back to article When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games

Electrical engineer Greg Mills sued the Arizona Board of Technical Registration for fining him thousands of dollars and threatening to close his twelve-year-old electronics business because he called himself an engineer. If that sounds familiar, it may be because a similar case, after several years, recently concluded in …

  1. Barry Rueger

    AKA Libertarians

    Wikipedia describes the "Institute for Justice" as follows:

    The Institute for Justice (IJ) is a non-profit libertarian public interest law firm in the United States.[3][4][5] It has litigated eight cases considered by the United States Supreme Court dealing with topics that included eminent domain, interstate commerce, public financing for elections, school vouchers, tax credits for private school tuition, civil asset forfeiture, and residency requirements for liquor license.

    It's a Koch financed outfit that seems to exist largely to protest regulations that you or I might consider sensible safety precautions, but which they feel unnecessarily constrain corporate entities like "engineers", food cart operators, hairdressers, and taxi owners.

    The point being that it's a pretty much entirely political outfit, and that some of the claims made in the story are questionable.

    Or, put another way, they seem to believe that their libertarian ideals trump the rules and laws that elected representatives put in place.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      This may come as a suprise to you, but hairdressers in most of the world don't have to be licensed.

      As for "elected" representatives protecting the public good....just follow the money trial.

      1. I3N
        Paris Hilton

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        Authority:

        Initially created in 1929 as the State Board of Barbers and Cosmeticians, the Board of Cosmetology was established as currently organized by Laws 1958, Chapter 101. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§32-501 through 32-576. Regulatory rules are found at Arizona Administrative Code Title 4, Chapter 10 (A.A.C. R4-10-101 through R4-10-405.)

        Two measures enacted in 2019 addressed cosmetology licensing requirements. Laws 2019, Chapter 96 exempts persons who shampoo, condition, dry or style hair from cosmetology licensing requirements and regulations, however the person must complete a class on sanitation, infection protection and law review offered by the Board. Laws 2019, Chapter 109 exempts participants in an apprenticeship program in cosmetology from licensing and regulation if the apprentice works with a mentor in a Board-licensed establishment. The measure establishes requirements to qualify as a mentor and outlines licensing qualifications for persons who complete an apprenticeship program in cosmetology.

        https://azlibrary.gov/sla/agency_histories/state-board-cosmetology

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          "Most of the world" means "including areas outside the USA". The regulation you are describing above is just one of many examples that USA is not particularly free country, compared to other countries where e.g. barbers do not require a licence.

          1. Pirate Dave
            Pirate

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            At one point, back in the early 1990's, licensed hairdressers in the state of Georgia were required to have more training and certification than police officers. It's a strange world...

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: AKA Libertarians

              At one point, back in the early 1990's, licensed hairdressers in the state of Georgia were required to have more training and certification than police officers

              Not surprised. Are any police officers capable of the intelligence levels needed to be a hairdresser?

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            Arizona is in the USA.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              Re: AKA Libertarians

              Arizona is in the USA

              ... much to the annoyance of some of it's population.

              Nice place to visit in the fall, winter, and spring, and some of the landscape is breathtaking.

              Living here can get a little crazy, though... :)

        2. I3N
          Coat

          Not an EE in the bunch ...

          40 thumbs down, humbled by the surplusage!!! ...

          AZ, like everything else, is a matter of perspective ['Ulysses S. Grant and Alvernon'] ...

          Prefer being called Scientist ... electrical engineers have such a short professional life-span ...

        3. Jim Oase

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Who certified the first certifier?

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            Who certified the first certifier?

            It's a logic problem that takes some people a very long time to solve. I expect a 10yo is smart enough to solve it in under 2 minutes.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        "hairdressers in most of the world don't have to be licensed"

        And for professions where sometimes licensing is actually a useful idea, which can include engineers, those people can call themselves 'licensed engineers', or 'certified', to differentiate themselves from anyone who managed to pass an engineering degree.

        This way you get the best of both worlds, licensing and certification where necessary, without making it pointlessly difficult for someone to use the word 'engineer' in their job title.

      3. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        This may come as a suprise to you, but hairdressers in most of the world don't have to be licensed.

        That's not necessarily a good thing though. Some of them are rather clueless when it comes to basics of hygiene or local consumer etc laws. Or paying their bills. Or....

        1. Cheshire Cat
          Stop

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          I think the important distinction is between being "qualified" (which many places do require for professions such as hairdressers, chefs, and so on) and being "licensed" (which in most places is reserved for professions such as doctors, teachers, drivers, etc)

          Requiring licensing for such a broad title as "engineer" is likely a holdover from some overzealous lawmaker in the US back when an "engineer" worked with heavy machinery and steam.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      Since you aren't mentioning the topics in the article, only attempting to attack the case based on the source of a lawyer, I can only assume your comment "regulations that you or I might consider sensible safety precautions, but which they feel unnecessarily constrain corporate entities like "engineers" is meant to apply to this case.

      In which case, you'll need to do a better job. These safety precautions... what are they? Having passed a test and paid for a license saying you're competent to engage in civil engineering? I'm fully in favor when the person you're making do that is a civil engineer. But there's a big difference between "civil engineer" and "electrical engineer". For that matter, my job title at the moment is "software engineer". Should I have to pass that test and pay for that license as well?

      And while we're talking, your attack of this case based on a group who litigates other cases is not a very good argument. I'm sure that, if I reviewed all their cases, I could easily find one I disagreed with strongly. That doesn't make them automatically wrong here. For the same reasons, someone who has always argued cases to my liking isn't guaranteed to keep doing so. When you deal with a legal group of the scale of this one, you are bound to have cases you agree with and ones you disagree with. Having not looked into their previous cases, let's presume that I agree with you and disagree with the majority of their cases. That still doesn't make them wrong here. If you wish to prove this case has no merit or is actively wrong, you'll need to start talking about the case.

      1. Colintd

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        Sorry but that's a feed for a classic joke;

        "What's the difference between an electrical engineer and a civil engineer?"

        "Electrical engineers build weapons systems, whilst civil engineers build targets!"

        1. Mine's a Large One

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Or this one:

          Three engineers were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints."

          Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections."

          The last said, "Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would put a toxic waste pipeline right next to a playground?"

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Bill Gray

              Re: AKA Libertarians

              A surgeon, a civil engineer, and a politician were arguing about who had the oldest profession. The surgeon said, "Eve was created from a rib removed from Adam, which surely makes surgery the oldest profession."

              The civil engineer said, "Yeah, but before that, the universe was created out of chaos and darkness. Sounds like a civil engineering job to me."

              The politician said, "But who created the chaos and darkness?"

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: AKA Libertarians

                One a bit closer to home for many of us.

                A physicist, a chemist and a software engineer were driving on an icy mountain road in Switzerland when their car lost control and skidded off the road. They all clambered out then went up to look at the crash site to figure out what happened.

                "Ah I see", said the physicist, "it's a matter of physics. We simply entered that corner too fast and the laws of physics took over"

                "No!" said the chemist, "the speed was fine, but the rubber on the tyres has become brittle during the cold! It's a matter of chemistry".

                "Well I don't know what caused it", said the software engineer, "but lets push it up the hill and see if it happens again".

                1. Psmo Silver badge

                  Re: AKA Libertarians

                  If three people are arguing up an icy mountain with night coming I'd say there was a management issue...

          2. macjules Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: AKA Libertarians ... Crossrail variant

            Three engineers are talking about their dogs. The electrical engineer says, "Watch what mine can do. Hey Tesla, do your thing!" The dog runs around, digs up rubbish and assembles a lamppost, pees on it and it lights up.

            "That's bloody amazing" says the civil engineer who then says to his dog, "Foster, build something". The dog fetches wood and assembles a modernistic kennel, fully compliant to NHBC standards.

            The mechanical engineer says, "I am amazed at both of your dogs but watch this. Crossrail: off you go!" The dog digs up as much metal as it can, creates a small railway and engine, realises that it does not work so screws the other 2 dogs and tries to get more money out of them.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: AKA Libertarians ... Crossrail variant

              Not bad, raised a welcome early morning smile even.

              But.... (no pun intended)...

              I think you got the civil and mechanical engineers crossed. IME[1] it's the civil 'engineers' who hold the functional equivalent of an arts degree in preschool fingerpainting.

              [1] Based very much on the stupidity that is going on in NZ

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          "What's the difference between an electrical engineer and a civil engineer?"

          "Electrical engineers build weapons systems, whilst civil engineers build targets!"

          I thought it was because electrical engineers swore a lot!!

      2. 9Rune5 Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        For that matter, my job title at the moment is "software engineer". Should I have to pass that test and pay for that license as well?

        You mean you haven't already?

        Here, let me provide you with my the software engineering trade commission's banking details: IBAN: YOURESCREWED99242 Only $999/year.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Once upon a time, I was on the academic staff in a University CompSci department.

          Most of the staff were of a generation where we were educated in other subjects, at a time when compsci itself was far from mainstream. Technically speaking we were not qualified in our own subject, and could not tick those important boxes our students (just a decade younger) automatically could when they graduated.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            "Technically speaking we were not qualified in our own subject, and could not tick those important boxes our students (just a decade younger) automatically could when they graduated."

            Absolutely! When a new qualification is created, who gets to assess the students? Initially, someone has to be declared (or declare themselves) "competent".

        2. erikscott

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          New Jersey tried to require licensure for software engineers, briefy, in the very late 80s or early 90s. AT&T said they'd move out of NJ if they did. The subject was quickly dropped.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            As was said above: Follow the Money.

        3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Here, let me provide you with the software engineering trade commission's banking details: IBAN: YOURESCREWED99242 Only $999/year.

          You are clearly no banking engineer. "YO" isn't a valid country code and "UR" isn't a valid pair of check digits. The remainder could be a valid BBAN, depending on the country.

          1. W T Riker

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            When I started as a Software Engineer (yes I have an Engineering Degree - Electronics and a Physics Degree), I applied for a Mortgage and the Mortgage Adviser put "Soft Ware Engineer". I assume that meant I engineered soft wearable clothing like woolly jumpers, socks and scarves.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        "software engineer". Should I have to pass that test and pay for that license as well?

        Well , you could just call yourself a Computer Programmer, and leave the engineering to the Engineers.

        .

        I suspect that remark will meet some resistance from the 'el Reg readers , but think about it .

        We all get outraged if a toilet attendant appropriates the term Engineer , but the way I see it "Software Engineering" has similarly stolen the term and got away with it because its "technical".

        I feel able to say this as an Engineer currently working as a Software Developer, or "Programmer" as i like to call it.

        1. tim 13

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          My previous job title was Systems Engineer. Basically IT support, software and fixing things with hammers

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            well i guess at least you may have used a screwdriver to take a machine apart!

            1. M man

              Re: AKA Libertarians

              thumbscrews and quick release!

              1. MiguelC Silver badge

                Re: AKA Libertarians

                OTOH, when the only tool you have is a hammer....

                1. EVP Bronze badge

                  Re: AKA Libertarians

                  Modern version of the venerable proverb:

                  ”In tech support, all tools start to look like a hammer.”

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Coat

                    Re: AKA Libertarians

                    ”In tech support, all tools start to look like a hammer.”

                    Actually I found most 'tools' quickly looked like nails; urgently needing a bloody good thumping on the head with blunt objects....

                    (So glad I'm away from those customers!)

          2. Imhotep Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            I've had job titles that included systems engineer and application engineer while residing in states where I had no engineering license. There have been movements to do away with the more ridiculous licensing requirements - one of the arguments made is that the requirements are often there to stifle competition rather than protect the public.

          3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            What? Systems Engineer and no mention of a cattle prod? Clearly not BOFH-certified

          4. Mike 137 Silver badge

            "Systems engineer"

            When I worked as a systems engineer I was required to turn vaguely expressed concepts into fully fledged functional and safe deliverables on multi-million research projects. The work included electrical, electronic and mechanical design, construction, and verification so it was quite challenging. Which is why in the UK we have Chartered Engineers, who have to pass a tough validation to be so nominated.

            The word "engineer" was debased long ago by confusion with "engine". An engineer is not someone who builds, services or runs an engine, it's someone who exhibits ingenuity (same original word root from latin). They may indeed design or build engines, but not just ordinary ones.

