July 14, 2022
Our magazine publishes hundreds of high-quality technical articles every year. Considerable effort has gone into maintaining a searchable archive of those articles so readers can self-educate themselves on topics of interest to them. Unfortunately those self-education efforts are not recognized by state licensing authorities. With the adoption of mandatory continuing education requirements for license renewal, professional engineers (PEs) are expected to complete 30 hours of approved coursework every two years. Some of those hours are wisely spent on ethics classes. For PEs engaged in work subject to frequent regulatory changes there are often more classes available than the engineer needs. Gear design is not regulated outside of its interaction with civil engineering and architecture in locks, dams, bridges, and flood control. “Approved” educational classes for gear engineers are almost non-existent. For those of us on the consulting side of the business, budgetary constraints make it impossible to use expensive “golf resort” seminars to fill up those 30 hours. A few days ago I made the difficult decision to place my PE license on inactive status. I spend hundreds of hours each year working on AGMA committees and training customer employees, activities that fulfill the continuing ed requirement in some jurisdictions — but not others. In the twenty years that I have been licensed there has been no need to provide services that actually require a license, so it was time to let the credential go. It is my hope that we can develop a system that gives gear industry PEs a way to have both their AGMA committee work and self-education officially recognized. The PE credential is a worthy goal for all engineers; it is an important step in improving the stature of mechanical engineering in a world where practical technical advice should not be the sole province of academics and our international competitors. American engineers have always had a unique perspective on problems. We cannot allow that perspective to be ignored because of quirks in our licensing system.