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N.C. Official Sics License Police On Computer Scientist For Too Good a Complaint 705

Posted by timothy
from the guilty-of-being-smarter-than-the-official dept.
snsh writes "When a computer scientist in North Carolina petitioned the state for a new traffic signal in his neighborhood, a transportation official replied with a complaint about what 'appears to be engineering-level work' done by someone who is not licensed as a professional engineer." Kevin Lacy, chief traffic engineer for the state DOT, and the one who filed a complaint with the N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, protested that in trying to have Computer Scientist David Cox investigated for his detailed complaint about a traffic intersection while not licensed as a professional engineer, "I'm not trying to hush him up."
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N.C. Official Sics License Police On Computer Scientist For Too Good a Complaint

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  • Sorry (Score:5, Funny)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:05PM (#35095644)
    Sorry Mr. Lacy, we require a license to complain about non-compliance to ignorant bureaucratic rules.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:19PM (#35095886) Journal

      Also the summary is incorrect It should read:

      "Kevin Asshat, chief traffic asshole for the state DOT, and the shitbag who filed a complaint, protested that in trying to have Computer Scientist and Esteemed Citizen David Cox investigated while not licensed as a professional engineer: "I'm not trying to hush him up. I'm just trying to be a tyrant and make his life miserable, because I enjoy acting like Mubarak."

      • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Funny)

        by pavera (320634) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:25PM (#35095988) Homepage Journal

        Totally off topic, but can you actually download 14GB over a dialup modem in 1 month? I could do the math but I'm lazy... just curious.

        • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Informative)

          by gorzek (647352) <gorzek&gmail,com> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:30PM (#35096098) Homepage Journal

          A 56k dialup modem has a maximum throughput of 53,300 bits per second (due to POTS limitations, I believe). Multiply that out by the number of minutes and hours in a day, then by 30 days, and you get roughly 17 gigabytes. Shave a bit off for network overhead (of which there is always a fair amount) and 14GB is not at all unreasonable.

          This would require the connection to be active 24/7, obviously, and receiving data the whole time.

          • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Funny)

            by utoddl (263055) <Todd_Lewis@unc.edu> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:35PM (#35096206) Homepage

            WHAT? Are you practising network engineering, in public, on a network, without a license?

            You fell for the bait, citizen. Against the wall, you.
             
            /Live near Raleigh, getting a kick, etc.

          • by scubamage (727538)
            You're correct, except a lot of that data would be lost due to flow control and reliability. While in a normal download that isn't that big of a deal, over the course of a month I imagine a large number of ACK packets, lost packets, sliding windows, etc will bring that number down quite a bit. And if you're a comcast customer, RST packets too :)
          • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Funny)

            by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:06PM (#35096818)

            This would require the connection to be active 24/7, obviously, and receiving data the whole time.

            In other words, somebody *truly* dedicated to porn.

        • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Informative)

          by GenP (686381) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:32PM (#35096132)
          If you can sustain ~80% maximum throughput, yes [google.com].
      • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stonewallred (1465497) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:33PM (#35097346)
        Typical NC bureaucracy in action. Both the DOT and the licensing board. All five of my professional licenses are issued and "supervised" by idiots who can't do the work themselves and make a living, and and the work I do under three of them are subject to review and oversight by morons who are either political hires or failed contractors with political connections. Perfect case in point. Greensboro is in Guilford county. The county has an inspection department for refrigeration work done in the county, while the city has an inspections department for refrigeration work done in the city. Both departments use the state building codes, with no amendments or other crap. What the code says is what the county/city codes are. If I install two identical walk-in coolers, one in Guilford county, and the other one 20 feet over the line and in Greensboro, and install them both in the same exact manner, one will fail. In Guilford county if the inspector sees any silicone caulk around the camlock covers (little things that look like smooth metal buttons on the walls and ceilings of walk-ins that cover where the camlock holes are at) he will fail it. Conversely, if a Greensboro city inspector, using the same state codes, does not see the caulk, he will fail it. The Electrical inspectors are the same, yet worse, as each one as their own personal likes and dislikes, and you do it their way or get failed. And if I should protest something and submit documents that I drew using standard architectural or engineering symbols, nicely plotted with all "projections" and such calculated correctly, am I going to be investigated also? Fucktard politicians now want to allow failass bureaucrats to stamp out smart people. Or hell, just plain competent people.
        • This and the article/story are perfect counter examples of those people who whine that Libertarians are against "all regulation". No, we're not. We're against asshats in political positions dictating things because they can. Any sufficient level of regulation ends up with contradictory dictates. And trying to fix the situation is impossible, because it comes down to some petty dictator against you, and we know who the Bureaucracy will side with.

          • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mellon (7048) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:41PM (#35098220) Homepage

            Perhaps you are not against "all regulation." But a lot of libertarians are.

            What we have here, though, is not an example of regulation. It is an example of someone deciding that being a government employee gives him the right, nay, the responsibility to act like a petty tyrant. It's got nothing to do with regulation, per se. It's abuse of power. It's very common in the U.S., and practiced by government functionaries from all parts of the political spectrum.

            It's unfortunate that we the people tend to spend so much time being polarized against one another, and less time acting as citizens should: restraining abuses of power in the government that is supposed to be working for us.

    • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Funny)

      by hvm2hvm (1208954) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:27PM (#35096018) Homepage
      You're kidding, but I actually can't believe these people actually think like that. How can you be so goddamn narrow-minded? It's so infuriating I might actually leave a hateful comment somewhere on the Internet.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by msauve (701917) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:45PM (#35096436)
      Yes, who's going to be first to complain about Asshat Lacy practicing law without a license?
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Funny)

      by jbezorg (1263978) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:10PM (#35096878)

      Well, he needs a 27B/6.

    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Myopic (18616) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:42PM (#35097456)

      Exactly.

      Lacy said this is the first time he has referred a case to the professional licensing board.

      Right, so before this, Mr Lacy has always said "The petition is rejected because the petitioner doesn't know what he's talking about." Now Mr Lacy is trying a new way to reject a claim: "The petition is rejected because the petitioner does know what he's talking about."

      Wow. With logic like that, Mr Lacy must have an easy job.

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:08PM (#35095682)

    I'm sorry, that's it.

    America over.

    The end.

    • by wondafucka (621502) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:51PM (#35097598) Homepage Journal

      I'm sorry, that's it.

      America over.

      The end.

      All of our modern conveniences were created by engineers. Some percentage of those engineers are neurotic and controlling and completely lack social skills. We would be swimming in our own filth if it weren't for those people. What we really need are personality engineers to help them blow off steam or to feed their egos in a self contained environment. For the meantime we have the occasional Kafka moment.

  • It's terrible! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:08PM (#35095686)
    How will they deal with people who have knowledge even though they're not licensed? Next thing you know, people might start noticing cracks in bridges!
    • Re:It's terrible! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:58PM (#35096654) Homepage Journal

      The risk is that it will appear that they have knowledge, but there's no actual guarantee that they do. That's the danger. Did you know that if a PE creates a detailed report like that, even if they don't seal it, that they can (and will) be held personally liable for the results if anything goes wrong? Not their employer, not the board, not the state, themselves, personally. That's the distinction, and its a damned important one.

      • Having a PE certificate is no guarantee of having knowledge. Anybody idiot can get a certification with some dedication. And that idiot can sign off on anything, until he gets caught and loses his piece of paper (maybe). At that point, another idiot can take his place, and the cycle repeats itself.

      • The guarantee that they have knowledge would be found in the details of the report. If the report is well designed, it will have the assumptions that went into the conclusions. Those could be verified by an independent source.

        In this instance it sounds like the citizen activist group is challenging the assumptions used by the engineering firm that did the original work. Unless the N.C DOT is brain dead, they won't use the citizen activist report as part of the design documents for the proposed project wi

    • Bridges are designed so failure causes excessive sagging. So it be visible to users of the bridge.