            1. Ian Michael Gumby
              Coat

              @Mike Re: "Systems engineer"

              Its worse. How many people who call themselves Software Engineers are not actually software engineers. Here in the states, to be a software engineer meant that you went thru an accredited 4 yr Engineering program at an accredited university.

              But many companies used it as a job title which debased the value and the meaning.

              Here in this case... he uses the term 'Engineering' in his company's name. Nothing wrong with that. However if he presents himself as an engineer, he could run afoul of the law.

              Requiring a PE is also necessary for the work he does. It really is a matter of safety.

              As a software engineer who's moved in to a management role, its very difficult to have conversations these days because you can tell a person to do X, but because they lack the training and basic concepts, they don't do X but something close. Or you sometimes have to spend an hour teaching some basic theory that they should have learned in school.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: "Systems engineer"

              "An engineer is not someone who builds, services or runs an engine, it's someone who exhibits ingenuity"

              Shirley that would be "enginuity"?

          5. Psmo Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            Most people dream of doing IT support with hammers.

            It would make LART so much more straightforward. (Is LART still a term?)

            1. EVP Bronze badge

              Re: AKA Libertarians

              Tenure track in IT support:

              PFY -> BOFH -> HOFH (Hammer Operator from Hell)

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re:software engineer

          p.s. would any outraged Software Engineers like to comment on why they deserve the term , rather than just downvoting or whatever...

          Here's the definition to help:

          engineering

          /ɛndʒɪˈnɪərɪŋ/

          Learn to pronounce

          noun

          1.

          the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

          2.

          the action of working artfully to bring something about.

          "if not for his shrewd engineering, the election would have been lost"

          1. erikscott

            Re: Re:software engineer

            Because, perhaps uniquely to US usage (I don't know), Sense #2 conveys sarcasm.

          2. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Re:software engineer

            Strictly speaking in many states in the US calling yourself a 'software engineer' could, and has, got you into legal trouble. I think the legislation has changed somewhat in many states but its as well not to use the term anywhere near legal people. You never know what might happen.

            1. Ian Michael Gumby
              Boffin

              @Martinusher Re: Re:software engineer

              The issue is that companies debased it by creating job titles around Software Engineer that didn't require you to be an actual engineer.

              When I had to interview people who called themselves software engineers, I give them a bit more of a hard time in the interview when they do not have an engineering degree. Most don't pass the technical round.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: @Martinusher Re:software engineer

                "When I had to interview people who called themselves software engineers, I give them a bit more of a hard time in the interview when they do not have an engineering degree. Most don't pass the technical round."

                What if they are developing or working with database engines, game engines etc? :-)

              2. Psmo Silver badge

                Re: @Martinusher Re:software engineer

                Heh, remind of a potential client interview a few months back.

                Coming up 15 years of industry experience and he quizzed me on my degree.

          3. devilsinthedetails

            Re: Re:software engineer

            Well I "design", "build" and "use" software that can be a logic/functional "engine", could control or run a "machine", and build and manipulate data "structures" all of which is done with "technology". In addition I believe I am "working artfully to bring something about" when designing and creating software to fulfill a specific need.

            I don't call myself a Software Engineer, especially as my role encompasses more than this, but cannot see an issue if someone chooses to do so, hanging onto antiquated definitions rooted in the purely physical realm from a time when "digital" did not exist are ridiculous in this day and age.

            As others have mentioned, where there are safety or other concerns for specific roles/pieces of work then of course I agree certification should be required but there should be certification for the specific role or application of skills, not a blanket requirement for anyone using a term which in modern times is accepted in various fields of work.

            Also, I guess some definitions are more progressive than others:

            Doctionary.com

            engineering

            [ en-juh-neer-ing ]

            SEE SYNONYMS FOR engineering ON THESAURUS.COM

            noun

            the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry, as in the construction of engines, bridges, buildings, mines, ships, and chemical plants.

            the action, work, or profession of an engineer.

            Digital Technology. the art or process of designing and programming computer systems: computer engineering; software engineering.

            skillful or artful contrivance; maneuvering.

            BTW, don't the US also call a Train Driver an Engineer? I assume there is an exemption for this.

            1. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: Re:software engineer

              >BTW, don't the US also call a Train Driver an Engineer? I assume there is an exemption for this.

              If you've even got up close and personal with a steam locomotive you'd realize that these things aren't vehicles in a conventional sense -- you're perched on this contraption that has very peculiar ideas about what makes it go and what makes it stop, a thing that has countless bearings and fiddly bits that need constant attention and has innumerable ways to crash, fail catastrophically or even explode. They also have individual characteristics, no two are exactly alike. You really need to understand how they work to operate them so I'll give the 'railroad engineer' a pass on this one. (Its worth noting that people who drive modern light rail or commuter trains tend to be called 'operators'.)

              BTW -- I think 'the romance of steam' is vastly overrated. And that takes into account that most US steam locomotives were oil fired so you were at least relieved of the chore of shovelling tons of coal into the firebox while its rattling along. (Firing a locomotive is also an art form, there's a lot more to it than just shovelling coal.)

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Re:software engineer

                (Firing a locomotive is also an art form, there's a lot more to it than just shovelling coal.)

                I've spent way to little time around steam locos and other steam engines/engineers, but did work for a guy who'd spent a long time in the boiler room of a refurbished passenger steam boat.

                All sorts of tricky things, like having the boiler hot enough when it is time to sail that it is at full pressure, but not quite so hot it trips any of the release valves (wasted steam is lost water), and while sailing having enough pressure for emergency manoeuvring but not wasting any fuel in the process. Locos are a little less involved but still beyond the skill of most mere mortals, especially those who are unusually proud of their BBQing skills.. Loco firemen (a skill class itself in NZ that took a long apprenticeship) still have to have the train ready to move on schedule, and of course have to know some of what's coming so they can build up in the time of a long climb or relax a little for a long descent, know when they need to stop to top-off the boiler/tender, know when and for how long to open the mud valves(IIRC the correct name - gets rid of sludge build up from using impure water - most common cause for the large lets of steam most of us think are a part of the normal operation of the engine rather than an occasional removal of by-products thanks to hollywood).

                As to the romance of steam.. I think it's stuff to do with the fact you can see the works, and in my case an admiration of the effort and skill in casting, machining, maintaining and operating the things - especially given how many are still in fine working order after 100 years or more. Of course, many people who romance them never even rode with let alone operated some "temperamental bitch overdue for the scrap heap or better, a dumping off the rails into an ocean grave".

                One thing I've never understood though... Why the hell were most of the US locos so effing fugly? Look like their aesthetics were designed by a manager with an arts degree rather than by someone with real engineering skill.

          4. VicMortimer

            Re: Re:software engineer

            You forgot the most important engineer. The one who operates a train.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_engineer

          5. Ian Michael Gumby
            Boffin

            @ Prst.V.Jeltz Re: Re:software engineer

            Because when you go through a proper engineering program, you are an engineer who specializes in Software or Computer engineering.

            How many here have gone through Language Theory, OS Theory, and courses like Strength and Materials, Analog Circuits, Digital Circuits... etc ...

            Its been over 30 years, but I can still remember some of my classes that non software engineers didn't have to take.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: @ Prst.V.Jeltz Re:software engineer

              Because when you go through a proper engineering program, you are an engineer who specializes in Software or Computer engineering.

              I believe that the issue today is that many of those who claim the title of "software engineer" today are at a skill level conversant with "sanitation engineer" or "poodle hair pattern engineer" etc. Or those people who run wires through houses who classify themselves as "electrical engineer" who have done a 3-week course.

              There are those such as yourself who probably deserve to use the title, but there are many who don't. Unfortunately, they've so much degraded the name that it's almost a derogatory term in some circles (at least in places I've been).

              You're done the work and deserve the title, protect it from those who don't deserve it.

              [Icon coz I respect people who've done the work, and El Reg has no 'salute' icon]

        3. ChrisC

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          "Well , you could just call yourself a Computer Programmer, and leave the engineering to the Engineers."

          You've assumed that the code the OP was talking about was intended to run on a computer.

          As an engineer myself, now into my 3rd decade of working on bare-metal embedded systems development, I don't see the slightest problem for people in this sort of role describing themselves as "software engineer", "firmware engineer", "embedded systems engineer" etc. Nor was it a problem for my university, who alongside the more traditional "Electrical & Electronic Engineering" degree I was on, also offered one titled "Microelectronics and Software Engineering". Which, in hindsight, is the one I probably should have taken given how little classical electrical engineering I've done since then, but that's another story for another day.

          Because when you're working in that sort of role, you're not bashing out code to run in a nice clean abstracted OS environment where you almost certainly don't need to care much/at all about the underlying hardware, you're writing code that needs to be tailored to the specific capabilities of the target platform and making use of your experience with the particular microcontroller to provide feedback to the hardware designer (if that's someone else and not just you wearing a different hat on a different day) as to how the hardware could be tweaked to make the code more efficient.

          And in such a role, describing yourself as a "programmer", "software developer" etc. is more likely to have you eyed with suspicion as to how much embedded coding experience you actually possess...

          P.S. I'm neither outraged, nor have I cast any downvotes here, but I hope that doesn't disqualify me from responding to your request for an explanation :-)

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            Good one Chris, I concede that kind of work is both engineering & coding and as such can probly get away with "software engineering"

            my college offered "Mechatronics" (at HND) , but when got the cert it just said "Engineering" !:(

          2. Ian Michael Gumby

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            When you do embedded work, you had better be an engineer and be able to prove it.

            From a risk perspective... if you do embedded systems work on an RTOS based application where people could be harmed... if not an engineer, that company faces a potential major lawsuit if an accident happens and the developer was not an engineer.

            From a technical perspective... very few who do not have an engineer degree can actually do the work properly.

        4. erikscott
          Coat

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          In the US, engineering is regulated by statue and licensed at the state level - there is no federal requirement for an engineering license - and there are a ton of state-level exceptions, BTW. This means, and it has repeatedly held up in court, that the design of things "suitable for interstate commerce" is protected under the interstate commerce clause of the constitution. Approximately the only Electrical Engineers who are licensed Professional Engineers are the ones who do electric power generation and distribution - it's hard to ship a gigawatt generation facility across state lines. On the other hand, aerospace engineers are very rarely licensed. It happens, of course, but it's rare.

          The case, like the Oregon one, will be tossed once it finally makes it to court, probably when he testifies that he was able to transport the umbrella in question to another state. :-)

          In Canada, by contrast, the term "engineer" is protected not by statute but by trademark (!!!) and the rules are (a) different and (b) unfamiliar to me. Other former client states of the empire will probably vary as well.

          Icon because I'm checking my jacket pocket to ensure I still have my "50 states and Canada" cellphone in there...

          1. Jim Oase

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            We the self governing in the Union of States enumerated the powers of every level of government.

            I would be surprise that every State has the same constitution. There because we know that the Union of States Constitution does not give the federation government the power to decide your work limitation defining an engineer is not unanimous within all States. Therefore of what value is some State saying in this State if you do this your are known as a X and must have a certificate. Who certifies the certifiers? Is there a liability for certifying a person who delivers a faulty product or service. What is the liability of the certifier? You know like the person who signed your high school diploma, what is that person's liability if you turn out to be one of the 19% functionally illiterate that graduated this year?

        5. trindflo
          Joke

          Software Engineers

          I like to explain it this way:

          How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? A: None: it's a hardware problem.

          How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A: as many as can possibly get their hands on it at the same time.

          As a Software Engineer, I'm a programmer that will change light bulbs when necessary.

          1. Orv

            Re: Software Engineers

            Oh sure, if you're just changing the bulb. However, wiring in a new fixture can only be done by a licensed electrician, who must complete 2000 hours of apprenticeship first.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Software Engineers

              Unless IT notices that the fixture needs to be there, in which case we simply do it after hours when nobody will notice, then disclaim any knowledge of how it got there, while billing materials as miscellaneous server components.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: Software Engineers

                while billing materials as miscellaneous server components.

                Shh.. Or someone might query my "server rack illumination" in a bill from a few years back!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Software Engineers

              @"wiring in a new fixture can only be done by a licensed electrician" in the UK adding an additional circuit requires "competence".

              Certification of competence can be obtained via a third party such as NICEIC, by holding a recognised Engineering qualification to NVQ level 3 or alternatively they can argue and win recognition in court for each installlation.

