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10 years experience counts as college sometimes....

Tom_35
Tom_35 Member Posts: 265
I emphasize with a lot of these posts and see things from both sides of the coin.

Like John, I have seen drawings by PE's that should have never made it off the desk. The jobs go out for bid and contractors will bid them as speced, not knowing or caring if the system will actually work. After all, the PE stamped it.

It takes guts to stand up to a customer, an architect, or whomever, and tell them that you will not bid the job as it is designed because it will not work. We backed out on a really nice job several months ago because the PE on the job is a bottom feeder that doesn't have a clue about hydronics and geo-thermal work. This is going to be a government project that will be a sham.

There is no doubt that the majority of the Wallies here could provide workable, efficient systems, and still save money on what some of the wantabe's put out.

On the other hand, there are some PE's that absolutely do know their stuff and their knowledge is well received. Andrew is obviously well versed in radiant design, and although we don't see any posts from Siggy, if he tells you that a chicken dips snuff, look under its' wing and you will find a can. I would also consider designwork from NRT Rob, ME, John R., Dave Yates, hr, to name just a few that I would accept their design without even blinking.

Shared this with a friend that is a licensed architect. He designs and stamps his drawings. A designer/draftsman can do a lot of what my friend can do, but doesn't have all the education, worked under a licensed architect, passed the exam, and kept up his CEU's. They don't seem to have as much discussion between the titles like we are experiencing with this thread.

Tom A

Comments

  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    10 years experience counts as college sometimes......

    Wallies,

    Many of you have heard me complain about the lack of respect us trades people get from college eductated folks. I have always felt that an education was very important. The purpose of an education is to make yourself more capable and more productive in society. Thus a degree is just a piece of paper, nothing more. Its the education that counts. Some smart people function very well in a structured school enviroment. Some smart people function better in other ways. It is a good variety of education that is good for America. That is what made this country so strong to begin with. I have always felt that the apprenticeship method, along with strong networking, and the reading of good books in your spare time will provide a very valuable education. I have taken college class's here and there over the years. I have attended the University of Connecticut, Fairfield University, Norwalk Tech and Norwalk Community schools. I have learned a lot from these four universities. I also have taken many class's and seminars over the years, many of them are worth college credits. I have learned a lot from the wall, and a great many good books that I have read. I have learned a lot from working with my hands and networking with other trades people. I have made myself very capable. Sure if you added up all of my college credits it might add up to a four year degree, I might be able to get a diploma by taking a few english or history class's to go with my technical class's. But then I think why should I waist my time? Why should I give in to peer pressure? I am making myself very capable the way I am learning now. What is more valuable to the world? A degree that is a piece of paper? or a proper designed Radiant Heating Project. If I continue to go the route I am currently on, I feel I have the chance to develop my energy efficiency formula into something that can save the world billions of dollars some day. Sure I may go back to one of the universities to take some engineering related courses, if I feel I need them. But what is the big deal about a piece of paper?

    For years I have carried this big chip on my shoulder. Once when I called someone from the state of Connecticut I asked them if I could call myself an engineer now that I am designing radiant heating systems. They said no, that I would be breaking the law, if I made false claims. For a few years I have prided myself in my hydronic system designs. I felt I was an engineer. That just made me very mad. Who are these idiots and what right do they have in labeling me? Everytime I received a engineered blueprint on a hydronic system I smiled and went to work. I said to myself if I can't call myself an engineer then these college boys shouldn't be calling themselves engineers either. I proceeded to get a few engineers fired from projects by using my knowledge to find holes in there designs and explaining to the end user how and why things should be designed different. I then said to the end user " If this engineer is any good then why did he do such a poor design here. I am just a lowly contractor and I can do a better job then him." Soon the engineer would get fired and I would just smile. If they didn't fire the engineer right away, I just looked deeper and found more stuff until he was gone. I made it known that it was either him or me.

    I feel the need to remove the chip from my shoulder. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) sent me this nice certificate. They made me a full member. They counted my 10 years construction experience towards FULL membership. When I was down at ASHRAE they made me feel like I was one of them, an engineer. I received this notice on a Commisioning class. Requirements are a four year technical college degree and three years field experience, non technical degree and five years field experience or just 10 years field experience. It seems like my engineering peers are accepting me in some circles. Also I read a book by Stephen Covey who preeched win win strategey. Win for yourself and win for everyone involved. I am now starting to follow that srategy. I am begining to feel the need to work with my local engineers instead of getting them fired. So how do I go about doing this? I mean I want to keep selling my designs to clients. How do I go about doing this when an engineer designed a subpar job without getting him fired? I can't and will never install a subpar job, that would be worse. I have never viewed a properly designed radiant drawing done by my local engineers yet. I think the East Coast is behind or something. Is it this bad in other places? I am thinking of submitting shop drawings to these engineers for there approval and maybe my own upgraded specs? Are these guys going to go for that? How do I sell my design services and still get the job when an engineer did the drawings without getting him fired?

