A New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE) representative attended the New York State Board for Engineering, Land Surveying, and Geology board meeting on March 10, 2017. The following is a summary of the meeting. (videoconference New York – Albany – Rochester)
A quorum was present.
Committee on Access to the Professions:
The Board engaged in a general discussion regarding experience qualifications needed for licensure as a professional engineer. There was uniform agreement that applications for licensure must include detailed written descriptions of an applicant’s professional related experience.
Engineers’ Week – Capital District had 900 plus attendees. The event provided very good exposure generally for the profession and had significant participation by both women and minorities.
It was reported that S 4328/A 4363 Senator Lanza / Assemblyman Cusick – legislation to repeal the 2007 Padavan Law which ceded authority to the NYC Department of Buildings to discipline PEs and RAs is under consideration in the Legislature. Passage of this law would restore the referral of all cases of professional misconduct respecting the design professions to SED.
Legislation to broaden the exemption permitting professional engineering work to be performed by unlicensed parties has been reintroduced in the Assembly (proposed dollar ceiling per project increased from $5,000 to $50,000). (See A 841 Assemblyman Guther.)
S 852 and A 5007 (Senator Young / Assemblyman Mcgee) has been reintroduced in both houses. This legislation delegates responsibility to the Commissioner of Agriculture and the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee for determining when farm conservation practices (otherwise falling under the general scope of practice of professional engineering) do not require the review and oversight of a professional engineer, and do not threaten public health, safety, and welfare. Pursuant to current law, these determinations are the responsibility of the NYS Board of Regents, which has jurisdiction over all of the Education Law Title VIII design professions. (NYSSPE opposes this legislation noting that the Regents are aided in their determinations by the advice of the State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying, which includes not less than seven licensed professional engineers. NYSSPE has opposed this measure since there is no sound justification for shifting responsibility from the Board of Regents, particularly since there are no express qualifications for members of the State Soil and Conservation Committee or for the Commissioner of Agriculture.)
Legislation which would increase the percentage ownership employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) can control with respect to design professional service corporations (D.P.C.s) has been introduced in both houses. (See A 3460A / S 3771A – Assemblywoman Lupardo / Senator Valesky.) The Board’s Legislative Committee was charged with an examination of this legislation.
General Board Discussion
Discussion of national trends including licensure by discipline, particularly as it pertains to structural engineering. It was noted a number of states require separate licensure for structural engineering and restrict the use of title “structural engineer”. Also discussed were licensure examination waivers for PHD and full-time engineering faculty in some states. No momentum for these changes was noted in New York.
NYSAPLS has updated a proposal to broaden the educational requirements for licensure. The proposal is under consideration within the Department.
Members of the Board licensed in geology are in the process of reviewing applications for licensure online. The process has required some significant debugging but will serve as a template for the other design professions. It is anticipated that land surveying will be the next design profession to adopt an online application process. (90 professional geologists have been licensed to date and approximately 50 are in the queue to be considered in the near future.)
Professional Engineering Committee
Consideration of the records retention requirements and related insurance issues continues. The Committee hopes to report further developments regarding this topic at the next Board meeting scheduled for June.
NCEES – Exams
There was a discussion concerning a submittal by the engineering plumbing society (American Society of Plumbing Engineers) to consider a separate specialty exam for plumbing engineering. The general sentiment of the Board was expressed that current utilized licensure exams should not be altered as proposed. It was noted that current exams capture wide substantive areas of study in diverse fields (e.g. fluid dynamics, thermal dynamics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering etc.) and that new narrower fields of examination, such as plumbing, should not be adopted. It was further noted that only a handful of states license by discipline. There was broad agreement that narrowing the focus of the engineering licensing process would not be in the best interests of the profession or the public. The Board agreed to recommend to the Department that NCEES should be notified regarding its support for the retention of an examination process which insures that examinations test applicants in a manner to insure that an applicant’s knowledge of engineering is both broad and deep. A resolution calling upon NCEES to oppose narrower testing was tentatively approves subject to proper wordsmithing.
It was noted that while the Department had initial plans to offer a geological exam in October of this year the process has been more complex than anticipated and may require that the examination date be rescheduled for sometime after October.
The Board took note of the Governor’s Budget proposal which would expand the use of design build beyond the five agencies currently authorized pursuant to legislation dating back to 2011. Concerns voiced included the failure of the legislation to include a requirement that engineering firms participating in a design build project possesses a certificate of authorization to provide professional engineering services in New York. The Board took further note of testimony by AIA, and efforts by NYSSPE to prevent the proliferation of design build without adequate quality assurance protections consistent with a 2013 joint memo of the Board’s for Engineering and Architecture.
Efforts to adopt a FAQ on the topic of Design Build within the Department are taking longer than anticipated. An FAQ is available via the NYSSPE’s web site.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is in the process of updating its Solid Waste Management regulations including oversight of landfills. DEC is moving forward in collaboration with SED to insure that the scope of responsibilities for qualified environmental professionals, professional engineers and geologists are properly delineated. New regulations pertaining to well drillers it are also under consideration.
Professional Engineering Committee
The topic of appropriate supervision by engineers in the field has been under consideration by the Committee. As a first step in moving forward the Committee has undertaken a review of the manner in which other states have addressed the issue. The question of appropriate supervision has arisen in multiple areas including, by way of example: solar panels, green roofs, windmills, wastewater treatment plants, the expanded use of pre-cast concrete, and engineering at post disaster recovery sites. The Committee hopes to adopt broad supervision guidelines. The use of broad guidelines is intended to ensure that supervision requirements can readily be applied prospectively as the delivery of engineering services unfolds secondarily to technological advances.
The Department has put in place procedures to ensure the expedited licensure for military spouses.
Next meeting tentatively scheduled for Monday June 26, 2017
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.