Ontario Experience Record - Education

1. Best Practices - Identify the most important PEO guidelines & best practices for your Experience Record submission.

Best Practice 1 - Use the PEO Template

templates image

Everybody that's successful lays a blueprint out.- Kevin Hart, actor
 

Up until January 2012, there really wasn't much structure given for your Experience Record (ER) submission. This created a lot of confusion for those submitting. Everyone wanted to know - what format should I use? And what information do they want in there? 

That all changed in January 2013 when PEO followed many of the other provinces who already had an ER template that provides applicants with some structure on how to format your submission. 

The templates currently look like this:

record template sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an upcoming step, you will be provided with the link download the PEO template. After you do, remember to:

·       put your experience in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent experience first)

·       fill out all contact fields 

·       identify any periods when you were absent from work (e.g. such as travelling or unemployed)

 

To make your submission look consistent, I would recommend that you format your text to have: 

·       Font: Arial

·       Size: 10 pt

·       Line spacing: before 0 pt; after 6 pt

This guideline is an easy one, but it is essential to ensuring that your submission look professional.  

Your action: Download the latest PEO Experience Record template if you have not yet. 

Test your Knowledge - Order the four experiences in Chronological Order.

  • Senior Estimator - 07.2010 - 07-2011
  • Intermediate Drafter - 04.2008 - 06-2010
  • Junior Engineer - 08.2012 - 02-2015
  • Engineer-In-Training - 08.2011 - 07-2012

Best Practice 2 - Meet the Requirements for Licence Application

Human requirements are the inspiration for art.-Stephen Gardiner, architect

 

Meeting the requirements for your licence application is a mandatory step.  The requirements will differ depending on if you are Canadian Educated or Foreign Educated.   Here is a summary of what you will need:

Canada globe

Canadian Educated (if you went through an accredited engineering program)

  • You may have already opened a PEO file and submitted your:

  • Application form filled out.
  • Proof of identity
  • Application Fee; and 
  • Original transcripts

Your next step would be to submit your:

  • Pre-graduation experience record (if you are using it.  More details here
  • Experience Record (template here) with 48+ months of acceptable engineering experience (Substantial exposure to the first two criterion, “Application of Theory” and “Practical Experience,” are mandatory).  12+ months of the 48 months must be in Canada under a P.Eng.
  • 3 Referees  (your references will fill out a questionnaire after viewing your experience record, so pick them wisely)

You can also download the PEO Application Checklist for graduates of CEAB programs.

 

foreign globeForeign Educated

The process for internationally educated folks is a little bit different.   PEO lets you start you application before you have gained all of your Canadian work experience. In fact, you can start it even before you arrive in Ontario.   This allows you to opportunity to fulfil any other PEO requirements (e.g. technical exams) that may be needed while you are gaining your Canadian experience. 

Here is a list of items needed for your PEO submission:

  • Application form filled out. 
  • Proof of identity (photocopy both sides of: birth certificate, Citizenship Card/Certificate or permanent resident card)
  • Application Fee; 
  • Original transcripts
  • Experience Record (template here) with all of your experience you have gained after studying engineering in school.   Exposure to the first two criterion, “Application of Theory” and “Practical Experience,” are mandatory). 
  • 3 Referee  (optional - this may be submitted at a later date once you have Canadian experience).

You can also download the PEO Application Checklist for applications without an undergraduate degree from a CEAB program

Best Practice 3 - References

 

references imageThe five steps in teaching an employee new skills are preparation, explanation, showing, observation and supervision.

-Bruce Barton, author

 

The processing of my application was held up by about 1.5 months due to a former manager who was "too busy" to take a few minutes to help me out.   I ended up asking another co-worker at that company to be my reference and she quickly complied and filled out the form. 

