In answer to the question: “Is it acceptable for a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) to rely upon the work of an Engineer Intern (EI) since the EI is not a licensed engineer?” The answer is Yes, provided the PE acting as Engineer of Record is in Responsible Charge of the EI.

61G15-30.002 Definitions Common to All Engineer’s Responsibility Rules.
(1) Engineer of Record. A Florida professional engineer who is in responsible charge for the preparation, signing, dating, sealing and issuing of any engineering document(s) for any engineering service or creative work.

A licensed Professional Engineer, acting as Engineer of Record, is allowed to rely upon the work of others and is allowed to have non-licensed persons working under their direct supervision provided that engineer remains in Responsible Charge. Simply put, the licensed engineer is not required to personally perform the entire design, collect all of the data or complete all of the tasks but is required to always exercise “supervisory direction and control authority” in accordance with Florida’s engineering laws and rules.

61G15-18.011 Definitions.
(1) “Responsible Charge” shall mean that degree of control an engineer is required to maintain over engineering decisions made personally or by others over which the engineer exercises supervisory direction and control authority. The engineer in responsible charge is the Engineer of Record as defined in subsection 61G15-30.002(1), F.A.C.

The requirements for Responsible Charge are found in Florida Administrative Code 61G15-18.011(1) and include:

  • 61G15-18.011(1)(a) which addresses the degree of control necessary for the Engineer of Record,
  • 61G15-18.011(1)(b) which identifies those Engineering decisions which must be made by and are the responsibility of the Engineer of Record, and
  • 61G15-18.011(1)(c) which establishes a test to evaluate whether an engineer is the Engineer of Record.

The test established within 61G15-18.011(1)(c) consist, in part, of the following:

  1. The engineer shall be capable of answering questions relevant to the engineering decisions made during the engineer’s work on the project, in sufficient detail as to leave little doubt as to the engineer’s proficiency for the work performed and involvement in said work.
  2. The engineer shall be completely in charge of, and satisfied with, the engineering aspects of the project.
  3. The engineer shall have the ability to review design work at any time during the development of the project and shall be available to exercise judgment in reviewing these documents.
  4. The engineer shall have personal knowledge of the technical abilities of the technical personnel doing the work and be satisfied that these capabilities are sufficient for the performance of the work.

It should also be noted that 18.011(1)(d) clearly states that Responsible Charge relates to engineering decisions within the purview of the Professional Engineers Act (F.S. 471) and does not refer to management control, administrative or personnel management functions. So, in cases where the PE is acting as Engineer of Record and is in Responsible Charge, the PE is permitted to rely upon the work of EIs and other non-licensed engineers.

About the Author

William C. Bracken, PE, SI, CFM, is a licensed Professional Engineer and Special Inspector in Florida, and is the president and principal engineer for Bracken Engineering, located in Tampa. Mr. Bracken has served on the FBPE Board since 2012 and served as Board chair for the years 2015 and 2016. He also served as the FBPE’s vice chair for the years 2013 and 2014.