      Because a bridge which fails in a progressive way is safer than one which snaps. Partly because of engineering reasons, but also because that way, the odds of something odd occurring being noticed are higher.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:09PM (#35095706) Homepage Journal

    "...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

    Or would they prosecute you for practicing law without a license?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:10PM (#35095726)

    Than citizen volunteers who would dare to do something for free.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:12PM (#35095748)
    If you do ANYTHING that embarrasses a public official, they will retaliate. That's the kind of jackasses they are.
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:12PM (#35095750) Homepage

    Since when is talking about technology the same as practicing without a license? Asshole in power is being an asshole.

    • by hguorbray (967940) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:17PM (#35095852)
      the ultimate (worst case) outcome of this would be to prevent anyone from making informed or researched statement in a petition to the state -Or to have to hire a licensed professional to prepare the technical parts of such a petition.

      When applied to a defendant's right to represent himself in court this could conceivably result in charges practicing law without a license if one was too good of a jailhouse lawyer....

      -I'm just sayin'
      • by DRJlaw (946416)

        the ultimate (worst case) outcome of this would be to prevent anyone from making informed or researched statement in a petition to the state -Or to have to hire a licensed professional to prepare the technical parts of such a petition.

        I don't belive that this has been re-reported correctly. Read the linked article carefully -- "Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations responded with a sophisticated analysis of their own." As a lawyer and an engineer (but not a PE), I'd willing to be

        • I'd willing to bet that he's been reported to the Board not because he performed engineering quality work pre se, but because he performed that work on behalf of the NRCHA as part of a joint submission.

          The notion that critically analyzing traffic flow, for the sole purpose of writing a petition (which would, presumably, be reviewed by actual engineers before being implemented by the agency being petitioned) is somehow "engineering work", is frankly just insane.

  • Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evardsson (959228) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:12PM (#35095758) Homepage

    Has this sort of argument been brought up before in other areas? Your complaint to the school board was well-formed, properly formatted and grammatically correct, yet you are not a board-certified English teacher. Perhaps even: You took your car to the mechanic and told him it was a quart low on oil, yet you are not a licensed mechanic.

    Come on, is this is the best idea they could come up with to shut down the complaint?

  • by SengirV (203400) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:12PM (#35095760)

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • What morons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paultag (1284116) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:13PM (#35095778) Homepage
    What a bunch of dipshits. Traffic is just a routing / scheduling algorithm, if anything his background in Computer Science should *help* him present his case. God, what morons. He just did all that work for you, it's not like you won't review it anyway. Suck it up and do a review. It's your *job*.
  • by 0101000001001010 (466440) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:15PM (#35095816)

    So in essence, the complaint is that Cox appeared more competent than an ordinary citizen is allowed.

  • by ThinkWeak (958195) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:17PM (#35095844)
    If Cox is found to have practiced engineering without a license, Ritter said, the likely action would be a letter telling him not to do it again."

    Don't you have to accept money or be involved in some sort of contractual obligation to risk something like this? Nothing in the article indicates that Mr. Cox misled anyone. The only thing he did, from what I read, was put together a detailed OPINION of reasoning why these stop lights are needed. Granted, they hired an engineer and the engineer said it was not needed, but why is performing your own research a crime?
    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:45PM (#35096426)
      I wouldn't be surprised if they asked lots of engineers until they found one who said stop lights were not needed, then hired him. Selective hireing of experts isn't an unusual practice. It's very common in legal matters - whenever you see the words 'expert witness' then this may well have gone on first. Same for experts appearing on TV. The producers ask lots of experts, then just hire the ones with the most ratings-inspiring opinions to share.
    • by cptdondo (59460) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:17PM (#35097028) Journal

      No you didn't. I am a professional engineer, and the restriction is "offering engineering services to the public". You cannot represent yourself as an engineer if you deal with public.

      There's nothing in the law that would limit what you do in your personal life. Preparing an appeal is not "offering engineering services to the public".

      Mr. Lacy should have his license suspended for being a moron.