You need to list 3 references to account for 4 or more years of your experience.  Do you know who these people are?  There are many things that could prevent them from filling out the 5-minute Reference Questionnaire.  My list includes:

  • laziness
  • maternity or paternity leave
  • retirement (no access to company email)
  • extended holidays
  • sick leave

If you can, try you best to find a P.Eng. for each employer write-up.  Once you have a list of names, pick up the phone and give them a call.  A conversation might go like this:

“Hi, John.  Long time no talk!  I hope you and your family are doing well.  How are things at Company XYZ?   Great.  I’m good too.  I’m now at Company ABC doing lots of interesting engineering work.   Now that I have over 4 years of engineering experience, I’m going to apply for my P.Eng. licence with PEO. I was wondering if you could kindly be one of my references?  All you need to do is fill out a quick 5-minute survey when PEO sends it to you…. You will?  Thank you.  Can you confirm that you email address and mailing address is still the same?”

Then a couple of weeks after your submit your application to PEO, send a friendly email to your references to remind them that they will receive an email from PEO to fill out the 5-minute survey.   Ask them to kindly email you once they have submitted it.   Follow up with any references that you don’t hear back from.  They may be holding up your application!

Your action:  Make a list of potential references now.  Ask yourself who the top three should be.  Give them a call to ensure they are still answering their phone and are willing to help you out.

 

Best Practice 4 - WWHO Formula

Key image

Number one, like yourself. Number two, you have to eat healthy. And number three, you've got to squeeze your buns. That's my formula.

-Richard Simmons, Celebrity Fitness Instructor


 

Everyone has a formula for success.   All engineering associations, including PEO, really want you to understand this formula more than any other thing in your submission.  

If you get this right, your submission will be looked upon favourably and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of getting a timely approval.   If you DON’T follow this formula, you’ll take much longer to write up your submission and you’ll increase your chances for an interview.

The formula that matters is: WWHO.

Understanding the WWHO formula is the foundation to a successful Experience Record.  Allow me to explain this acronym.

W - What you did (specific to your engineering background)

W - Why you did it (your reasons and your role)

H - How you did it (your tasks, challenges, methods)

O - Outcome (your contribution and the big end result)

 

Your job is to write a bunch of situations that follow WWHO.  Let's try an example 'situation' written with increasing detail.  Let's put it through the WWHO test. 

Situation W W H O
I verified product performance by designing and conducting tests. y      
I verified the performance of castors by designing and conducting static load testing to determine the product’s load capacity.  y y    
 I verified the performance of medical castors by designing and conducting static load testing to determine the product’s load capacity.  Using a 10 or 75 ton hydraulic press, I exposed the castor to a given weight which was increased every minute until failure or the machine maximum load.  Based on the notes taken at each load, I calculated a maximum load capacity rating for the castor.   y y y  
 I verified the performance of medical castors by designing and conducting static load testing to determine the product’s load capacity.  Using a 10 or 75 ton hydraulic press, I exposed the castor to a given weight which was increased every minute until failure or the machine maximum load.  Based on the notes taken at each load, I calculated a maximum load capacity rating for the castor.   As a result I was able to develop the product specification for the castor and ensure that customers were made aware of the load limitation.  y y y y

So there we have it.  You should be able to see how the same situation can be written with more detail to give the reviewer more information.   Now, let's break out that last detailed situation so you can see each piece. 

What -  I verified the performance of medical castors by designing and conducting static load testing;

Why - to determine the product’s load capacity. 

How - Using a 10 or 75 ton hydraulic press, I exposed the castor to a given weight which was increased every minute until failure or the machine maximum load.  Based on the notes taken at each load, I calculated a maximum load capacity rating for the castor.  

Outcome - As a result I was able to develop the product specification for the castor and ensure that customers were made aware of the load limitation. 

 

Most of the aspiring engineers that I work with miss the WWHO formula completely.   It’s as if they didn’t even know about it.  Imagine leaving out any of the WWHO elements - it would make the story of what you did incomplete. 

 

Your action: Take what you have written so far and put it through the WWHO test.  Does each situation cover the What/Why/How/Outcome?  If not, rewrite every example so that it is clear to you (and to the reviewer) what you really did.   I've developed the Situation Generator which is a handy tool to help you generate situations that follow the WWHO.  You'll learn about it in Step 5 of this course. 

In the follow situation, which one of the WWHO components is missing?