              As to being "Chartered" this only means something if the professionals agreeing that you are competent are themselves competent and legally liable for miscertification.

              Personally I would prefer that certification for competence was limited to those bodies who do not get paid to certify unless they are also legally liable for their failures.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Software Engineers

            > As a Software Engineer, I'm a programmer that will change light bulbs when necessary.

            I got my first job as a Unix administrator coz the guy who wanted me for the role said none of his current staff knew which end of a soldering iron to hold.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Software Engineers

              "none of his current staff knew which end of a soldering iron to hold."

              I took that course way back in school. It doesn't take long to complete.

              1. EVP Bronze badge

                Re: Software Engineers

                I took the same course. It didn’t take long to learn which way to hold it.

                More seriously, it’s shocking how quite a few people cannot be bothered to learn even simplest technical tasks. Even if you manage to get them to try, they’ll give up almost instantly. It’s like there was some part of their brain missing.

                I would not go and blame all of those people and simply mark them as lazy or inept, but I think it’s the current state of affairs in society and business which is to blame. If one cannot build up technical skills and a right mindset from yearly age, it gets hard to start later in one’s life.

                Like when something gets broken, it doesn’t often make sense (too expensive, impossible to get spare parts, etc) to fixit. You just go and replace it with next piece of unrepairable crap. There you are, you get an impression that fixing is not worth it. Even if it is, like cars and stuff, manufacturers intentionally make it impossible to do it without speciality tools, or even illegal (John Deere...). Don’t try it at home, that’s the message.

                I could continue with overly protective regulations (don’t get me wrong, some regulations are imperative to have in place!), the way children are allowed to play (That’s dangerous, get out of there!), fear mongering by commercials (Where is my Antee-Bactee Mouth Sanitizer[tm] spray?) learning in school (No more substances that go bang, not even puff) and the places (Apartment building, renting? Don’t touch anything there.) people live in. I’ve run of stream, though, and need to ask my engineer to build the pressure up before I can steam on again.

                Meanwhile, go and fix things, build gadgets, mess up big time while doing it, and then try again. I know there are many skillful people out there who have not given up!

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Let's be honest here most programmers just design skins for databases designed by database engineers using frameworks built by actual software engineers on top of infrastructure built by engineers...skinning databases is not engineering

        7. Kimo

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          At Ohio State, to graduate as a Computer or Software Engineer, you still need the into Engineering sequence. You can get a Computer and Information Science degree without any Engineering classes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Kimo Re: AKA Libertarians

            Go Bucks!

            Yes, you can get a computer related degree 3 different ways.

            Engineering school, Arts & Science, and of course business.

            Engineering is really a BS in CIS from the College of Engineering.

            Arts and Science is BS in CIS.

            Business is an MIS degree.

            The real difference in Engineering and Arts&Science is the core classes and some of the math.

            And at OSU unless you went through the College of Engineering, you were a p___y.

            Of course way back when... you still had a bunch of philosophy majors programming in Lisp trying to do AI...

            Posted Anon because I am someone who had to tell a psych 101 TA that Eng meant Engineering not an English Major. (Unless you went to OSU you wouldn't appreciate that joke)

            1. prinz

              Re: @Kimo AKA Libertarians

              When I was there back in the 80s (around the time when OSU started pushing "THE Ohio State University" as name), the CoE also granted a degree in Computer Engineering which was very hardware focused. You could also get a *BA* in CIS as well.

              Interestingly, the Computer Science portion of the various degrees was all the same. What made them different were the electives you put with them.

              And, then to add confusion to my poor little college mind way back then, I had a Linguistics professor at OSU make an acidic claim which stung us CIS majors :

              "If you have to use the word 'Science' to describe your profession, then you are not a real scientist."

              Still kind of stings today... ;)

        8. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          I really don't care what I'm called. My title is software engineer because that's what my employer decided to call us, though I doubt they had any reason for choosing that over something else. I'm a programmer. I'm also a developer. The word engineer is hard to define. At one point, it only meant people who dealt a lot with engines, in which case nearly no modern engineers would count. However, in its current usage, an engineer is someone who designs and builds something from a relatively low level. I think I qualify under that unofficial definition.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            like a chef?

      4. Dal90

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        >For that matter, my job title at the moment is "software engineer"

        If you're stamping plans for, oh say...flight controls on a 787Max then yes there probably should be requirements for licensing.

        For most purposes, no.

        This same nomenclature issue (pushed by Texas IIRC 20 years ago) is why you don't see IT certifications using the word Engineer today like Certified NetWare Engineer or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer anymore.

        1. Nifty Bronze badge

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          True, However the licensing authority would need to be smarter than the 'Engineer'.

      5. Dr_N Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        doublelayer ”For that matter, my job title at the moment is "software engineer". Should I have to pass that test and pay for that license as well?”

        Nah, everyone understands the prefix "software" translates to, "not a real". So you're good.

        ;-)

    3. John Gamble

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      True, and I wish some other outfit were doing this task. But the basic facts don't seem to be in dispute.

      Oh, and the reason hairdressers were regulated back in the day (1920s - 30s) was because they were often a front for prostitution. Times have changed a little since then, but in many states the laws are still on the books.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        So you could have two types of blow drys then?

        I'd have really hated to ask 'what a little off the top' lead to..

      2. aregross

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        Ding! Licensing is used mostly for statistics.

    4. fandom

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      On the other hand you seem to believe that people whose politics you don't like shouldn't be allowed their day in court.

      If they have won a case in Oregon, that the the "laws that elected representatives put in place" are on their side, why shouldn't they sue for their legitimate rights?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: AKA Libertarians

        Just because you can legally shit on people doesnt mean you have to.

        1. theblackhand

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Won't somebody think of the poor lawyers?

          1. poohbear

            Re: AKA Libertarians

            I've never met a poor lawyer.

        2. fandom

          Re: AKA Libertarians

          Except that the one doing the suing was the one being shat on.

          Do you want to get his constitutional rights away because you don't like his politics?

    5. HarryBl

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      When I was in the merchant I went for a haircut in San Francisco. I asked the barber what the certificate on his wall was and he told me it was the state licence that said he was allowed to cut hair.

      He was stunned when I told him all you needed to cut hair in the UK was a chair and a pair of scissors...

    6. Jim Oase

      Re: AKA Libertarians

      I think we have a fork in the road on the logic of our political representatives having the enumberated power to alter the definition of free enterprise, a morally acceptable transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

      For ages the criteria for limiting a person's business is knowledge. The bleeding edge of knowledge 50 years ago is often obsolete knowledge today. I worked on the Moon Walk project. What we did then pushed the envelop of what was possible, today many of those same tasks are done as experiments in grade school.

      The nature of the complaint is what is an engineer. Anyone who designs and builds stuff is an engineer. A beaver is an engineer.

      It appears the guise of the Institute of Justice is limit freedom of education with board certification. As with most, if not all such certifications following the money will provide an understanding of the motivation.

      Consider if the supply of something desired is limited, the value goes up. Certifying is a limiting process sold as “for your own good”.

      Every person has a common experience, they learn from their efforts that did not work as expected. Engineering is about learning from efforts that didn't work the first times. Some people aren’t good at learning from their failed efforts. Are we expected to limit knowledge because someone with no knowledge of the effort at hand says the process cannot go forward without certification? Says who in the land with the common belief “that all men are created equal”?

  2. elDog

    As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

    don't actually drive any locomotives.

    Whoops - it was 80% don't have one of those pieces of paper from the self-regulated Engineers In Search of Engineering Jobs (ESEJ).

    In 50+ years many of my contracts have had titles that included "Architect" or "Engineer". I have yet to have a building or train crash because of my lack of certain pieces of paper.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

      What about those unlicensed sanitation engineers? I want my trash pickup charges back!

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

        In 50+ years many of my contracts have had titles that included "Architect" or "Engineer".

        Thats probably because you wernt a real Engineer or Architect

        Engineer = someone who works in the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

        Architect = Designs buildings and other structures.

        Systems architect = computer system designer

        software engineer = programmer

        I.T. engineer = desktop support staff

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. prinz

          Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

          As @devilsinthedetails outlines above, in the digital world, almost every software individual meets your definition of "Engineer".

          As the definition itself does not mandate "physical world only" - we can all happily call ourselves "Engineers" and you should not complain.

          Most importantly, the digital world has very few limitations, unlike the physical world, so our type of Engineering goes beyond anything you could possibly do.

          If someone asks for a cloud castle in the physical world - ain't gonna happen.

          But in the digital world? Sure, no problem -- our Engineers can add a castle floating on top of a big white cloud in your favorite game with minor effort..

          And, as the digital world is slowly creeping to higher importance than the physical one, I think it better to be an Engineer in the digital than physical. ;)

          1. Orv

            Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

            I think the biggest difference is we're a lot more tolerant of software engineers failing at their job.

            1. Someone Else Silver badge

              Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

              No, I think we're more tolerant of folks who aren't software engineers writing software, and failing at their job.

              1. veti Silver badge

                Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

                By the definition just given: if you write software, you're a software engineer.

                If you want to make the definition more exclusionary than that, you're gonna have to come up with some rules that go beyond anything yet mentioned. And, much like other requirements that are added after the project has begun, they will probably turn out, on examination, to be pretty stupid.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

                  If you want to make the definition more exclusionary than that, you're gonna have to come up with some rules that go beyond anything yet mentioned.

                  How about.. "The majority of the code shall not be copied from stack exchange etc"?

                2. Someone Else Silver badge

                  @ veti -- Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

                  I make the distinction between coders and software engineers. You're welcome to play whatever semantic games you want to enumerate (or dis-enumerate, if that's your desire) concrete differences between these two classifications, but I'm sure most readers would inherently grok the difference.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

            our Engineers can add a castle floating on top of a big white cloud in your favorite game with minor effort..

            And therein lies the problem. "Engineer" implies skill and effort. So much of what comes from the keyboard of 'programmers" today shows they barely deserver the title of "programmer" let alone "engineer".

            Much of today's code shows very little effort or real though. Hell, a lot of it is done with grabbing existing source and cobbling bits together till something compiles and basically does what it's supposed to do.

            Very little real thought goes into software these days, very few writers can be called 'engineers', and yet many disgustingly claim a title they don't deserve. (not all programmers come under this - I know some few true artisans remain --> for those who deserve the title, and an extra dozen for those who deserve it yet rarely use it)

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

        "What about those unlicensed sanitation engineers? I want my trash pickup charges back!"

        Fair enough. But you have to take the trash back as well.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

      As a Software Engineer, I have worked on trains (well, locomotives, actually). And neither my software, not the locomotives it ran on, crashed. Good thing, that, since I was working on the locomotive braking systems.

      Oh, and BTW, I did actually drive the train on occasion, too. So I guess that makes me an Engineer, and an Engineer. How 'bout that!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As this article mentions, up to 98% of people with "engineer" in their titles

        Did you partake in the requisite amount of cocaine?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLs_0h9_wXM

  3. G R Goslin

    Situation normal

    As usual, the inmates are being put in charge of the asylum.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Situation normal

      As usual, the inmates remain in charge of the asylum.

      FTFY

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Rename the terms?

    He could call himself an "electronics engineer" to avoid the restriction. He's not doing power distribution or generation, but small low voltage devices.

    Sure, he could start a thousands of fires with unsafe use of Lithium Ion batteries. It couldn't be any worse than all of the junk on Amazon, eBay, and Baidu originating from anonymous white-label producers. Those three companies would blink out of existence if they could only sell devices from licensed Engineers.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Rename the terms?

      I don't think it's "electrical" they have a problem with. I think that, based on their current stance, my title of "software engineer" would also be covered. It's patently ridiculous, but for some reason they're interested enough to fight the issue.

    2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: Rename the terms?

      He got stung over things he's been doing for years. At the time of the offence (erm, sorry, felony) he presumably had no idea it would be an issue.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Rename the terms?

        neither; it was allegedly a misdemeanour.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Rename the terms?

          it was allegedly a misdemeanour

          In my experience "misdemeanour" means something like "peccadillo", but it clearly has some technical meaning in the US legal system that I'm unaware of. The "high crimes and misdemeanours" that Trump stands accused of seems to imply that moderate crimes are to be expected of POTUS, but really serious and really trivial stuff is unacceptable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rename the terms?

            Yes, it does have a legal meaning in the US. It puts you on the hook, but without "felon" tag attached so the consequences are not that dire.