  • by SilentStaid (1474575) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:20PM (#35095892)
    This is some kind of absurd bureaucratic witch hunt.

    Here's the form that you use to report on people suspected of practicing engineering without a license in N.C.

    http://www.ncbels.org/forms/ComplaintForm.pdf [ncbels.org]

    What say you that we flood them with complaints about ineptitude?
  • by quantum bit (225091) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:20PM (#35095894) Journal

    Seriously, they're investigating the guy because the report was "too good"? Since when do you need a license to be smart? It's no wonder the US is losing ground in the tech and scientific sector.

    I think the Internet needs to tell the people in charge exactly how ridiculous that is. Demand an apology at the very least, if not an investigation into the people who are making these accusations.

    Here's a link to get you started:

    http://www.ncdot.org/ [ncdot.org]

  • From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:21PM (#35095912)

    He said there is a potential for violation if DOT and the public were misled by "engineering-quality work"- even if the authors did not claim to be engineers.

    I simply do not believe the second half. There was clearly no attempt to mislead or misrepresent. If the DOT read the paper and failed to find errors, either that's a reflection on their own professional competence or they were not misled in any way. This is purely an attempt to stop citizen activism from members of a group - civil engineers - that particularly dislike any challenge from anyone outside their profession,

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:21PM (#35095924)
    Let me see if I got this right. The state official is concerned because a non-licensed person produced a work product that is of the quality level of a professionally licensed engineer. I was under the impression that the point of such licensing was to ensure that inferior work product was not passed off as quality engineering, yet this government official is complaining because an unlicensed person was able to produce work that looks as good as that produced by a lcensed engineer.
    What is revealed is that the point of licensing in this case is to prevent people from competing with those who have been duly selected by the state. Of course, that is really the point of most government regulations, to protect certain government favored groups or businesses from competition.
    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:45PM (#35096432) Journal

      What is revealed is that the point of licensing in this case is to prevent people from competing with those who have been duly selected by the state.

      No, that's not what the PE is intended for. I'm an EIT, and anyone can perform engineering work in the U.S. However, not everyone can call themselves a "professional engineer". As a matter of fact, most engineering work performed in the U.S. is not performed by a PE. There simply needs to be proof of non-negligence to protect from lawsuits, etc. This can be in the form of scientific data, or review by a PE. Since the DOT does mostly one-of-a-kind work, there is very little scientific data to justify their designs. Therefore they depend heavily on PEs to check designs.

      There would only be an issue if the DOT used the design from the untrained person without review by a PE. IMHO The DOT is completely wrong in this case.

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:28PM (#35096032) Journal

    ...which is, of course, the best kind of correct. He is now a Level 10 Bureaucrat.

  • by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:28PM (#35096042)

    And the award for best face palm inducing quote goes to:

    If Cox is found to have practiced engineering without a license, Ritter said, the likely action would be a letter telling him not to do it again.

    I'm a software developer, if I use wireshark to discover that my ISP is up to something fishy, will I be sued for practicing network engineering without a license? If I start counting the number of pedestrians crossing a busy street in order to advocate for a crosswalk, will I be sued for for practicing civil engineering without a license?

    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@cCOWornell.edu minus herbivore> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:39PM (#35096296) Homepage

      Well, I think the issue here is:

      In most fields of engineering (electrical engineering is what I am most familiar with), there isn't a requirement for an engineer to be licensed. The PE organization would beg to differ in that regard, but in general you rarely see EEs, MechEs working in non-civil fields, etc licensed as PEs:

      Within the field of civil engineering, nearly all states require any project to be signed off by a licensed civil engineer with a PE certification. In general, I believe most civil engineers need a PE certification or they simply can't function in the current regulatory environment. One should assume in this case that "engineering = civil engineering" when a civil engineer talks about engineering.

