Canterbury Earthquakes Highlight Need for Renewed Confidence in the Engineering Industry
One of the effects of the Canterbury rebuild is that it has really put the spotlight on the professional engineering community.
Engineers are not typically used to being in the spotlight. The public now use words such as “geotechnical” and “liquefaction” in their general vernacular (which certainly wasn’t the case pre-2010).
Now, more than ever, it is important that the public has confidence that the engineers they engage have the necessary qualifications and experience to undertake the required tasks. The observed foundation damage, which occurred to some structures in Christchurch as a result of the earthquake sequence, has really highlighted the importance of engaging professional engineers who are suitably qualified and experienced in their specialised field of engineering.
Typically engineers, during their studies, will be exposed to a wide range of engineering fields, including (but not limited to) stormwater management, geotechnical engineering, traffic engineering, and structural engineering. However, professional engineers tend to specialise in one (maybe two) fields of engineering when they enter the workforce and “learn their trade”. Chartered Professional Engineers (CPEng) are engineers who have been assessed by IPENZ to be competent in a particular field of engineering. In order to obtain CPEng status, engineers need to have gained a sufficient amount of experience and should be able to demonstrate, among other things, that they can undertake “complex engineering” activities relevant to their specialised field of engineering.
When you engage an engineer for a particular project you need to be satisfied that they have the appropriate qualifications and experience in the specialised field of engineering that you require. You can check whether an engineer is currently on the CPEng register by logging onto the IPENZ website and checking the CPEng register. The register will also provide information as to the particular field of engineering the engineer has been assessed to competent in.
It should be noted that CPEng engineers are bound by their Code of Ethics, which requires that they do not operate outside their area of expertise, i.e. CPEng (Structural) engineers should not be providing specialised geotechnical engineering advice and vice-versa.
Fraser Thomas Ltd Geotechnical Engineering Director/Christchurch Office Branch Manager