    I should add that We follow the rules. I don't really sell design services by themselves. I don't think I can legally do that in Connecticut. I do a design with every project we at JR's P & H LLC install. Part of that design are electrical and mechanical shop drawings. We collect a deposit towards the entire project before the design work and shop drawings are to be completed. We have never done design work for installation work to be done by others.

    John Ruhnke
    JR's P & H



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  • Matt Clina
    Matt Clina Member Posts: 90
    Experience vs. College

    Great post John. This is a topic that I have had quite a bit of experience with, and I couldn't agree with you more. I come from a long line of skilled tradesmen, but for some reason I ended up going to college to become an engineer. I will be the first person to tell you that when I graduated from college with a BSME and started working, I knew nothing. Fortunately, I was smart enough to realize that I knew nothing, and that the maintenance and construction guys I worked with knew a hell of a lot more than I did. The fact that they all reminded me of my uncles also helped me relate to them better than most of the engineers that I worked with.

    Later on in life, I have had the chance to work with a lot of college graduate engineers, as well as several guys who got promoted into an engineer role out of the maintenance or construction trades. Some of them by going to school at night and earning degrees, and others just by work experience. My favorite guys to work with have always been the trades guys who worked their way "up" into a cubicle and became engineers. (I put "up" in quotes, because I don't believe that engineers are at all above the trades guys who choose to stay in the trades for their whole lives)

    I know that there are state laws which regulate the use of the title "Engineer", for the most part reserving it for those who have passed the PE exam. This is just another piece of paper, but I think it does have some value in protecting public safety, much like any other licensed trade. I think that most states do allow for work experience in lieu of a college degree in order to qualify to take the PE exam, but the number of years is ridiculous. I seem to remember it being something like 20 years of work experience before they would waive a 4 year degree.

    I really don't have much of a point here, other than to agree with your point that real world work experience is way more valuable than a college degree, and that "Engineers" who carry an attitude that their ideas are better than the ideas of a guy who has his hands on this equipment every day should not be surprised when their designs do not work.
  • Empire_2
    Empire_2 Member Posts: 2,343
    WOW!!!

    You have the right idea, but I think you still have the chip on your shoulder,(with good reason)" I,...As a 20 year tech have great skills and am always looking to listen to someone like you for advice or training,Because I do not know everything, but the powers that be say the oposite. The time invested to get that piece of paper is just that,..(Time and follow the good old boy way's). Yea it's for code, safety and the like, but when you stir up the pot they say,."Where is your DEGREE as an Engineer". I dont know if this helps but If I talked to you or an Engineer on a project, I think you would explain the question that I am asking,.and the Engineer would say, let me get back to you on that, then hand me a book of codes, proceedures and say, "You figure it out".
  • Paul Rohrs_4
    Paul Rohrs_4 Member Posts: 466
    my marriage liscence is just a piece of paper also....

    > You have the right idea, but I think you still

    > have the chip on your shoulder,(with good

    > reason)" I,...As a 20 year tech have great skills

    > and am always looking to listen to someone like

    > you for advice or training,Because I do not know

    > everything, but the powers that be say the

    > oposite. The time invested to get that piece of

    > paper is just that,..(Time and follow the good

    > old boy way's). Yea it's for code, safety and

    > the like, but when you stir up the pot they

    > say,."Where is your DEGREE as an Engineer". I

    > dont know if this helps but If I talked to you or

    > an Engineer on a project, I think you would

    > explain the question that I am asking,.and the

    > Engineer would say, let me get back to you on

    > that, then hand me a book of codes, proceedures

    > and say, "You figure it out".



    Regards,

    PR

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  • Paul Rohrs_4
    Paul Rohrs_4 Member Posts: 466
    My marriage liscence is also just a piece of paper......

    but it holds tremendous value to me.

    I completed 3 years of college to be a teacher, but opportunity knocked and now even without a degree, I love what I do. The degree would have been nice, it is something that no-one can take away from you when you have it. It is also an accomplishment, there is hard work involved in getting a degree no matter if you are the deans son or daughter. I have friends with 4-yr degrees in agriculture (I am in Nebraska) that work in banks. Did that knowlege of AG help them do their jobs better? Hard to say, so that paper is not the end all, be all of society, but higher education has never been a detriment to society as far as I am concerned.

    I understand the feelings of society (possibly) thumbing their collective noses at blue-collar society, but society is also advancing because of what we do as well.

    If you love what you do and are good at it, who cares what the others think?