      The claim here is that supposedly a non-licensed person practiced civil engineering in generating this work product. However:
      1) It was not an official work product, it was a complaint to an organization that DOES contain licensed engineers
      2) There were no claims made that anyone involved in the document preparation were civil engineers, licensed or otherwise

  • No P.E. required. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:29PM (#35096060)

    Lol, this is great

    You CAN practice engineering without a license, in fact, it's fine, you just can't sign the document " P.E. " (Professional Engineer) most engineers aren't licensed, because it is primarily used by civil engineers who are designing buildings, bridges, ect. The whole point of a P.E. is enabling you to sign off on documents, official documents that represent build plans for some government facility, or something that legally needs to have a responsible engineer. While it's good to go through the trouble of getting one (Bill Nye has his license) it only qualifies you to sign your work as John Hancock Professional Engineer, or claim to list your services as engineering services in terms of running a business.

    Some companies just hire one P.E. to claim their work as engineering, cause they just need one to sign off on everything.

    If it's something that's not going to put people's lives in danger if it's misdesigned (i.e. a robot, UAV, toy, printer) normally you don't even need a P.E. to do the work. P.E's are just something that at the end of the day are a legal check to sell engineering work.

    and in some states I believe it's enough to just have a degree in engineering to consider yourself a professional engineer (though I know in most you must take a test to attain a license )

    Here's a link to the P.E licensing board's website
    http://www.nspe.org/Licensure/index.html

    • by reg (5428)

      >P.E's are just something that at the end of the day are a legal check to sell engineering work.

      The point of a licensed professional engineer is that they take personal legal responsibility for their work. As in - if the building falls down and kills people, the government will charge them with manslaughter, and you can sue them personally for damages regardless of where they now work.

      The rest is just red tape so that the courts can find them.

      Regards,
      -Jeremy

  • Ayn Rand (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:36PM (#35096214)

    If someone mentions the fountainhead I will hunt you down...

  • by Quantus347 (1220456) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:37PM (#35096242)
    I can assure you that I do Engineer-level work on a daily basis without being a licensed Engineer. In fact, you have to do such work for several years as a requirement to get that license. Some people just need something to complain about.
  • by Moof123 (1292134) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:44PM (#35096392)

    Unless the submitted materials actually made a claim of engineering authority, i.e. a stamped as being approved by a Professional Engineer (PE), then there is nothing wrong. In fact much engineering work is done by junior engineers, under the watchful eye of a PE, and then stamped by that PE as being approved. It is a requirement that you practice under a PE for a number of years to get your PE certification. Nothing is wrong with doing the analysis, only if it is presented fraudulently as an engineering work.

    Intelligent analysis that puts a PE to shame should be welcomed. And unless it is being submitted as an engineering document, then sorry there is no foul.

    Intimidation pure and simple.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:54PM (#35096584) Journal

    My first amendment trumps your engineering license law: What part of, "Congress shall make no law. . .abridging. . .the right of the people. . .to petition the government for a redress of grievances." doesn't this guy understand?

    You don't need a license, and the government cannot require a license, for a person to send in a letter petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. End of story. The government is free to ignore the petition, if engineers deem it to be technically flawed (or even if the engineers agree *grin*), but no law may be used to abridge the right of the people to petition the government which is exactly what this guy did.

    Why is it so many government employees seem to lack a basic understanding of the Constitution?

  • Needs more Title 18 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Whomp-Ass (135351) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @04:59PM (#35096682)

    Government employees really need to be reminded that as a condition of being employed by the state that they are held to a higher standard and can be tossed to the wolves for stuff like this, namely:

    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > 241

      241. Conspiracy against rights

    If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
    If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > 242

      242. Deprivation of rights under color of law

    Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

  • by lbates_35476 (901961) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:01PM (#35096712)
    Reading a companion article sheds a little more light on this (at least for me):

    http://blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown/wake-gop-raps-perdue-and-dot-for-stifling-free-speech [newsobserver.com]

    As a professional engineer Mr. Lacy advised the neighborhood to hire another professional engineer to prepare the report. I thought that only lawyers generated business for each other in this manner...