            1. Someone Else Silver badge

              Re: Rename the terms?

              In general, a Felony in US legal terms is an offense sufficiently dire so as to warrant at least a year in prison. A Misdemeanor is an offense less dire, so as to warrant no more than a year in jail. (And yes the terms "prison" and "jail" were deliberately chosen, they are different in US legal circles.)

          2. Justin S.

            Re: Rename the terms?

            "High crimes and misdemeanors" means whatever the sitting Congress wants it to mean; the terms, as they relate to impeachment, are not defined in the US Constitution.

            In theory, Congress could impeach the president 'because he looks funny,' though that would be a patently ridiculous thing to so, so it hasn't happened thus far-- we'll see if that changes after the next Democrat takes office.

            With regards to the difference between misdemeanors and felonies in criminal law, their distinction is also up to the legislature (Federal, State, and local, and thus vary slightly between locales), but they generally refer to minor (public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and licencing violations) and serious (battery with serious injury, robbery or fraud in the thousands or more dollars, and murder) offences, respectively.

            It's entirely possible, however, for the same crime to be a misdemeanor in one location but a felony in another. It's even possible to have a crime be both in one location, with the choice being up to the prosecutor. (These are called "wobblers," if you want to look them up.)

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

          4. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Rename the terms?

            Belated follow-up, in case anyone cares...

            I've just been reading about the impeachment of Warren Hastings, Governor of the (British) East India Company, in (the British) parliament in 1788. Hastings was accused of "high crimes and misdemeanours", so the phrase evidently has its origins on the British side of the Atlantic. It appears to be a standard part of the impeachment process, although nobody has been impeached in Britain since 1806.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Rename the terms?

        At the time of the offence (erm, sorry, felony) he presumably had no idea it would be an issue.

        Can't he use the chump Jr defence, "being a clueless dolt is an absolute defence to the charges"? (or at least ignorance of the law in this case)

  5. FrankAlphaXII

    Good job Arizona!

    You'd figure Arizona, a very conservative and pro-business state, the home of Barry Goldwater and John McCain, would be the last in the Southwest to do something like this. It sounds like garbage from the People's Republic to the west.

    I wonder how many Electrical Engineers who are working as contractors or direct reports at Intel, Micron, the Air Force or Fort Huachuca/US Army Intelligence and Security Command should be very afraid that some tin-pot bureaucrat with all the power of a petty czar might just decide to scour linkedin and come after them too for the high crime of misuse of a non-regulated title.

    It just blows my mind, its something that New Mexico would likely do, and something Nevada would do if there was a means of laundering money in it, but then again, we kind of value having two national labs, two directorates of the Air Force Research Lab and an Intel fab, pissing off engineers isn't exactly conducive to being a competitive place for that.

    I'll tell you what, what the Navajo ought to do is let Arizona know they're full of shit and that this gentleman is welcome to continue being an electrical engineer for hire from their territory, and if New Mexico's State Government or one of the Pueblo Governments was smart, we'd do the same.

    1. ReadyKilowatt

      Re: Good job Arizona!

      You're under the mistaken assumption that John McCain was a conservative. He was in favor of the status quo, one where the US was the beacon on the hill fighting against the evil commie Ivan. When that world fell apart his enemies relocated to Mecca. That and if you look at the defense industry it's pretty much centered around the 4 corners states. Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona are all major hubs for the military contractors.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Good job Arizona!

        "In favor of the status quo" is not bad as a working definition of "conservative".

        One thing you can be sure of, anyone who wants to upend the status quo is not a conservative, whatever else they are.

        1. Tomato42

          Re: Good job Arizona!

          except the current crop of US conservatives want to return to at least 1950's, with no "silly things" like lack of segregation and women's suffrage

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge

      Re: Good job Arizona!

      Aside from this gent's list of previous employers, I kept thinking of the Honeywell Aerospace folks in Phoenix. Lots of engineering being done there. They used to be a supplier I worked with when I was dealing closely with the future of the M1 Abrams (in addition to Stryker).

      But then we officially chose a competitor of theirs for a major new component. We chose wrong and paid dearly. It took lots of time and effort (and money**), but my colleagues who were even deeper into that crap than I was got the issues mostly resolved.

      ** LOTS of time and money wasted, just like any proper defense contract. Your tax dollars at work.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good job Arizona!

      We do have the same bullshit in Nevada.

      I former boss of mine was fined into oblivion for having the nerve to put "Certified NetWare Engineer" on his business card.

      I hope these cases will start to erode this BS in every state.

  6. I3N
    Coat

    Can't be an actual Electrical Engineer ...

    His work space looks nowhere close to the late, great Jim Williams' lab ...

    1. Robert 22

      Re: Can't be an actual Electrical Engineer ...

      It's interesting that you mention that name - Williams seems to have been one of those people who learned on the job. He was an absolutely brilliant guy who had hardly any formal academic qualifications.

  7. Archtech Silver badge

    Quis...

    Er, does anyone know what exacting paper qualifications politicians and civil servants need? Before they take up their career of telling other people what they may and may not do?

    Just asking.

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Quis...

      Don't forget the experience requirement. I'd say, oh, somewhere around 40 years of supervised management of such wide ranging and important affairs as the local bake off should be sufficient?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Quis...

        Don't forget the experience requirement.

        Well, some of NZ's worst ones seem to have taken "DOLE bludger" to whole new levels..

    2. WonkoTheSane
      Holmes

      Re: Quis...

      Paper qualifications needed to be politicians? An extremely large collection of portraits of deceased Presidents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quis...

        Surely the only paper they're interested in is green, rectangular and has large numbers on it?

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Quis...

        Used toilet paper, with proof that the brown stains came from the nose and mouth.

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Quis...

      The sort that arrive in unmarked envelopes.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    These organisations that decide who is and who isnt an engineer

    protecting the interests of their members sound like Unions. I'm surprised they're legal in the US.

  9. SonofRojBlake

    So... is he an engineer?

    The story begins "Electrical engineer Greg Mills", prejudicing what follows. It does not mention which university awarded his engineering degree, nor which professional body he registered his professional competence with.

    (I got my engineering degree from Bradford University, and the Institution of Chemical Engineers awarded my chartership. I *am* an engineer.)

    "Arizona offers a path Mills could follow to operate lawfully in the state, but as described in the complaint, the process would be expensive and take years"

    Turns out it's cheap and quick to simply award yourself a title, but expensive and time consuming to do the work necessary to deserve it. Who knew?

    Would everyone be happy with me simply calling myself a pilot? Or a doctor? Or would some regulation and control over people using titles like that make sense?

    1. Stephen Wilkinson

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      As a Chartered Engineer via the British Computer Society, I totally agree with you regarding the use of the word engineer and regulation.

      1. Fonant

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        An Engineer is someone who engineers things.

        A Chartered Engineer is someone who engineers things and has also paid a fee to have some letters after their name, perhaps after some form of evaluation of their abilities.

        The important word is "Chartered", not "Engineer".

        I, for example, went through the IMechE's MPDS training system, and could, if I paid the fee, join them to become a Chartered Mechnical Engineer. I didn't feel the need, and now I'm a Software Engineer anyway. I feel no need to become a Chartered Software Engineer.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        Surely you must be THE Chartered Engineer via the British Computer Society? Do they even have any members any more?

        1. Andy P.

          Re: So... is he an engineer?

          No - I'm a Chartered Engineering via BCS too. So there must be at least two of us.

          1. Caver_Dave
            Pirate

            Re: So... is he an engineer?

            Make that three

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So... is he an engineer?

              Genuine question - why?

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: So... is he an engineer?

                Genuine question - why?

                Because 1+1+1=3?

                1. EVP Bronze badge

                  Re: So... is he an engineer?

                  Oh, I thought it was 11.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        I looked at the BCS back in the '90s and rejected it on the grounds that they accepted microsoft certificaiton at a time when online braindumps had all the questions and answers and because of my person experience with the competence of paper MCSEs.

        If you are going to form a guild then you need to limit membership to only the best, if you let in the monkeys then your aim is not to improve the quality/competence of the practitioners in your field but to tax those that work in it.

        Sadly there are no qualification in the UK that actually seperate the competent from the monkeys and to be frank that is no accident. You don't want the plebs realising that they are the ones that actually make all the money and worse having to pay them what they are worth cuts into the profits for the board. Much better for everyone to believe that someone who never worked in the field with a couple of weeks training is equivilent to someone who can design and build a complete system (hardware and software) from scratch. That way anyone cheeky enough to want a fair share of the profits for their work has to beg like Oliver Twist

    2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      From the article:

      Mills, who has over 30 years of electrical engineering experience at companies like Rayovac, Unitech, Spectrum Astro, and General Dynamics

      I am also a chartered engineer but I do not have a degree - however I do have almost 50 years doing electronics (and software and FPGA design) for money at every level from junior mechanic to design authority; I even have my name on a high speed signalling standard. I have had a lot of opportunities in my career and I have taken them.

      Not all paths to being an engineer are via university - the late great Jim Williams did not have a degree - are you going to claim he was not an engineer?

      Rather like him, I had what I call a 'self directed apprenticeship'; I have designed a lot of interesting things over the years, including flight safety critical equipment (as part of a team which is normal for such stuff) which is subject to a lot of scrutiny, testing and verification (Boeing notwithstanding).

      It was not (and is not) necessary to be chartered to work on such things; what is required is to prove you have the necessary skills and knowledge (which is not true of a freshly minted graduate).

      It is only after graduation that the real education begins.

      1. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        I think you accidentally make a better point - you can call yourself a "chartered engineer" as a distinction, for the purposes of the articles' point about protecting big infrastructure projects.

        The term engineer on its own covers a multitude of possible skills (or lack of) and requires some context.

        What about people called a "software engineer" for example, a broad interpretation will have all sorts of unintended consequences, while adding no value to the state at all.

        Using terms like, chartered, certified, registered etc should be what the state checks, not just the generic terms.

        1. Dave Stevenson

          Re: So... is he an engineer?

          I'll agree that SonofRojBlake gets the benefit of calling themselves a "chartered engineer", but shouldn't claim rights over "engineer".

          I did an IEE (as it was at the time) accredited electronic engineering degree, but have never had the need to progress to chartered status, and it's not held me back.

          The one service I used from the IET was their email alias, and they cancelled that scheme earlier this year, so I've cancelled my membership. Am I going to stop referring to myself as an engineer? Nope.

        2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: So... is he an engineer?

          My path to chartered is interesting; the company I was working for at the time ($Big Aerospace Company) worked with one of the institutes that can confer CEng status to show that if you were at a particular level of seniority in engineering (that place was most definitely a meritocracy at least in engineering) then they had the requisite educational background.

          They even paid for the chartered process and provided mentoring and coaching for the application forms.

          The advantages to them included being able to show a high percentage of CEng in the engineering department(s) to potential customers on bids, and another unusual one; if a chartered engineer is called as an expert witness in the UK (for a relevant topic obviously), their status as an expert witness cannot be challenged (their testimony obviously can be).

          Even though I left them a few years ago, I find that at my age, the CEng post nominals are useful so I still renew my registration each year.

          I agree that using the term 'engineer' for the purpose of regulation is way too broad.

      2. Niall Mac Caughey
        Thumb Up

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        Jim Williams should be celebrated, if only for the title he gave to an application note on a Switching Regulator:

        Switching Regulators for Poets

        A Gentle Guide for the Trepidatious

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        "It is only after graduation that the real education begins."

        Too true. I was avionics lead at a small aerospace company and the interns could be counted on to repeatedly grab the wrong end of the soldering iron. I was working with one when they dropped a screw. When I told them it was a Pan Head Phillips #4-40 stainless, 1/4" long (yes, in the US) and the stock was on my workbench in the E-lab, they looked at me like I was speaking Russian (which I do just to annoy but wasn't at the time). This person was going into their 3rd year pursuing an aeronautical engineering degree and didn't know what standard screw sizes were. I found later they also didn't know common metal alloys and forms. Sheet metal gauges (not decimal conversion, just what "gauge" meant). I turned to just giving them little projects to do that would never go on or near any spacecraft we were working on. The one thing they could do was run circles around me in Matlab. Too bad putting a bit in a drill press was a mystery.

    3. Nial

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      My sister did an electronic engineering degree then when she graduated went to work for BT (British Telecom) here in the UK.

