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Oregon Fines Man For Writing a Complaint Email Stating 'I Am An Engineer' ( 734

pogopop77 quotes a report from Motherboard: In September 2014, Mats Jarlstrom, an electronics engineer living in Beaverton, Oregon, sent an email to the state's engineering board. The email claimed that yellow traffic lights don't last long enough, which "puts the public at risk." "I would like to present these facts for your review and comments," he wrote. This email resulted not with a meeting, but with a threat from The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying [stating]: "ORS 672.020(1) prohibits the practice of engineering in Oregon without registration -- at a minimum, your use of the title 'electronics engineer' and the statement 'I'm an engineer' create violations." In January of this year, Jarlstrom was officially fined $500 by the state for the crime of "practicing engineering without being registered." Since the engineering board in Oregon said Jarlstrom should not be free to publish or present his ideas about the fast-turning yellow traffic lights, due to his "practice of engineering in Oregon without registration," he and the Institute for Justice sued them in federal court for violating his First Amendment rights. "I'm not practicing engineering, I'm just using basic mathematics and physics, Newtonian laws of motion, to make calculations and talk about what I found," he said. Sam Gedge, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, told Motherboard: "Mats has a clear First Amendment right to talk about anything from taxes to traffic lights. It's an instance of a licensing board trying to suppress speech."
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Oregon Fines Man For Writing a Complaint Email Stating 'I Am An Engineer'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @09:51PM (#54302267)

    Now if this were a conservative state run by big corporations, you would also have them suing this guy for violating the proprietary intellectual property right of the algorithms used to control yellow lights. See there is no difference between conservatives and liberals. They both want to fuck you in the ass and will use any governmental, corporate monopoly, or legal statute to ensure that your ass is good and fucked. Your government wants to fuck you, Verizon wants to fuck you,
    All Gore wants to fuck you. Trump wants to fuck you. HILLARY wants to fuck you. Chipoltle wants to fuck you. CNN , Fox, MSNBC and ABC also want to fuck you. You have a very desirable ass. It is best just to allow yourself to be fucked for the good of society. If you don't you will be labeled a homophobic racist child molesting homosexual terrorist.

  • by orlanz ( 882574 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @09:55PM (#54302295)

    Is the imbecile who sent the fine won't be fired.

  • Slashdot ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @09:59PM (#54302323) Journal

    You don't need to be an engineer to measure slashdot advertisements now cover a full third of the screen while stories load and now 1/3 of the horizontal space which means the comment density requires much more scrolling.

  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:00PM (#54302327)

    I'm all for restricting the use of credentials - like 'Doctor', for instance - to people certified by the state to use them. However, that restriction should only come into play when they're using those credentials professionally or to lend authority to a fraudulent claim, which this man was not.

    He was speaking the truth, arguably for the public good, and he IS an engineer, just not one registered to work professionally in the state. His background does make his study and its findings somewhat more credible to those incapable of understanding it themselves... but he's RIGHT, so he's not trying to use that title to defraud anyone.

    I hope he wins his lawsuit.

    • Doctor is a title, that means you have earned a doctorate. It doesn't mean you are a medical professional. The "doctor" you see when you are sick is a physician. If you have a heart attack, you are treated by a surgeon. If you have a tooth ache, you are treated by a dentist. They all have doctorates, so they are Doctors. So are university professors who have earned a PhD. In the US, lawyers are also technically doctors, but they don't use the title. Yes, medical professionals need to be board certified. But
      • Yes, medical professionals need to be board certified. But don't confuse that with doctors.

        No, they don't. Board certification is an additional step that physicians can take, and many better ones do, but it is not required to practice medicine.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:36PM (#54302823)

      He mailed the engineering board, the licensing authority, NOT the people in charge of traffic lights or having anything to do with them. Either he was trying to get fined by claiming to be an engineer or he's a fucking moron.

      Some states have very strict licensing laws with regard to the term engineer, other restrict that to the term professional engineer. Nevada blocked Novell "engineers" from claiming they are such. The law on this is pretty settled, the guy is going to be lucky to pay that fine, by claiming he was an engineer directly to the licensing board he opened himself to the boards authority and they have the authority to incarcerate engineers under their authority and they can levy some pretty hefty fines.

      I still can't figure out why he mailed anything to the engineering board. They have nothing at all to do with traffic lights, their sole purpose is engineering licensing. He mailed them a letter claiming to be an engineer. He might as well have mailed the bar claiming to be a lawyer or the medical licensing board claiming to be a medical doctor. That's how stupid what he did was.

  • by willoughby ( 1367773 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:02PM (#54302335)

    I worked in a place with a lot of people who worked in the Engineering dept. These folks designed, revised, worked with the people on the shop floor to resolve problems, etc. None of these folks were "Engineers". They were all referred to as "Engineers". It's just a common term for people who do jobs like that.

    We also designed and manufactured a couple of life-critical gadgets - things which might result in a death if they failed. Those drawings had to be signed and stamped by one of our two certified Engineers. But we would have been find into oblivion, I guess, 'cause we referred to just about everyone on that floor as an Engineer.