    This stinks to high heaven and Mr. Lacy should lose his job over this heavy-handed response.
    • by dbc (135354)

      Did the work involved require a licensed engineer's "wet signature"? If not, then Lacy should STFU. On the other hand, if a non P.E. thinks his work is going to be given the same weight within a government organization that deals with life-safety issues, he is under informed. This is more of a case of lawyers generating work for PE's than PE's creating work for PE's. No government body is going to make a decision on a life-safety system without a PE stamp and wet signature. That is a liability hole you

  • by dschnur (61074) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:12PM (#35096908)

    In fact, a few years ago in Arizona, they had a problem designing the interchange between the US 60 and Loop 101. A Motorola programmer submitted a suggestion to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) that was brilliant... ADOT gave him a plaque and named him an honorary traffic engineer.... They didn't use his design to plan the new interchange, but used his ideas to base their analysis and design on.

  • by Troy Roberts (4682) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:40PM (#35097436)

    You can find this on the site http://www.ncbels.org/rulesandlaws.html [ncbels.org] . Reading this, I believe it is only illegal, if you claim to be an engineer is some way. You have to offer engineering services or directly claim to be an engineer for this law to apply.

      89C23. Unlawful to practice engineering or land surveying without licensure; unlawful use of title or terms; penalties; Attorney General to be legal adviser.

    Any person who shall practice, or offer to practice, engineering or land surveying in this State without first being licensed in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, or any person, firm, partnership, organization, association, corporation, or other entity using or employing the words "engineer" or "engineering" or "professional engineer" or "professional engineering" or "land surveyor" or "land surveying," or any modification or derivative of those words in its name or form of business or activity except as licensed under this Chapter or in pursuit of activities exempted by this Chapter, or any person presenting or attempting to use the certificate of licensure or the seal of another, or any person who shall give any false or forged evidence of any kind to the Board or to any member of the Board in obtaining or attempting to obtain a certificate of licensure, or any person who shall falsely impersonate any other licensee of like or different name, or any person who shall attempt to use an expired or revoked or nonexistent certificate of licensure, or who shall practice or offer to practice when not qualified, or any person who falsely claims that the person is registered under this Chapter, or any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this Chapter, in addition to injunctive procedures set out hereinbefore, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. In no event shall there be representation of or holding out to the public of any engineering expertise by unlicensed persons. It shall be the duty of all duly constituted officers of the State and all political subdivisions of the State to enforce the provisions of this Chapter and to prosecute any persons violating them.

    The Attorney General of the State or an assistant shall act as legal adviser to the Board and render any legal assistance necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter. The Board may employ counsel and necessary assistance to aid in the enforcement of this Chapter, and the compensation and expenses for the assistance shall be paid from funds of the Board. (1921, c. 1, s. 12; C.S., s. 6055(n); 1951, c. 1084, s. 1; 1975, c. 681, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 612; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1998118, s. 21.)

  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:41PM (#35097444) Homepage Journal

    I do understand it.

    Disclaimer: I am currently employed by a Government entity. I worked in the privet sector for 22 year prior to that.
    I have not, nor have I ever seen any government official 'retaliate'. And yes, I would call them on it.

    Yes, it was probably a dick move.

    However, I have seen many times where educated, smart peple try to force what are evffectivly engineered decsion down a cities throat without actually have engineering experience. They fail to take into account many extremely important details, and they speak well enough that the general public thinks they are right. Instead of learnign WHY something is being done the way it is, they just dig their heals in and make absurd arguments. And by absurd I mean provably wrong, But they don't look at the numbers, or try to understand the impact on the myriad of things under the street.

    It's sad. Now I am not saying they should have a say, but they need to be rational about it.

    Now, if the Computer scientist was trying to push the document and an engineered solution, then yes, he is in the wrong.

    You do not want non licensed Engineers doing engineering work. Bad things will come of it.

    I wish there was a PE equivalent for Computer programming in my state. well, in all states, really.

  • by Grendol (583881) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:24PM (#35098042)
    Personally, I am a PE in 2 states, but not in NC. General knowledge about how states run their rules is that a person has to make a claim that they are a PE before they can be found in violation. Most states take their cues from the NSPE/NCEES bodies. I believe that is probably the case here.