    Just my 2 cents.

    Regards,

    PR

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  • PJO_6
    PJO_6 Member Posts: 17
    John...

    What a great message. May I add acouple of items.

    First, you ARE a P.E. - it stands for Practical Experience...and it is usually more valuable than the other one.

    Second, it's nice to see that you are admitting the "chip" issue and are dealing with it. I have always had the feeling that you were somehow angry at the "typical" engineer for one reason or another.

    Who am I? A 15 year blue collar guy that went to school part-time for 11 years to earn a B.S. (go ahead -you can think it!) in Civil/Environmental Engineering from an ABET-accredited school. I am by definition an engineer - just not a P.E. and that's fine with me. I am similar to you in that I have a pretty short attention span in many cases, and I drift away when I am stuck on a project too long. I also am not good at taking tests (like the P.E. exam).

    I make a good buck because I have BOTH experience and a degree that was hard work on my resume. Sure I might do better, but I'm happy...isn't that the most important thing anyway?

    Thanks again. Take Care, PJO
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    I WANT TO CALL MYSELF AN ENGINEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Back in 1983, when I gratuated high school I had to make a career choice. In high school I worked nights as a hobby on cars. I enjoyed it a lot. In school I took college prep class's I received mostly B's with some C's and A's but mantained a B average. I received a 1160 on my SAT's and had huge pressure from my parents and school guidence counsler to go to college. Engineering school was the option of choice because I scored high on some mechanical apptitude tests. I had a slight case of Attention defisit disorder back then but didn't know it. ADD caused me to dislike siting in a class room for days and days. I looked at the clock and all I wanted was to get out. I noticed I could work on a car till 2 am in the morning and never look at the clock. I didn't like organized sports like football or baseball. I liked individual unstructured sports like skateboarding, skiing, trampolining and later autoracing. I liked to be in control of my own time and destiny.

    The point is that God gave me certain abilities and strengths and certain weakness's. Working with my hands seemed to be the choice best for me. I was born to do this. I made a decision best for me. Not only was it best for me it was best for the rest of the world too. So I became a Contractor.

    Now here I am. I have learned many things over the years. I am learning every day. I am very capable. I can design a radiant heating system better then the local PE's in my area. I have proven this time and time again. I get paid well for my knowledge. I enjoy my life. Most important is that I am very happy being me. I don't want to change. I am smarter then college educated people in many ways. College educated people are smarter then me in many ways. I am college educated too don't forget. Together our knowledge can compliment each other and make the world a much better place.

    So why is it illegal to call myself an engineer? I have patents, I have modified and made many mechanical and electrical things better. I guess the big question is was that idiot at the state of CT right. The person who said it was illegal to call myself an engineer.

    I WANT TOO CALL MYSELF AN ENGINEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I don't want to call myself a PE that requires a special test. I don't want to deceive people into thinking I'm something that I'm not.

    One of the definitions of an engineer is someone who can design and build a better engine. It is written right here in the webster dictionary. I have done that. I rebuilt a few car engines in my time. I ran my engines on the race track in life or death situations. A pump is considered a engine by the webster dictionary. I have two patents on three prototypes of pumps that I have designed and built. According to the webster dictionary, I fit the profile of an engineer in more ways then one.

    Here is my case for calling a plumbing and heating contractor an engineer. I feel most contractors are at a stage to be called an engineer. If you can install or design a plumbing or heating system on your own then you should be considered an engineer.

    A definition of engineering;

    The application of science and mathimatics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to human beings.

    All P & H contractors use science and mathimatics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to human beings. All P & H contractors do engineering.

    A definition of an engineer;

    A person who is trained in or follows as a profession a branch of engineering.

    P & H Contractors are doing engineering every day.

    P & H Contractors are engineers!!!!

    Please if you disagree with me pull out your dictionary and show me where I am wrong.

    I WANT TO CALL MYSELF AN ENGINEER!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can I legally do so?

    John Ruhnke




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  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Totaly different............

    A marraige license is a promise to be faitfull to your spouse. It is a commitment. It is a start.

    A degree is a accomplishment. The school makes the terms or conditions of the degree. A person works hard for many years to accomplish the task so that he may earn that degree. The value in the degree is the education that you receive. In today's society the degree is begining to mean more then the education itself. It means you worked hard and finished a difficult task. They won't let you teach in public school without a degree. To be honest the education earned while acheiving the degree is very valuable to the public school system. If I wanted to be a public school teacher then I would get a degree.

