Message from 2015-2016 Outgoing President Lawrence J. O’Connor, PE, LS, F.NSPE

The Importance of the PE License in My Engineering Career

LarryOConnorMy year as President of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers is now at a close and it is time to pass the baton on to someone else. The Society has made some progress facing challenges, adapting to the changing world we live in, and bringing some fresh ideas and talent to our mission. I will let our Executive Director explain more about this in his address.

Instead, I choose to reflect on a couple core questions facing our profession. Why choose Engineering? And more importantly, why become a licensed Professional Engineer? This article is for the young engineer who is debating the need for a PE license, or the young person choosing an academic path for College.

Students may ask: “Will all the money and years spent in College prepare me for a meaningful career, one that will carry me through life?”

Engineering is a great career choice; it’s an important and necessary profession. Engineers are the most creative of all professionals. However, one of the problems we have is explaining what we do. Some may think, “Architects have it easy. Architects design buildings. Or surveyors have it easy; they measure land and find boundaries.” The better question to ask about our profession is “What don’t engineers do?” An engineering colleague once told me how he explained engineering to his son. He said, “Tomorrow morning, count the first ten things you touch and see which were made by God and which were made by an engineer.”

Engineers take science and ideas and make them into reality. As humans are made in the image of a creator God, engineers embrace that attribute as the creators of the modern world. Engineers make civilization of our world possible every day.

The need for technically capable professionals will continue to grow as our complex civilization grows. Yet, the economy is cyclical and projects come and go. I’ve had to find new work several times in my career and thankfully, there has always been work for me to do.

This is where my attention is drawn to the young engineer debating the need for a license. The PE license has been important to my career; it made my credentials portable. When you have practiced as a PE for a number of years, the license proves that your work has been at a professional level further reinforcing that value of that experience. The PE license is recognition that you are a fully qualified member of the profession. My rich and varied experience has been made possible by my having the PE license.

larryAfter 33 years of government service, I decided it was time to seek new challenges. Leaving New York State (NYS) service in “retirement”, I saw many choices before me. I came up with a list of 20 or so places I would like to work, considering both the nature of the company and the type of work I would be doing. The key thing for me was to find a place where the chemistry was right and I would be able to add value. Money was not the issue. If the situation was the right fit, the money would be there. I sent out emails to a half dozen contacts and immediately got three serious responses.

Retirement from NYS opened the door to a new page in my career working in the New York metro region, first with McLaren Engineering, and then as the representative to NYC for the International Accreditation Service with continued professional affiliation with McLaren Engineering.

Now that I am in my fifth decade as a practicing engineer, I continue to build on my strengths and expand my knowledge base. I am happy to report that I still learn something new every day.
My engineering education and the career that it has brought me has been a truly amazing ride. Working for NYS was a valuable professional experience, but my travels were mostly limited to New York State.

I lolarry 1oked with wonder at engineer colleagues that got to travel the world and it seemed pretty exotic to me.
In addition to working in over 20 states in the US and three Canadian provinces, the past several years have taken me to many foreign destinations. I’ve covered assignments in Panama, Turkey, the Bahamas, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, and most frequently, to Qatar.

My work abroad is with testing labs and inspection firms providing accreditation to international standards. I am able to draw upon my 40 plus years of experience in my current career. It is a privilege to have the continued opportunity to build competence, grow as a professional, and learn every day.

The world is open to me in ways I never could have imagined. Engineering is a great profession, and, in my life, the PE license made it all the richer.

NOTE: NYSSPE facilitates posting on this blog, but the views and accounts expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not the views or accounts of NYSSPE, its officers or directors whose views and accounts may or may not be similar or identical. NYSSPE, its officers and directors do not express any opinion regarding any product or service by virtue of reference to such product or service in this blog.



  1. Larry, as always I hope you are doing well it sure seems the last few years have been on heck of ride.

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