STOP Engineers Canada from Regulating Software Development without Science-based Software Development Graduates sign now

There is a battle going on for control of the software development industry in Canada. It goes on quietly behind the scenes with most people completely oblivious to its presence and the ramifications to its result.

There are two main organizations in this David vs Goliath fight:
- CIPS (Canadian Information Processing Society) -- David
- Engineers Canada (Canadian Council of Professional Engineers or CCPE) -- Goliath

CIPS provides a relatively unknown, voluntary certification for professionals called the ISP (Information Systems Professional. Engineers Canada counters with their P.Eng license. (In this case, a professional engineer in software engineering.)

However, while CIPS will accept the credentials of graduates with either a science or engineering background, the CCPE will not. They do not view graduates of computer science programs (or any science-based software development program) to be equivalent. They do not believe that graduates of any science-based university program are qualified to write computer software!

Furthermore, the P.Eng license is not voluntary. In traditional engineering fields like civil engineering for example, this license is required to work in the profession. The engineering profession is "closed" to unqualified candidates. This is part of Canadian law. See the Professional Engineers Act for details.

Engineers Canada has turned their focus to the field of software development within the past decade or so -- a sign that the profession is large enough and mature enough now to warrant regulation. Programs in "software engineering" have been springing up at universities all across the country. These programs cover the same general content taught in any computer science program. Computer programming is both science, engineering, and art. Engineers Canada is claiming a distinction where none exists.

If Engineers Canada wins this battle, they will be able to dictate who can work as a software developer and who cannot. They will move to restrict the profession to professional engineers only. History shows this to be true.

Currently, the CCPE only have the authority to regulate the TITLE of "software engineer" in Canada. (Microsoft found this out the hard way with their MCSE program.) If left unchallenged, they will soon be able to regulate its PRACTICE as well. That leaves graduates of science-based software development programs with a piece of paper that could potentially be meaningless, and a very long and expensive upgrade path to try and gain entry into their profession. (Engineers Canada assigns "basic exam" programs to non-engineering graduates which requires roughly 18 exams to complete -- or nearly half of a university Bachelors program prior to writing the PPE. Engineering grads write 0 exams before being allowed to write the PPE.)

Engineers Canada wants to create a system not unlike the one that exists for doctors and lawyers in this country. Writing software without a license (or without the supervision of a P.Eng) would be illegal, and the consequences severe.

Engineers Canada needs to recognize science-based software development graduates as being equivalent to their software engineers. They need to provide an equal opportunity for candidates to pursue their license should it become mandatory for employment in this profession (or even simply beneficial for career advancement). Failing that, they need to butt out and leave this industry alone.

My site will be up soon (if necessary)....

- Chris Baehr

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canada, ccpe, cips, development, engineer, isp, license, p.eng, programming, software


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