    Being a teacher and having a teachers degree are two seperate items. If someone gains valuable knowledge in a area and decides he wants to pass that information to others then he is a teacher. Dan Holohan is one of the best teachers I know yet he doesn't have a teachers degree. Could a teachers degree make him a better teacher? Hmmm it all depends on what Dan has to give up. Remember he will spend four years working at the task. Maybe he will have to shut down the wall for a while. Maybe he will have to stop some of his seminars. Maybe he will have to post pone working on that book. But wait Dan already has a college degree. Great but it is not a teachers degree that is different. Dan only realy would need a teachers degree to teach in a regular school. Does Dan want to do that? Will the world be a better place if Dan does that? I don't think so. I think he is making the world a much better place if he continues to teach in the way that he always has. We need the wall, the seminars and all of Dan's great books. A good compromise is for Dan to take a few courses at a teachers college in his spare time to compliment the knowledge that he already has.

    Thanks Dan,

    I have learned a lot from you and the wall. Keep on doing what you do best. That is what I say. Dan is a great teacher.

    John Ruhnke

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  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    Congratulations JR

    You earned it!!!!! Today, College is overated anyway. I'll take a guy like you in my company over some Harvard-Dweeb anyday. Way to go, Man. Mad Dog

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  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    I have viewed some of your work...........

    Mad Dog,

    I have viewed pictures of some of your work, specialy steam. By the dictionaries definition I consider you a great engineer!!

    JR

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  • Matt Clina
    Matt Clina Member Posts: 90
    Can you call yourself an engineer?

    I don't know if all those capital letters and exclamation points were aimed at me or not, but I sensed some animosity. Just for the hell of it, I took a look at the Professional Licensing requirements for CT, even though I have never lived there. They can be found at:

    http://www.dcp.state.ct.us/licensing/PDFFILES/PENLSregs298.pdf

    They pretty much look like every other state. I know that you said you aren't interested in being a "Professional Engineer", but that is pretty much what any state requires for you to call yourself an engineer if you are providing engineering services to the public. Most companies will hire "engineers" and they have employees who do "engineering", but unless you are a PE, you generally cannot put the title of "Engineer" on your business card.

    I can appreciate that this makes you frustrated because you are clearly more qualified to call yourself an "Engineer" than most "Engineers". Unfortunately, unless the state were to adopt a policy where they would individually interview/evaluate anybody who wanted to be an "Engineer", this is kind of what we are stuck with. As with most states, they make provisions to allow non-degreed "engineers" to qualify to take the PE exam based on (too?) many years of experience.

    Not that my opinion means squat, but it looks to me like it is illegal, in your state, to call yourself an "Engineer" for the purposes of selling design services to the public. You may disagree with it, and I may also be wrong, but I think that that's the way it is. I don't think that the simple act of calling yourself an Engineer is illegal (it's not exactly like impersonating a police officer), but it is illegal to practice "Engineering" by selling "Engineering" services to the public without a license. I guess that the "idiot" you spoke to at the state was probably right.

    I am just offering an opinion on a matter that makes absolutely no difference to me. You can go ahead and lump me in wih the idiot at in your state government if you disagree.
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Matt, can you legally call yourself an engineer?

    Matt,

    I am not aiming anything at anyone other then the State of CT. You aren't a PE but you graduated from engineering school with a BSME. Don't you do engineering work at your job? Aren't you an engineer? What do people call you when they ask for you. Don't they say ask that engineer over there maybe he knows? At your job what is the protocal, I am curious and I don't work at a big company so I don't know what they call you. How do you sign off your drawings of projects and such? Do you add a P.E.'s name to your drawing or do you write your name and add BSME to it. I incert a certified designer logo on my drawings. I also add the lines that this drawing is to be installed by J.R. 's P & H only. That is what makes it a shop drawing. I never tell my clients that I am an engineer.

    All of this is very confusing to me. In the old days many people were called engineers. Janitors are still called maintanence engineers aren't they? What about the guy who drives a train? They can call themselves an engineer but you can't?

    I have 15 years as a contractor added to another 7 years as a apprentice and mechanic in the P & H trade, for a total of 22 years. What does it take to sit for that test? How many years of field experience? I am good at tests by the way. If I took it once I would fail but at least I would know whats on it and what I needed to know to pass it. I could buy the right books and study. I think, I might stand a chance of passing it, eventually.

    JR

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  • Matt Clina
    Matt Clina Member Posts: 90
    Actually

    I have two PE licenses (NM and VA) which I have had for over 10 years and really do not use anymore in my line of work, but I keep them active because I worked hard to get them.

    I cannot answer all of your questions about who is right in calling themselves engineers. I have worked in places where they had secretaries that they called "cost engineers". In reality, I think the only people who care about this are the state licensing bureaus. The funny thing is that I think they can only punish engineers by taking away their licenses. I don't know what they do to people who are unlicensed. I think that the only time an unlicensed engineer really gets into trouble is when one of their systems blows up and kills somebody.

