During my short tenure on the Board, I have observed that the addition of a practicing structural engineer to the Board is good for our profession and good for the Board itself. A significant number of the issues that arise are directly or indirectly related to the practice of structural engineering. Bidding, plan stamping, offering services under a fictitious name without a certificate of authorization, practicing engineering without a license, and incompetence are just a few of the areas that are the basis for complaints.
While I will certainly try to help make sure that we find and stop unlawful practices, five engineers and two surveyors cannot evaluate every case and make a fair judgment without a little help. There is not adequate expertise on the Board to address the technical issues that form the basis of complaints. This is where I think that SEAoAL can make a difference. The Board needs volunteers to act as technical advisors for structural based complaints.
Volunteers will be asked to perform a technical assessment of a complaint and provide the Board with an opinion as to its validity. Engineers volunteering to perform this service should be licensed, experienced and comfortable providing testimony at a hearing before the Board. Your identity will not be revealed unless the person who is the subject of the complaint requests a hearing and you are asked to testify. As a volunteer, you are protected by the State of
There are a number of reasons not to volunteer, e.g., too busy, opposed to working for free, uncomfortable with challenging another engineer’s work, and uncomfortable with testifying. All of these reasons are valid. However, the only way to stop incompetent and unethical practice is to act when it’s exposed. If the competent engineers don’t help, who does that leave? My suggestion is for each firm to offer one volunteer for a limited number of hours. When a case is offered, determine if you can help based upon the complexity and the time it could take. If the Board had six volunteers offering 16 hours per year, that would probably satisfy the need for most years. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact me at email@example.com or 251-473-8354.
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Structural Engineers Association of Alabama is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
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