back to article 'I feel violated': Engineer who pointed out traffic signals flaw fined for 'unlicensed engineering'

Last year, Mats Järlström was fined $500 for revealing troubling flaws in the mathematical formula used to govern the timing of US traffic lights. Järlström, a Swedish electronics engineer who has lived in America for more than two decades, realized there was a design fault in traffic systems after his wife got a ticket from …

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Unlicensed thinking, it appears, is frowned upon!

FTFY

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All the more perverse when you consider that the maths in the diagram is secondary school level, at most.

Does that mean that Oregon schools are festering holes of criminality, pouring illegal ideas into the minds of the young, at the taxpayers expense?

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Well, he SHOULD have obtained the paper saying "me be engineer", if possible (one would probably have to submit a request, and attach the swedish diploma). He probably SHOULD have written an article for IEEE Spectrum only instead of waking sleeping boards. It's the standard story of modern, never-receding state control. That and making taxeaters look bad, which is completely unacceptable.

From the order:

"On September 3, 2014, Jarlstrom emailed the [Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying] alleging that the City of Beaverton engineers were misapplying well-known traffic engineering formulas and asked the Board to investigate the City of Beaverton. In his email to the Board, Jarlstrom indicated that he was perfonning engineering work. The Board has no jurisdiction over the timing of traffic lights in the City of Beaverton. Jarlstrom was informed of this lack of jurisdiction. Jarlstrom was also cautioned by the Board against practicing engineering without being registered and was provided with copies of ORS 672.005(1) and ORS 672.007(1 ), which define the practice of engineering as including both engineering work and use of the engineering title. Jarlstrom agreed to comply with the law.

...

On January 15, 2015, J arlstrom sent an email to the Board stating, "And yes, I'm an excellent engineer" contradicting his earlier statement of being willing to comply with the law. Included with the January 15 email to the Board was an email Jarlstrom wrote to KOIN 6 in which he introduced himself as a Swedish engineer, and presented traffic change interval timing calculations.

...

By indicating to the Board that he was perfonning engineering work, Jarlstrom purported to be able to perform engineering services or work and represented that he was authorized to perform engineering work. By purporting to be able to perform engineering services or work, Jarlstrom engaged in the practice of engineering under ORS 672.007(1)(c). By engaging in the practice of engineering and representing that he was authorized to perform engineering work, without registration, Jarlstrom violated ORS 672.020(1 ), 672.045(1) and (2), and OAR 820-010-0730(3)(c).

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It's not that he called himself an engineer

To understand the issue here, you have to understand where the problem lies. It's not that he's called himself an engineer. It's that he's gone and proved the State is issuing tickets that it shouldn't be. Given the makeup of the State, and it's lackeys, it's no surprise that this occurred.

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Re: It's not that he called himself an engineer

Exactly right. Traffic cameras have absolutely nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue generation. This is why most of them (in the US, at least) are run by for-profit corporations who issue tickets and give a cut to the government. These business have been caught shortening the yellow light to increase revenue and the fact that more wrecks occurred at those intersections was not their concern. Some states changed these tickets from misdemeanors to civil fines to avoid pesky things like courts and due process.

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In the land of the free

You can be who you want to be. Unless you can't afford the fees to join a state sponsored cartel.

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Casey Jones (1863–1900)

Was he licensed as an engineer, or should he have been fined?

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Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

With all things, there's a long story behind this.

The whole business goes back to Latin. In this case, ingenium, from which we get the modern English word "genius", which both makes a good synonym and applies to a person with said mental acuity.

We basically have two origins for the word "engineer", both valid but both different. One is the "design" engineer, where the definition comes from the application of genius in designs (in these days of a practical nature). The other comes from the operating of the machines we call engines (the word uses the root word in a different way—engine as in "a work of genius").

So they can both apply, so they really need to be qualified for clarification.

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Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

Dunno. All I know is, he'd better watch his speed.

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Happy

Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

@ Charles 9

To be more precise.

The word engineer (from the Latin ingeniator[3]) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare ("to contrive, devise") and ingenium ("cleverness").

It then entered English through the French word "ingénieur".

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Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

More importantly, was he licensed in every state that he worked? in Every city for that matter.