    After my last post, I did read the Connecticut regulations a little closer. I actually think that you would qualify to take the PE exam, as they accept 10 years of work experience in place of a 4 year degree. It also looks like they accept partial college work even if it didn't result in a degree. Based on this, it looks like all you have to do is pay $150 and take an 8 hour test and you can call yourself a Professional Engineer. If it is that important to you, maybe you should look into it.
  • jeff_50
    jeff_50 Member Posts: 13


    Gentlemen,

    I'm not in the heating profession, only a home owner
    with a steam system that I know only a little about.
    But I am a very loyal reader of this site and have nothing
    but the highest respect for your profession and your work. I am a professional musician and make much of my living as a free-lance player. I am also a college professor with a doctorate, and I can truly say that I'd rather hang out with you guys than many of the highly educated associates with whom I work. In fact my favorite people at the school where I teach are the two guys that maintain the building's steam heating system. I wish I had the experiece and knowledge that you have worked so hard to gather and maintain.

    My hat is off to you.

    Jeff C.
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Designing radiant heating systems, inventing....

    Matt,

    All I want to do is keep on doing the same thing. I want to design radiant heating systems that I install. I want to design products or invent.

    As far as I know you don't need a P. E. license to design a part for a device do you? What about a Mechanical Engineer that designs parts for widgets. Isn't he an engineer? Doesn't he have a BSME and not a P.E. What do you call that guy?

    If a guy is doing engineering work isn't he by definition a engineer? Not a P.E. but just a plain and simple engineer?

    8 hours ouch!! hmmmm that would most likely take a very long time to learn enough or study enough to pass that test.

    JR

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  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
    Lets get real

    Without Electricians, Plumbers and Heaters. Even the smartest engineer you know would have a cold dark walk to the outhouse. J.Lockard
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    I'll look into the P.E. test................

    Matt,

    In my spare time I will look into things. If I qualify, if I feel I am capable of passing it, I will judge how much of an effort it will cost me. Then if things look possible I will block off enough time in a future schedule and go for it. It might take a year or two but I think it could be worth it.

    JR

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  • Jay_17
    Jay_17 Member Posts: 72
    thoughts from the other side

    Hey guys,
    This is an interesting discussion, and I felt like putting in my $.02.
    I have a BSME, so I have some perspective from the other side. I work mostly in designing 'widgets' and machines to make widgets, but by nature I like to find out how everything works (I think that is the true mark of an engineer). In my trade PE's are virtually unknown (I am degreed, but not licensed), that is pretty much a Civil engineer thing, I am not entirely sure why but there you have it! During my 4 (or actually 5) years at school I found out that many of the engineering students are smart capable, but don't really have a feel for what they are working on. And others like me are not so great at math etc, but have an intuitive feel for how things work, and how to make them work better.
    Now that I have worked in industry for 10 years (yikes!) I see the same kind of separation. It is not uncommon to hear grumbling from the machinists that engineers don't understand how things are actually made. We call it throwing the plans over the wall, meaning that we make the plans and then never talk to the guys who have to build it.
    I like (prefer?) to work with my hands, so I do my best to break this stereotype.
    Anyway, I am rambling. If you want to work with these engineers, you'll have to be a little political. Remember that they have ego's just like you, and if you set up a fight they will never want to change anything! The good ones will listen, but some, or many may be difficult.
    Jay
  • Matt Clina
    Matt Clina Member Posts: 90
    You're right

    John,

    You are right in that there are a lot of engineers who are not PE's. I'd bet that 95% of engineers are not licensed, and they don't need to be. I don't need to be. Engineers who design machines or computer networks or software or a zillion other things that do not involve construction projects have no need to be registered as PE's.

    The requirements for state licensing of engineers really focus on people who offer building design services to the public. Most engineers do not work in this realm.

    Back when I worked in A&E type firms, which did consulting engineering for construction projects, you could not represent yourself to the public as an engineer without a PE. Your business card would say something like "Mechanical Department". They called you an engineer, or an engineer in training. You usually took the EIT exam right after college, and the PE exam after working for four years. Right there, you can see that a PE represents nothing more than a degree, 4 years of work, and the ability to take two tests. It usually represented a promotion out of a cubicle into an office, which for some people is the ultimate professional achievement. I have always been happy with a cubicle that I rarely have time to sit in.

