Apr 20, 2012
Fake engineers making a mockery of ECSA’s mission statementBack
© Reuse this
In the electrical engineering profession, it is very similar. There are many people out there who claim to be engineers. Heck, they even have test meters and sound-level meters and computers and stuff to prove it. The fact is, like the fake doctor, they can get away with it most of the time. The problem comes when there is a real electrical problem they do not know how to deal with. But here is the crucial difference between the fake doctor and the fake engineer – the fake engineer does not get caught out. When the motor burns out because the protection setting was wrong or the transformer fails because the Buchholz protection is not connected or the cable to the power factor correction melts because the ‘engineer’ did not allow for the correct cable size, he or she turns to the client and, in effect, says, well, stuff fails, what can you do?
The client does not know any better and, instead of booting the engineer off the site, pays an additional fee to fix the broken- down equipment and for the extra time the engineer will require to do this. I know this because I have seen it. I was once on a site where the so-called engineer (employed by a contractor) allowed the contractor to push a fish tape through the busbar compartment of a switchboard, which resulted in an explosion and loss of supply to the whole factory – fortunately, without loss of life.
I told the fake engineer to take his staff off the site and I was drafting a letter to the Department of Labour when I was called to a meeting – with the client and the fake engineer and the contractor. The fake engineer said I was overreacting. The client seemed to agree. I asked the fake engineer if he actually had the qualifica- tions he pretended to have because no qualified engineer could be so stupid as to allow what had happened.
Incredibly, the client said that he was convinced it was all an accident (he implied I was a bit too ‘old school’) and the whole lot went on with the contract. This really happened. Fortunately, neither I nor the client have spoken since, for which I am grateful.
There ought to be a body which stops this sort of thing from happening. The good news is that there is such a body. It is called the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). I have just paid my ECSA dues of about R1 200 a year and, by my count, I have been paying dues for 28 years.
The mission statement of ECSA says: “Our mission is to create the circum- stances in which society is confident that the engineering profession in South Africa is able to carry out the functions necessary for the socioeconomic growth in the country.”
And I can tell you that, for the last 28 years, ECSA has never been behind any legisla- tion which makes it illegal to call yourself an electrical engineer, a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer, and so on. Further ECSA has never been behind any legislation which makes it illegal for a person who is not an electrical engineer to design anything (some civil construction design is covered).
So the fake engineer can just lie about qualifications without breaking any law. Now I’ve been harping on this for about 20 years and nothing happens. But, until ECSA does something, the statement that its mission is to “create circumstances in which society is confident that the engineer- ing profession in South Africa is able to carry out the functions necessary” makes me wonder what those circumstances will be, actually.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
Updated 5 hours ago The Standard Bank Group has been named one of the world’s greenest banks by Bloomberg Markets, ranked eighteenth out of 20 global finance institutions recognised for their investments in green-energy projects and efforts to reduce their own waste and carbon...
Updated 5 hours ago The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was considering establishing an air quality index, to make information on the quality of ambient air in South Africa more accessible, DEA national air quality officer Dr Thulie Mdluli said on Tuesday. She noted that the...
Updated 6 hours ago In a boost for renewable energy, the City of Cape Town has signed its first small-scale embedded electricity generation contract with Black River Park Investments, an office park in Observatory. The 74 000 m2 office park uses large-scale solar power systems to...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
While Ekurhuleni-based transformer manufacturer Reliable Transformers currently designs, manufactures and tests its products according to the SANS 780 specifications for distribution transformers and other applicable transformer specifications, it is working towards...
Global endpoint security solutions company Kaspersky Lab has introduced new measures to prevent cyber criminals from accessing sensitive data, alongside its malware-signature and heuristic device analysis detection methods. Threats to mobile devices have increased...
To ensure uptake and a positive impact, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks in cities must be provided at schools, community centres and commercial centres to enable citizens and government to access information that will improve access to and delivery of services....
Eco-estate Monaghan Farm, located near Lanseria airport, north-west of Johannesburg, has taken a new approach to modern living and sustainability with its 517 ha development, dedicated to farm living.
Forklift and lift-truck distributor Goscor Lift Hi-Reach launched the Genie SX-180, the tallest self-propelled super boom in Africa, in Johannesburg last month. “As the official distributor of the well-known Genie range of equipment in Southern Africa, we are pleased...