Professionalism (NPPE Notes)


See all notes here:


Definition of Engineering:

Planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising (or managing these acts); requires application of engineering principles; and concerns safeguarding life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment.

Protecting others (considerations and methods):

Considerations: physical safety, protection, failures, environmental protection and economic safety.

Methods: Use current codes, standards, and laws (e.g. Occupational Health & Safety).  Follow your association guidelines (e.g. Code of Ethics).

The Value of Engineering and Geoscience Professions to Society:

Technology advancement, infrastructure development and sustainability improvements through technology, innovation and contributions to code/standard updates.

Three roles of provincial/territorial associations:

Award licences; regulate and discipline members; set practice standards, develop codes of conduct, enforce the use of title and engineering services from non-members; protect the public interest; provide services to members.   

Engineers Canada / Geoscientists Canada (Definitions and roles):

National, non-profit, non-regulatory organisations that support the provincial/territorial associations with accrediting undergraduate programs and promote consistency in licensing and regulation.

Right to use of title:

Right to use title "P.Eng." or call oneself a Professional Engineer according to the associations' terms and the right to use the title "P.Geo." or call oneself a Professional Geoscientist according to the associations' terms. 

Roles of Engineers/Geoscientists in Society:

They are accountable for those under their supervision, responsible for personal practice, they must uphold public trust, and the protection of the public is paramount. 

Definition of "the public":

Anyone other than the member or their employer. 


A group with specialized knowledge, skills, and education who perform a public service. 

Definition of Geoscience:

Acquisition and application of knowledge about the earth, its properties and processes, and providing advice and making decisions in the interests of the public on mineral resources, geo-hazards, infrastructure, water, environment and ecosystems. 

The Iron/Earth Rings:

Not mandatory to wear, represents the commitment, obligations, values, ethics, high standard of professional conduct associated with the professions and trust society places on them. 

Definition of Sustainable Development:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the social, economic, and environmental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” 

Meaning of "Self-Regulating Profession":

Each province/territory government has passed an Act to give direction on how to form and operate an Association which regulates professional members.


What is the difference between Engineers Canada and the provincial and territorial associations?

The provincial and territorial associations have the authority to regulate engineering and geoscience in their region. They can enforce the use of titles and scope of practice for those who are not engineers/geoscientists, discipline their own members, and issue licenses.

Engineers Canada is a non-profit organization (umbrella organization over provincial and territorial associations).  They come up with guidelines and recommended practices/procedures that are optional for the other associations to implement.

Engineers Canada’s policies and guidelines are non-binding, does this mean provincial and territorial associations can choose not to adopt them?

Correct. They only come up with policies, procedures, and guidelines where it is up to the individual association to decide whether they want to use them or not.  Most associations do use these guidelines or some variation of it, but it is not mandatory.

Eg. Continuing professional development - Canada recommends this, but Ontario does not promote this.

What is the meaning of “scope of practice,” and how do I know what is within my scope of practice?

Scope of practice determines the actions and processes that a member is expected to follow according to the terms of their license.

Eg. P.Eng or P.Geo is expected to follow the professional engineer/geoscientist act.

They should be undertaking work that they are competent to perform by virtue of their training and experience.

What is the difference between shareholders and stakeholders?


Owns a publicly traded share of that company, and is interested in the financial performance so the share increases in value.


Someone invested in a company that is interested in their profitability for job security (eg. an employee or manager working for that company).

Who is considered “the public” when you talk about engineers’ duty to protect the public?

Public definition: It states “the public” is considered to be anyone other than the professional engineer or the professional engineer’s employer.  Therefore a professional is providing professional engineering or geoscience services to the public when the work is done for the benefit of an individual, corporation, government, or other entity that is not the engineer’s employer.

What is the purpose of defining “engineering” and “geoscience”?

One of the main purposes is so that the associations can enforce the use of the title of engineering or geoscience services. Only these associations have the authority from the government to have their members provide those services in order to protect the public.


Rylands v. Fletcher (topics: strict liability & nuisance)

In 1868, Rylands hired an engineer and contractor to build a reservoir to supply his mill with running water. The engineer found the location, designed it, and the contractor made it. It wasn't known until construction that the site was above an old coal mine. The engineer nor the contractor told Rylands about the mine. The contractor completed the reservoir. That December, one of the ancient shafts under the reservoir collapsed. Water from Ryland's reservoir water went through the old mine and flooded an active mine, operated by Fletcher on a neighboring site. Fletcher has to abandon his coal mine operation as a result of the water. Rylands was found liable for damages. 

This case demonstrated the application of strict liability, which means if a party brings something on to their land for non-natural uses and escapes onto another's land and causes harm, they may be held liable even if they are not negligent. The case also demonstrates nuisance when one party interferes with another party's use and enjoyment of their right to land.
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