Elya B. Joffe, iNCE (EMC-E, ESDC-E, EMC-MDE)
International Technical Consultant – iNARTE

Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again.”

Similar to the symposium in Ottawa in 2016, iNARTE was present in 2017 in the exhibition, which provided an outstanding opportunity to meet already iNARTE certified professionals and those interested in being certified. Traffic at the booth was so heavy—we had so much interest and subsequent good discussions—that we forgotten to have lunch on the Tuesday!

It was so encouraging to see how many of the attendees had interest in iNARTE and consider it of value to their career. But moreover, the interest in iNARTE also came from training providers, potential global partners, as well as, of course, candidate professionals.

As usual, iNARTE hosted a Monday “Exam Preparation” workshop to help candidates prepare and take the iNARTE certification exams, which were held on Friday. Ten professionals attended the workshop, and three took the exam on Friday. We are glad to report 100 percent success! iNARTE welcomes the new certified professionals.

A New iNARTE Exam Format

Well, what can I tell you? Life in the wide world goes on much as it has this past age, full of its own comings and goings, scarcely aware of the existence of Hobbits, for which I am very thankful.” [Gandalf, in “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”]

This year, the iNARTE EMC certification exam did not “go on much as it has this past age.” Indeed, the examinees in Washington experienced, for the very first time, a new iNARTE exam, both in platform and in structure.

In previous articles, we presented our future plans for evolution of the INARTE exam, in particular, its structure:

  • In 2016, exams still carried the “traditional” format, whereby the exam consisted of 96 questions (two parts, 48 questions each), of which the examinee had to choose 80 questions (40 out of the 48 in each part). The exam was held in two sessions of four hours each. In our opinion, more than the exam evaluating the “functional competence” of the candidate, it was more of an “endurance” test (adopting terminology from the environmental stress testing).

However, this is no longer! The new EMC exam format consists of a single, four-hour session only, and 50 multiple choice questions, which were all to be answered.

The success grade is still 70 percent, so 35 questions out of the 50 had to be answered correctly. Note that there is no penalty for wrong answers. If the examinee does not know an answer, guesswork is permitted, and even recommended.

  • This was the very first time the exams were taken online. In fact, future candidates may even take the exam at their home, workplace, or even in a coffee shop.

Online proctoring is now available for all iNARTE exams! The beauty of this is that the examinee can receive an unofficial grade immediately at the end of the exam (the official grade is sent to the examinees several days later).

These and other changes are taking place, as the iNARTE program is continuously evolving. More to come in the not too distant future.

Competence vs Qualification Personnel Certification

To date, renewal of the iNARTE certification required paying your annual dues and, at most, a statement of continued engagement in the EMC profession. However, is that sufficient to demonstrate continued competence in the profession?

In other words, could a certified person of 20 years or more, remain competent and demonstrate it without taking any action to remain current in his professional competence?

The answer lies in the distinction between qualification and competence. To explain that distinction, consider the following discussion:

  • “Do you know how to drive a car?”
  • “I was trained and acquired a driving license 20 years ago, but I have not driven a car since and I am not confident to drive a car.”
  • “So you have the qualifications, but not the competence.”

Competence can be defined as “The ability to apply knowledge
and skills to achieve intended results.”
(Source: ISO 19011:2011, Guidelines for auditing management systems).

In competence-based certification, the candidate’s knowledge, skills, personal attributes, and qualifications specific to the program are examined, while qualification-based certification relies on an applicant’s education and qualifications, rather than on measurable competence.

Our World is Changing… We Live in Exponential Times…

We are living in a world marked by radical change—not just with regard to technology, but with the very way we perceive ourselves.” [Anonymous]

Our world is changing at such a frantic pace that if we do not continue to grow and develop, we will soon be left behind. This speed of change and the explosion of knowledge require people to learn afresh at many intervals throughout their lives[1].

One of the best quotations that demonstrate the rate of evolution of knowledge is [2],[3]:

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

To see more implications of our “exponential times” I recommend viewing the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmwwrGV_aiE

Indeed, we live in exponential times.

Technically speaking, it is a well-known fact that the half life of an engineer’s technical skills range between 2.5-7.5 years, depending upon the engineer’s area of expertise (and not to mention Moore’s Law…). Even in the slower-paced engineering fields, engineers must reinvent themselves at least once a decade. Moreover, the vitality of a country depends on its intellectual capital, and engineers are the keepers of the knowledge needed to create and advance the technology that runs the world[4].

Lifelong Learning is Essential for Maintaining Professional Competence

In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.[5]

The rapid rate of evolution of technology entails life-long learning as an essential pre-requisite for professional engineers just as the initial training and certification (remember? – qualifications vs competence…).

Quoted from the IEEE (and the iNARTE Code of Ethics, which is based on it) states the professional responsibilities of the practicing engineer:

  1. “To accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health, and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment;
  1. To improve the understanding of technology; its appropriate application, and potential consequences;
  2. To maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations.”

Continued professional development is, therefore, an urgent imperative to ensure public safety, a sustainable environment, a competitive national economy, a respected profession, a profitable employer, and a fulfilling career.

Implications to Certification of Engineers

As engineers, we were going to be in a position to change the world—not just study it. [Henry Petroski]

Engineering is “…the creation of useful and safe technological products while respecting the autonomy of clients and the public, especially in matters of risk-taking” (Martin and Schinzinger 1996). Engineering has, therefore, a direct and vital effect on the quality of life of people, and services provided by them must be dedicated to protection of the public safety, health, and welfare.