      They had a structured route to getting chartered for those entering, so while she specialised in project

      management and never did a days 'engineering' in her life, she was chartered before I could have

      been. I'm 2 years older, also did electronic engineering, and was actually doing electronic design work for a small company.

      Being 'chartered' doesn't mean anything. :-(

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        You just jelly

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I gave up on the chartered route

        Because:

        1) My application was "lost" for several months, during which time the rules changed and I had to re-apply.

        2) I was charged am additional fee to be told that my BSc was not an MSc and was not on the "approved list" - it was a joint honours degree in computing and electronics from one of the top universities in the country.

        3) My contribution to two de facto standards (MISRA C and C++) was considered "irrelevant and of only academic interest".

        However, I still call myself an embedded systems engineer and think that my 30+ years of experience may just count for something.

        1. Robert 22

          Re: I gave up on the chartered route

          I'm not familiar with the specifics of licensing in other jurisdictions, was certainly aware of some curious anomalies in my own.

          I knew someone who was completing a PhD in Electrical engineering, but whose undergraduate degree was in physics. He made some inquiries to find out what he would have to do to become a licensed engineer. Among other things, he was told that he needed a course in fluid mechanics (an unusual requirement for EE students) and that his two term course in differential equations taught by the Math faculty was not accepted as equivalent to the specified one term EE course on the same subject.

          Theoretically, to get around the requirement for an undergraduate engineering degree, you were able to write an examination, but this was was made very difficult. I recall talking to the professor who set the questions for the chemical engineering examination; he told me that his students wouldn't have a hope of passing it - give them 4 hours and open book, and they might have a chance.

          I'm somewhat inclined to think that the system was set up more to restrict competition than protect the public.

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      So you can be "SonOfRojBlake, Chemical Engineer, CEng MIChemE". Doesn't mean someone else can't be "JoeBloggs, Chemical Engineer".

      1. SonofRojBlake

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        "So you can be "SonOfRojBlake, Chemical Engineer, CEng MIChemE". Doesn't mean someone else can't be "JoeBloggs, Chemical Engineer"."

        Indeed. That was my point - the term "engineer" has been devalued in our culture, in a way that, for instance, "doctor" has not. See Ben Goldacre's joke about "Gillian McKeith, or to give her her full, medical title - Gillian McKeith". Society takes a dim view of charlatans trying to pass off mail-away PhDs from non-accredited institutions as being in some way equivalent to proper doctorates, or Bod forbid actual medical qualifications. Call yourself a "dietician" in the UK without the proper quals and you can expect a swift collar-feel from the authorities (which is why the aforementioned GK and other charlatans bandy about the meaningless and unprotected "nutritionist").

        But any yahoo with a spanner can call themselves an "engineer".

        1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
          Flame

          Re: So... is he an engineer?

          This article has hit a raw nerve in my case. I am an Engineer. I spent six years at University gaining a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and an MSc in Diesel Engine Technology. I was (and still am) a Graduate Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. I then started a PhD for a large Nuclear Engineering firm, but it all ended acrimoniously when they withdrew from the project and left me jobless. I then went to work as a Junior Development Engineer with a large Electrical Manufacturing company in the Midlands, working my way up to Senior Development Engineer, Design Authority Engineer, and then moving over into Technical Publications, ending up as Principal Engineer, Technical Publications. It makes my blood boil whenever I see or hear companies such as British Gas, etc. stating that they have "6000 Engineers waiting to service your gas boiler". No they B****y Don't. They may well have 6000 trained gas fitters or plumbers at the ready, but I am willing to bet that not one of them has any sort of Engineering Degree, other than maybe an HNC, HND, or NVQ, but those qualifications do not, and never will, enable the holder to call themselves an "Engineer". I have campaigned long and hard to get the IMechEng to take this up and have some form of regulation introduced legally, but their attitude seems to be that, as the term is now in popular usage for anyone who might get their hands dirty, there is no possibility of getting that particular cat back in the bag. My contention is that, a Butcher gets blood on his hands whilst cutting flesh, would you call him a Surgeon? The difference there is clear and highly regulated, so why is it not the same for the term "Engineer". In Germany, where I spent several weeks for my employers, it is illegal to use the term "Engineer" unless one holds at least a Diploma, but over here, it seems that anything goes. <\rant>

    5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      When I graduated as a Computer Systems Engineer, there was a strong push to study for, and take, the Engineer In Training (EIT) test. This is the first step on the road to becoming a Registered Professional Engineer (PE), the certification that makes you a "Real Engineer" in the minds of state governments.

      I looked at the test study guide. Lots of stuff about strain, materials, thermodynamics...well, you get the picture. Stuff I had only a passing acquaintance with in my undergraduate studies. Not a single question about impedance, modulation theory, filters, data structures, or anything else I had studied. The PE test is similar, but I think it includes some electrical power transmission sections.

      Realizing that the subject matter was completely out of line with what I intended to do for a living, I took a pass, and have not regretted it. The number of PEs I have met in my career can be counted on one hand. I have tremendous respect for them, thanks to them, my house and the roads and bridges I travel on are safe (well, except for those in Florida), but a PE license isn't worth much in electronics development.

      My professors all had PhDs, but I do not recall even one of them mentioning that he had his PE.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        After getting my master's (MSEE), while looking for a job, I took the EIT because I thought it might help my self-marketing.

        I barely passed, it didn't help, and the job I did get* didn't care, and was out-of-state, and had no PEs to apprentice from, so my four years lapsed and I haven't cared since.

        * It was who I knew, not what -- networking for the win. What I learned on the job was much more valuable.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: So... is he an engineer?

        After thinking...the issue seems to be: does the state in question regulate the design of electronic equipment, including circuitry not offered for retail sale, and, if so, does it require the engineers who do this work to be licensed professionals? I do not know of any state in which this is true.

        In my state, the answer is "no". However, people who run businesses which repair radios, televisions (and, perhaps, microwaves and washing machines) ARE required to be licensed. This seems to be more about controlling the number of such shops (to keep prices high) but with an avowed purpose of keeping said shops honest for consumers' benefit (in reality, the repair is done at an outrageous cost, and if it fails in a week, tough). The licensing fees are also a revenue source for the state, and the agency provides full employment for those who might be politically connected.

        In the EE design world of which I am familiar, safety and quality are tested by independent agencies like Intertek and TUV. You're free to design things that are not tested, but offering them for sale would be risky, as proof or certification of testing is required in many cases (UL or equivalent for things plugged into the mains, FCC for things that use or radiate RF, etc).

        My coat's the one with random components rattling around in the pocket

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      "I got my engineering degree from Bradford University, and the Institution of Chemical Engineers awarded my chartership. I *am* an engineer."

      Back when I was working in a lab there was a suggestion that legislation or regulation was afoot that in science in order to call oneself a *ologist one would need to be a Chartered *ologist by being a member of the relevant Institute. As a biologist my relevant institute was the Institute of Biology so, as a pre-emptive strike, I joined. It turned out that the majority of the membership seemed to be biology teachers, so much so that a feature of its journal was exam howlers.

      One thing I never quite gathered was whether MIBiol as a qualification outlasted membership which lapsed when I changed career. Am I still entitled to call myself MIBiol?

    7. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: So... is he an engineer?

      Turns out it's cheap and quick to simply award yourself a title, but expensive and time consuming to do the work necessary to deserve it. Who knew?

      Since a young child I've been drawn to all sorts of technical stuff. I can fix a huge range of engines (electrical and mechanical), I can diagnose, repair, and design relatively simple electrical and electronic circuits (and have done for money with one of my projects in use with a government organisation here in NZ), and have done an above-average amount of programming (including for said GO project).

      I wouldn't dare call myself an 'engineer' though. I never got round to putting in the real work to deserve the title, even though my technical skills get high-praise from some very well qualified folk. The title implies real intelligence and skill, not what so many people spew out today.

      Some of the posters here seem to believe they deserve the right to call themselves an engineer because they once saw the source code of a 'hello world' program in BASIC.

      The weakening and ruining of language marches ever onwards.

  10. Jonathon Green
    Trollface

    But on the other hand...

    ...they’ve got a point about the veggie burgers, milk substitutes, and vegan cheese though...

    1. Just Enough

      Re: But on the other hand...

      There is nothing in the etymology of "burger" that stops a burger being veggie. And the term "milk" has long been used to describe liquids of all sorts with a milky appearance. The regulation used to limit these words to certain products of the dairy industry is a transparent case of big-business using law to protect their market from new comers.

      Never forget that, no matter what they may say, large companies don't particularly care for free market economics. They'd much prefer monopolies. And if legislators can be bought to provide them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But on the other hand...

        Burgers, sausages and milk are animal products.

        If your plant based alternatives are so good, stop trying to pass them off as things which they aren't.

        1. scrubber

          Re: But on the other hand...

          I can't believe it's not something else.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: But on the other hand...

            I can't believe it's not something else.

            I think most vegan food would be covered with "I can't believe it's not vomit" or "I can't believe it's not shit that's been boiled for hours and hours and hours till any hope of nutritional value is washed away"

        2. localzuk

          Re: But on the other hand...

          Beef burgers, pork sausages and dairy milk are animal products.

          Last I checked, having a veggie burger doesn't change beef burgers from being beef burgers. Pork sausages still exist and having Linda McCartney Veggie Sausages doesn't change that.

          It doesn't damage the "meat" market having those names.

          People don't get confused between meat and non-meat burgers/sausages. Saying it is "passing them off" is nonsense. Glamorgan sausages, which don't contain meat, have existed since the 1800s, and people don't confuse them for meat products.

        3. Just Enough

          Re: But on the other hand...

          "stop trying to pass them off as things which they aren't"

          Have you ever mistakenly eaten one, when you thought it was the other? Didn't think so.

          If you find that your delicate taste buds, or fragile carnivore virility, are threatened by the very idea of mistakenly eating a vegetarian product, I suggest you look at the labelling on them. Vegetarian products almost always go out of their way to make it clear they are vegetarian, because it's important to vegetarians.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: But on the other hand...

            Have you ever mistakenly eaten one, when you thought it was the other? Didn't think so.

            I have.

            The situation was deliberately misleading, the person trying to prove how vegan garbage is better than proper food, selling products that normally would contain meat but made out of a plant substitute without using proper labelling.

            And being someone who has food allergies (thankfully mild), there's a risk I'll have a severe reaction and wind up in hospital (you'll notice the vast majority of food allergies relate to plant-based products BTW).

            People put lives at risk by mislabelling food. Those with food allergies need to be able to trust what they're eating contains nothing other than what is on the label.

            In the last few months one of the larger burger chains found itself in legal hot water by doing the same, and with very good reason.

            I've also had to warn some vegan twat that since he's been told I have an allergy, if he tries to sneak that stuff into my food claiming he doesn't believe I have the allergy, I'll make a complaint to the police - knowingly giving someone something they're allergic to is tantamount to attempted murder.

        4. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: But on the other hand...

          I'd agree with you if they had tried to hide what their item was made of, but nobody did that. The ingredients are always in the name, usually as the first word. The reason words like burger and milk are used is that they describe what the food item will be like. Almond milk is designed to be similar to dairy milk but be made of almonds. There is absolutely no ambiguity that almonds are involved and that, therefore, this is not dairy milk.

          Meanwhile, using this term better indicates to a perspective customer what type of product they're dealing with. It'd be like if you prevented anybody other than Apple from using the word "book" in the name of a laptop, anyone but HP using the word laptop, or anyone but IBM using the word computer. Everyone could still sell laptops, but you wouldn't necessarily know whether a device was actually a laptop because that useful descriptive term wasn't allowed.

        5. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: But on the other hand...

          "If your plant based alternatives are so good, stop trying to pass them off as things which they aren't."

          They'd be better off coming up with their own nomenclature. One of them might spontaneously explode if their server only heard "milk" and not "soy" in front of it and presented them with cow's milk that they take a big swig of and then spew all over the floor in a fit of something or another.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: But on the other hand...

        To paraphrase an ersatz Leader: "Monopolies are great...so long as I'm the monopolist."

      3. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: But on the other hand...