  • W - What
  • W - Why
  • H - How
  • O - Outcome

I drastically reduced welding spatter issues for a product engineered for a client in the food industry to reduce the return of merchandise.   Initially, the product did not perform as the customer wanted, resulting in the return of all 5.  Upon inspection I noticed that the opening of the product were distorted causing a concave wall inside.  The concavity measured about 1 inch into the wall.   There was a rectangle bar welded on all four sides of the opening and each side was around 48 inches. With such a long and continuous weld all around the opening, I believed that it was weld distortion that caused the concavity. I recommended that the welding technician use Pulsed Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding instead of conventional MIG Welding to reduce the heat input to the weld, which lowers the weld temperature, and thus distortion is reduced. Also, the use of pulsed power lowers spattering.  I believed this alternative welding method could improve the distortion and spatter issues at the same time. After the new welding software was purchased and installed to the robot for Pulsed MIG welding, our team welded another five products. 

Best Practice 5 - Length of Experience Record

long road image

You will, I am sure, agree with me that... if page 534 only finds us in the second chapter, the length of the first one must have been really intolerable.

- Arthur Conan Doyle, writer

 

For those that have asked PEO about the length of their record, the reply seems to be there is no official minimum or maximum length.  However, we know from page 11 from PEO’s Licensing Guide and Application for Licence that we shouldn’t exceed 10 pages in length.   Now 10 pages can look very different depending on the way that you format your submission.  However if you use what is given to you in the PEO template, then you should stick with what they have:

  • Font: Arial (regular)
  • Size: 10 pt
  • Line spacing: before 0 pt; after 6 pt

10 pages amount to roughly 6,000 words.   Let's make this our target for now.  Now we have a target for the number of words to aim for we need to break this down by project situations that you will be providing.

Length of Each 'Situation'

From reading and reviewing hundreds of ‘situations’ from dozens of aspiring engineers I have seen some that are too short, too long and those that are just right.   Allow me to show you:

This is too short:

Situation - too short

You can see that we have a word count of 37.  It is impossible to explain the WWHO formula (What you’ve done, Why you’ve done it, How you did it, and the Outcome) in 37 words.  

Short examples like the one above give me the impression that the applicant didn’t do anything meaningful.  This is not where you want to find yourself. 

Now Here is one that is simply ‘too long’.

situation - too longThe above 304-word project example and the vast majority of long examples tend to have the following problems: 1) they bore the reader;   2) contain definitions and useless facts;  3) are not concise.  

Remember that PEO reviewers are volunteers.  They don’t want to spend an entire weekend on your application so make it concise and specific to your contributions.  No definitions and no babble please. 

Here’s an example that is ‘just right’.  

situation - just rightThe above situation is 156 words.  After reviewing dozens experience records from aspiring engineers, I’ve found that the magic word range to properly explain one ‘situation’ is between:

·      150 to 200 words for Application of Theory and Practical Experience.  

·      100 to 150 words for Management of Engineering, Communications and Social Implications

The latter ‘situations’ generally lack the specific detail found in your technical descriptions, so they can be a bit shorter.

If your write-ups are shorter than the recommendations above, you might be leaving an element of the WWHO out.  If it is longer, try to reword to make it more concise.  

Your action:  Review the situations you have written.   Are almost all of them between 150 to 200 or 100 to 150 words?  If not, re-read them and:

  • If they are too short ask yourself:   Am I missing an element of the WWHO?  Is my How detailed enough?
  • If they are too long ask yourself:  Did I include definitions that are needed?  Did I ramble on too much?  Did I combine more than one idea that could be split up into another situation?  

Best Practice 6 - # of Project Situations

Notebook image

Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.

- Dalai Lama, Tibetan leader

 

When I help aspiring engineers with their submissions, very often I am asked, how many situations is the right number?  While there is no PEO approved answer, I will explain my methodology for coming up with a good benchmark.   

