On August 4 of last year, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a bill recognizing Structural Engineering as an addition to the current Professional Engineering license for specifically designated structures, as noted in a recent article in the September 2021 issue of Structure magazine.  

In the process, SB 310 created a new license: Professional Structural Engineer (SE). As of January 1 of this year, an SE license is now required to design, sign and seal “Designated Structures” in the state of Georgia. Some states already had some form of structural engineering legislation in place prior to April 2011, and since that time, more states have either passed or attempted to pass similar S.E. legislation. 

A 16-hour P.E., S.E. exam

With the passage of this legislation in Georgia, a structural engineer must now pass a 16-hour exam in order to receive the P.E., S.E designation.  However, any Georgia engineer who possessed the P.E. designation before 2011 and can also demonstrate substantial structural design experience, can receive the P.E., S.E. designation without having to take the exam.

A long road from bill to law

Passage of this legislation was a lengthy process that began in April of 2011 with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)  recommending the 16-hour structural exam as the standard for demonstrating minimum competence in the practice of structural engineering in the state.  

Soon after this time, the Structural Engineers Association of Georgia (SEAOG) began looking to develop legislation that would focus primarily on making sure that complex structures were being designed by qualified engineers. The group also desired to develop legislation that would address the competitive disadvantage faced by many engineers in Georgia who did not have the P.E., S.E. designation, versus those from other states who did. The group worked closely with many other interest groups, as well as the Georgia Department of Transportation, to determine which structures would require the P.E., S.E. stamp of approval.

Examples of those “Designated Structures” include: 

  • Buildings in Risk Category III or IV as defined by the International Building Code
  • Buildings with a covered gross area of 100,000 square feet or more
  • Buildings with an occupied floor elevation 45’ or more above the average ground level
  • Buildings with a height to least width aspect ratio of the structural lateral load resisting buildings system is great than or equal to seven, among others.

Finally signed into law

First introduced to the Georgia House of Delegates in 2015, the bill was finally signed into law by Governor Kemp in the summer of 2020.

We at Top Level Engineering fully support Georgia’s new legislation and licensing requirements proposed by NCEES, and hope to see continued adoption of similar measures in other states.