        Both America and France's Meat Industries have been trying to make it illegal to use these terms. France via the EU, successfully, which partially reconciles me to Brexit --- I am vegan myself --- and America partially such loyal deputies as the brilliant politician Mitch McConnell, who saw off both Obama and Trump's ill-fated Healthcare proposals through the rummy ways of Democracy and who has received more generosity from the Meat Industry than most Americans have eaten free hot dinners.

        Who’s Afraid of Tofurky? Oregon’s Soy Food Pioneer Fights For the Right to Label Its Product As Meat. --- Tofurky’s fight against Arkansas could decide whether nearly every vegan food company should be allowed to do business in rural states whose economies depend on ranching."

      4. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: But on the other hand...

        The regulation used to limit these words to certain products of the dairy industry is a transparent case of big-business using law to protect their market from new comers.

        We recently had a case here where some burger joint couldn't class their stuff as vegan/vegetarian as they used the same (vegetable based) cooking oil for both nutjobgunk[1] and for proper food, and maybe (after washing) some of the utensils.

        If the nutjobs want it their way, then the rest of us can play that game as well. If they want to limit who can use their terms, we'll play that game. There's much more of us, plus we're much much fitter and healthier!

        [1]All the vegans/vegetarians I've had the misfortune of knowing are unhealthy physically and extremely unhealthy mentally. They die relatively young from diseases that would've been prevented with a proper diet, or even at least using some basic supplements. During their dying they consume massive amounts of healthcare $$$ - $ they mostly don't contribute to because too few of them actually ever work due to some shit about not being part of corporate conspiracies or wotnot.

  11. Contrex

    Maybe I'm a bit ancient, but my father was an electrical engineer; he worked for the London Metropolitan Electric Supply Company (Metesco) after the war, and the London Electricity Board after nationalisation in 1948. He was a supply engineer, with an HND and more, a member of the IEE, and used to specify, commission and oversee the operation of distribution infrastructure, He was very particular about the distinction between engineers and 'electricians' or 'technicians'. He, so to speak, took 132 kV or higher from the Grid and managed it all the way to the 220v the consumer used. I have noticed the 'Electrical Engineering' section of Stack Exchange is full of 'how do I choose a diode' type questions.

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Joke

      I have noticed the 'Electrical Engineering' section of Stack Exchange is full of 'how do I choose a diode' type questions.

      You take a big box of 'em and try each one at random. If it explodes, it's the wrong one. Simples.

      Anything more is Engineering (applying science to solve a problem), apparently a restricted term...

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Stop

      You seem to be forgetting that when your father first graduated and probably for the first few months of his career if not longer, he was also asking "how do i choose the right diode?". Back then, he would have been asking the older engineers and no doubt they looked down at him condescendingly and then gave him the answers.

      These days, people try to avoid the condescending look and go to places like Stack Exchange for their answers. Is that really so much worse? Stack Exchange info can be wrong, but old guys can also be stuck in their ways and not using up to date info. Hopefully you take all answers with a pinch of salt, and check the results with others. But just because people are asking basic questions doesnt preclude them from turning into good engineers...

      1. Vincent Ballard
        Coat

        Diodes aren't that old.

        1. aregross

          There were also vacuum tube diodes.... many pins.

      2. whitepines Silver badge

        You seem to be forgetting that when your father first graduated and probably for the first few months of his career if not longer, he was also asking "how do i choose the right diode?"

        I'm pretty sure that one is supposed to know the following to graduate with a standard EE degree:

        * How to compute average and peak current through a basic circuit

        * How to locate and read a component datasheet

        * How to read I/V curves

        * What the meaning of "recovery time" is

        And if one *does* know all of that, there's no excuse for asking "how do I pick a diode?". The correct question would be more along the lines of "in this complex circuit I am having difficulty determining <x> parameter and its safety margin so that I can select a correct diode. Can you assist?" -- which shouldn't prompt any odd looks or condescension whatsoever.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Trollface

          "which shouldn't prompt any odd looks or condescension whatsoever."

          You havent dealt with many old engineers have you? Asking anything, even what the weather is like can you get a look of condescension!

          (I should know, I'm a middle aged engineer working my way to old engineer status, and the hours we have to practice being condescending is amazing...)

          1. whitepines Silver badge

            Oh, I have...and I'm similarly grumpy about my domain-specific knowledge. But if the whippersnapper is actually honestly doing their job and learning I don't mind the questions one bit.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              But if the whippersnapper is actually honestly doing their job and learning I don't mind the questions one bit.

              In my unusually long (for my age[1]) working life, in my professional life, and in my recreational life I have met many people who are engineers, and many who are experts in other fields. Some of the names you will know I expect, as I've been blessed in that time with meeting some truly exceptional people (no doubt very few of whom could ever be expected to remember meeting me, but a few have become long-term friends).

              Only once did I meet Sir Ancient GrumpenCunt, and for the first few years of our working together he truly was a grumpy old bastard who was deeply offended (later becoming a great friend and ally in the office politics). Part of the issue no doubt was I was brought in to help with a job he was getting too old to do, but he didn't want to admit it.

              But the vast majority have been quite happy to pass on their knowledge, especially in situations such as you mentioned. They value people who are wanting to learn to do things the proper way rather than the modern 'get it barely functional before going elsewhere, don't care if it breaks tomorrow because it appeared OK today'.

              I also count the likes of plumbers (not the sort who are lost if you ask them how to drill a hole in a 32mm PVC pipe), builders, proper electricians and my favourite, old-school mechanics (the sort who can cast their own pistons as good as any OEM, starting by making their own furnace, pots and molds if they don't already have one; who can find there's no available gear so cut and case-harden their own etc) among that lot - people who despair the loss of skills today and who are gladdened to see some keen to learn the skills, and are eager to pass on their knowledge before it is lost forever. True craftsmen (and women), not from-the-book/by-the-book only types (or "If youtube doesn't know how to do it, neither do I"

              Er, yeah anyway.. Would you like cream or syrup with those wafffles? Have a beer for being one of the decent ones keen on helping others learn :)

              [1] I was 5 at most when I did my first full-day of work, but I can remember being sent over to feed a neighbour's lambs at around 3. Can remember how far and how many worlds away it seemed..

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    It's all in the 'title'

    In the UK there are two types of people - ordinary folks and "professionals" who are able to sign off official documents like passports.

    The professionals, it has been deemed, are a very select, especially trustworthy group that include teachers, doctors and farmers ...

    As a person, who did a degree and a year's teacher training course and qualified last year at 23, I could sign off that passport as a 'professional person'.

    As a person who is 18 and has land given to them by the family and farms it, I could sign off that passport as a 'professional person'.

    As a person with the same degree as the teacher, a Masters, 20 years in industry, 10 years running my own company and the same size piece of land as the farmer that's a landscape garden, I'm not "professional" because my face doesn't fit ...

    The refusal of the badge "engineer" is in my view the same - snobbery of the term.

    At the local FE college the (less than) civil engineers, who have never been out of the office and wouldn't recognise a bridge if you hit them with it, refuse to refer to the staff in the mechanical engineering department as 'engineers' because they do not pay to be part of a professional body and have a shiny badge ... The fact that the mechanical engineers could design and manufacture the equipment to build the civil engineer's bridge seems to escape them ...

    1. Sam Liddicott

      Re: It's all in the 'title'

      I was taught that a "professional" is one in whom gross misconduct or dishonesty could of itself bar them from effective participation in their profession.

      That is, their integrity is gone, not merely that a registration board has de-listed them.

      Who would hire a software engineer found guilty of inserting back doors without their employers knowledge? Or who would lie on a passport form? If you can't trust their word, you can't trust their work.

      Hence, a professional being trusted to sign a passport form because of what they have to lose if they lie.

      1. tim 13

        Re: It's all in the 'title'

        Thats works for doctors and teachers, but farmers?

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: It's all in the 'title'

          Thats works for doctors and teachers, but farmers?

          There's a lot of stuff I could've slipped into the ground, the animals, or the milk vats that you'd not want to know about, and some of it could cause real harm if it was undetected.

          It's simply not economically feasible to test every bit of produce (including meats and liquids), so the farmer's reputation is what you have to trust, and that of their workers. Enough distrust and whole industries can be hurt badly.

          (BTW, on a real farm an 18yo kid should have pretty damned close to 18 years farming experience! (and at least 10 years driving heavy machines :) )

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: It's all in the 'title'

      You can certify documents if you are on a list of regulated professionals. Farmers are not part of a regulated profession and therefore farmers cannot certify documents.

      The reason for the existing situation is basically twofold.

      1) Being on a list of certified professionals you can check that a certified professional is actually a certified professional, and you can also pull their contact details from the database of their regulating body and drop them a message saying "did you certify the documents for X?"

      2) Being on a list of certified professionals means you can be tracked and basically struck off and made unemployable if you make a mistake. The idea is that the prospect of total ruin will inspire some level of caution in what you are certifying.

    3. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: It's all in the 'title'

      Farmer is not on the list of example recognised professions*, however a signatory can also be a "person of good standing in the community". Being, or being retired from being, a chairman or director of a limited company is on the list, as are many other "professions".

      Personally I qualify more than once, as a "manager or personnel officer of a limited company", "director, manager or personnel officer of a VAT-registered company", "member, associate or fellow of a professional body**", "local government officer" and "civil servant (permanent)" (although the last two were a long time ago).

      *All this applies to UK passport countersignatories.

      **Institute of Mathematics and it's Applications for the record and I do have Chartered status.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: UK: It's all in the 'title'

      In the UK, people that are not even qualified as fitters or installers, maybe have a 2 week course, are called Engineers by Sky, Virgin, BT etc.

      Engineers are not usally sent on a house call to install/fault find a TVRO sat dish and box, a cable modem, connect a washing machine or a VDSL/Fibre modem. They MIGHT be sent when the install dept has failed dozens of times and it sounds really odd/interesting to the Engineering Manager or CEO or CTO.

    5. forumusernamealreadytaken

      Re: It's all in the 'title'

      The passport office website says, inter alia, engineer with professional qualifications, photographer (professional) and travel agent (qualified). It seems more about identity than your actual job.

      Apparently the BCS membership and the BCS CITP counts too.

      Bizarre, I think I got my CITP free with a packet of corn flakes. Costs me £200 a year for the privilege of knowing I am chartered, but no one has ever shown any interest in it and I think I got it simply by saying I'd done stuff.

      A quick google around shows one anonymous random person saying that they checked with the passport office and the passport office accepts a CITP https://www.certforums.com/threads/bcs-affiliate-passport.36357/

  13. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Rename yourself

    Be a Gungineer ... no problems anymore.

    1. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Rename yourself

      Play GoIO much?

  14. Velv Silver badge
    Coat

    Engineers

    Who regulates the Plate Glass Maintenance Engineers?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Engineers

      Whoever it is they demand complete transparency about qualifications.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Engineers

        ..and the qualification process is paneful.

  15. TheProf Silver badge
    Pint

    Strange device

    "Mills was hired to develop a battery-powered pump for an umbrella that incorporates a mist spraying system"

    Now this I want to see. An umbrella that protects you from the rain while at the same time spraying water into your face.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Strange device

      "Parasols" is a subset of "Umbrellas", so I guess that the device discussed was, in more precise terms, a parasol. Either that or the guy that complained to the ABTR as revenge for Mills raising the price for a more complex design is barking mad!

      1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: Strange device

        Quite. Arizona has plenty of sun, but generally not much rain.

        1. TheProf Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Strange device

          Oh yes! Being from Brexitland (formerly known as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) the thought of using an umbrella to keep the sun off one's head never occurred to me.

          Well what a dope I am. It makes perfect sense for parasol to spray a nice cooling mist at the wielder. As long as they remembered to recharge it overnight.

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Strange device

            The part about the client who reported him being a loony can't be totally discarded, though!

  16. sbt Silver badge
    Coat

    USB? Weird flex, not okay.

    After the client informed Mills that the device should support USB charging, Mills raised his initial estimate from $4,000 to $4,800. The client in response complained to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration that Mills was not a registered engineer and demanded a refund of payments made.

    Seems like some client rat-baggery to get out of the deal.

    Mine's the one with the powerbank in the pocket (so no, I'm not pleased to see you). -->

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. hmv Silver badge

    "veggie burgers"

    As a vegetarian myself, I'm somewhat perturbed by the term "veggie burger" ... it's beefburger, turkeyburger, so what is a "veggie burger" made from? Vegetarians? The last time I frequented a fast food place on a regular basis, they sold "spicy bean burgers" - a far less alarming name. According to the OED, whilst 'burger' is a meat products (hamburger), adding anything to the beginning makes it a bread product with something in.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: "veggie burgers"

      Sunflower oil, corn oil, castor oil, but baby oil?