Engineers are continuously facing a whirlwind of professional change, therefore, passing the initial certification exam is insufficient to:

  • Remain current in the understanding and applying technology
  • Ensure public safety, health, and welfare
  • Subsequently, avoid liability claims in cases of perceived or claimed malpractice

It was therefore agreed between iNARTE and the IEEE EMC Society to apply a continued professional development program for iNARTE certification renewal.

iNARTE Adopts Requirement for Continuing Professional Development

Accountability and self-responsibility are critical to our success in personal, professional and public life. However, we often look for those character traits in others, rather than inculcating them in ourselves.[6]

In the past 18 months, iNARTE has been developing a continuing professional development (CPD) program, consistent with global practices. This CPD program, which will be introduced in 2018, will provide a reasonable balance between “adequate competence demonstration” and ability of the “reasonable competent professional.” Naturally, separate criteria will be set for engineers and technicians.

When the CPD program is applied, certified professionals will be re required on a one to three year basis (to be determined) accrue a certain number of CPD renewal units, or RUs). RUs will be accrued from at least three different activity categories for renewal:

  1. Professional development (professional activities other than courses)
  2. Employment (work-related activities)
  3. Courses—Instructor credit (teaching courses)
  4. Courses—Student credit (taking courses)
  5. Meetings (Technical/industry association)
  6. Committees (member and/or officer)
  7. Certification (additional certifications)
  8. Publishing (author or reviewer)

 

The iNARTE CPD program will be introduced and publicized within the next year allowing a transition period in 2018. In the following year, the CPD program is scheduled to be applied as a mandatory requirement (with a possible phase-in period) for certification renewal.

Note: By the way, iNARTE “life-certified” engineers/technicians (a.k.a. iNARTE “life members”) will also have to meet the CPD program requirements, but as they had paid “life dues” they will not be required to pay the renewal dues.

Comments received during discussions in Washington were enthusiastic, actually thanking iNARTE for this initiative, which is believed to enhance the value of the certification.

Where did the iNARTE Military Standard (MIL-STD) EMC Specialist Certification Program Go?

One of the frequently asked questions during the Symposium, as well as in other opportunities, was why the “MIL-STD-Specialist” had “disappeared.” For those unfamiliar with the program, the iNARTE Military Standard (MIL-STD) EMC Specialist Certification Program is applicable to military engineers and technicians practicing in EMC fields to address their specific needs. MIL-STD EMC specialists who already hold, or who obtain an iNARTE EMC certification can add this credential as an endorsement to that certificate once all criteria have been met.

This certification is designed for those who already hold an iNARTE EMC certification.

In 1989/90 the original EMC certification was intended to identify the most qualified engineers and technicians practicing in the field of EMC test and measurement, together with intersystem compatibly and mitigating engineering skills. The content of the early EMC certification program was almost entirely military. In later years as commercial EMC interests developed, the nature of the question pools changed. There is still an important section of the EMC community dedicated to supporting military requirements and the iNARTE Military Standard (MIL-STD) EMC Specialist certification is intended to this need.

However, the standards on which this certification was based have long since evolved. For instance, the equipment-level EMC standard, the well-known MIL-STD-461C (then) has evolved into E, F and – G (today). The system-level EMC standard, MIL-E-6051E and then MIL-STD-1818, have evolved into MIL-STD-464, A, B, and C.

This required iNARTE to suspend (not cancel) this program, and develop a whole new framework and subsequently, relevant exam questions, to address the current knowledge base and required competency of the Military EMC Specialist.

Rest assured, the iNARTE Military Standard (MIL-STD) EMC Specialist Certification Program is an important element of our forward rebuilding plan and in due course will be re-introduced.

And What about the EMC Master Design-Engineer Certification?

Yet another question asked in Washington, D.C.: The EMC Master Design-Engineer program was introduced by iNARTE and KEC (our partners in Japan) as a one-time program in 2011, through “grandfathering” only, to recognize exceptional EMC engineers, which qualify for such recognition of their professional excellence. To that effect, this “grade” is really similar to the IEEE “Fellow” grade. The EMC Master Design-Engineer “grade” was actually introduced as a “life-time certification”, and requires no “renewal” (which, of course, contradicts the principles discussed above in the CPD discussion).

The question of re-introducing the EMC Master Design-Engineer grade has actually been in discussions for the past 18 months, and when the scope and definition of this grade are finalized, announcements will be made.

Stay Tuned

As you may have observed, iNARTE is undergoing major improvements and expansions, with more programs to be introduced shortly, and more steps to be taken to ensure the continued value of the program.

Rome was not built in a day”… We have built a strategic plan, and follow it. Stay tuned for those developments, and we plan to report on those, as they evolve, in the following iNARTE iNformer columns.

[1] Source: N. Duta, E. Rafaila, “Importance of the Lifelong Learning for Professional Development of University Teachers – Needs and Practical Implications”, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 127 (2014) 801 – 806

[2] D. Dutta, L. Patil and J. B. Porter, Jr, “Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Sustaining American Competitiveness in the 21st Century”, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

[3] NASA, Goddard’s Innovative Partnerships Program Office; Online at http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/downloads/accomp_reports/2008_ipp_accomp_report.pdf.

[4] DiDomenico, C. F., “Lifelong Learning, Engineering and The Community College”, Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration American Society for Engineering Education, February 3-5, 2010, Palm Springs CA

[5] Bowman, C.W., FCAE, “Lifelong Learning for Professional Engineers”, Engineering Issues, A publication of the Canadian Academy of Engineering

[6] Chavan, V., “Vishwasutras: Universal Principles for Living: Inspired by Real-Life Experiences

For More Information

For more information on the iNARTE and its EMC Certification programs, please visit http://inarte.org/certifications/inarte-electromagnetic-compatibility-emc-emi-certification/.