  1. Start by aiming for a 6,000 word submission (this equates to about 10 pages). This is actually about 5,500 words of yours and 500 words from the PEO template.  So, we'll use 5,500 for our calculations. 
  2. Divide that by an average of 150 words per situation you will write.
  3. We are left with about 36 project situations 
  4. There are 5 competencies that you have to cover (Application of Theory, Practical Experience, Management, Communication and Social Implications).  Since Application of Theory is the most important criteria, give that the most situations; followed by Practical Experience.  The others should be represented less.  Here is what I would recommend for the following:

 

 

# of Situations recommended, per employer

# of employers  you’ve had

Application of Theory

  ~40%

Practical Experience

~30%

Management of Engineering

~10%

Communication Skills

~10%

Knowledge of the Social Implications of Engineering

~10%

1*

10

8

4

4

4

2

5

4

3

3

3

3

4

3

2

2

1-2

4

3

3

1

1

1

5** or more

2

2

1

1

1

Now to complicate things just a bit more, I would recommend that your most recent employment example should have a little extra weight to it.  For example, if I worked for 4 employers, I should have more, deeper experiences to speak about regarding my current job than my first job right out of university.  To do this you can add a couple of extra situations to your current employer and take a couple off the oldest one.  

*What If I have only 1 employer?

Based on a presentation I recently  attended by PEO, if you only have 1 employer, here is what you should do.  You've probably worked on a number of projects.  Take the 3-4 most important projects and treat them as if they were separate employers.   For each project, write situations for each of the 5 criteria (Application of Theory, Practical Experience, etc).   Use the numbers of situations listed in the above table as guidance. 

**What If I have 5 or more employers?  Do I have to use all my employer examples?

No.  Let's say you have worked for 5 employers; 3 were solid engineering experiences; one was sales and the other teaching at a college.   PEO is fine with you just using the ones that best show your true engineering work.   It is also to your advantage, because you now can have 10 pages / 3 employers (3.3 pages each) rather than 10 pages / 5 employers (2 pages each).  You'll also probably find it easier to write situations and find references from fewer employers. 

If you do decide to cut out one or more employers, in your experience record simply state "I worked at (company) from (MM/YY) to (MM/YY) as a (job title) but do not wish to include this experience on my record so that I can focus my write up on more relevant experience".   

Your action:  Take out your resume and look at your past work experience.  Consider omitting any experience that really doesn't demonstrate good engineering experience.   If you only worked for one employer, break out your experience into 3-4 main projects. 

Best Practice 7 - Each Situation has Project Specifics

detail flower photo

 

Beware of the person who can't be bothered by details.

- William Feather, author


Are you giving the reviewer sufficient detail or just the 10,000 foot view of your project situations?  If we look at the WWHO formula, we know that the "H" (the How) is where you put all the detail.   Let's take a look a couple of examples where aspiring engineers I worked with didn't do a great job at providing detail . . . that is until I challenged them to do so.

Client Example 1:

Before (what the aspiring engineer was going to submit to PEO):

too short exampleA few notes: 

  • Word count = 29.   We all know that this is not enough to provide sufficient detail. 
  • Not in first person and too broad.
  • Covers too many concepts (efficiency, reliability, safety, processes).  
  • Not following WWHO
  • Might be appropriate for a resume but not for an Experience Record. 

After (a situation example of what was submitted to PEO):

good length and good detail exampleNotes:

  • Word count = 182.  Right in the 150 to 200 we are looking for  Application of Theory. 
  • A good level of detail to demonstrate real project and situation specifics.  
  • Written in first person using "I" often to discuss his individual contribution. 
  • Covers 1 concept (analysis of conveyors)
  • Clear use of WWHO, including all the detail found in the "How" part.   

 

Your action:   Are you situations reading more like a resume (high level) or a professional Experience Record (sufficient detail)? Make the reviewer's job easy so they understand precisely what you did.  Review each situation that you have already written and ensure that the How  is sufficiently detailed. 

Best Practice 8 - English Rules

rules image

Apart from a few simple principles, the sound and rhythm of English prose seem to me matters where both writers and readers should trust not so much to rules as to their ears.

- F. L. Lucas, critic

Acronyms 

If you're using an acronym (e.g. HVAC) you need to write it out the first time you use it.   It may seem obvious to you and probably to the reviewer but you still need to do it.   Don't let there be any confusion in your situations because of an acronym that was taken the wrong way.   

