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The Nevada Connection – August 2017

Chairman's Message

By Robert La Riviere, PLS
Mr LaRiviere was elected by the state board to serve as the new chairman effective July 1, 2017.  He was reappointed July 1, 2016, by Governor Brian Sandoval to serve a third term on the board.
Congratulations to past chairman Chris Roper, PE/SE for guiding the board through two years of dynamic activity and accomplishment.  Much was done during his tenure to ensure the board’s business ran smoothly.  Chris’s steady leadership guided the board through selecting a new executive director and creating its first strategic plan.  The strategic plan will drive strategies and action items in the next three to five years, even as the board continues to change as new members are appointed.  The strategic plan is available on the board’s website, https://nvbpels.org. It is a great honor to be elected chair of the board.  I follow excellent past-chairs and have learned much from them.  I commit to do all that I can to continue to improve Nevada’s licensing processes to facilitate expedited mobility and regulate the professions in support of growing and diversifying Nevada’s economy. As a licensed professional land surveyor for more than 30 years, it’s concerning to see the diminishing numbers of surveyors in Nevada and across the country.  The dwindling numbers can be attributed to a number of factors, including the drastic downturn in the economy in 2008, rapidly evolving technology, and probably even the requirement for a 4-year surveying degree.  Last year, just 782 people in the entire US passed the PLS exam. The Nevada board generally supports education as a requirement for a land surveyor license, especially considering the rapid evolution of technology.  Nevada Revised Statutes give latitude to the board in determining an acceptable four year land surveying curriculum.  The board has opined that land surveyor applicants with at least 30 credit hours of land surveying coursework and a four year degree would meet the education requirement.  The board is also willing to consider a number of other options, including an associate’s degree paired with college coursework in land surveying that together would equate to a four year college degree.  Please feel free to contact the board office to explore acceptable alternatives to a four year degree in land surveying. I am looking forward to serving you in my term as chair of the board.  If there are questions I might answer or if you have suggestions related to how the board might better serve you, please feel free to contact me through the board office, board@boe.state.nv.us.

GOVERNOR APPOINTS NEW BOARD MEMBERS

Tracy Larkin-Thomason, MBA, PE, PTOE,CPM
Governor Sandoval appointed Tracy Larkin-Thomason, MBA, PE, PTOE,CPM to the board effective July 1, 2017.  She takes over the seat previously held by Past Chairman Randall Long, PE, whose term expired June 30, 2017.

Tracy serves as the Deputy Director for the Nevada Department of Transportation for southern Nevada.  She has over 30 years of experience in transportation, including surveying, construction, design, structural design, traffic engineering, maintenance, and planning.

Tracy also has statewide operational, maintenance, and construction responsibilities for NDOT’s three engineering districts, the civil rights program and a political focus on coordination of NDOT southern Nevada activities. In this position, Tracy seeks partnerships with local agency partners, elected officials, the general public and other stakeholders to improve communication, coordination, and customer service.

Tracy has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and a Master in business administration, both from the University of Nevada, Reno.  She is a licensed civil engineer in the state of Nevada, and is certified as a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer.

Tracy has been a leader in bringing autonomous and connected vehicle related issues to venues across the nation.  Nevada has been a state of firsts in providing testing and enabling legislation for autonomous vehicles.  She is an active member and leader in Nevada’s efforts to integrate connected technology into the Las Vegas region and promote enabling legislation.

Tracy serves on several national committees for the Transportation Research Board (TRB), American Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and various panels for the National Academy of Science.
 L Brent Wright, PE/SE
Governor Brian Sandoval also appointed L Brent Wright, PE/SE to the board effective July 1, 2017.  He holds the seat previously held by former Chairman Chris Roper, PE/SE, whose term on the board expired June 30, 2017.

Brent is a Nevada licensed structural engineer and is also licensed in 38 other states.  He is the founder and CEO of Wright Engineers with offices in Las Vegas, Irvine, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.  He was lead structural engineer for the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas and has overseen the structural engineering for thousands of projects nationwide.

Brent earned BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Brigham Young University, and he formerly held a Nevada unlimited general contractor’s license.

