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
To mine coal in South Africa, mining companies have to be 26% black owned. To supply State-owned power utility Eskom, the highest coal user, the companies have to be 50% black owned. Mining companies which have a 50% black ownership will have an equal share in the...
Updated 6 hours ago Transport equipment manufacturer GE Transportation has appointed Thomas Konditi as the head of its sub-Saharan Africa division. Konditi, who would be based in Johannesburg, was most recently COO of GE Africa, in Nairobi. His responsibilities included the oversight of...
Updated 7 hours ago Trade union Solidarity has criticised the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) for continuing with a restructuring process, which the union claims results in employees being demoted, without consulting with Solidarity about the process. Solidarity...
Updated 7 hours ago South Africa’s Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) had boosted Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s (FMCSA’s) manufacturing competiveness, the vehicle manufacturer said on Tuesday. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had introduced the...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
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.
This Week's Magazine
Updated 7 hours ago Eqstra Holdings was going to reduce its exposure to contract mining, but it was not yet ready to sell the troubled business, said CEO Walter Hill on Tuesday. He said Eqstra would not sell its contract mining business in a “depressed market”. He said it would be...
Subscribe to Engineering News and Mining Weekly for two years, but only pay for the first year. The weekly editions of Engineering News and Mining Weekly will be posted to your preferred postal address and also gain access to:
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.
Next ArticleSelf-organised criticality