    Reviewing North Carolina Law 89C23 which tells you that you aren't supposed to "practice" engineering without a license, along with 89C3 which gives the definitions of the terms used like "practice" you will find that a person has to make the claim to be a "professional engineer" {see section (6)a of 89C3} for their activities to be construed to be the "practice of engineering".

    Laws are written this way to point out that while most anyone can technically fill a job title of "engineer" if they have the smarts at your local company making widgets, you are not allowed to provide "engineering services" to the public. What that usually means is that you are not allowed to design things that affect public safety. You are however fully within the law to work as an engineer for IBM, Caterpillar, Boeing, etc. Usually even if a company has engineering services, few engineers are actually licensed, they just work under the direct supervision of the license engineer who takes ultimate responsibility for the design.

    With this in mind, unless David N. Cox made the claim that he was a licensed engineer or was providing engineering services, he and others like him are within the letter and spirit of the law. I read nowhere in the article that he made the claim he was an engineer, nor sealed/stamped the report/calculation/designs he provided as part of his petition. Unless he made the claims or sealed/stamped the articles associated with his petition and the article simply failed to state that, I believe Mr. Cox is probably innocent of the allegations made against him.

    The chapter of the North Carolina Law relevant to this is found at this web location. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0089C [state.nc.us]

    The NC engineering board will tell, but I am going to guess that they will rule in favor or Mr. Cox.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @08:39PM (#35099414) Journal

    As long as he is not purporting to be a professional engineer in the offering of the services, he may perform engineering. He may not seal the work, or offer to perform professional services, but he may perform research and write reports on technical topics.

    Either way, there is nothing in the article that states Cox was suggesting he was a PE. Lacey needs a public reprimand as a disgrace to the engineering profession. It's that kind of engineer that gives us all a bad name. The goal of engineering is progress and safety, not bureaucratic parochialism.

    If there are legitimate concerns, he should have the data to back up his studies. Have him open the calcs for the project and see if their contractor really did miss that stuff. It happens - engineers are human, too. Is he so obsessed with being right that he's willing to risk lives to make a point? If I make a mistake, I sure as hell want someone to point it out so that I can fix it before concrete goes into the ground. Even if you discount the public safety aspect, it's cheaper to build something right the first time than to have to build it twice.

    An interesting aside is that PE boards can generally only tell him not to do it again, and refer the case to the AG for prosecution (which the AG usually ignores as not being interesting enough to prosecute) . My understanding (I'm a NC PE, as well as four other states, but do 99% of my services in Virginia) is that the PE board can only discipline and fine members (i.e. PEs), not the general public.

  • by nedwidek (98930) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @08:45PM (#35099474)
    Tuttle, Heating Engineer at Your Service [youtube.com] That was the first thing I thought of when I heard about this.
  • by Socguy (933973) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @09:35PM (#35099850)
    This is stupid on so many levels it boggles the mind. I'll have to limit to just a few:

    If this guy decided to start selling traffic analysis to the city, then he should be stopped. However, the individual who did this work was not doing it for a profit therefore the complaint is meaningless. With the proliferation of the internet, anybody can easily obtain and use once obscure and hoarded knowledge. If someone takes the time to research and complete a well thought out and presented argument, it is incumbent on the city to respond in a well thought out manner. If he made a mistake, reply and point it out at the level he or she is engaging you on. Obviously in this case, someone in the city got caught with their pants down and doesn't like it. There are a lot of cocky people out there who think that they are gods gift to... (fill in the blank)... and that they are irreplaceable. They don't like it when they are shown up. People need to realize that no matter how highly skilled and how much education you have, OTHER PEOPLE CAN DO WHAT YOU DO TOO! ( Sometimes even better than you;) )

    If this complaint is allowed to stand, the precedent it sets is scary: Any government councilor had better not question the engineer of any project. Same goes for the public at large. At least nobody better complain using any sort of intelligent argument.

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