Brent serves as chairman of the Board of Appeals for the City of Las Vegas Department of Building and Safety and on other volunteer boards.  He was a founder and the first president of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern Nevada.

Brent is the cartoonist and creative mind behind the Right Brain Blog (rightbrain.wrightengineers.com), cartoons and humor highlighting the quirks and craziness of engineers, architects, builders and the construction industry.  He and his wife Peggy have five children and ten grandchildren.  For fun, Brent enjoys woodworking, gardening, motorcycle riding, archery, and other outdoor adventures, including summiting some of the tallest peaks in the US, Africa and South America.

BOARD MEMBER REAPPOINTED

Michael G. Kidd, PLS
Governor Sandoval reappointed Michael G Kidd, PLS to his second term on the board effective on July 1, 2017.

Michael was selected as Henderson City Surveyor in April 2009.  As City Surveyor, Michael manages the City’s land surveying, right-of-way and property management functions.

Michael’s entry into the land surveying profession began with the US Air Force in 1985.  His military land surveying career provided an opportunity to work on a variety of construction, mapping and boundary projects in Arizona, Nevada, Honduras and Panama.

Michael is currently a member of the National Society of Professional Surveyors, the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors, and the California Land Surveyors Association.  Michael served as the President of the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors (Southern Chapter) in 1999.

Michael is also a committee member for the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), serving on the Professional Surveyor Exam Committee.

Michael and his wife Christine live in Las Vegas.

DRONES AND LAND SURVEYING

Thank you to the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists for their well written article on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Land Surveying Practice in California by Steve Wilson PE/PLS (CA), and Dallas Sweeney, PLS (CA). Because we are experiencing similar challenges in Nevada, we appreciate California’s willingness to grant Nevada permission to use and modify portions of their original article printed in Spring 2017 Bulletin, Volume 4, Number 1.

Drones and Land Surveying

With rapidly evolving technology, the tools used by land surveyors to produce accurate topographic maps have drastically changed.  Twenty years ago, land surveyors collected field data one survey point at a time using theodolites, steel chains, and rodmen—typically requiring three or more people.  And, photogrammetric mapping was done with an airplane equipped with expensive high-resolution aerial camera equipment.  Now, survey data can be collected by one person using robotics and global positioning systems, terrestrial scanners, and low-altitude drones. Regardless of how field data is collected, a land surveyor must be in responsible charge of the process to locate fixed works designed by a civil engineer and in determining alignments and elevations.    

Drones and readily available software are significantly cheaper than airplane photography and stereo-plotters to capture and orthogonally rectify photo images to the shape of the earth.  The availability of drones and ease of use has tempted some to enter into the unlicensed practice of land surveying. 

Entrepreneurs are opening new companies to offer services such as drone flight planning, piloting, and photography.  Drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Association, but drone activity related to mapping is not regulated by Nevada’s land surveyor laws.  However, Nevada law does regulate land surveying.  And the production of any work depicting the locations or elevation of what is captured in photography relative to the earth’s surface is considered mapping and is described in Nevada law as the practice of land surveying which is regulated by the Nevada board.  

In converting photo images to useful data, a land surveyor manipulates the images using field auditing procedures.  The process verifies that ground control points and software mapping are accurate and are within project specific tolerances. 

Any civil engineering or architectural product, when designed in relation to any property boundaries, setbacks, or existing physical (fixed) improvements, requires dependable and accurate topographic information. No matter what tools are used to gather and depict the field data, the responsibility and liability for accuracy lie with the professional authorized to practice land surveying. Professional land surveyors are required to be responsible for the accuracy and correctness of their work. Mapping produced by those who may not have the training, education, and experience and who have not proven themselves competent to recognize potential errors or inaccuracies has the potential to cause harm to the public from any number of problems that may arise during subsequent use of the data. It is in the best interest of all design professionals to insist on accurate and reliable mapping.

When is a drone operator performing land surveying?

