Why Plumbing and Mechanical Engineers Need Continuing Education

As the plumbing industry evolves, different topics and trends require further attention, education, and changes in system design.

by Jim LeStage, CSI, CDT

The longer you’ve been in the plumbing or mechanical industry, the more you understand it’s in a constant state of change. New technologies, products, and materials are always cropping up, and installation codes and standards are constantly evolving, which requires plumbing and mechanical engineers to update their knowledge via continuing education on a regular basis.

When comparing industries, many professionals are required to continue their education to maintain licensing or their current status within an organization. Whether it’s a segment of the government, the medical profession, a labor union, or another field, employees or associates must maintain knowledge of their industry or they will quickly lose credibility if they fall behind.

This also applies to plumbing and mechanical engineers. In particular, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) has continuing education requirements for all engineers who want to hold and maintain their Certified in Plumbing Design (CPD) credential, which is essential for establishing professional competence in the field.

Since the industry is continuously adapting and evolving, here are reasons why continuing education may be valuable for you and your business.

Regular Changes to the Plumbing Codes and Standards

Following the current codes and industry standards is essential to ensure the jobs you undertake are of the highest quality. Model codes like the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and International Plumbing Code (IPC) are reviewed on a regular basis. Every three years, each section of these codes is subject to potential updates and changes. If you aren’t staying informed and up to date, you might be designing or consulting based on old, outdated information, potentially harming your credibility with jurisdictional authorities, building owners, or developers.

Industry standards from the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are also under constant review and modification. Again, by staying up to date on codes and standards, your credibility, and that of your firm, will continue to flourish.

Shifting Trends in the Industry

As the plumbing industry evolves, different topics and trends require further attention, education, and changes in system design. Below are a few examples of such shifts that are affecting engineers’ specifications.

  • Trends will impact the way plumbing systems are designed, especially when it comes to safety. Over the last few years, several safety standards have risen in importance, including new methods of scald protection and reducing the spread of Legionella, a bacterium that causes a serious type of pneumonia that travels throughout buildings via pipes. These safety trends continue to evolve as research continues and experts learn more about ways to protect consumers through plumbing system design.
  • Water conservation is having a significant impact on the plumbing industry as new fixtures and faucets are designed with conservation in mind. For this reason, methods of sizing water distribution piping are undergoing changes to accommodate piping materials such as PEX tubing.

Engineers need to be aware of the change in trends and their corresponding solutions, which also supports your credibility and project quality.

How to Earn Continuing Education Units

Associations like ASPE have great online tools and resources for their members that offer a variety of ways to receive continuing education. For instance, CPDs need to earn 2.4 continuing education units (CEUs)—the standard unit of measurement for continuing education—every two years, and at least 50 percent of the required 2.4 CEUs must come directly from ASPE, ASPE Chapters, and approved providers. Other sources may work but they must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure the training material is valid.

ASPE has a solid group of Approved CEU Providers that offer pertinent and approved educational content. HoldRite, for example, has a variety of subject-specific and relevant content to help you stay up to date on the latest products, techniques, and code-compliant solutions. Also, HoldRite recently partnered with ASPE on a webinar about firestopping vertical and horizontal penetrations that provides CEUs. You can see the recorded webinar here.

To learn more about RWC’s online training, visit holdrite.com.

About the Author

Jim LeStage, CSI, CDT, is the Specification Sales Manager at RWC—a market leader and manufacturer of water control systems and plumbing solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. To learn more about RWC and its family of brands, visit rwc.com.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.

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