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: "veggie burgers"

      "what is a "veggie burger" made from?"

      Ummm... it's right in the name -- it's made from vegetable material.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "veggie burgers"

        "Ummm... it's right in the name -- it's made from vegetable material."

        Well, so is beef. You are just eating what ends up after the cow has processed that vegetable material.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "veggie burgers"

          Well, so is beef. You are just eating what ends up after the cow has processed that vegetable material.

          So is the brain of the person who downvoted you I guess - but then "you are what you eat"

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "veggie burgers"

            Cheers, mate.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    800 bucks for a usb charging circuit you can buy for less than a dollar? no wonder

    1. all ears

      Um redesign the entire circuit board at the last minute for a previously unmentioned requirement? $800 sounds cheap. When was the last time you had it done for less?

      1. Bitsminer

        Umm being so bad at requirements elicitation that the customer sandbags you with an obvious need?

        (Umbrellas in AZ, like parts of Asia, are to keep the sun off, not the rain. And misting arrangements are a common way of cooling you off in 38C weather.)

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        WTF?

        When was the last time you had it done for less?

        Not too many weeks back. Was so trivial it wasn't worth charging extra for. Run some power, add a regulator and a few other bits, extending the length of the board slightly (ok, the actual circuit itself was a cut'n'paste from a previous job with a little bit of changing to make the final design aesthetically pleasing to me). Litterally ring ring "Hello?" "Hi, so-and-so here, just wondering if you could add a 5v output to the unit?" "Would a USB socket do?" "Yes, that'd be great! How much extra?" "For you, no charge.".

        In a case like this I'd've suggested exactly that, chuck a buck charger on there (never really sure if they call them "buck" because of function or cost!) and be done with it.

        I've also built a number of projects where I've tossed in a cheap USB charger socket for voltage regulation. They're so cheap and readily available. And the circuitry is so simple, hence why I also cannot see the $800 as anything less than theft.

        The guy deserves all he gets for ripping off his clients, and clearly does not have a shred of integrity.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          The devil is all in the details. If the customer has been a PIA all along and this change came right when the original spec was all designed up and ready to deliver maybe he was adding the fee on to discourage any more changes so he could get the final check and not work with this person any more. If you've got a contract that pays out your profit margin at the end of the job, you want to get it all tied up in ribbons and bows so you can pay the rent.

          I've had jobs where I would swear the customer was dragging their feet and wanting revs or more documentation because they didn't want to pay or couldn't. They may have also found a competing product going for so little that they knew they could never get any sales and wanted to chase the designer off without having to pay them anymore. That happens a lot with crowd-funded projects. Lots of Asian company troll those sites looking for good ideas and can have a slap dash version of the product out before the funding drive ends. I saw one where they even ripped off the photos from the Kickstarter page.

  20. ReadyKilowatt

    My industry is full of engineers who have no degree in anything. My first job was "video engineer," because that's what fit best for my role. I tried to explain that, no, I'm not an engineer. My father is an engineer though and had the required paperwork from the state of Pennsylvania. I think the reason for the blurring of the line between technician and engineer is just so that industry can beat up engineers on pay. At one time engineering was considered similar to doctors and lawyers in terms of respect and pay grades. Industry saw how many engineers they'd need to do all the work that needed done, and balked at the price tag. So the title was made meaningless outside of a few very specific roles where liability is a factor. Which is a shame.

    1. drankinatty

      That, in a nutshell, is why we have regulations on who can represent themselves to the public as an "Engineer". People can call themselves anything they like, but when they want to advertise to the public that they are an "Engineer", the registration requirement ensures they meet a set of minimum requirements to do so. There are many who would like to call themselves "Engineers" without having to earn at minimum a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from an accredited 4-year degree program. Many would like to use "Engineer" or "Engineering" in the slick marketing they do without having spent an apprenticeship gaining skill, knowledge and experience working under a licensed engineer before sitting for the principals and practices exam. The public doesn't know the difference -- and that is the reason for the registration requirement.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the UK, Engineering Has a Poor Reputation

    In the UK anyone can refer to themselves as an engineer - even the person who fits your telephone in your house calls themselves a BT engineer.

    The UK attitude is deplorable - they just do not value engineering as a profession. For some reason, managers are regarded higher status than engineers, despite that they know significantly less (or nothing at all) and are just people managers employed specifically to do so. It seems to be different in the EU countries.

  22. Bucky 2

    If a client gives out requirements in dribs and drabs, the court agrees that the contractor isn't allowed to raise the price as a result.

    Ultimately, that's my takeaway.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Facepalm

      If a client gives out requirements in dribs and drabs, the court agrees that the contractor isn't allowed to raise the price as a result.

      When someone is starting to design a new product, they seldom come up with the entire thing in one hit. Features are added or removed.

      For millenia we had a stick and a bit of string/cord for a drill. Then someone invented the drill bit and the brace. Later electricity came along and we got drill presses, and some years later we got drills small enough to be carried around. Then we got a variety of cordless drills till we reached what we have today - cheap battery-powered drills that can do a hell of a lot of work while being cheap enough even I have several of them and often use 3 separate ones for a job (one for the screw hole, one for the screw, and one for the larger hole in the held bit of wood - if I wasn't so lazy and using self-countersinking screws I'd have another for the countersink bit). We also have hammer drills, clutch drills, and where years back you needed a large compressor and a humongous bank-balance for the actual unit, we have cordless rattle-guns around the same size as a common drill, and for around the same price.

      I and anyone else who has done any actual design work knows that there will be changes between the initial idea and the final result. Sometimes it'll be the wife suggesting the buttons would be more comfortable if moved along a bit, sometimes it's someone asking for a speed regulator, sometimes you yourself realise it'd be cool if it could also....

      So when you do design work for others, you charge a set rate and drop the prices a reasonable amount for doing less work, or add to it a reasonable amount for doing more work.

      $800 for a $1 USB charger is very very far from reasonable, and the criminal deserves to be charged and tried. If he'd not charged such an outrageous amount for the job he wouldn't be in the boat he is in now, even if he was operating outside the law. Hell, in this day and age it's such an obvious accessory he could've spent 20 seconds adding it to the design just in case, or as an added feature to even more please the customer.

      What he hell is in his USB charger that's worth even $50 let alone $800? And what's in his battery/switch/pump/spray nozzle design that makes it worth $40, let along $4,000?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        What he hell is in his USB charger that's worth even $50 let alone $800? And what's in his battery/switch/pump/spray nozzle design that makes it worth $40, let along $4,000?

        I don't suppose the downvoter could answer a serious question?

        I'm offering you a chance to larn an ignerr'nt furrigner somink! [Yeah sorry, too early in the morning after a rough night and I mix accents like some people mix metaphors]

  23. Marty McFly
    Facepalm

    Too much money!

    Seems like the state of Arizona is spending too much money on bureaucrats and could do some fiscally responsible trimming.

  24. Bitsminer

    definitions I

    Here in my part of the world, we have the definition of "engineer":

    includes reporting on, designing, or directing the construction of

    Which seems to include management. Eh?

    And also implies all the good stuff managers do: planning (objectives, budget, controls, taking credit/giving blame, etc etc).

    Which the respondent in the article was in fact doing. Hence, he is acting as an engineer (though I not his company name doesn't imply so).

  25. Bitsminer

    Definitions II

    But, on the other hand, we have

    without limitation, includes reporting on, designing or directing the construction of public utilities, industrial works, railways, bridges, highways, canals, harbour works, river improvements, lighthouses, wet docks, dry docks, floating docks, launch ways, marine ways, steam engines, turbines, pumps, internal combustion engines, airships and airplanes, electrical machinery and apparatus, chemical operations, machinery, and works for the development, transmission or application of power, light and heat, grain elevators, municipal works, irrigation works, sewage disposal works, drainage works, incinerators, hydraulic works, and all other engineering works, and all buildings necessary to the proper housing, installation and operation of the engineering works embraced in this definition

    Which would seem to leave the software engineers out of it (*). Shame, really. Software is at least as important as, oh, say, aircraft engineering.

    (*) Not really; they're included along with others with a clause that allows additional types to be defined later.

  26. chivo243 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    No longer shocked

    It seems there is a disease that affects common sense, voters and elected officials alike. I'm no longer shocked by the idiocy that prevails these days. The fix is in, too many people making money off the deal to give a shit?

  27. martinusher Silver badge

    Its a uniquely American weakness -- or is it?

    In many ways we're still stuck in the 19th century. People build crap, it falls down so along comes the state or federal lawmakers who try to fix the situation using blanket legislation and a licensing regime to regulate things. Fine, if you're a structural engineer where you have to sign off on designs that could cause a disaster if they fail but not that relevant for day to day work. The problem is that once you've got yourself an entrenched profession and associated bureaucracy they will defend their position against any kind of change, no matter how sensible or necessary.

    You have similar situations in the UK. I gather that any electrical work, no matter how trivial, has to be signed off by a licensed electrician. A sensible safety precaution? Possibly. But the reality is that it generates a licensed monopoly with legal enforcement -- there's no incentive to spread knowledge because it provides good eating for a relatively small group of people plus assorted bureaucrats. (Its really an extension of the industrial practice when I first started working; it was before IEC connectors became universal so equipment had cables with plugs on the end. As an "engineer" you were allowed to build everything, no matter how complex, but you had to wait for a union electrician to put a plug on it. Or Else. This eventually gave rise to a very handy product called a Keynector that enabled us to get some work done.)

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Its a uniquely American weakness -- or is it?

      You have similar situations in the UK. I gather that any electrical work, no matter how trivial, has to be signed off by a licensed electrician.

      Not correct - though the rules vary by country these days.

      In England, the rules are fairly simple - anyone who is competent is allowed to do electrical work and produce a certificate for it. There is no legal definition of constitutes competent in terms of training or membership and any trade body*. in England, there are just 3 specific things that require notification (though they can still be done by someone without any formal qualifications or memberships) : replacing a consumer unit, adding a new circuit, or work within the zones of a bathroom (basically close to a bath or shower).

      Wales still has the notification rules that came in in 2005, they didn't relax them as happened in England. Scotland has it's own rules.

      Note that the notification requirements are notification of the work to the local Building Control department - who may insist on having the work inspected by what they consider to be a "real" electrician if the work is done by (for example) a DIYer.

      * Members of certain membership schemes are able to "self notify" notified work via their scheme for hardly any cost. That gives them an advantage as notifying via the local Building Control dept typically costs between around £200 and £400 !

      These bodies are seen by most as protectionist "unions" who would love to see the law strengthened so that only their members were allowed to do electrical work - thus blocking out non-members and guaranteeing themselves more membership fees (which are not inconsiderable !) The sort of messages they put out are very carefully worded to mislead the general public into thinking that membership of their bodies is a requirement for an electrician to be competent. As with many areas, membership is no guarantee whatsoever - there's no shortage of examples of "dodgy" work done by scheme members. The chances of a dodgy sparky getting caught is low, and the penalties really come down to having their membership of a non-mandatory body revoked (and they could then join another).

      That's all for domestic work. In a commercial environment the law is less restrictive in that there are no notification requirements. However, in a work environment there are other laws that come into play - so a business needs to apply more due diligence so they can demonstrate (if needed) that they've complied with things like the Electricity at Work Regulations. But there are still no formal qualification or registration requirements.

    2. The Basis of everything is...

      Re: Its a uniquely American weakness -- or is it?

      In the UK - unlike certain parts of the Land of the Free - you can do quite a lot of electrical work yourself in your own home e.g. move/add/replace sockets and switches, replace sections of cables, add spurs etc as long as it's not near water - basically the stuff that's "Part P" exempt. (For viewers at home please don't try this unless you know what you're doing. 240v hurts at the best of times)

      If you want to add entire new rings or install an electric shower or run power out to your shed you can still do the work yourself but you need to get it certified by a competent person before you switch the circuits back on. The tricky bit is finding a sparky willing to sign off on somebody else's work for less than paying the sparky to do it all themselves.