For instance, let's say that in one of your situations you say, "The data was exported to a CAM software which was the basis of the milling programming."    Well, is it obvious what CAM refers to?  If we visit Acronymfinder.com and type in CAM we get over 250 results, such as:

  • Camera
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Conditional Access Module (digital TV)
  • Computer-Aided Machining
  • Clear As Mud
  • and the list goes on ...

The point is simple - make it easy for your reviewer by spelling out your acronyms the first time you use them. 

Spelling & Grammar

Roughly 1/3 of aspiring engineers were not born in Canada, and many did not learn English as a first language.   For the rest of us that are native English speakers, many of us went into engineering (myself included) to avoid taking those darn English classes that forced us to write.  But there are a few things that we can do about this to improve our submission so that is sounds somewhat decent:

  • Read it out loud - does it sound correct?  (this works better if you're a native English speaker)
  • Have someone else review your work.  You can visit fiverr.com to hire someone to do a light English review or ask a colleague.
  • Use the spelling and grammar tool.
  • Use proper punctuation

Your action:  Review your situations for acronyms and have someone else review for spelling and grammar before you submit. 

Best Practice 9 - Technical Focus

bridge image

Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.

- George Orwell, author

 

There is a need for PEO to ensure that its members are able to design and make decisions that will protect the public.  PEO takes on significant risk by licencing individuals, so it wants to be sure that those that can stamp have sufficient training and experience.  Each year, the PEO has to discipline a number of its members for a variety of reasons. 

For past and recent discipline hearings visit: 

http://peo.on.ca/index.php/ci_id/2173/la_id/1.htm

The technical focus is and will be a central requirement for a successful submission.   PEO cites Application of Theory is the most important competency followed by Practical Experience.   Your ‘situations’ should focus on these two areas the most.    PEO has also advised us of certain job titles that do not classify as design experience and too much of any of the following (or exclusively the following) will raise suspicion:

  • teaching
  • sales and marketing
  • military experience
  • project management & supervision
  •  operations & maintenance
  • quality control & quality assurance

More information can be found at Section 3 of PEOs Guide to the Required Experience for Licencing

If you don't have a lot of technical experience, be sure to read the FAQs later in the eLearning program to learn about your options, but in short they are:

  • Get more design experience.  
  • Transfer companies or to another branch of your company where you can get exposure to design and application of theory.  

Your action:  Review your experience.  If you lack design experience, review the FAQs to learn what you can do to increase your design experience. 

 

2. Common Mistakes - Review and learn from Common Mistakes.

Plagiarized Content

Far too often I see soon-to-be engineers copy and paste text from an online source.  See below for a real example: 

The plagiarism starts at “In a welded joint . . .”    It was pretty obvious for me to pick-up on this because the writing style changed voice.  We each talk in a voice when we type.  The use of different English grammar elements (e.g. verbs, adjectives, nouns) and the order we use them in makes up our written voice.  If you cut and paste content, it reduces your credibility and can result in your submission being put in the rejection pile. 

Content that is not your own has a few other problems:

  1. It eats into your 100 to 200 word count for each situation
  2. It is usually used to define concepts that don’t add any value to the reviewer or your application. 

Your action: Does your draft experience record have any content that someone else has written?  If so, do your best to remove it or put it in your own words. 

"We" instead of "I"

banjo player photoRemember that this submission is about YOU.  Your licence depends on what you know and can do, not your team at work.   

It is natural to use ‘we’ because you are I are taught to work in teams and be collaborative with other professionals.  However, when it comes to writing your Experience Record, you must focus on your individual contribution.  

Let’s say you have some of your write-up already started.  Can you just find and replace all instances of ‘we’ for ‘I’?  Absolutely not.   You need to re-write the entire sentence (or even paragraph) to focus on your contribution.  Simply replacing the words will mess with the grammar as well as over hype your contributions (unless the reviewers believe that you can accomplish as much as a full team!). 

Your action:  Review your draft experience record for the word 'we'.  Ask yourself, can I word this differently to focus on my individual contribution?

