As Our Second Century Draws Near, What Lies Ahead for APEGA and Our Professions? BY NIMA DORJEE, P.ENG., FEC, FGC (HON.) APEGA President
In the year 2020, a century will have passed since engineers in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada began operating self-regulatory organizations. These bodies arose directly from a societal need for professional, ethical, and skilled practice to protect the public, and engineers themselves first proposed them. What were we back then? What are we now? What will we become? As APEGA nears its centennial year, these are important questions to ask and examine, not only as a regulator but also as a community of professionals. We practise in challenging times, as we always have, regardless of the economic landscape. Back in 1920, the Wild West was winding down, and a system of regulation was needed to make sure bridges and buildings didn’t collapse. Unscrupulous practitioners were tarnishing the reputations of the good, honest professionals who were doing their jobs properly. Enough was enough. Our professional forebears came up with a solution and proposed it to the government. Cities were growing, and the age of the automobile was in its infancy. Less than two decades earlier, Western Canada’s first oil strike had been recorded, in what is now Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. Exemplified in our province by Leduc No. 1, the era of continuous fossil fuel exploration and development would soon be upon Alberta and the world, allowing the geoscience disciplines to come into their own rather than remain a subset of engineering. Then came the advance of sustainable energy and concerns about a warming climate, along with the beginning of the end for coal-fired electrical generation.
What a century it has been. When the first version of our enabling legislation was enacted, engineers could never have conceived of the digital and global world of today. Engineering work done in Alberta was for Alberta. Now, we must embrace globalization while ensuring our citizens are protected. Part of this is making sure our oversight of engineering and geoscience work is consistent and thorough, no matter where the work is done. However, as I hope to demonstrate in this column, globalization does not go in one direction. Within this exchange lies opportunity for our expertise on the world stage. APEGA has endured as a shining example of regulatory excellence and fortitude. Self-regulation is under serious scrutiny and criticism in some jurisdictions, but in Alberta, despite the complexity of the industries engineers and geoscientists are involved in, APEGA has a solid reputation. This has helped safeguard us from public criticism, but the trends beyond our provincial borders indicate we must be steadfast in our ability to maintain public confidence. So, what comes next? I think we—the professionals who count ourselves as APEGA members—would be wise to capitalize on our success by doing more to sell our professional work beyond our borders. Certainly, this already happens to some extent. When the world needs top-quality engineering and geoscience, it often knocks on Alberta’s door. That’s at least partially a consequence of our system of self-regulation. It’s also because there’s a lot more to our economy and our professions than meets the undiscerning eye.
4 | PEG WINTER 2018www.apega.ca
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