      There was a call many years ago to ban it all and require annual "safety" checks on private homes too but that got dropped as too big brother and would only have created a nice little payday for the cowboys and drive the real sparks out of business. And possibly the realisation there wasn't enough certified people to actually do a PAT test on every item in every home every year...

  28. JohnFen Silver badge

    So stupid

    An "engineer" is someone who engages in engineering, regardless of their certifications. All by itself, that should not be a restricted term. Legitimate restricted terms should be something like "certified engineer" or "registered engineer", as those imply credentials. "Engineer" all by itself does not imply credentials, it implies actions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So stupid

      Add "Licensed engineer" and "Arizona registered engineer" to the list.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schneier?!

    Am I the only person who- upon first glancing at the accompanying picture- briefly wondered what Bruce Schneier had to do with the story?

  30. Ptol

    Software Engineer nearly losses the war....

    Knowing someone who worked with the engineer responsible for the royal navy warships being unable to defend themselves in the falklands war- its very possible for software engineers to make design decisions that have life / death consequences.

    Lets just say, having a plane appear in the middle of the radar area could be a sign of a glitching system that needs a reboot - but it could also be a sign that it was following the terrain and has just popped up from behind a hill. When there's a hill involved, having all of the ships defences doing a simultaneous reboot had some pretty disastrous consequences.

  31. ScrappyLaptop2

    C'mon - there's a Register article from Oct 2019 that says the opposite

    (also, welcome to the American legal system where nothing is truly law until the Supreme Court rules on it a few decades later)

    "After Mats Järlström lost an initial legal challenge in 2014, a federal judge in January this year ruled Oregon's rules prohibiting people from representing themselves as engineers without a professional license from the state are unconstitutional."

    from: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/10/21/traffic_lights_changed/

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: C'mon - there's a Register article from Oct 2019 that says the opposite

      That would be the case - and outcome - that's referred to in the second paragraph of the fine article.

  32. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Once again, the law contradicts common sense

    Same thing happens all the time. A word is used, and has a known meaning. The law comes along and redefines it.. wrongly.

    For example, what would you describe as a competent person? Someone who knows what they're doing and generally doesn't cock up?

    Nope, in the electrical industry in the UK it means you can be ludicrously bad at your job, but if you're a member of a few select bodies, you are legally 'a competent person'

    The law is an ASS (the north american definition, on the grounds it spews a load of shite)

    With respect to TFA, anyone who carries out engineering is, by literal definition, an engineer. Licensing be buggered

  33. Bill 21

    The customer changed the requirements, then got upset when the price went up (a bit)

    FFS - adding a USB charger (to a lunatic concept) is going to up the regulatory effort, which is the sort of thing you'd expect an engineer to notice.

    "According to the court filing [PDF], Mills was hired to develop a battery-powered pump for an umbrella that incorporates a mist spraying system. After the client informed Mills that the device should support USB charging, Mills raised his initial estimate from $4,000 to $4,800. The client in response complained to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration that Mills was not a registered engineer and demanded a refund of payments made."

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: The customer changed the requirements, then got upset when the price went up (a bit)

      adding a USB charger (to a lunatic concept) is going to up the regulatory effort

      In "the land of the free", do you have to get government approval to add USB chargers to devices?

      I wouldn't have expected it was necessary even over there!

  34. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Don't forget those locks

    In some US states, you have to hold a locksmithing license to do any work on locks. To get the license, you have to pass educational requirements, get a background check and get finger printed. All of that is if you want to make legal money doing it. If all you want to do is break into buildings and take stuff, no license is required. I'm not completely certain that criminals haven't been charged with not having a locksmithing license if they picked locks to get into a property, but given the US legal system, I'm sure it might have happened. A person was convicted of murder in Florida. They got him bang to rights and he's going to spend a long stretch in prison. That is, he will spend a long time in prison after the next trial and sentencing on the matter of the murder being a "hate" crime. A murder conviction just wasn't enough.

    I agree with everybody else that certain engineering professions should require certification and licensing beyond a degree. Anything to do with bridges, dams and structural aspects of buildings where public safety is involved should be done by engineers that have met well defined standards and continuously update their education and understanding to stay current. The person nailing tiles on the roof of a house doesn't need a certification. An EE designing a mister pump for an umbrella isn't in the same arena. Even an engineer designing the avionics and control systems for a rocket doesn't need a PE designation since rockets are classed as a very hazardous thing and "the public" should be no where near them when they are being launched. It could arguably be different for somebody working on aircraft or at least the person responsible for reviewing the work of other engineers for safety and compliance.

    This Arizona created oligarchy is something dangerous and should be abolished. Robert Heinlein points out the danger of these sorts of boards in "Magic, inc". You just have to get past the devil (or a demon) being the head of said board.

  35. drankinatty

    Many Comment Miss the Point of The Professional Registration Requirement

    The reason for the Professional Registration requirement for an individual or company offering "Engineering" services is one of public safety. It ensures that when a member of the public approaches a business offering "Engineering" services, that the person or entity behind the title of "Engineer" is accountable based on the standards set by the state for offering engineering services within that state. It doesn't concern itself with where the dividing line is between what "Engineering" conceivably carries public safety concerns and what "Engineering" doesn't.

    The rule ensures that there is a person or persons within that company that are required to meet the state standards for licensing, continuing education and ethics set by the state. It ensures that there is someone present with that qualification that can make the call on whether public safety is implicated and whether that firm or individual is competent to carry out that service based on their accumulated knowledge, training, skill, education and experience. It ensures by requiring professional registration that there is a "measuring stick" by which to measure the conduct of the "Engineer" should harm result from the engineering services offered.

    That is why we have rules on the use of the word "Engineer" or "Engineering" in a company name. Does that mean a licensed engineer is any smarter or more capable that someone who lacks that qualification, or that the person in this case cannot do the circuit design as good or better than another -- of course not. It is a simple rule designed to protect the public from companies or individuals offering "Engineering" services or representing themselves as "Engineers" unless they are licensed by that state and meet the minimum qualifications for holding that license. No different than what is required of a Doctor or Lawyer (or plumber, or hair-dresser for that matter...)

    David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.

  36. HobartTas

    Reading this "After spending years in college studying to be an electrical engineer, he started his career as a lab tech at Rayovac. From there, he worked his way up through manufacturing companies " as far as I can see it tends to imply that he never actually graduated from university with an Engineering degree so at best I'd say is that he is a highly skilled technician given his resume. We'd never regard someone as a doctor who never graduated from medical school so why should we consider him an engineer no matter how much work experience he has.

  37. Richard 36

    Architect

    In my time I've been a Software Engineer and a (Software) Systems Architect. Concrete architects complained about the latter.

  38. Kiwi Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF? Greedy prick deserves all the fines he gets.

    "After the client informed Mills that the device should support USB charging, Mills raised his initial estimate from $4,000 to $4,800."

    $800 for copypasting cheap existing plans"designing" a USB charging module????? When there's so many existing plans and basic PSU designs and cheap USB charging modules he could shove in there?

    Rip-off prat can afford to pay the fines and then some. How many other people has he screwed over like this?

    I doubt I'd charge more than a couple of hundred for the design in the article, and could probably knock off the basic design in an afternoon, with a working prototype. How the hell could his prices be justified?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: WTF? Greedy prick deserves all the fines he gets.

      "I doubt I'd charge more than a couple of hundred for the design in the article, and could probably knock off the basic design in an afternoon, with a working prototype. How the hell could his prices be justified?"

      Well, let's say that the whole thing was going on one PCB. That's a new PCB, an hour or so of work, send the file off to the PCB fab. Wait a week. Order the parts from the electronics store. £3 in parts, £9 in shipping. Design new case to hold new PCB with cutouts. Either send out for 3D printing or do it in house depending on capability and materials/tolerance/finish. Assemble and test new electronics, fit in new case, send to client for approval. Several samples?

      The design part is a walk in the park. Just watch a few of Big Clive's teardown videos with schematics. Order some DW01's and 4056's and you're on your way. It's waiting for the parts and building the samples and then getting the new final design approved and getting a check. I might have quoted $400 but I don't know what he'd already been through or the particulars of the project. The quote may have also been to get them to not want to do the upgrade. If I had another project with a deadline started, revisiting the last one that is supposed to be done and dusted could be a major PIA. I might want a premium to compensate for the sleep I'll be missing. It could be that he had a holiday scheduled and this "finished" job coming back means I'll have to repurchase airline tickets, cancel a hotel booking and pay fees, etc.

      There are plenty of reasons why something gets quoted at the level it does and all of them perfectly reasonable when you know the details.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: WTF? Greedy prick deserves all the fines he gets.

        "I doubt I'd charge more than a couple of hundred for the design in the article, and could probably knock off the basic design in an afternoon, with a working prototype. How the hell could his prices be justified?"

        Well, let's say that the whole thing was going on one PCB. That's a new PCB, an hour or so of work, send the file off to the PCB fab. Wait a week. Order the parts from the electronics store. £3 in parts, £9 in shipping. Design new case to hold new PCB with cutouts. Either send out for 3D printing or do it in house depending on capability and materials/tolerance/finish. Assemble and test new electronics, fit in new case, send to client for approval. Several samples?

        From the article : "According to the court filing [PDF], Mills was hired to develop a battery-powered pump for an umbrella that incorporates a mist spraying system. After the client informed Mills that the device should support USB charging, Mills raised his initial estimate from $4,000 to $4,800. "

        It really doesn't sound anywhere like the sort of work you're describing. One of the projects I built at the home I do some gardening work for is a pump system that ups the pressure from a few rainwater barrels to drive nearby irrigation. Battery powered, based around a cheap 18v battery. It took me a day to design and build including research time for what products were around and making a mount/connector for the battery. Admittedly this never got a proper case (just one of those electrical conduit boxes) and the circuitry is really simple (and contains a USB charger too btw - because it was easier to fit a $5 USB module with a LED voltage display than it was to make a charge level indicator (I was doing this as a "work now be lazy later"). Point is the stuff is simple and mostly already done.

        Now I was probably spoilt when I did my apprenticeship, next door we had a small-scale shop that would make PCBs. And being a kid who was into the Dick Smith and other such kits I also learned to make my own boards before my age reached double digits.. And I also had good friends at various places that do bespoke plastic molds and even made/sold cheap and simple injection or vacuum molding kits - perhaps that is why to me charging $4,000 grand for something which is already done and is so simple he could whip the designs out in a day and the changes in an hour or less (should be much much less!).

        Perhaps with NZ being quite small and such industries - well if you were to get a rep for ripping your customers off so much you might not be in business for long, and there's plenty of competition out there...

        There's nothing in the article to say he was about to go on holiday. Nor is there anything to say the client was pressing for urgency. Since it was a quoted estimate, he'd not been ordering parts or boards, he hadn't even designed the board only given an estimate. Now if we were talking the cost including a limited production run then I might agree, but there's no indication that was asked (from the article, I've not read the other material).

        I don't do this stuff for a living but I do it for fun and sometimes to supplement my income. My biggest paying job is something I can only say is linked to "building automation" for an organisation "with government ties" (ie some NDA encumbrances). The circuitry and software involved is much more complex than what would be involved here, and does work at high enough voltages to require certain standards to be met. Much more involved in time and effort. No way something like what the article mentioned is even remotely worth that much. I have done several other smaller projects including some that involve chucking water around - much much bigger quantities than this one.

        As to what he was building, I can pick up most of the hardware on trademe and if TM has it Ali Express is probably flooded with it!

        Maybe he only uses Fritzing, and feels he needs to charge outrageous amounts as compensation for using that bit of "software"?

        --> Enjoy the new year :)

  39. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Pint

    Well.

    Personally, I want to see 'BOFH' as a certified position.

    With the appropriate amount of respect given to that title.

  40. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    What the *bleep* is "skim milk"? Do they mean skim*MED* milk? Y'know, you form an adjective from the past tense of a verb because an adjective describes a process that has been applied, ie, something that has happen*ED*.

    1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
      Trollface

      Skim milk?

      Don't ask about Homo Milk.

  41. sawatts

    Board?

    Arizona "Board" of Technical Registration?

    How can they call themselves a "board" when, as far as I can tell, they are not a flat piece of wood-based product?

    They may well be planks.

  42. david 12

    Trademarks

    They've got a trademark, and he's trying to steal it. Putting aside the question of drawing a line in the sand for public safety, he's still trying to cash in on someone else's trademark and goodwill.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020