Policy 465: Latest Struggle in the “Revolt of the Engineers”

TitlePolicy 465: Latest Struggle in the “Revolt of the Engineers”
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsWalker, HW
JournalJournal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Date Published2012
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsENGINEERING , ENGINEERS , licensing
AbstractA clashing of views has emerged in the engineering community over Policy 465 and the call for a master’s degree or equivalent as a pre-requisite for professional licensure. This conflict over Policy 465 echoes much of the divisive rhetoric that characterized what Edwin Layton has termed the “revolt of the engineers” in the Progressive Era of the United States in the early part of the 20th century. During this time period, reform-minded engineers attempted to strengthen the professional stature of engineering through licensing initiatives and other reforms. Both then and now, the debates are characterized by diverging opinions about how changes in licensing may affect the competency of engineers, the cost of engineering work, and the public image of engineering. Furthermore, both those in favor of Policy 465 and reformers in the Progressive Era invoke a new higher purpose, or “transcendent value” for the profession to garner support for their movements. Ultimately, these debates underscore the inherent conflict between professional independence and business interests in the practice of engineering. The similar nature of the current debate over Policy 465 and the Progressive Era “revolt” suggests many of the divisive issues of the early 20th century remain unresolved, and is characteristic of two separate ideological cultures within engineering, one professional and one industrial. This long-standing discord within the engineering community highlights the need to better understand the ideologies and values in conflict within engineering in order to more fully realize the potential of the engineering profession.