NZ Geomechanics News

Chartered Professional Engineer (Geotechnical) – Body of Knowledge and Skills

1          Introduction

This letter describes the development of a document intended to define the minimum technical capabilities that a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) (Geotechnical) is expected to have in order to competently investigate, design and supervise the construction of geotechnical works in New Zealand. This Body of Knowledge and Skills (BOKS) is intended to complement and inform the Chartered Professional Engineer assessment process. The BOKS has been developed to address concerns about the consistency and quality of geotechnical engineering.

BOKS are also being developed for structural engineering and engineering geology.

2          Background

This document has been developed in response to concerns raise by industry including the New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS), consenting authorities, MBIE and the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

Specific concerns include:

  • An unacceptable amount of work within the profession is not meeting minimum acceptable standards
  • CPEng is increasingly being viewed as not being a mark of quality assurance
  • The lack of definition of professional quality standards results in poor public perception and confidence dropping
  • Fragmented training within the profession
  • The CPEng application and assessment process is perceived as inconsistent and becoming increasingly criticised.

For quality issues to be adequately addressed there is a need to define more clearly what it means to be a professional engineer in the geotechnical field. IPENZ, NZGS, MBIE, UCQC and related technical societies have been in consultation to assess the situation and facilitate the development of robust long term solutions, the first of which being the development of a defined Body of Knowledge and Skills.

3          Development of the BOKS

NZGS, MBIE and UCQC developed an initial document for discussion. The BOKS was then developed at workshops, contributions from the working group and a wide range of reviewers. The premises on which the BOKS were created were:

  1. Define the types of work and design experience that might be expected of a recently chartered professional geotechnical engineer after 6 to 8 years of practice.
  2. From these experiences, identify the skills and knowledge that underpin their practice.
  3. Define what constitutes core knowledge and skills and what might be considered supplementary.
  4. Provide examples of other experiences that might require similar breadth and depth of the knowledge and skills required of a CPEng.
  5. The BOKS does not define competency.
4          How to provide feedback

Please review the attached BOKS (see ‘downloads’) and send any comments to the NZGS secretary ( or to Kevin Anderson ( Please include your contact details when submitting comments so that we can discuss them with you. This phase of consultation on the BOKS will close on 30 April 2017.

5          Next Steps

The following steps are planned to complete the BOKS:

  1. Consult with NZGS members (this phase)
  2. Revise BOKS as required to address comments
  3. Consult with IPENZ, Registration Authority and related stakeholders
  4. Revise BOKS as required to address comments
  5. Further consultation as above if any significant revisions
  6. Complete BOKS
5          Acknowledgements

The contributions and leadership provided the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the UC Quake Centre (UCQC) and IPENZ is appreciated and acknowledged.

The contribution of the following are acknowledged and greatly appreciated: John Scott, Geoff Farquhar, Greg Preston, Gilles Seve, Stuart Palmer, Andrew Palmer, Marlene Villeneuve, Graham Dilks, Brett Williams, Philip Robins, Charlie Price, Clive Anderson, Bruce Deam, Kate Williams, Chris Massey, Pathmanathan Brabhaharan, Win Clark, Larry Bellamy, Gordon Hughes, David Hutt, Peter Smith, Gavin Alexander, Kevin Hind, Sally Hargraves and Paul Campbell


Kevin Anderson
NZGS Management Committee Member
Chair of the CPEng(Geotechnical) BOKS development working group

Tags : #BoKS

NZ Geomechanics News
Kevin Anderson
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 92 - December 2016
Society News

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