    • by Chuckstar ( 799005 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:32PM (#54302515)

      The question isn't whether you refer to someone as an engineer, the question is whether they put themselves out as an engineer. You can call yourself "doctor" all you want while you're hanging out at a bar with your buddies, and no one could or would fine you. But don't try to send a letter to the state health department claiming to be a medical doctor, if you're not one.

  • by GrpA ( 691294 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:12PM (#54302387)

    As an industry trained engineer, I've been doing engineering for a few decades. From designing computers and electronics in the 80's to performing and presenting current scientific research, it's just been a part of my life, but previously, I could only refer to myself as an "Amateur Engineer". It's not that I'm not trained, I just wasn't trained in a university. Back in the 80's when I learned to design computers ( as an autodidact ) there simply wasn't a university path open for me as I was in high school at the time, and I was taken in by an R&D lab before I could study further and quickly gained skills and experience beyond what the universities were teaching at the time so never went back to university.

    Still, not being able to refer to myself as an engineer caused many problem, especially when registering for government projects or work - where are best I could only call myself a "technician" despite having working in many roles where I was the lead engineer and managed other engineers. It made it pretty difficult finding new work at times also.

    Now the Australian government has finally recognized that if you work as an engineer, doing the kind of work that an engineer would normally be expected to do, for a period of five cumulative years, you've proven your point and are recognized not only as an experienced engineer, but as a professional engineer.

    Anyone might still be able to claim to be an engineer in Australia, but at least those who have spent years actually doing engineering as a career and were trained on-the-job have finally gained formal recognition as providers of professional services now, whether trained in a university or otherwise. And it's in legislation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, and being licensed as an engineer by some board in Oregon does not make one an engineer. Would be nice to have someone from MIT or Caltech to go and check their licensing requirements, and subject the board to a simple test to see if they know some engineering to begin with

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Texas, the Occupation Codes state that you cannot do the math if you are not a Licensed Professional Engineer unless you work for Licensed Professional Engineer (who is responsible for your work), work for the Government (primarily Military or NASA), teach and a few other exceptions. In Texas the licensing started because a person representing themselves as an engineer designed a boiler system for a school that blew up and killed over 100 children back in 1937.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I've done some subcontracting for engineering firms and most of the "engineers" I worked with did not have PE certification. There were a few senior guys with PEs who signed off everything. I don't know, but after seeing the reams of drawings/plans I find it hard to believe that this system of requiring only PEs to sign off on projects is actually achieving the risk mitigation that is claimed because I don't think the volume of work is realistically reviewable by one guy.

      I'm more inclined that PE certific

  • by c10 ( 595575 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:30PM (#54302499) Homepage
    Along with "pumping your own damn gas".
  • "Dammit, Jim, I'm a...

  • Didn't read TFA but let me guess: red light cameras are in use and Oregon gets its cut from the take. So the whole discussion about the 'engineer' title (which is fine, you shouldn't be able to call yourself "Dr." "M.D." "Pharmacist" or even "meteorologist" without proper qualifacations) kind of overshadows the problem with the yelllow lights. Purposefully reducing the amount of time the light stays on yellow in order to trap more people "running a red light" is of course ehhhrrrmmmm "unethical" to say the
  • by James McP ( 3700 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:18PM (#54302741)

    This is a travesty*, the shameful, traditional closing ranks of an organization to protect their own. He is lodging a complaint with the board about a potential safety issue. Even if his analysis was entirely without merit it deserves a more respectful response.

    For the record: I am a licensed civil engineer (PE). I am no longer a practicing engineer (retired/inactive).

    *I do think he should have gotten a note warning him about the legal ramifications of using the term "engineer". Most people don't know it requires licensing. Having a foreign engineering degree means he doesn't have any background with US licensing standards.

    Even then it's stupid. Most of the engineers in the world are unlicensed. You only need a couple of PEs in most cases.

    Of course these days the term is already worn as thin as kleenex and no stronger than jello. IMHO we (professional engineers) lost all claims of governance over the term "engineer" the day the engineering license boards didn't wage war over "sanitation engineer".

  • Not News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eggman9713 ( 714915 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @02:33AM (#54303417)
    I am a professional engineer licensed in Oregon. This is very typical for OSBEELS to do. The term "engineer" has very specific legal meaning, and in most states it implies registration and license as a professional engineer. The reason that Oregon and other states vigorously pursue people who claim to be engineers without licensure is to protect the public from those who claim to be engineers but do not have the education or experience to be admitted to the profession. Oregon happens to pursue these types of issues more vigorously than other states I have been licensed in, but this is nothing new. The claim that his first amendment rights are being violated is laughable (but IANAL). He is free to make his case, but he cannot call himself an "engineer" without being licensed.
  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @09:03AM (#54304361)

    Back in the Sixties, my California employer opened a new operation in another state where it was the first major aerospace activity. A press announcement said it would bring several hundred engineers to town, and the local engineering society made pretty much the same complaint as in TFA.

    We sent them a letter saying "Sorry, we don't want to infringe on the law here. Would you please send us 300 membership application forms, 300 copies of the sample P.E. exam, and the schedule for your next officer election?"

    Never heard back.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @01:39PM (#54306595) Homepage

    Frankly, for using his job to create the false impression he's an authority on something completely unrelated - he deserves what he gets.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!