“Competency is now a hot topic in the pipeline business, and demonstrating competency is essential in pipeline engineering.”
This significant quote from a recent paper by Michelle Unger and Dr Phil Hopkins, referenced in this column in March this year, provides a succinct background to the establishment of the new Qualification Panel for the Pipeline Industry. The panel, made up of five prominent and independent experts, and chaired by the undersigned, is supported by the Rosen Group as part of its Education Systems and Services division.
The commonly used standards in the pipeline industry, such as ASME B31.8S and ISO 13623 – as well as regulations from organisations such as PHMSA in the US ¬¬– require engineers to be both competent and qualified. While this concept is admirable and clearly sensible, there has been no way of acknowledging ‘competence’ and ‘qualification’ other than by reference to education at either graduate or postgraduate levels, and subsequent years of employment and experience. These achievements are, of course, valuable and valued; however, there has been no process, up to now, that allows them to be formally recognised within an independently audited career structure.
This will now change. The Qualification Panel is preparing a series of ‘qualification descriptors’ for various pipeline engineering roles (initially including onshore pipeline engineer, pipeline integrity engineer, pipeline inspection engineer, subsea pipeline engineer, pipeline risk engineer, and pipeline corrosion engineer) which, in the considered view of the Panel, will formally define the competencies required by practitioners at a number of different career levels, which will typically be engineer, senior engineer, and principal engineer. An individual can thereby measure his or her competence in a particular role in a structured manner, and become aware of what further competencies will be needed to progress to the next level.
There is a familiar model that shows that a competency in a particular subject is achieved by 10 per cent training, 20 per cent mentoring, and 70 per cent experience. A further role of the Qualification Panel will be to evaluate the available industry training courses to ensure that they meet the standards necessary such that those attending can use the training they receive as part of their competency development process.
The organisers of industry training courses will be invited to have them assessed against the Qualification Panel’s criteria: if a course is found to meet the relevant standards of content and delivery, it will be recognised as part of this formal process, which will consequently add significant value to those attending. The first training courses to go through this process were held in Bogota in November, and a number of those preceding next February’s Pipeline Pigging and Integrity Management conference will be similarly evaluated.
There is obviously much more to be written about this important development, and this will be done in Pipelines International and elsewhere as the opportunity arises. Meanwhile, further details of the scheme, and the associated Competency Club, are already online at education.rosen-group.com
The Professional Institute of Pipeline Engineers (PIPE) is undergoing a complete facelift: members will have realised that something out-of-the-ordinary was going on as the PIPE website has been offline for a while. However, the process is coming to any end, and the new site – complete with an updated administration system and membership database – will be launched in mid-January 2017. The new PIPE site will be at www.pipe-eng.com (replacing pipeinst.org).
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