Simply put, when the operator creates a topographical survey or overlays a boundary on an orthogonally rectified photo and provides the finished product to a private client or public agency, the operator must be authorized by law to perform land surveying. Persons who offer to do more than flying a drone and obtaining the photography would be violating the law if their services also include orthogonally rectifying the photography to the surface of the earth or preparing a map that shows the alignment and elevation of fixed works, unless that work is performed by, or under the responsible charge, of a licensed professional land surveyor.  

How can the Nevada Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors help?

One approach is education. The board is available to collaborate with Nevada professional organizations to educate drone users by explaining which processes must be done by, or under the responsible charge of, a person authorized to perform land surveying. This might be helpful to reduce the possibility of offering unlicensed land surveying services.

The other approach is through enforcement. If you know of an individual or company that you believe is offering unlicensed land surveying services, contact the board. You can either submit an inquiry or file a complaint. We will contact the individual or company and discuss with them how they might be violating the law. Based on this contact and the response or actions of the individual or company, the board will determine the appropriate course of action.

CHANGES TO THE LICENSING PROCESS

Changes to the Licensing Process

Jasmine Bailey, Licensing Specialist

Here at the NVBPELS office we are continually striving for operational excellence.  Always keeping the applicant in mind, we continuously look for ways to improve and expedite the licensing process. In 2017 we made a number of changes to make the licensing process more efficient. The most impactful change was going paperless!  All applications are now online.  

Also, as of June, we now require an NCEES Record to apply for either an initial or comity license.  This is an easier and faster way to complete the licensing process in multiple jurisdictions.  With just a few clicks of your computer mouse, you can transmit your NCEES Record to any state in the US.  An NCEES Record includes all of the items you need to apply for a professional engineer or land surveyor license.  It eliminates the need for you to repeatedly submit college transcripts, exam results, employment verifications, and professional references to every state that you apply to for a license. The online application process for an NCEES Record can be completed in as few as 30 days but may take longer depending on the amount of time it takes to verify your work experience and receive professional references.  For more information related to an NCEES Record, please go to www.NCEES.org/records/

During the recent legislative session, Governor Sandoval signed Senate Bill 69 into law.  The new law directs occupational licensing boards to license professionals by endorsement—endorsement is the same as comity—within 60 days of receiving a completed application. Historically the entire board reviewed each and every application for approval at its board meetings.  Since the board meets every other month, the minimum time to process a completed application was 60 days, typically taking 70 days or longer.  The new law necessitated a change in how we do business to meet the 60 day requirement.  The board recognizes that 60 days is the minimum standard and will be striving to do better.  Improving mobility, expediting licensing of professionals that are already licensed in another state, is good for Nevada’s economy. Endorsement/comity applicants will no longer have to wait until an upcoming board meeting, held every other month.  An applicant can potentially get licensed within a week after we receive a completed application.

As we continue to strive for operational excellence, feel free to let us know how we are doing.  We welcome your suggestions on how we can better serve you or the professions.  

GETTING FAMILIAR WITH THE RULES AND REGULATIONS

Getting familiar with the rules and regulations

Murray Blaney, Compliance Officer

Nevada Administrative Code 625.550, as it is written, is biased toward Nevada licensed engineers and land surveyors who work predominantly in a permitting capacity with a public authority. But because of the heading, “licensee employed by a government agency”, private sector licensees might not read the text that follows the title. It’s a regulation that all should be more familiar with.


NAC 625.550 Licensee employed by governmental agency:

Notification to Board of certain conduct by another licensee. (NRS 625.140) Any person licensed pursuant to this chapter who is employed by any governmental entity shall notify the Board in writing when:

  1. Another licensee has submitted substantially incomplete plans to the governmental entity;
  2. The governmental entity has, on three or more occasions, rejected plans submitted by another licensee for the same project; or 
  3. Another licensee has failed timely to respond to correspondence from the governmental entity.

 

(Added to NAC by Bd. of Reg’d Professional Eng’rs & Land Surv., eff. 9-13-85; A 9-1-93)


The regulation came into being to serve two general purposes: to keep the planning process moving and not have it bogged down by incomplete submissions or the inefficient use of planning officials’ time in having to chase down procrastinators; and more importantly, as a safety-net against engineers or land surveyors who get in over their head and have taken on projects over and beyond their area of expertise. And “expertise” – in an engineering sense – does not relate to licensed discipline, it refers to areas within that discipline where knowledge and experience is lacking. In a perfect world you’d hope that professionals would take due care to be complete and timely in their work and understand when a project is beyond their ability and say no to accepting it  …but sadly that is not always the case and this is when we ask licensees in the government sector to step in and help us protect public safety and welfare.

