Opinion piece by Chris Nielsen FIEAust CPEng NER
Chris Nielsen FIEAust CPEng NER is a civil engineer with over 25 years’ experience in the water sector, working primarily as a consulting engineer, but also in software development, sales and research. Geographically, he has lived and worked in Australia, Asia and Europe. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from James Cook University in 1990 and a Master of Engineering Science from the University of Queensland in 2000.
Around this time of year, many years ago, I asked myself: ‘Why should I continue my membership with Engineers Australia?’ I was not Chartered, I did not monitor my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours and I was not RPEQ. I regarded my membership value to be a monthly magazine delivered to my desk. I decided to find out more about what Engineers Australia could offer me to justify the expense of the annual subscription fee.
Needless to say, I’m glad I made that decision. I soon commenced on the path towards Chartered status, took responsibility for my CPD and professional development and began to participate in Engineers Australia events. I also decided to contribute to my profession as an office bearer. In the words of our Immediate Past President of Queensland Division Dr Peter Ho AM FIEAust CPEng RPEQ: ‘You get back more than what you put in’. I don’t think I’ve met an office bearer who would disagree with this statement.
Simply put, Engineers Australia membership makes me a better engineer, as I am more cognisant of my responsibilities as an engineer, I have a broader appreciation of my role and its benefit to society and I clearly appreciate the need to continue to learn throughout my career. These reasons alone justify membership to me.
If these are not enough, legal obligations are another critical reason why Engineers Australia membership is vital for engineers. Under the Professional Engineers Act (Qld) 2002, it is a legal requirement for anyone undertaking professional engineering services in or for Queensland to be a RPEQ or supervised by a RPEQ. I prefer to interpret this as a formal statement of obligation and responsibility to Queenslanders, rather than an administrative burden.
What does Engineers Australia membership offer?
Engineers Australia is an accredited assessment entity and provides two pathways to assess competency requirements for inclusion on the RPEQ. Engineers Australia’s National Engineering Register (NER) pathway allows engineers to meet their minimum legal requirements for registration under the Act. Engineers Australia’s Chartered assessment process not only meets the competency requirements for registration under the Act, but is also an internationally benchmarked badge of competency recognised around the world through numerous mutual recognition agreements.
Image: Chris Nielsen FIEAust CPEng NER at his induction as 2017 Queensland Division President.