elb's hovel of thoughts

Sunday, March 05, 2006

UK Chartered Engineer Requirements

Basically, to become a chartered engineer in the UK, you need to have: 4 years of the relevant engineering course that is accredited by the professional body (I shall use IChemE and chemical engineering as my example, the professional chemical engineering body in this case), and four years of work experience (and needing to pass the qualification exams of course).

The four years is usually done via the 4 year MEng route; where you qualify with an undergraduate Masters in Engineering. Make sure that the course is accredited with the IChemE. The other option is to take a three year accredited BEng, followed by a TAUGHT MSc (a research MSc is NOT valid to my recollection) in the field of chemical engineering.

Your four years of study in this case would be only ¾ of the official requirement; however you can argue that you have done the majority of the stipulated requirement accredited (with the MSc year related to chemical engineering), and that you have done the design project (a VERY important component where you MUST be able to display teamwork and individual qualities without which you CANNOT become chartered) whilst doing your BEng.

What is the difference between the BEng / MSc and MEng route, you might ask? The content. The MEng route is built around 4 years and is relatively rigid to meet the requirements of becoming a professional engineer. Same with the BEng, but for only 3 years in this case. Many universities have phased out the BEng, and in general the BEng is more popular amongst international students than the locals (because you pay so much for the one year difference, basically).

The MSc is targeted mainly at working people who are looking to expand their knowledge, or people from different fields (I know biochemists and chemists who are pursuing their MSc in chemical engineering) looking for a fresh change. People looking to get into better universities from a lower ranked university (i.e. Nottingham to Imperial) also apply here.

In general, they do not have the sufficient engineering knowledge imparted into them, and they will not be able to cope with (accredited) Masters level chemical engineering modules such as Advanced Reactor Design, Bioreactor Engineering II etc (these units vary from university to university) especially if they come from different fields.

Therefore they would also not be able to carry out the important design project, and module choices are very flexible (you can pick between many elective units such as those which are offered in the accredited 3rd/4th year of MEng, or more specialised areas of chemical engineering such as structured product engineering etc., or even modules from different departments, such as Chaos Theory & Dynamic Systems from the Physics Department). It is for these reasons that MSc degrees are NOT accredited.

The only IChemE accredited MSc in chemical engineering in the UK is offered at UMIST if I am not mistaken, and that is in the area of chemical engineering design (yes, you get to do a design project).

For the work experience part, you need to be working in the field of chemical engineering, and placed under the mentoring of an (already) chartered engineer. Therefore if you work as an engineer in a small company with non-chartered engieneers (or God forbid, the only engineer amongst technicians), your work experience does not count. They will continually assess you and before you get the title of chartered engineer (CEng), you will need to sit for an assessment exam (whether or not you need to sit for the occasional exam every year/ half a year, or once while you try to obtain a CEng, I have no idea). If you choose to do an industrial placement year during your course, this year counts towards the working experience requirement.

The BEM recognizes whatever the ECUK recognizes, which I find to be highly annoying. Can someone tell me the BEM requirements for Malaysian university graduates? Is it the 4 year Bachelor course for academic requirements? Because I have a great deal of bones to pick, namely that a year or two is wasted on teaching GENERAL engineering courses of no relevance (that’s my understanding anyway), and that (I believe anyway) a 3 year UK BEng is worth more weight than a 4 year Bachelor’s in Malaysia.


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