Why Professional Schools for Engineers?

by Dan H. Pletta, (Hon.M.ASCE), Univ. Distinguished Prof. Emeritus; Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va.,

Serial Information: Issues in Engineering: Journal of Professional Activities, 1980, Vol. 106, Issue 4, Pg. 349-364

Document Type: Journal Paper


The need for professions, and for professional schools to educate competent practitioners as well as societal leaders becomes more obvious as society becomes more complex technologically. Professional freedom for responsible engineering practice is constrained by excessive regulations, labor unions and corporate patent policies. If future engineers are to serve the public optimally they will have to restructure engineering education so as to motivate such dedication in a new professional environment. They will also need to unite bona fide engineers by dual individual membership in some technical society as well as in a unity organization dedicated to societal leadership and self-regulation. It must be able to enforce its code of professional ethics and to help engineers if their technical judgment is overturned by nontechnical authority, and if the public safety is endangered. A six-year educational program culminating in the first designated engineering degree, plus an internship is suggested as the minimum qualifications now for future practice as a professional and as a societal leader.

Subject Headings: Engineering education | Social factors | Professional development | Education | Public health and safety | Licensure and certification | Professional societies | Labor

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