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Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament:
Reform Education and Licensure for a Safer Society

By Stuart G. Walesh, PhD, PE

Includes a personalized note and signed by the author

click-on image to enlarge

click-on image to enlarge

If a surgeon errs during an operation, the consequences-however dire-are limited to one or a few people. In contrast, an engineering failure usually causes multiple injuries and deaths, as well as destruction. Some examples: space shuttle Challenger explosion, car fires, gulf oil rig tragedy, amusement ride accidents, and plane crashes.

These, and too many other engineering catastrophes, share one feature--employers responsible for the failures were exempt from requirements to put, in charge, competent and accountable licensed engineers (professional engineers, PEs) whose paramount responsibility was public protection.

These industries, manufacturers, and utilities placed importance on the bottom line instead of safety. The problem is compounded by an inadequate 90-year old education model used by the American engineering licensing system.

The education for those aspiring to be PEs should match 21st century scientific, technological, social, political, economic, and environmental conditions. This disparity puts the public at risk.

How did this predicament happen? What can we do about it? The book answers those questions by explaining that academic and practicing engineers, in collaboration with public sector leaders, need to:

  • Eliminate/markedly reduce the adverse effects of U.S. engineering licensure-exemption laws
  • Broaden and deepen the education and experience required for PEs to be consistent with today's challenges and opportunities

Ideally, engineering meets its public-protection responsibility with four interconnected elements
-- ethics, engineering societies, education-experience, and licensure.

Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament offers numerous action ideas for interested individuals and organizations, within and outside of engineering, who want to take engineering up to the next level and, more specifically, improve public safety.

The suggested actions will enable engineers, with assistance from others, to resolve American engineering's public-protection predicament. The book provides potential engineering students, and their parents and advisors, examples of engineering excellence and exemplars. It also:

  • Describes multiple careers offered by earning an engineering degree
  • Suggests ways to choose an engineering college
  • Offers advice on how to adopt a growth mindset and succeed as a student

Every day across America, water supply systems supply, airplanes fly, chemical plants process, dams dam, generators generate, water treatment plants treat, carnival rides spin, wind turbines turn, refineries refine, pipelines pipe, nuclear reactors react, bridges cross, offshore oil wells pump, and satellites orbit. All of us have a stake in engineering.

Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament will help concerned citizen stakeholders and potential engineers more fully understand engineering's successes and challenges. This book will also enable engineering educators and practitioners, along with licensing boards, engineering societies, and others to build on achievements and resolve engineering's public-protection predicament.

Product details

  • Print length: 586 pages
  • ISBN: 0970143818

  • Publication date: March 26, 2021
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 6.0 X 9.0 X 1.59 inches | 2.29 pounds

  • Amazon Customer Reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 ratings

Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament:
Reform Education and Licensure for a Safer Society

by Stuart G. Walesh, PhD, PE

includes a personalized note and signed by the author

Price: $44.00 (USD) each  

This item can only be shipped within the United States and Canada.
If you live outside these areas, please contact us for shipping prices.

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"Walesh not only celebrates engineering's accomplishments, but he also sets out an honest, no-holds barred account of how engineers have often been their own worst enemies, thwarting this venerable profession from taking its rightful place as the greatest of the professions."
- Paul Spinden, Professor of Law, School of Law, Liberty University

"I believe this book will be historically important parallel to several reports published in the early 20th century."
- Takeya Kawamura, PE, PMP, Senior Research Engineer, Engineering Advancement Association of Japan, Japan Society of Professional Engineers Past President.

"This book challenges the sometimes-entrenched culture of U.S. engineering by rewriting the narrative surrounding the role of engineering in serving and protecting the public. It makes a convincing case that we need licensure and process to accomplish that objective and puts forward concrete suggestions for keeping public protection paramount."
- Jeffrey S. Russell, PhD, PE, Dist.M.ASCE, Vice-Provost for Lifelong Learning, Dean, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin

Stuart G. Walesh, PhD, PE, Dist.M.ASCE, F.NSPE, an independent consultant-teacher-author, earned a BSCE from Valparaiso University, a MSE from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to beginning his consultancy, he practiced in government and for an engineering firm and held various positions at Valparaiso University and the University of Wisconsin.

As a consultant, Stu assisted educational institutions, professional societies, government entities, and engineering firms. Current research interests include broadening and deepening the education required for engineering licensure, reducing adverse effects of engineering licensure-exemption laws, and applying neuroscience basics to increase the creativity of engineers and other scientific-technical professionals.

Water resources engineering is his technical specialty. Stu led or participated in watershed planning, computer modeling, flood control, stormwater and floodplain management, groundwater, dam, and lake projects. His water-related experience includes teaching engineering college courses, making continuing education presentations, conducting research and development, engaging stakeholders, and serving as a consultant and expert in litigation.

Stu authored eight books; the most recent three are Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament, 2021; Introduction to Creativity and Innovation for Engineers, 2017; and Engineering Your Future: The Professional Practice of Engineering, 2012. He authored or co-authored several hundred presentations, papers, articles, and essays about engineering, education, and management and facilitated or led many workshops, seminars, and webinars.

As an ASCE member, Stu chaired the Hydraulics Committee and the Urban Water Resources Research Council, served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Management in Engineering, chaired the first Body of Knowledge (BOK) Committee, edited two BOK reports, and edited The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025. He was co-coordinator for the NSPE engineering BOK report, served on the Indiana Board of Registration for Professional Engineers, and was a member of advisory boards for the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the universities of Wisconsin and Texas.

Stu's professional work and society service have been formally recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education, Consulting Engineers of Indiana, American Society of Civil Engineers, Indiana Society of Professional Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers, Valparaiso University, and the University of Wisconsin.

For additional information, contact him at or 219-242-1704, or visit his website:

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