Engineering Definitions


To evaluate commissioning as an engineering services, there are two sources of definitions that should be considered.  First, each state licenses engineers and therefore must define engineering for that purpose.  Secondly, legal definitions must be established for use in the court of law in cases that involve professional liability.  Most state statutes define engineering in a similar manner and with the same terms.  As an example typical among the states, the following definition was taken from the state of Florida's statutes.

State of Florida Definition

The following statutes define the terms “Engineering” (statute 471.005) as well as “professional services” (statute 287.055). 
(7) “Engineering” includes the term “professional engineering” and means any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to such services or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, and design of engineering works and systems, planning the use of land and water, teaching of the principles and methods of engineering design, engineering surveys, and the inspection of construction for the purpose of determining in general if the work is proceeding in compliance with drawings and specifications, any of which embraces such services or work, either public or private, in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of a mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health, or property; and includes such other professional services as may be necessary to the planning, progress, and completion of any engineering services. A person who practices any branch of engineering; who, by verbal claim, sign, advertisement, letterhead, or card, or in any other way, represents himself or herself to be an engineer or, through the use of some other title, implies that he or she is an engineer or that he or she is licensed under this chapter; or who holds himself or herself out as able to perform, or does perform, any engineering service or work or any other service designated by the practitioner which is recognized as engineering shall be construed to practice or offer to practice engineering within the meaning and intent of this chapter.
287.055 Acquisition of professional architectural, engineering, landscape architectural, or surveying and mapping services; definitions; procedures; contingent fees prohibited; penalties.—(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section shall be known as the “Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section:
(a) “Professional services” means those services within the scope of the practice of architecture, professional engineering, landscape architecture, or registered surveying and mapping, as defined by the laws of the state, or those performed by any architect, professional engineer, landscape architect, or registered surveyor and mapper in connection with his or her professional employment or practice.
  1. USA - State Statutes
  2. Canada - Provincial Statutes
  3. Legal Definition
Each source is similiar and from these definitions we find that many of the tasks associated with the commissioning process easily fall into the category of engineering. 
Posted by David G. Venters, PE, CPMP
Performance Engineering Group, Inc.