Professional License

I have never given the professional license much thought. Once every few years it comes up though. It just came up for a second time this year as a builder in the Middle East needs a PE stamp on the plans. In general, the less the governing body knows about the boats, the more likely they are to demand a stamp. Stamped plans are the refuge of the inept.
I have thought about sitting down and taking the test cold. There is no aspect of it that I do not know inside and out, better than anyone I know.
My friend Eric Sponberg did and passed. The requirement that one however first take the college science and math test, stops me. I understand that if you are out of school for a while, months of study are required to pass that prerequisite test. I don’t have months to waste.
So, I have several thoughts on this.
First, on previous occasions where stamped plans were required, I heard about it after the customer contacted a famous Naval Architecture firm with licensed PEs. On every occasion, the PEs had no idea what to do so they retained me to verify my own design. Cool. On at least one vessel, the fee (not my fee) cost several times the cost of the original plans.
Next, most of us know what we are doing. Or enough of us know enough. (I do see some bad, bad laminates out there still.)
Could you imagine some bureaucrat telling Newick that he needs to prove he knows how to design a boat? Apologies to Pete, but the best people I know in this field are not PEs. David Jones, my structural engineer, is the best there is. Period. He’s not one. Nigel. Go down the list.
In my experience, most licensed naval architects in this field don’t know first ply failure from….whatever. That came in sharp focus when I was an expert witness in a court case. Opposing counsel asked if I had a professional license. After saying “no”, it occurred to me that the things that define a modern multihull design practice didn’t exist when I began this. A license test then didn’t even know about hull lines software or 3D CADD modeling. I was among the first to use them. The same is true for advanced composites and even epoxy. Naval architecture didn’t even know about them. What about the loads on multihulls? Naval architecture had no idea. It may now, but they learned it from us. In the late 80s, I got the USCG to adopt a rule to design to, with the help of then congressman Miller. We were there first.
It’s a damn irony to now have a bureaucrat use our work, including the rule I chose, to decide if we pass or not.

One thought on “Professional License”

  1. It is fairly invariably the case that the rules and regs follow the initial innovators. It is hard to have it both ways, you can’t easily be first on all the tech, and yet be the guy who takes all the certs that are set up in the wake of the tech. It is hard to be at the same time highly original and yet highly derivative. We just need a snappy comeback to squelch any questions.

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