Commentary | Aug. 4, 2021

Coast Guard celebrates its Professional Engineers 

By Lt. Matt Faha and Capt. Patrick Dugan 

Editor's Note: Even if you're not an engineer, please consider celebrating the Coast Guard's amazing Professional Engineers! Just share this article on social media, using #LicensedPEday. (Bonus points for tagging your engineering colleagues, or young people considering engineering careers.)

Today marks National Professional Engineers Day, their contributions are a reminder of how vital engineering skills are to the Coast Guard’s mission.

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, a professional engineers are essential to regulating a maritime industry that’s evolved to include autonomous vessels, alternative fuels and offshore wind energy, among other advancements, according to Rear Adm. Carola List. “Professional engineers are critical to the lifecycle management of Coast Guard assets,” she said. “That’s true whether they float, fly, or stand proudly on shore.”  Cadets 1st Class Gale and Taylor present their final Cadet Internship project, “Simplified Stability Test Reassessment Tool (SSTRT)” to their fellow Marine Engineers, the Marine Safety Center commanding officer, and CG-5PS, at Coast Guard Headquarters, July 22, 2021. Photo by Lt. Scott Arbeiter.

This summer, one Coast Guard engineering team developed a tool to determine if weight changes on a vessel required a new stability test. Another created a final salvage plan for an actual marine casualty. Both teams were composed of cadet interns at this summer’s Marine Safety Center, who were tasked with applying their engineering know-how to real-life problems the MSC encounters on a daily basis. 

The National Society of Professional Engineers created National Professional Engineers Day six years ago to focus on professional engineers who have made the commitment to protect public health, safety and welfare. The goal is to promote certification, something the Coast Guard also embraces.

A Professional Engineering (PE) license is the recognized standard for the service, with all commanding officers of the Civil Engineering Units and Facilities Design and Construction Center required to be registered PEs in good standing. The license is also required for most civilian engineering positions and junior personnel are encouraged to get the license, as well.  

So the push comes early in a member’s career. 

“The Coast Guard Academy plays a vital role in developing, promoting and encouraging future engineers to prepare for the ‘Fundamentals of Engineering’ Exam prior to graduation,” said Rear Adm. John W. Mauger. "This is their first step to ensure they have the basic credentials to continue their career progression towards a successful completion of the PE license requirements.” 

But the payoff is immeasurable. Coast Guard PEs aren’t just limited to drafting policies and regulations. They’re present in the field, using their technical abilities in support of complex vessel projects in shipyards around the world. They use their comprehensive understanding of emerging technologies and effective facility design, construction, and management to ensure the Coast Guard fulfills its role. Eric Linton, Coast Guard Yard Chief of Engineering, and Bob Tenetylo, Coast Guard Yard Electrical Engineer, review and discuss the radio room arrangement for the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) post delivery availability.

“The knowledge and skills of our PEs ensure equipment standards are adhered to during the acquisition phase, continue to be met during sustainment, and are validated during the inevitable service life extensions that many of our aircraft and cutters undergo,” said List. “Engineers ensure the Coast Guard remains Ready, Relevant, and Responsive now and into the future.” 

Resources

If you are considering an engineering career, talk with your unit’s Education Services Officer. Here are some additional links that might be useful: 

For advanced education, contact the student manager for the program you are interested in: