BY MIKE SMYTH, P.ENG.
My friend Leo Flaman, P.Eng., is licensed in more jurisdictions
around the world than anybody I know. I am in awe of his
motivation and of his experience in so many parts of the
He is also a volunteer with APEGGA, serving on the Investigative
Committee for many years.
Leo’s son Mark appears to be following in his father’s
footsteps. Mark also works in the engineering field and is
currently on assignment in Russia, working out of Calgary
for APEGGA permit holder Hinz Automation.
Mark would like to register with APEGGA, and with his father’s
example to follow, believes that he should be registered
with APEGGA to practice his profession in Alberta. The sad
truth is, however, that the way things are now it is not
very likely he will get registered with APEGGA.
Mark has an undergraduate degree in computer science and
works in software engineering as an automation systems integrator.
As things stand now, he is a square peg in a round hole.
He just does not fit the standard mould.
What We’re Doing About
By now you have likely heard the word inclusivity. What does
it mean? If you are reading this in The PEGG, you are most
likely a member of APEGGA already, and inclusivity will
not affect you in any way.
If you are interested to see how it will have a major impact
on the lives of many people who are not currently members
of APEGGA, and will improve the protection of the public
safety and well-being here in Alberta, read on.
APEGGA licenses qualified, responsible people to practice
our professions. The standard route to licensure for the
vast majority of our members is to graduate from an accredited
Canadian university program, gain four years of professional
experience, and write the professional practice exam.
Members of our Board of Examiners take their role very seriously,
as we would expect them to, and they set the bar very high
in order to protect the public.
But what if you do not fit the mould? What if you did not
graduate from a Canadian university program in geoscience
Perhaps you came from a foreign country to start a new life
here in Alberta. Perhaps you took a non-standard route to
an engineering career. For example, you may have taken an
undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, biology or agrology.
You may be in an emerging discipline like software engineering
or bio-medical engineering, where the programs are just being
started or there are no accredited programs.
Are you qualified? Are you responsible?
If you are practicing one of our professions, you must be
licensed. Under our current system, if you do not fit the
standard mould, you will have a very difficult time getting
registered with APEGGA.
Sure, the examination route is a possibility, but the sad
fact is that only about five people each year have the stamina
to complete the exams we assign.
Another Real-life Example
Another friend of mine immigrated to Calgary in 1982 from
Poland. A mechanical engineer with a master’s degree
from Gdansk University, he arrived just in time for the
downturn in the economy caused by the NEP.
It was not an easy time. With a family to support, he worked
in a factory, worked as a design draftsman, and moved to
other cities in Canada to find work. Beating the odds, he
has had a good career, and life, as an engineer for over
He is not licensed by APEGGA but wants to be. He knows he
should be. We will have difficulty registering him because
he cannot get his records from his university in his homeland.
A year ago we asked the question of ourselves, “Do
we need to be more inclusive in order to continue to protect
the public safety and well-being?” The resounding and
unanimous answer to that question, last spring at APEGGA’s
strategy session, was “YES!”
Since then we have been working out the details of how to
This spring at our AGM in Edmonton, we will propose changes
to our act and regulations to allow the creation of a new
category of membership within APEGGA. This category will
require a university degree, but not in engineering. It
will require four years of professional experience, and
completion of the professional practice exam.
The people who register in this category will be subject
to the APEGGA Code of Ethics, our discipline process, our
continuing professional development requirements, and every
other requirement of professional membership that all of
They will take responsibility for their own work, but they
will also have restrictions. Similar to those in the R.P.T.
(Registered Professional Technologist) category, which we
have had for over five years, the people who register in
this new category will have the restriction of practicing
within a defined scope.
In other words, they must first tell us what they think they
are qualified to do, and our Board of Examiners will determine
if they do actually meet our requirement to be licensed within
this new category.
The system works, and it has been proven over the past five
years with the R.P.T. category.
It is fair. It is rigorous. It is about time.
Responsible, qualified people will be able to be licensed
to practice their profession legally. We are not lowering
the bar. We are lengthening the bar to include many people
who up till now have not fit the standard mould.
Mark Flaman will now be able to follow in his father’s
footsteps a little further and be licensed with APEGGA in
his home jurisdiction. He has 12 more to go before he surpasses
his father’s record, but he still has lots of time.
I wouldn’t bet against him.