The regulation was designed to be cautionary to the wider body of engineers and land surveyors, rather than place additional burden on licensed professionals in government agencies. It is in place to support common sense and sound judgement and to give some recourse when that lapses.

There is an understanding that there will be situations beyond the control of the licensees that will breach the letter of the regulation, and this is where common sense again – and open communication – can help prevent any distress.  In these instances, we encourage licensees to connect with the public authority to avoid any misunderstandings and arrive at an agreeable solution.

Knowing and understanding the rules and regulations of the profession paves the path of least resistance.

Board staff is more than happy to help with any questions or clarifications with regard to Nevada Revised Statutes 625 (NRS 625) and Nevada Administrative Code 625 (NAC 625), please feel free to drop an e-mail to board@boe.state.nv.us or call (775) 688-1231. 

FIRM REGISTRATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

My company intends to offer or provide engineering/land surveying services in Nevada.  Do I have to register my firm?

Yes. Please refer to Nevada Administrative Code 625.425.  You also need a Nevada business license, please see Nevada Secretary of State’s website, http://nvsos.gov/sos.

Do I have to register my firm before I offer or do work in Nevada?

Yes.  Prior to offering or performing work in Nevada, firms must complete and submit a Firm Registration Form along with the $50 fee. The form can be downloaded from our website.  Print the form and mail to us along with a check.  Unfortunately we do not yet offer online firm registration for the initial registration.  We are working to add the ability to initially register and pay online. 

I am a sole practitioner, do I have to register my firm?

If you are the only licensed professional that works at the firm, and your firm name is your name, John Doe, PE/PLS, then no, you do not need to register your firm.   Your PE/PLS license suffices since we know who is in responsible charge. If you are the only licensed professional that works at the firm and you have filed articles of organization—LLC, LLP, Inc, Corp, Company, etc—then yes, you need to register your firm.  In registering your firm, you tell us the name of the PE/PLS that is in responsible charge. 

Can a PE/PLS be associated with more than one registered firm?

Yes. A PE/PLS can be listed on more than one firm registration.  However, each firm must have at least one full-time PE/PLS in responsible charge at each office that the firm offers or provides services.  The same full-time PE/PLS cannot be listed on multiple firm registrations.  The secondary associations would only be for part-time positions.

After I register my firm, how long is the registration active? How do I renew my firm registration?

Firm registrations are active for one year. After your initial registration, you can renew online using the following link: https://nvboeonline.org/UI/Corporate_Registration.aspx.  The renewal fee is $50.   

After I submit a completed Firm Registration form for my initial registration, how long will it be before my firm is registered and I receive my registration certificate?

Typically one week.  However it can take longer during peak workloads.  We ask for your patience during peak periods.  Despite the time lag between submitting a completed form and receiving a certificate, you are good to go operationally.  You are in compliance as soon as we receive a completed form along with the fee. 

Is registration of a firm a one-time registration?

No. Annual renewal of your firm registration is required and can be completed and paid for online via our website. 

How can I get a duplicate or replacement certificate of registration?

Duplicate or replacement certificates can be obtained by emailing our office at Board@boe.state.nv.us.

How can I update or make changes to my firm registration—branch offices, company officers, PE/PLS employees, etc?

Just send us an email at Board@boe.state.nv.us. Be sure to include the name of the company and the company ID number associated with the firm registration and describe the changes that need to be made. 

Our firm is located outside of Nevada.  Are we required to register our firm prior to offering and providing services?

Yes. Any firm offering or providing engineering or land surveying services in Nevada is required to be registered.

I work for a public agency that performs engineering or land surveying services.  Is the agency I work for required to register as a firm?

No.  Public agencies are not required to register as a firm. 

