Members of the engineering community recognize the value of their expertise to clients, employers and the public, so they appreciate the importance of not only being competent engineers but also publicizing their efforts to remain so. PEO’s Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program encourages PEO licence holders to engage in continuous learning and provides them with the opportunity to promote their commitment to doing so.
In today’s modern world, continuous learning happens in a remarkably wide range of forms. It can take place in the work environment but it frequently happens off the clock, too. Since continuous learning is intended to supplement or reinforce existing knowledge, it differs from simply practising and applying existing knowledge.
In a traditional sense, continuous learning involves continuing education in organized classroom sessions where an instructor both provides information and assesses whether the student has understood it. This form of learning includes distance-learning opportunities that employ technologies that facilitate remote access but remain opportunities through which the student is examined by the instructor.
Other forms of learning take place in less formal scenarios. For example, self-education is when an engineer reads books, manuals, codes, technical articles and papers, regulations and standards. Other types of informal learning include attending seminars or webinars, participating in lunch-and-learn sessions, and attending vendor workshops highlighting the engineering features of products and the engineering involved in the design and manufacture. Informal learning also includes training sessions on programs and tools and their application to engineering projects, participating in certain mentorship arrangements, engaging in peer group discussions and attending industry-led presentations and tours.
Forms of learning do not end there. In disseminating technical information to the engineering community, committees, presenters and writers are sure to impart knowledge through their research, findings, techniques and lessons learned: both presenter and attendee learn through the experience.
The PEAK program recognizes all these continuous learning activities. Through the annual reporting element of the program, practising PEO licence holders can inform PEO of the activities they have completed that maintain or update their engineering knowledge. In fact, the PEAK program was developed to provide licence holders with an easy online reporting system. Using drop-down menus, the user selects from three categories for the tagging of continuing knowledge activities: formal education, informal education and contributions to knowledge. When a licence holder reports completed activities, PEO will make this fact publicly available in the practitioner directory. This element of the program works as a platform that helps licence holders reflect on and track their continuous learning efforts while informing the public when the licence holder reports those efforts to PEO. These features of the element speak to PEO’s commitment to safeguarding the public interest with respect to the practice of professional engineering and professional transparency in Ontario.
Another unique feature of the PEAK program is that it allows practising PEO licence holders to craft personalized learning plans to meet their own needs and circumstances. This means they can distribute their PEAK activity hours across as many of the three categories of technical activities recognized by the program as they like.
Some examples to help identify activities that count towards your PEAK activity hours:
It’s important to note PEO does not endorse any provider of continuing knowledge activities and it does not validate or accredit any continuing knowledge activity. Licence holders should determine which activities have content that is relevant to them and are sufficiently technical to maintain or update their engineering skills.
Arden Heerah, P.Eng., is PEO’s PEAK program coordinator.