March/April 2010

Reaching higher

CIM activity builds professional development credits

By H. Ednie and M. Kerawala

The dynamism of the Canadian minerals industry is a reflection of the dynamism of the stellar individuals driving it. Faced with rapidly advancing technological change, our mining industry professionals are cognizant of the need for continuing professional development. They proactively and energetically participate in activities and programs that extend well beyond their day-to-day jobs. By volunteering, attending professional development courses and mentoring the next generation of managers, engineers, scientists and technicians, these professionals ensure not only that they are abreast of the latest developments but also that they do their part to preserve, grow and propagate knowledge.

Fostering continued competency

Canadian professional engineers and geoscientists are licensed by their respective provincial or territorial associations or orders. To qualify for and to retain a license, these professionals must meet province-specific standards and guidelines that may include continuing professional development. This helps ensure that Canadian engineers and geoscientists maintain a high degree of proficiency, competence, knowledge and safety-consciousness.

In most provinces and territories, licensing requirements are governed by a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program. In some provinces and territories — such as British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut — the CPD program is strictly voluntary. Elsewhere, it is generally mandatory, and failure to comply with it could result in fines and even a loss of license.

Keeping at it to keep up with it

In keeping with the diversity of roles played by engineers and geoscientists, the activities in which they can engage to earn professional development hours (PDHs) are diverse. Across the provinces and territories, the same types of activities are generally recognized as contributing towards the accumulation of CPD credits, although the number of hours required varies. These activities include: professional practice, formal activity, informal activity, participation, presentations and contribution to knowledge.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE refers to the actual practice of engineering within one’s area of expertise. Usually, one PDH is awarded for every 20 hours of professional work, up to a maximum number.

FORMAL ACTIVITY refers to participation in structured courses or programs, including those offered through universities, technical institutes and colleges; industry-sponsored courses, seminars and field trips; as well as employer training programs and structured on-the-job training.

INFORMAL ACTIVITY can include self-directed study; attendance at conferences, trade shows, technical, managerial or professional society meetings; and the structured discussion of technical or professional issues with peers. It may also include reading technical literature and contributing to professional journals, and mentoring/championing students or young employees through various CIM activities.

PARTICIPATION entails peer interaction that exposes one to new ideas and technologies. It could include mentoring activities; serving on public bodies and/or technical committees; participation in educational events such as science fairs and career days; and elected public service.

PRESENTATIONS may include technical or professional presentations at one’s company, conferences, workshops, schools or events sponsored by a technical society.

CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE through participation in developing codes and standards, patents, published papers and articles, and reviewing and editing technical information.

The CIM advantage

When it comes to earning CPD credits, CIM members have a distinct edge over their non-member peers. As a professional body, CIM offers more opportunities for its members to develop themselves than most other similar organizations do. CIM’s many events, publications, meetings, committees and contributions to standards development offer ready-made opportunities for members to earn CPD credits. Regardless of what category of activity one is seeking to participate in to earn CPD credits, there is a CIM-related activity that fits the bill.

CIM member David Leslie is making his CIM experience count. A registered member of APEGGA, Alberta’s professional body, he says that CIM-related activities make up a large part of his hours. “I believe I learn the most during informal activities such as the CIM Conference and Exhibition, where there are relevant technical talks, talks on new projects and a trade show where vendors showcase their latest equipment or services,” he says. CIM’s incoming president-elect Chuck Edwards echoes Leslie’s sentiments. Registered as a professional engineer in Saskatchewan, Edwards says, “I attend meetings and conferences, participate in CIM Council and the CIM Executive Committee, write papers and peer review, give talks and presentations. I have always gone way beyond the minimum, not to exceed the minimum but because it’s what I do.”

Like Leslie and Edwards, every CIM member can, simply through active engagement in CIM, ensure that they maintain the high level of knowledge required by their profession. There are many opportunities for earning PDHs available to committed CIM members. No matter what your particular professional interests may be, there is a CIM activity that will help you become more competent, knowledgeable, up to date and competitive while you go about earning your CPD credits. All you have to do is take the first step, participate and climb.

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