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The following is a email I just got about the issues with the term “Engineers” in Texas.

“I want to give you a heads up on some legal actions going on in Texas with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. You should already know that the Texas Board controls the registration process in Texas, but it also has broad authority to control the use of the term Engineer plus any and all derivatives of the term. Stated very simply, a person cannot use the term Engineer, in any form, as part of a title on business cards, letters, or correspondence unless they are a registered Professional Engineer. This level of control is intended to ensure that people offering engineering services to the public are qualified to do so. There is an exemption for “in-house” engineers like us who do not offer engineering services to the public. This exemption has allowed us to routinely use our engineering titles without any problems for longer than I’ve been around – in fact longer than the Texas Board of Professional Engineers has been around.

Well, there’s a new wrinkle. Last month the Texas Attorney General issued an opinion that the exemptions don’t really exempt in-house engineers the way they have been interpreted for the past 60 odd years. Nobody but a politician would agree with the logic, but if the opinion stands, we may not be able to include our Engineering titles on business cards, cover letters or other forms of correspondence outside the company. The opinion could also go as far as to restrict the use of the term Engineering in department names if the company is not registered as an engineering company. As you might imagine, this has raised some serious concerns throughout the Company and across our industry. Stewart and I participated in a meeting with legal, government affairs, HR and a host of others to discuss what our actions should be. The picture painted by our lawyer and the government affairs folks is ugly, and I kept expecting Rod Sterling to walk up and welcome us to the Twilight Zone. Humor aside, this is a serious matter and the ramifications if this opinion stands will be far reaching.

Our lawyer is researching some of the questions we raised in the meeting and will come back to us with recommendations on how to proceed. In the meantime, we all need to be careful about using the term Engineer on anything going outside the company. I recommend that you not include your company title on any outside correspondence. This goes for everyone. Texas has raised the issue, but other states with similar restrictions may decide to follow Texas’ lead on enforcement. I’ll keep you informed of any new developments as I get them. ”

What does this mean? I guess it means that I won’t be an engineer any more. So does this mean that all the Ph. Ds doing engineering research are not “Engineers” any more? and why does a bio “Engineer” need to know about building roads? I guess I should go for my P.E. next year after all.

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