    You know, what really matters, more than what the State says, is what your local enforcement folks say. If they do not require PE stamped designs for the size and types of systems that you build, then you do not need to be a PE.
  • Brent_2
    Brent_2 Member Posts: 81
    engineer

    I think most of the technical problems of using the title comes from selling a design service. A company can call any of its employees an engineer (maintenance engineer, etc) because they are not selling their design services to anybody outside the company. You can design a heating system by yourself as long as you install it. You can not design a heating system and then just sell the paper to the owner. That requires a PE license because you are selling your design services.
    I would guess that you would not be able to put the title engineer on your business card because you deal with the public. Some would say you were misrepresenting yourself. This isn't a knock on your abilities.

    brent
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Who striped us of our engineering title anyway.............

    Gee,

    If I designed a computer network and did my own drawings I could call myself an engineer. But because I design radiant heating systems for buildings I have to label myself a designer. Even though by every dictionary definition I am really an engineer.

    The whole thing is very confusing. Also I think it is bad for our industry but it was started a long time ago. A plumbing and heating contractor who really is a engineer can't call himself an engineer. Who started that one. Some desk jockey must have felt threatened by a P & H contractors knowledge a long time ago and he felt the need to strip the title of engineer from him. I think as a trade we should develop a engineering certification for P and H contractors.

    People need to see us as engineers because we are engineers.

    JR



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  • ALH_3
    ALH_3 Member Posts: 151
    Plumbing Engineer

    Being called an engineer really says more about your training than your real-world abilities. It says you jumped through all the hoops successfully. It's really just a starting point rather than the final achievement. If it didn't require a minimum of 4 years of schooling and 4 years supervised experience to get the degree and the license, would the title of Professional Engineer mean anything? I still need to jump through the PE hoop, and I will. I would appreciate if the title still means something when I do it.

    -Andrew
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    We are Plumbing and Heating Engineers.............

    Andrew,

    A Professional Engineer is not a very good name for a P.E. I would say it is the P.E. that is mislabeled. I feel you guys should be called a C.P.E. or a Certified Public Engineer. My dad is an accountant. He passed a very tough test and became a CPA, A Certified Public Accountant. You see every guy that is an engineer and a profesional is a profesional engineer. A bookkeeper can call himself an accountant but not a C.P.A. Is it right for a janitor to call himself a engineer? Yes I beleive so and many do. So why is it only Plumbing and Heating Contractors that have been stripped of the title and noone else?

    I would like to look in the history books on this one. Some pencil jockey way back when, 75 years ago didn't like to see a P & H contractor doing his own drawings. He felt that people didn't see enough of a difference between himself and the Contractor. So he banned the use of the word engineer to describe a contractor. Very slick. I wounder if this is unconstitutional.

    The problem is when we go into someones house they don't see us as engineers and that is flat out wrong.

    JR

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  • Boiler Guy
    Boiler Guy Member Posts: 585
    Very thought provoking

    A title is just a title. Each of us "know what we know" because of conscious choices made.
    What about these thoughts? A VERY LARGE percentage of the engineering community have a poor reputation. (deserved or not) Do we who really pride ourselves with or WORKING "engineered designs" want to be in that "select" group?
    What about liability issues? As contractors, designing and installing our own systems, we take responsibility for the end result. Quite frequently we get beat up financially for problems with the installation. (right or wrong) When is the last time someone was successfully able to financially impact an ENGINEER for a system design that did not meet expectations?
    I see more and more clients wanting to stay away from "engineers" due to costs and over design issues. In our markets clients express more faith in the guy with dirty fingernails who can explain their needs in laymans terms JME
  • Tony_8
    Tony_8 Member Posts: 608
    So much resentment, JR

    I understand where you are coming from, and why. I have felt that way many times. We seem to be about the same age and have very similar experiences with school, college, engineers, etc.

    Except... I have learned to be happy with who I am and what I am (for the most part). I don't need any letters behind my name, even though I want them. I have built my reputation over the last 22+ years in this trade to the point that more people want me than can have me. I think you must be at that level, also. I have found that working with an engineer is better than trying to get them fired. It strokes my ego better to have an engineer refer me over my competitors or to call me for advice and info. If I get him fired he will recommend against me. Forever.
    An intelligent conversation without an adversarial nature will earn you the respect and recognition you desire and crave. With a positive attitude good things happen, negativism breeds more of the same.

    Last Summer I was on a nice radiant job on a new build. I designed the whole thing. Joistrak, slab, bbd, AC, plumbing. The first day the carpenter and I were on the job together he started asking questions. Why plates ? Why 5 loops of 250 ft instead of 3 of 325 ? On and on. He would've done it another way. He'd done it before on a supply house drawing and how is this different ? Do I think I'm smarter than his buddy at the supply house ? What's the payback of my way that costs more to install ? Is it necessary ? He tried to get me fired. I've never been fired before. I could've started pointing out his shortcomings as a carpenter, but I didn't. I answered his questions and the customer's new questions calmly and as simply as I could. When I couldn't explain simply enough, I went over his head a little and left him standing there like a fool proving he didn't know near as much as he thought he did. I remained a gentleman, and in the end he did not. I retained the customer, and more importantly, the future referrals from the customer. The carpenter will NEVER get a referral from me for so much as a dog house. His quest to prove his worth in my trade by trying to get me fired has the potential to affect him for the rest of our careers.