Situations - How to Choose Them & Get Started

Just to recap, when you talk about a situation, those are the paragraphs that detail in 150 to 200 words (or 100 to 150) about a single event where you overcame a problem.   The situations use the WWHO formula to demonstration the aspects of what you have done.  The situations you write go here on your Experience Record template:

situations imageAre we good so far?  Perfect.   If you remember back from Best Practice 6 - # of Project Situations, you have probably written down how many situations you have to aim for.   The questions you may be asking yourself are: 

  • Where do I find these situations? 
  • Which situations do I use? 

Let me help to answer these questions. 

Q.  Where do I find these situations?

A.   Situations can be thought of as mini projects or tasks within a project.  If you start with any project you worked on, try to find the work breakdown structure (WBS) if you can.  Perhaps you were hired by someone who broke out the scope of work.  These smaller elements could make up a situation that you can use.    

Another option to find situations is to replay the project back in your head.  What did you do first?  Was it technical?  If yes, write a sentence under the Application of Theory category. You can come back later to make it 150 to 200 words.  Maybe you had to meet your client first and deliver a presentation about your methodology.  Great - that can go under Communications.   

The nice thing about the projects that you worked on is this:  a single project that you have worked on can equal many situations often in all 5 of the categories.  

Q.  Which situations do I use? 

A.   Just like selecting your best 2-4 employers to write up about, you also want to select your best (most engineering related) situations.   By listing all your situations in bullet form to start, you can then weed out the ones you don't want to keep before you go through the process of writing them out in full. 

 

Your action:  List out in bullet form all of your situations.  Short list the best ones and start writing full situations.

Writing up Examples for Every Employer

As mentioned back in Best Practice #6, it isn't necessary to submit experience write up for each of your employers.  I've helped aspiring engineers that want to submit as many as 8 or even 10 employers which usually makes their submission over 20 pages long.   Yikes!!

Just to reiterate what was mentioned before:

  • Focus on 2, 3 or 4 employer write ups
  • If you only worked for 1 employer, break it out into 2, 3 or 4 projects and write for those
  • If you've worked for 5 or more employers, remove the ones where you are least able to demonstration Application of Theory and Practical Experience.   For employers that you remove, remember to use the line "I worked at (company) from (MM/YY) to (MM/YY) as a (job title) but do not wish to include this experience on my record so that I can focus my write up on more relevant experience".   

Your action:  Pick the most 2, 3 or 4 employers/projects to discuss for your Experience Record and remove the rest. 

 

 

Confusing one Criteria for Another

A common mistake that I see people make is to classify a situation as Application of Theory when it should really be Practical Experience.   Let's take a look at a real situation:

*****

I developed, calculated and implemented a method for one twisting machines' department to reduce the changeover time. I conducted a time and movements study using stop watch method and a work measurement software  of each operator involved in the changeover. I calculated the distances to bring tools and hardware to the machine. I analyzed ergonomics issues that were present in the process. With the information collected, I calculated and re-organized the sequence of activities for each worker. I then implemented activities in parallel and simultaneously in both sides of the machine. According to the time and movements study, and considering operators' ergonomics and abilities (performance rating factor), I placed the most skilled workers in the changeover of the feeding thread packets, and the fastest operators to change the upper rolls. I developed shadow boards for the tools to identify them quickly, and brought closer the hardware to the machine to reduce the time of set-up. After the implementation of the new method, the changeover time was reduced from 50 minutes to 10 minutes increasing the production in that section by 15%.

****

There was a PEO presentation to EITs recently in Ottawa that I happened to attend since it was near where I live.  In her presentation, the PEO representative mentioned that 'Application of Theory' examples should answer 'yes' to the question, "Do I need my engineering studies to perform this task?" For the above situation, I believe the answer is 'no', so I encouraged the applicant to move this situation from Application of Theory to Practical Experience.

Your action:  Review all of your Application of Theory examples to ensure they can answer yes to the question: "do I need my engineering studies to perform this task?"  If not, they are likely Practice Experience, Management, Communications or Social Implications.   However, rather than move these examples, maybe you did do real engineering work but you didn't write it down as such.  Review all examples that you are considering moving and perhaps you will see that you did apply engineering theory, but you just need to describe it better. 

