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September 1, 1972
Honorable Sam C. Guess
State Senator, 6th District
W. 408 33rd Avenue
Spokane, Washington 99203
Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 68 (not official)
By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
Are the provisions of chapter 18.43 RCW establishing registration and licensing requirements for engineers and land surveyors applicable to the usual teaching and related activities performed by a professor or dean of engineering at a college or university offering courses leading to an academic degree in engineering?
We answer this question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.
RCW 18.43.010 contains the following prohibition:
". . . it shall be unlawful for any person to practice or to offer to practice in this state, engineering . . . as defined in the provisions of this chapter, . . . unless such a person has been duly registered under the provisions of this chapter."
The term "engineering" is defined by RCW 18.43.020 to mean the "practice of engineering" and this latter term is also defined in the same section as follows:
". . .
". . . The term 'practice of engineering' within the meaning and intent of this chapter shall mean any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training, and experience and the application of special knowledge of the [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to such professional services or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with specifications and design, in connection with any public or private utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, works, or projects.
". . ." (Emphasis supplied.)
In analyzing the scope of this definition it is well to recall the well-established rule that words contained in a statute are not to be read in isolation but rather are to be read in the context in which they appear. City of Kent v. Lamb, 1 Wn.App. 737, 463 P.2d 661 (1969); Mercer Island v. Kaltenbach, 60 Wn.2d 105, 371 P.2d 1009 (1962). With this in mind we note that the "practice of engineering" as above defined contains, basically, two separate component parts ‑ the first of which is a listing of the skills to be possessed and applied by a person engaged in the rendition of professional services as an engineer, and the second of which is a listing of the various applications of those skills which will constitute the "practice of engineering." For ease of reference we have underscored this second aspect of the definition in quoting the statute above.
In our view, it cannot be denied that the teaching of engineering at the college level requires ". . . engineering education, training, and experience and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences . . ." ‑ i.e., the skills listed in the first portion of the statutory definition of the "practice of engineering." However, the application of those skills to the instruction of students or to the administration of a college of engineering does not appear to us to fall within the purview of the second portion of this definition. For this reason, it is our opinion that a person need not be registered as a professional engineer in order to perform the usual tasks of a professor or dean of engineering at a college or university providing courses leading to an academic degree in engineering.1/
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
RICHARD A. MATTSEN
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/Of course, where such a professor or dean is also engaged in consulting or part-time work of some other kind falling within the scope of RCW 18.43.020, supra, he would then obviously be subject to the registration act requirements to the same extent as any other persons so engaged.