    Why p&m about what you don't have ? If you stepped back and looked, you might see you've had it all along :)

    Another unrequited "engineer",

    Tony
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    The P.E. designs were awefuly bad..........

    Tony,

    I'm fighting for whats right.

    I was asked to bid on a project. A P.E. engineer did a mechanical drawing and specs for the radiant. It was very bad. I was horrified at what was proposed. The client told me they wanted a bid on the job just the way it was, no changes. I was told that the job had to go in EXACTLY AS DRAWN. It wasn't going to work. The engineer told the clients that they needed suplimental forced hot air. Everything was wrong. I just couldn't let anyone install a mess like that. I could do a way better job then him. He wasn't even in the same ballpark as far as radiant knowledge goes. The problem is that this is the second P.E. in a row that recommended a poor design for the radiant. I had the same problem on my last project.

    Here is a copy of the letter I wrote to the homeowners.

    If you would like, I could submit my own specs and shop-drawings for my bid on this project. I am certified as a designer by the RPA and Tekmar Controls. I also have a lot of other training and experience with hydronic heating systems. The biggest advantage is that I will design a system around using the controls, and piping arrangements I am most familiar with. This limits the amount of possible product defects or other problems associated with working with unfamiliar control and piping strategies. Because I am not an Engineer, JR’s P & H LLC would be the only ones allowed to do the installation of the project according to my specs and drawings. I do not recommend that the project be installed according to the existing drawing and specs. Some of the specs are physically impossible to do while other specs won’t allow for the controls to work properly. Here are the ten biggest problems.


    1) The specs call for using Quicktrac Premanufactured Panel Board. The tube spacing on the specs is 12” and the tube 5/8ths. QuickTrac has a fixed tube spacing of 7” and tube size of 5/16th.
    2) The Tekmar Control 354 listed in the specs has been discontinued for 6 years.
    3) The Tekmar Control 262 listed in the specs is a two boiler or two stage control. The specs call for one boiler with one stage.
    4) On the drawing listed in the specs the Four Way valves won’t work as drawn. The drawing needs a primary loop with a primary circulator.
    5) The pumps listed for the radiant zone are of the high flow and low head type. To work with the smaller tube in the Quicktrac you will need a pump that is lower in flow and higher in head.
    6) The number of loops and manifolds needed for the job will be different then as shown on the drawing. A proper heatloss and design calculation is needed to determine the proper number of loops and manifolds for QuickTrac.
    7) In order to use glycol in the unit heater you will need a heat exchanger to isolate the glycol from the rest of the system.
    8) The pool heat exchanger and piping is missing from the drawing.
    9) The pool control is missing from the specs.
    10) The three way valves on the drawing will not work unless you install a pump after them. Even if you install the pump to make the three way valves work it makes absolutely no sense as to why they are there in the first place.


    John Ruhnke
    JR’s Plumbing & Heating LLC


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  • ALH_3
    ALH_3 Member Posts: 151
    Titles

    Perhaps the title of Professional Engineer does not describe it very well, but it's the title we have. I have worked very hard to get through school and pass the fundamentals of engineering exam in order to get the chance to obtain enough supervised experience required to take the PE exam. It has taken me quite a while as I worked to pay my way. As I have been working toward this degree I have been working in the hydronic heating field. Would it have been the same if I had simply worked in the field? I would probably have a very similar level of knowledge about hydronic heating.

    I am not saying you or others who have not obtained an engineering degree may not be as qualified, or more qualified, to design piping and heating systems than many who have the degree. I am saying that there are proper channels one must go through to call themselves a PE.

    There are rules that allow someone with 10 years experience to take the PE exam. I am not familiar with all the restrictions on that, but if someone can pass the PE exam and meet the requirements, I have no problem with that.

    If I could have worked in the field and obtained the same knowledge and title, why did I go to school?

    There is a lot of disdain for engineers among trades people. Would it be ok if I decided to call myself a Master Plumber? Engineers are not perfect, no one is. It's easy to pick apart a design as it's being built. There certainly should be a more direct connection between design engineers and the installation process. It would only improve the end product.

    I have a ton of respect for people in the trades who pride themselves on doing a job well. Many are much more capable than the person telling them what should be done. All I ask is that the same respect be paid to those who pride themselves on performing quality engineering work.