 

Leaving Gaps in your employment history

gapYour employment history can not have any gaps in time.  Let's look at example that is in reverse chronological order:

  • Employer 3 - July 2015-July 2016
  • Employer 2 - June 2010-June 2015
  • Employer 1 - January 2009 - January 2010

As you should be able to see, between Employer 1 and 2 there is a gap between January to June 2010.  To close this gap you need to explain to PEO what you were doing.  Maybe you were relocating to Canada, unemployed, traveling, or working in an unrelated industry.   You could say:

  • From (date) to (date) I was relocating to Canada; or
  • From (date) to (date) I was unemployed; or
  • From (date) to (date) I was traveling; or 
  • From (date) to (date) I was working for (company) as a (job title), however I would like to exclude this experience from my record to focus on more relevant experience. 

If we zoom out and look at the updated experience record that covers the gap, it would now look like this:

‚Äčgaps filled image

3. Common FAQs - Learn from the questions that others in your position have asked me.

FAQs 1-3

Engineering FAQsSince developing the Sample Experience Record Guide, there have been a number of great questions that aspiring engineers have asked me.  I have spent considerable time tracking down the answers to these questions to help you navigate your submission. 

One thing that I should point out is: PEO wants you to become a P.Eng.   They are not trying to reject as many people as possible; instead they are trying to licence as many people as they can.  This is because more members mean the ability for PEO to: 

  • Regulate members who protect the public interests and improve the quality of life for Canadians
  • Replace retiring members
  • Maintain and develop standards

These answers are based on my understanding, experience, PEO website information or attending PEO presentations.   However, they should be used for informational purposes only and may change as the submission requirements evolve with the PEO.   I watch these changes carefully to ensure that the answers remain up-to- date.  However, if there are any questions that you need a firm answer on, I would recommend that you contact the friendly folks at PEO to get the answer from them directly.  The PEO is always open to answering your questions to help you make your submission easier. 

Now, let’s take a look at some questions.

1Q.     When a co-worker of mine submitted his experience record many years ago, he only needed 2 years of experience.  Why do I need 4 years (48 months)?

1A.    Associations like the PEO evolve and generally become more stringent with membership (or licencing) requirement.  Usually when a licence or professional designation is first introduced its career benefits are minimal because there is no reputation built up.   However, over years and decades as the public gets educated about the importance of hiring someone with a certain licence it becomes more beneficial to your career and thus you’re willing to do more to obtain it.  The other theory is that if associations find that they’ve set the bar too low and too many unqualified candidates are being licenced, it may lead to litigation or discipline actions. 

 

2Q.    Why is there such a focus on interviews to decide the fate of the candidate?

2A.    PEO has determined that an effective way to judge the character and technical knowledge of a candidate can be done well through an interview format.   No too long ago, Associations that weren’t sure about a candidate would send them a few questions by mail/email to answer.  But this approach is not too reliable as the candidate could seek the help from more experienced engineers to answer those questions.

 

3Q.    If you get an interview with the PEO, what is it like?

3A.    Typically, an interview is a 1-hour meeting where you present 2 of your own designs and answer questions from 3 panelists.  The primary focus is on your technical knowledge and design experience.  

 

 

FAQs 4-6

4Q.    If my licence application is not successful with the PEO, can I withdrawal and apply to another Association?

4A.     No.  If you are not successful, PEO should tell you why so that you are clear as to which area of the 5-work experience criterion you need more experience in.   Then you should develop a plan with your supervisor to get the relevant experience necessary.   Applying to another association will not work because the new association will talk with the PEO and get the status of your application, which will be pending.  

 

5Q.     Why is there such a heavy focus on theory & practical experience?

5A.     There is a need for PEO to ensure that its members are able to make designs and decisions that will protect the public.  PEO takes on great risk by licencing individuals, so it wants to be sure that those that can stamp have sufficient training and experience.  Each year PEO disciplines a number of its members.  You can learn more about recent discipline hearings here.  

 

6Q.    Once I submit my application, how long does the application process typically take? 

6A.     About 4 months after you submit a compliant submission.  However, submissions that are sent in around popular holiday times (e.g. summer vacation, X-Mas) may take longer due to the fewer review staff being available.

