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Police your profession

Professional engineers must police the profession and the laws that govern their work to ensure that only registered engineers are practising.

This view was expressed by a wide cross section of professional engineers recently at the Barbados Light & Power Conference Room, Christie Building, the Garrison, St. Michael, to hear a panel of four engineers discuss the concerns of their profession.

A member of the audience argued that engineers needed to be more serious about their profession and to be sensitive to the role they played in maintaining public safety. In addition, they condemned the practice where technicians called themselves engineers, while in the medical profession and legal professions only persons who acquired the requisite qualifications could practise.

It was suggested that anyone who saw the misuse of the designation, engineer, should report it to the Engineers Registration Board and bring it to the attention of the Director of Public Prosecution.

The four panelists, who included head of engineering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Paula Agbowu (Yarde); past President of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers, Tony Gibbs; General Secretary of the Engineers Registration Board, Grantley Haynes, and past Chairman of the Engineers Registration Board, Peter Thompson, agreed that engineering graduates should benefit from a period of mentorship by a more experienced engineer.

A member of the audience queried whether Government engineers benefited from a period of mentorship like all new entrants in the field.†The panelists agreed that the board should ensure that engineers displayed the highest level of competence to ensure the safety of the public. They also agreed that in recent times several other areas of engineering, including information technology engineering and software engineering, had emerged.

Thompson recalled that when he held the position of chairman of the Engineers Registration Board he had sought to establish an examination for new graduates seeking registration, but it had to be shelved because of the new areas of engineering that had emerged.

Another area of concern expressed by the panelists and some members of the audience was the prohibitive cost of registration for professionals. The panelists recalled that in the 2008 Budget, then Prime Minister David Thompson, had raised the annual registration fees for engineers from $500 per annum to $2,500 per annum.

They acknowledged that while the current fee might not be burdensome for someone who had been practising for 20 years, it could be a challenge for a new person entering the field. It was suggested that a graduated fee system should be introduced to assist young engineers entering the field and it was agreed that representation should be made to the political directorate on this matter.

It was disclosed that some engineers were not registering because they felt that the fee was too high. Haynes, produced an Official Gazette which showed that at December 2012, there were 172 registered engineers in Barbados, but Gibbs countered this by indicating that the updated list for February 2013 would be more accurate.†(NC)††††††

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