    -Andrew
  • Boiler Guy
    Boiler Guy Member Posts: 585
    JOHN

    Did you get your opportunity to bid? Or
    Are you waiting for your opportunity to make it work correctly? (or prove that is engineered as impossible)

    Just Curious? Been there Dun that!!
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Title Engineer..............

    I am not saying to call us a P.E. but if you are going to call everyone else an engineer, secretaries, train operators, janiters and every other non P.E. engineer an engineer except for the ones that are working in the plumbing & heating field then that is flat out wrong. What if the shoe was on the other foot? What if I came to you and told you that you can't call yourself an engineer that Plumbing & Heating Contractors had the right to do so and everyone else, just not you? You would be upset too. Suppose 95% of polticians held a trades related license and thought that if you didn't work everyday installing the equipment that you were not an engineer that you were to be called a CAD layout technician instead?

    JR

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  • Michal
    Michal Member Posts: 213
    This will Bite me in the **** but here goes


    Well Mad Dog and I and others here recently had a discussion on myself doing plumbing and heating work and pricing them but not being a licensed plumber but working under one, I myself a engineer with a degree, not a PE. And I got criticized as being a "HACK" anyway stage is set this is background info. Here is the deal.

    I learned heating and plumbing from My father and others like you who have taught me over the years. I went to a trade and technical high school, got a diploma in hvac, went to engineering school got a degree and even got a masters degree in business leadership. but like stated, its a piece of paper. I work with engineers each and every day, ask them to change a circulator, they look at you crosse eyed, ask them to write it up and they can. As stated earlier, Its a title, garbage men are called costodial engineer. I recently took a exam in plumbing engineering called "CIPE" certified in plumbing engineering" well name was changed last year due to the word "engineering" it does not allow you to legally sign off on drawings, now its called "CPD" certified plumbing designer" Anyway I am fighting results since out of 340 only 28 percent passed. (if anyone has taken this test please get in touch with me its through ASPE. Anyway, back on the topic, legally you cannot offer engineering services without a PE license and legal licenses. Another post stated that many engineers are not licensed, and you are correct, as stated you need to work with a engineering firm to get experience to take the second half of the PE. first half is Associates degree minimum (EIT). but there are many who are not engineers and design stuff that the bosses sign off on. How many of you out there have all your techs licensed as plumbers and service men, not many I bet. I am not saying that to start a fight, but we all got into this field be it with education, experience from father to son or so on, we all started without licenses and have worked under them till we got ours. I agree its a piece of paper and sometimes over rated, but the best resource is to do the job the right way and fairly and keep building education. haveing diplomas doesnt mean you can do a job, remember book smarts dont always help you in the field when you just busted a water pipe and the valve hands is broken. we have all been there. each trade and association has licenses, papers and certifications, they are a measure of achievement not potential and knowledge. take your education, knowledge and build on it, leave the papers on the wall in a frame and let your work and good workmanship speak for you
  • Matt Clina
    Matt Clina Member Posts: 90
    Design-Build

    Good points Boiler Guy. This is exactly why more and more work is being bid design-build. You are right, it is almost unheard of that an engineer is financially impacted by a poor design. At most, he ends up doing a redesign for free, but he rarely shares in the construction costs of a design error.

    Having somebody who can design, install, and guarantee the performance of a project is the way to go. In most cases I have found that this is also a lot cheaper than paying an engineer and then bidding the installation. You see, the engineers are making a living on engineering fees, while the design-builders are making most of their money on the install. A lot of their design time is time they would have spent anyway, doing shop drawings and figuring out what the engineer meant. The end result is a better system, installed right the first time, with much lower design fees.

  • Tony_8
    Tony_8 Member Posts: 608
    I understand

    I too, have been there. More than once. My policy and practice is to list the problems with the specs as I see them and either submit a quote to MY specs, or submit no quote at all with an explanation of why.

    If they are looking for low bid, they can keep on looking. If they really want me, they will contact me.

    Two years ago, I picked up specs for a town hall heating system. No heat loss, no design. 10 companies bidding 10 ways. The only "spec" was a sheet detailing the control strategy for staging 2 CI boilers of a particular brand and size. Remember no heat loss :) Anyway, this sheet rang a bell in my head. I went to my old 4 drawer file and searched. Lo and behold, there it was, the same sheet word for word. It was a spec I had written for a 5 unit apt house in the early 90's. One of the people involved with the apt job was now on the town board 3 towns away and had dug up this spec. I guess he was impressed with the way it read :) Didn't apply, but it looked good. As far as I know, no one used that spec for their bid. I also think that all the prices came in 50% higher than anticipated. I wonder why ?

  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    Yes.................

    I bid on the job based on my own specs. The bid includes shop drawings but I won't do the drawings until after I am awarded the whole job. I am still waiting for a reply.

    JR

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