unscrupulous engineering contractors can, for example,
use cheap and faulty materials in order to earn more profit. Such as a decision, while profitable
for the contractor, have serious implications for those living in those structures. Regulation of
engineering profession is designed to weed out people engaged in such unethical practices that
put lives of others in danger.
State boards established to license engineers ensure that members comply with professional
ethics and standards. One of the exams administered by the board is engineering ethics. Once the
board has licensed an applicant, he or she is expected to comply with professional standards and
ethics failure to which a person loses their license.
The licensing boards involved in the accreditation process for new universities wishing to offer
engineering degrees. Accreditation process is required in order to ensure that graduate engineers
have attained the required amount of competence by the time they graduate. Once a candidate
acquires the required amount of technical skills, they will be in a position for work for the people
as well as industry. Accreditation process also ensures that graduating engineers have attained
the required skills needed by employers.
Licensing boards ensures that all licensed engineers undertake exams that test they skills. The
administered exam tests whether the candidate has mastered some of the fundamentals of
engineering. This exam is similar to all graduate engineers. In applying this exam, engineering
boards promotes consistency. Consistency in the sense that if there are 10 fundamental principles
of engineering, the board ensures that all licensed engineers have mastered them.
Engineering is not all about exams. Professional practice is very important. Regulation imposed
on engineers ensures that part of licensing requirements is that engineers gain the necessary
experience. Like other professions, mastery of engineering requires practice. Professional
practice is a critical part of engineering education. Qualified engineers with proven experience
are exempted from some exams. The same case applies to students in engineering masters
program. The law, therefore, recognizes the importance of experience and further education in
engineering practice. This is important because it encourages graduate engineers to acquire extra
experience or furthering their studies to earn more papers.
One of the effects of the legal requirements needed to be satisfied before practice is that the
quality and competence of engineers have increased over time. While it was possible to
undertake engineering work without the right education skills before 1910, it is now not possible.
Licensing requirements favor people with advanced engineering education and wide experience.
The upshot of this is those experienced and highly educated people are practicing as engineers.
The law ensures ethical conduct by licensed engineers. Ethical breach attracts penalties that
includes deregistration. Board can institute investigation on its own initiation of following a
complainant from a member of the public. Upon receipt of the complaint, investigation
commences. Once investigations are complete, the board then votes to suspend the engineer
involved or revoke his or her license. Suspension in most cases does not exceed two years.
One of the grounds for disqualification is conviction of crime relating to qualification. The
engineer may have obtained license or registration to practice through deceit. Another ground for
conviction is evidence of fraud in acquisition of license to practice. If the engineer is guilty of
negligence or incompetence in practice, he/she will be deregistered. Negligence and
incompetence are serious professional offences. Other than deregistration, the engineer involved
can be sued for damages. Because engineering board are very strict on professional negligence
and incompetence. Negligence is usually caused by incompetence. Engineering boards
administer exams in order to ascertain that engineers are competent.
The law requires engineers to perform their work putting in their best. However, in some cases,
engineers do not undertake their duties diligently. As a result, their clients suffer loss that
sometimes may run into millions of dollars. For example, the collapse of a story building due to
engineering errors can cause millions in damages. The owner of the building can sue to the
engineer involved or the engineering consulting firm managing the construction by proving that
actions or inactions of the engineers in charge contributed to the collapse of the building. Other
than negligence, another cause of collapse could be due to provision of inadequate service. For a
person to succeed in their case for professional negligence, the person suing must have suffered
financial loss. Another ground for instituting negligence claim is if the engineer delays the
project for a long period causing loss of income. However, if the delay is short and caused by
events of conditions outside the control of the engineer, the negligence claim cannot succeed.
Other than negligence, another ground for deregistration is breach or violation of contract to
provide engineering services. The aggrieved party can complain to the engineering board or sue
the engineer concerned. Breaching of contract usually causes loss. An engineer is also liable if he
or she aids another person or abets in violation of ethical standards. Violations of other rules
provided by the licensing board are enough to attract professional penalties.
Rules of conduct are not only designed to protect clients but also protect the image of the
engineering profession. Too much litigation caused by ethical misconduct, negligence,
incompetence, and involvement in criminal activities by engineers places the profession in
disrepute, in the eyes of the public. Engineering boards are tasked with the responsibility of
weeding out elements inside engineering profession who are not committed to maintaining high
ethical and professional standards.
In summary laws regulating practice of engineering and other related statues encourage
engineers to get the right qualifications and experience. The same laws make engineers perform
their activities to the best of their abilities in order to avoid accusations of negligence and
incompetence. Overall, regulation is good for engineers. The image of engineering is maintained
as well as standards of professional practice.
The society expects engineers to be competent in all they do. Modern engineering is complex,
and non-engineers have no capacity to understand what the engineers are doing and the much
they are supposed to do. This complete reliance on engineers to produce quality works imposes
an obligation of engineers to work competently. Engineering board is given powers by the law to
police licensed engineers to ensure that non-engineers are not cheated or ripped off by
unscrupulous engineers. Societal expectation that engineers be highly competent was one of the
reasons engineering boards were started in the last century. Common people who were cheated
by engineers would complain, and this led to the enactment of regulatory framework for
regulation of engineering profession. Legislators elected by common people passed the laws
themselves. The regulation stipulated by the law, therefore, reflects perceptions and expectation
common people have from engineers.
In terms of professional practice, engineers are expected to conduct themselves ethically. They
should not cheat of rip off their clients. In the course of their work, they are supposed to
demonstrate the highest level of professional competence. Failure to do that means facing the
prospect of deregistration or suspension from practice or even worse; the engineer may be sued
for professional negligence.
Significant issues/challenges/opportunities facing women scientist’s and engineers today
The most serious challenge women engineers and scientists face is balancing work and career.
Although most women have careers, they are also expected to perform most of the household
chores. These chores are demanding. Women cook, serve food, clean houses and clothes, bear
children, prepare children for school early in the morning, provide for the family, and many other
roles. Stay-at-home mothers sometimes do these roles on a full time basis. However, in the case
of career women in engineering, they perform those roles as they pursue their careers. Men
engineers do not perform household chores and, therefore, they do not have time to commit to
their careers. In engineering profession, and indeed in other fields, promotion is based on
commitment. Due to household work, women are unable to commit themselves fully to their
profession and this explains why there are few women engineers and even fewer in management.
Balancing work and family responsibilities is not possible for most women. Statistics show that
the many women in engineering practice is lower than the number of women who graduated with
degrees in engineering. The “missing” women engineers must have exited the profession due to
the inability to balance work and family responsibilities.
Another problem facing women engineers is lack of credibility from professional peers. Male
engineers assume that women attained their position in the fields due to affirmative action. As a
result, women engineers are isolated and lack mentoring. In a few cases where women engineers
qualify and gain respect from their male peers, they are faced with too many responsibilities.
Because women are few, they are required to sit in too many committees in order satisfy gender
Women researchers have a hard time getting funding. Women are perceived to be a little less
competitive compared to men. However, due to scarcity of research funds, men who are highly
competitive win most of research funds. Without funds for the researchers, women scientists and
engineers do not progress as quickly as men in academia do.
Lastly, women face discrimination from superiors and peers. Male engineers and scientists, as
well as administrators, hold stereotypical views about women engineers and scientists. They
consider them as less competent and beneficiaries of affirmative action.