ECL-USA Summit 10, Licensure Models for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is complete. The summit was presented in partnership with the National Society of Professional Engineers and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
The participants in the summit explored the future of licensure for engineering and the role licensure and regulatory bodies can play in ensuring that engineers and organizations engaged in the development of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution act in the public interest. The discussion was informed and framed by the perspectives of our summit provocateurs.
• Patty Mamola, P.E. and Lance Kinney, P.E. Patty and Lance are Executive Directors of the State Licensing Boards in Nevada and Texas, respectively. In their introductory presentation, Patty and Lance challenged participants to focus on the core purpose of licensure and to consider the future of engineering regulation (licensure) in the face of changes in education, legislation related to regulation, public perception and technology.
• Caitlin Kenney, P.E., Systems Engineer, International Systems Management Corp. Caitlin brought the perspective of engineering practice in industry. She described the emerging technologies of Industry 4.0 and the new responsibilities for engineers involved in the creation and implementation of these technologies. She emphasized that the impacts of emerging technologies extend beyond manufacturing and industrial engineering, impacting all engineering disciplines.
• Tim Jacobs, Interim Department Head of the Department of Multi-Disciplinary Engineering, Texas A&M University. Dr. Jacobs described the evolution of engineering education in teaching methods, student diversity, and accreditation. He emphasized that the need for interdisciplinary education is being driven by industry “blowing up the silo” that engineers should be educated in only one discipline.
• Mark Abbott, P.Eng., Managing Director, Engineering Change Lab – Canada. Mark shared lessons learned from ECL-Canada’s recent exploration of licensure with Professional Engineers Ontario. A key point from their work was the need for more critical reflection about the role of engineering in society, particularly with respect to the macro-ethical concerns associated with new digital technologies.
Group discussion confirmed the need for major changes in current licensure models with the key drivers of this need including the difficulty of regulating emerging technologies and the blurring of the lines between engineers, developers of technology, and the public. Other key take-aways from the discussion included the following.
• Importance of life-long learning.
• Consideration of the entire life cycle of a product or project.
• Need for education of the public with respect to evaluating technologies and engineering issues.
• Need for education of state licensing boards.
• Uncertainty around ethical issues associated with emerging technologies due to the impacts of human behavior.
• Growth in the body of knowledge for engineers that is occurring faster than regulation and industry associations developing standards can adapt.
• Questions regarding who should be licensed – software developers or those engineers applying the software.
• Importance of learning from other professions such as the medical profession and their emphasis on preventing harm while providing benefits.
• Need to establish as wide a net as possible to license all engineers.
• Recognition that those with means will get licensed and those with life challenges may not place as high of a priority on getting their license.
Discussions also surfaced many ideas that could be incorporated into new approaches to licensure.
• Self-regulation like the Canadian model.
• National regulation model administered in collaboration with State licensing boards.
• National regulation administered by professional associations.
• Licensure based on credentials, such as a portfolio demonstrating essential engineering skills.
• Licensure by multi-disciplinary committees or peer reviews.
• Examination on ethics only.
• Licensure of all engineers immediately after graduation.
Provocateur presentations and the full report from Summit 10 are available on the Summit Information page.