If I do not renew my firm registration, can I offer engineering services during the time the registration is not current?

No. You cannot offer engineering services and you could be subject to disciplinary action for non-compliance with the law. 

I am a licensed PE/PLS in Nevada and am employed by a firm outside of Nevada and we do not offer or provide services in Nevada. Is the firm required to be registered?

No. Only firms offering or providing services in Nevada are required to register.

My firm is not presently offering engineering or land surveying services in Nevada but anticipates offering those services in the future. Are we required to register now or can we wait until we anticipate offering those services?

You can wait to register but must register prior to offering or providing services.

Is firm registration and individual licensure the same?

No. Individual licensure gives the person legal authority to practice engineering or land surveying. Firm registration gives your firm the legal authority to offer and provide services in Nevada.

Do I need to have a current engineering or land surveying license to practice in Nevada?

Yes. Your firm can only be registered if at least one of its employees is licensed in Nevada.  That person must be licensed for the services offered.  For example, if the firm offers engineering, the firm must have at least one fulltime licensed engineer in each office that the firm offers engineering.  If the firm offers land surveying, the firm must have at least one fulltime licensed land surveyor in each office that the firm offers engineering.  If the firm offers engineering and land surveying, the firm must have at least one fulltime licensed engineer and one fulltime licensed land surveyor in each office that the firm offers engineering. 

If I am retired and renew my license as inactive, can I still be listed on my company’s firm registration?

No. You must have an active license to offer and provide services in Nevada.  Therefore you cannot be listed on your company’s firm registration.  Your company must have at least one person with an active license so the firm can continue to offer and provide services. 

Where do I get the forms to register my firm?

You can download the form at https://nvbpels.org/pdfs/CorporateRegistration.pdf 

Is firm registration only required in Nevada?

Firm registration in Nevada is only for firms that offer or provide services in Nevada. Check with other states prior to offering or providing services in that state to determine its requirements related to registering firms. 

Does the board keep a record of my firm’s registration?

Yes. After a registration is processed, we keep the information that you provide in our database. We are working to make information associated with firm registration available on our website. 

Does the registration fee change?

No.  The fee is not likely to change, unless we reduce the fee.  The maximum fee is established by law.  If the fee is reduced it would be decided at a public meeting and posted on our website.   

Nevada Board Compliance Actions

Michael Keegan, PE # 008821
Case Number 20160018
Violation NAC 625.260

Submitting and stamping plans that were outside his engineering discipline. Mr Keegan submitted plans under his CE license that required an SE to be in responsible charge.

Stipulated Agreement Nov 10, 2016
  • License suspended for two (2) years, stayed and probation for that period.
  • Successful completion of probation is expressly conditioned upon full compliance with the following conditions: (a) the board shall be provided with bi-monthly probation reports for Nevada projects (b) payment of an administrative fine of $2,500 (c) reimbursement to the board of investigative costs of $1,246 (d) compliance with Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 625 (e) provide proof of completion of the required professional development hours that are required for license renewal.
  • Michael “Tony” Regan, PE # 011081
    Case Number 20160021
    Violation NRS 625.520

    Entering into a contract to provide structural engineering services with an inactive license.

    Stipulated Agreement Nov 10, 2016
    • Payment of an administrative fine of $2,500.
    • Reimbursement to the board of investigative costs of $1,213.
    • Provide proof of completion of the required 30 professional development hours before his Nevada license can be reinstated.
    • Upon reinstatement, his Nevada license will be suspended for two (2) years, stayed and probation for that period.
    • Successful completion of probation is expressly conditioned upon full compliance with the following conditions: (a) the board shall be provided with bi-monthly probation reports for Nevada projects (b) provide proof of completion of the required professional development hours that are required for future license renewal.
  • Clinton Thiesse, PE # 006159
    Case Number 20160024
    Violation NAC 625.530

    Failure to act as a faithful agent in professional matters for a client.

    Stipulated Agreement Jan 12, 2017
    • Payment of an administrative fine of $500.
    • Reimbursement to the board of investigative costs of $1,230.
    • Provide proof of completion of the required 30 professional development hours that are required for license renewal.

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