THE ENGINEERING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The main stages in the development of an engineering professional are described in Table 1. This guide applies to the development process between graduation with an accredited or recognised qualification and applying for registration as a professional. This period is bracketed by two important stages in the development of an engineering practitioner at which assessment takes place:
Stage 1: Meet the education requirements for registration in the category; and
Stage 2: Meet the professional competency requirements for registration.
During this time, the person undergoes training and gains experience to develop the competencies required for registration. During this time a person is normally registered as a candidate. A programme of training and experience designed to develop a person is called a candidacy programme or the candidacy phase. In this guide, a person working toward registration is referred to as a candidate. While training through a structured programme is the advised method of developing the competencies for registration, a person may not have registered as a candidate. Unless the context requires otherwise, the term candidate is used throughout this guide and its companion documents.
When the candidate reaches the stage of applying for registration and during this process, the term applicant is used.
During the period of training and experience the person is in employment and works with and under the supervision of qualified engineering professionals. The training process may involve structured activities including induction and training courses on specific skills or technologies. The candidate also participates in self-initiated professional development activities, termed initial professional development activities.
The Engineering Professional Lifecycle and
Process of Professional Development
The training process described in this document is a critical part of the development of an engineering professional. The benchmark engineering professional lifecycle has a number of stages:
1:School Education: achievement of literacy, numeracy and a first level of mathematics, science and language proficiency;
2: Higher Education: completion of an accredited programme and the attainment of a required level of engineering education;
3: Candidacy Phase: a programme of training and experience that builds on the higher education qualification to develop the competencies required for registration;
4: Practice as a Registered Person: registration certifies that the person has demonstrated, through work performed, that he or she has satisfied the generic baseline competency standards for the profession and is permitted to practice and take responsibility for engineering work for which he or she is competent by virtue of education, training and experience. There is a recognition that the person’s competence will grow with further experience.
The process of developing competency for registration normally proceeds in the above sequence. The educational requirement is fulfilled first. This step means that requirement for registration as a candidate is met. Registration as a candidate in the relevant category is strongly recommended.
Professional Competency and Competency Standards for Registration
Professional competence means having the attributes necessary to perform the activities within the profession to the standards expected in independent employment or practice. The Engineering Profession Act, 2000 (EPA) uses a competency-based approach to registration. It says that the ECSA Council must register an applicant in a professional category who has demonstrated competency against standards that it has determined for the category. This statement embodies the notion of standards of competency and demonstration of competency.
What is a competancy standard?
The competence of an engineering professional in a category is defined as having the proven attributes necessary to perform the activities within the professional category to the standards expected. The standard of competency or simply, competency standard defines a number of outcomes that a person must achieve at a stated level at which the outcome in order to be judged competent to register in a category. Eleven outcomes are defined and these are conveniently grouped in five sets. The stem of each outcome is the same in the Professional Engineer, Professional Engineering Technologist and Professional Engineering Technician standards. The standards are differentiated by the insertion of level discriminators (defined in the standards) at the locations shown by [level].
Group A: Knowledge-based engineering problem solving
Outcome 1: Define, investigate and analyse [level] engineering problems
Outcome 2: Design or develop solutions to [level] engineering problems
Outcome 3: Comprehend and apply [level] knowledge: principles, specialist knowledge, jurisdictional and local knowledge
Group B: Manage Engineering Activities
Outcome 4: Manage part or all of one or more [level] engineering activities
Outcome 5: Communicate clearly with others in the course of his or her engineering activities
Group C: Group C: Impacts of Engineering Activity
Outcome 6: Recognise and address the reasonably foreseeable social, cultural and environmental effects of [level] engineering activities
Outcome 7: Meet all legal and regulatory requirements and protect the health and safety of persons in the course of his or her [level] engineering activities
Group D: Exercise judgement, take responsibility and act ethically
Outcome 8: Conduct engineering activities ethically
Outcome 9:- Exercise sound judgement in the course of [level] engineering activities
Outcome 10:- Be responsible for making decisions on part or all of [level] engineering activities
Group E: Continuing Professional Development
Outcome 11:- Undertake professional development activities sufficient to maintain and extend his or her competence
Outcomes 1 and 2 require a level descriptor for the level of problem solving. This descriptor takes into account the knowledge required for analysis and design or development of solutions, the degree to which the problem is defined, factors that may make the solution difficult and the uncertainty and consequences of the problem and solution.
Outcomes 4, 6, 7 9 and 10 require a level descriptor for the demands of the engineering activity for each category.
These level descriptors are defined for the three categories in the competency standards R-02-PE, R-02-PN and R-02-PT. The candidate or prospective applicant for registration should be familiar with the requirements of the applicable standard for the category.
How is Competency Demonstrated
The answer to this question is in most cases linked to the model for development of professional competency. The first stage is the attainment of an educational qualification as an important foundation. During the training and experience phase the candidate progressively performs more demanding work and takes on more responsibility. In the final phase the candidate should be working at the level expected of a person who has just become registered but will be under the supervision and control of a registered person.
While working at this level, the candidate will be undertaking work that require problem analysis and solution, taking impacts and regulation into account, managing processes to ensure that the engineering goals are met, behaving ethically, exercising judgement in decision making and taking full responsibility to the supervisor for the work completed. Effective performance of this work is therefore evidence of competence. The applicant for registration must document this evidence for the registration applications and must undergo documentary interactive assessment by engineering professionals who judge the demonstrated competency against the defined standards.
Detailed guides are available to the competency standards for each Professional Category:
· Guide to the Competency Standards for Registration as a Professional Engineer;
· Guide to the Competency Standards for Registration as a Professional Engineering Technologist;
· Guide to the Competency Standards for Registration as a Professional Engineering Technician.