The Francis College of Engineering mourns the recent passing of Harold William “Bill” Flood. After a long engineering career, he served as Professor in the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering from 1983-1995, including time as Chair.
He was active in a number of professional societies, most notably, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AiCHE). Furthermore, the Governor appointed him to the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors.
As you may have guessed, Bill was a strong proponent of licensure. He felt it was an important part of being an engineer, especially in a complicated world of ever tightening standards. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers (see https://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/why-get-licensed), there are five reasons to get licensed: Prestige, Career Development, Money, Flexibility, and Authority. To me, the first four reasons are linked, as PE’s are generally in higher demand for their documented abilities, and thus tend to earn more and have greater career flexibility. With this comes some measure of prestige.
But what sets a Professional Engineer (PE) apart, is the fifth reason: Authority. In explaining Authority, NSPE states that “Only PE’s can sign and seal engineering drawings; and only PE’s can be in responsible charge of a firm in private practice or serve as a fully qualified expert witness.” This is a compelling reason for licensure for anyone wanting to lead a business, consulting or otherwise, someday.
The licensing process requires four steps: (1) Graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering program; (2) Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam; (3) Work as an engineer for a required amount of time with proper supervision; and (4) Pass the Professional Engineering exam. See www.nspe.org and www.ncees.org for more information.
Does every engineering job require licensure? Of course not. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median number of years that a salaried worker spends with the same employer is 4.6 years (in 2016). This is much lower than in previous years. Thus, with mobility, and thus uncertainty, increasing with respect to future employment, it makes sense to seek out licensure now, so it does not inhibit job prospects later. Thus, I, just as Bill Flood would have, urge you to get licensed.
I most recently saw Bill this past fall. While his mobility was limited, he was sharp as a tack. As with my previous visits, I enjoyed hearing about his work in the field and his time at Lowell. He will be missed. My condolences to his family, especially Jeanne, his wife of 71 years!