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USstructures exams lack rigour says ISructE

AMERICA'S SYSTEM for licensing engineers lacks rigour and could compromise public safety, Britain's Institution of Structural Engineers warned this week. .

The US system, which in some states such as California includes examinations with multiple choice questions, came under fire from IStructE chief executive Keith Eaton.

'We're not comfortable that multiple choice would be sufficiently rigorous for professional examinations of this nature.

Chartered engineers are holding public safety in their hands and they must be sufficiently professionally qualified to do that, ' said Eaton. Candidates typically answer around 80 questions, and the pass mark is generally 60%.

A review of US professional standards is currently under way by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and the IStructE has suggested that its own membership examination be adopted as a way of harmonising standards for professional qualifications.

'There are different exams for different states, with around 55 different regional boards in the US; it is a minefield, ' said Eaton.

He said that the IStructE had held discussions with the US authorities with a view to having its examination recognised as an alternative means of qualification to become a professional licensed engineer.

The IStructE's seven hour open book examination has a tough but exacting reputation.

'It is held in 75 different places around the world, and covers a complete range of structural engineering topics.

We do not specify designs to any particular code such as British Standards, so an engineer could use local codes. Passing it demonstrates that an engineer is competent, experienced and knows what they are doing.'

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