FAQs 7-9

clock image7Q.   Is there any length of time required to be with one association before transferring to another one?

7A.   No.  Transferring can be done right away. However, you will have to pay your annual dues with both associations, so it is best to wait until closer to the 1-year mark before transferring.

 

8Q.             I may move to another province in the future.  If I get licenced in Ontario, is there a way to permanently transfer from one association to another Province?

8A.             Based on the Inter-Association Mobility Agreement (IAMA) you can transfer your licence to any other province granted that you: 

  • Are not under investigation for professional misconduct; AND
  • Are in good standing (e.g. paying your dues).

 

9Q.        I understand that there is a new experience record format coming soon.  Is this true?

9A.    Engineers Canada has undergone a pilot project to test a more stringent experience record submission.  This new online competency based reporting tool should be finished in 2017.   It may be used by participating Associations as early as 2018.

FAQs 10-12

man study10Q.           Which provinces have continuing education?

10A.     Every province has it except BC and ONT. QC only requires 30 hrs/year of professional development.  The other provinces / territories require 80/hrs/year but 50 of those hours can be for doing engineering work.  BC is considering adding continuing education; Ontario is not.

 

11Q.       What are the advantages/disadvantages of applying in another province?  Would this make sense for me? 

11A.         Applying in another province is straightforward and you can use Canadian experience with any association.  You can even transfer your Professional Practice Exam (PPE) results to the other Association.  

The advantages of applying outside of Ontario:

  • The other Association may have less emphasis on design related work
  • Less chance of getting an interview
  • You can stamp your designs/drawings for projects in that province

The disadvantages of applying outside of Ontario:

  • Can’t stamp on Ontario projects if you don’t have a PEO stamp.
  • Higher annual fees.
  • May have to do continuing education.

 

12Q.     What are my options if I don't have much/any design experience? 

12A.      Your options are as follows:

  • Get more design experience.  Work with your supervisor to get the necessary design experience.  If you work for a company that does not do design (e.g. construction contractor), talk to your supervisor about reaching out to your contacts in industry to work part-time at another company in the evening to design work.   Get to a point where you can present 2 of your designs and answer questions about those designs for 1 hour.
  • Transfer companies or to another branch of your company where you can get exposure to design and application of theory.  
  • Submit and see what the PEO says.  This is a risky option and is likely to end in an interview, but at least you will know what they are expecting of you.

FAQs 13-15

plane image13Q.     If I decide to apply in another province, what are the similarities and difference of applying in Ontario?

13A.  As shown in the two tables below, there are more similarities than differences between provinces/territories.  Here are some of the differences:

  • Outside of Ontario and BC interviews are not that common.  Additional exams, emailing of questions or a conference call are used instead.
  • Continuing education is not in place in Ontario and BC; however BC is considering implementing it in the near future. 
  • Shown in the graph below, the application, licence and annual dues vary widely from Association to Association.  PEO currently has the lowest annual dues but levies a one-time licence fee that most other associations don’t have. 

Each Association has its own set of rules, so it is best to consult the association you are interested in for the specific requirements.

Provincial Comparison

provincial comparison imageProvincial Fee Comparison ($)

provincial fee comparision image

14Q.      How can I reduce my chances of getting an interview and have my application accepted right away?

14A.        By ensuring that you have the following:

  • At least 1 year of design experience.   Ideally 2-3 years would be best.  You have to have designs that you have created primarily by yourself.  Working for a contractor or in project management and getting exposure to someone else’s design won’t work.
  • Have at least two designs that you have done the majority of work on.  Be able to answer questions about these two designs for 1 hour (or 30 minutes each).  This is likely what the PEO will ask you to do in an interview, so even if get asked for an interview you’ll be ready – and if you don’t then at least you were prepared.

Fulfill the mandatory requirements such as 12 months of Canadian experience and working under the supervision of a Canadian P.Eng. for 12 months. 

 

15Q.      How do I know if a project situation is Application of Theory or Practical Experience?  

15A.   'Application of Theory' examples should answer 'yes' to the question, "do I need my engineering studies to perform this task?"   If the answer is no, then it is probably Practical Experience.