The USA gets sillier each and every day.

But in this case, his rights of free speech were violated. That 'Trumps' any local laws but the burgers in Oregon don't think so. Anyway, been there twice and given the parking ticket I got in ****, Or, I really have no willingness to go back. I was parked with my tyre (note the correct spelling) on the white line. Local laws (and how as a tourist am I supposed to know that) dictate that in this zone, i must be parked inside the lines. Even the locals laughed when I told them.

Shame really, the coast of Oregon is beautiful.

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Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

I was parked with my tyre (note the correct spelling) on the white line. Local laws (and how as a tourist am I supposed to know that) dictate that in this zone, i must be parked inside the lines. Even the locals laughed when I told them.

I thought that was much the same the world over, unless I'm missing a trick somewhere? Here in NZ "white lines" generally denote the parking space (a few locales use yellow, and yellow is also used for the likes of disability spaces or certain other special spots). If you're outside the lines for any reason then you're not legally parked and (in public spaces) subject to fines. You could be outside as in you're encroaching on the road space (for roadside parks), or too close to a vehicle entry/exit, street, pedestrian crossing and so on - things that have laws about how close you can park to them. And of course if you're over the white line of another space, then you're taking up someone else's space. Unless you have a good reason (many traffic wardens turn a blind eye to a non-SUV that is over the lines, SUV's however rightly get targeted for extra tickets in some places).

If I've missed a trick, I apologise and would love to understand more.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Casey Jones (1863–1900)

> I was parked with my tyre (note the correct spelling) on the white line.

Why couldn't you just have parked *within* the lines like everyone else?

> Local laws (and how as a tourist am I supposed to know that)

Because nemo legem censetur ignorare, as the Romans¹ used to say.

¹ And my teacher in primary school.

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Oregon are twats. This is the same state that's so nanny they don't let you pump your own gas.

You have to be specially trained to put "class 1 flammable liquids" into cars. $500 if you do it yourself.

Yeah, did I mention they're twats? There's a reason nobody lives there if they can help it.

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Headmaster

<quote>This is the same state that's so nanny they don't let you pump your own gas.</quote>

Of course where I live you can't pump your own gas, but you can pump your own petrol. :-) LPG has high safety requirements...

One chain of service stations has re-introduced actual service and named they "forecourt concierges"

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Just the blue area

Just Portland and Eugene have the twat (absurdly inept) governments areas... The rest of of the state can grasp reality.

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Gas

I pump my own gas all the time in Oregon...

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Joke

Re: Gas

"I pump my own gas all the time in Oregon"

How do you stop it escaping?

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"This is the same state that's so nanny they don't let you pump your own gas."

What about New Jersey? Aren't they Full Service by law as well?

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"Of course where I live you can't pump your own gas, but you can pump your own petrol. :-) LPG has high safety requirements..."

Many UK forecourts have self-service LPG "pumps".

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JLV
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>nanny

I was gonna write a stinging rebuke... but you are right. Learned something

(missed it cuz my car will easily cross the state on a full tank).

I still rather like Oregon, from afar, but this makes it seem that, regrettably, common-sense economic liberalism isn't high on their menu.

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Thumb Up

It's even worse in Massachusetts. It varies by town. You are considered competent to fill your own gas tank in some towns, but prohibited from doing it in others.

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Re: Gas

I too pump my own gas all the time — especially if I've eaten baked beans.

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Hold up ...

... isn't that the land where toilet cleaners are called "sanitation engineers"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hold up ...

No thats for people who want to make them self's feel. That's not their job tittle. In the US real sanitation engineers design sewage systems and is a sub set of civil engineering.

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Trollface

Re: Hold up ...

Whoah, hold on there for a minute. Shouldn't that be "sanitation managers"?!?

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Anonymous Coward

sanitation engineers

Those are the missing telephone sanitizers!

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Re: Hold up ...

No, that was a HHGTTG thing.

Also, it wasn't Descartes who said "I am what I am". That was Popeye the Sailorman.

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Re: Hold up ...

As Lister so wisely remarked, it is very easy to confuse them.

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Re: Hold up ...

Yes, you shouldn't put decart before the horse

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Self description

Reading the court order it seems that he was prosecuted fir describing himself as an engineer. If he had written exactly the same email with the same work but described himself as a mathematician there would be no case. So the issue is not so much free speech but the use of a badly drafted regulation to try to obfuscate and prevent the exposure of revenue-generating

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Re: Self description

He could have even said that he was trained as an engineer or had a degree in engineering and would have been fine as those don't make the claim he is acting as an engineer. Though he didn't really need to say anything about his profession and let the math speak for itself.

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Re: Self description

Given the way things are these days, if he done as you suggest, they would have found something else to charge him with. Messing with the good old boys in government is not something one should do on a whim.... They will kill to protect their status.

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Stop

Re: Self description

Reading the court order it seems that he was prosecuted fir describing himself as an engineer. If he had written exactly the same email with the same work but described himself as a mathematician there would be no case.

No, he was also being fined for doing the maths without a licence. The Order confirming the fine says things like:

"Jarlstrom applied special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such creative work as investigation, evaluation, and design in connection with public equipment, processes, and works. Jarlstrom thereby engaged in the practice of engineering under ORS 672.005(1)(b). By doing so through the use of algorithms for the operation of traffic control systems, and through the use of the science of analysis, review, and application of traffic data systems to advise members of the public on the treatment of the functional characteristics of traffic signal timing, Jarlstrom engaged, specifically, in traffic engineering under OAR 820-040-0030(1 )(b) and (2)."

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Re: Self description

Which effectively designates "engineering" there as a legally sanctioned "closed shop" rather than as an accepted qualification. Like working in "the print" or a Belfast docker used to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self description

"...Jarlstrom thereby engaged in the practice of engineering under ORS 672.005(1)(b)..."

I hope the person who decided that was a properly registered Professional Twat.

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First amendment

So their precious constitution doesn't apply to those in power (btw hair dressers are even worse off).

So much for the land of the free.

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Landgrab again

The original engineers did not have degrees or official titles. It was a generic term. Unlike, say, doctor which meant someone had passed a specific degree at a university.

I know it irritates "real" engineers when technicians are called engineers, but at least in this country and the EU we have the specifics of chartered status. Oregon seems to have gone in for landgrab. The position that only a chartered engineer is allowed to sign off on projects seems to me entirely reasonable, but this is a ridiculous extension.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Landgrab again

In Canada, we have three levels of designation:

1) Technician - one year certificate, possibly followed by further classes and apprenticeship.

2) Technologist - two or three year college diploma - course will include calculus and design

3) Engineer - four or five year university degree

The first two are often confused by the populace and mostly noone cares much, but only those in the third category are allowed to call themselves Engineers and this is because they are the only ones who are Engineers.

No, I'm not and Engineer, I'm a Technologist.

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Re: Landgrab again

But in Canada engineer isn't a protected designation. That's why we have domestic engineers, sanitation engineers, etc. The equivalent to the engineer in Oregon is Professional Engineer and every province has an organization that enforces the rules, as like for medical doctors. Having a degree from university isn't enough to call yourself a professional engineer. You need to sit a test that challenges your technical, legal, and ethical knowledge.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Landgrab again

In parts of Canada, the provincial organization will interpret the regulations as meaning that their legally protected title "Professional Engineer" also includes anything similar, such as "Engineer".

They dare not take on those that drive locomotives, nor those that operate large engines in ships, as they'd be clubbed to death with a 50lb wrench.

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Re: Landgrab again

"Unlike, say, doctor which meant someone had passed a specific degree at a university."

You mean a DThM? Or a PhD? Or DMA? Or DDSc? Not very specific, really.

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Re: Landgrab again

By sheer coincidence, I saw this on Facebook@

https://www.teezily.com/engine3r

It's a T-shirt that says:

[quote]

Engineer

noun.[en-juh-neer]

Someone who does precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge, See also: Wizard, Magician

[end quote]

Think I'll get me one of them :-)

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Re: Landgrab again

If you're talking a MEDICAL Doctor, that means M.D. usually, and those are only available at post-graduate medical institutions like certain universities. There's also the requirement to pass a state-mandated test to be able to practice your trade in that state (Lawyers have the same issues, their law degrees are also post-grad and lawyers must pass a Bar exam in order to practice law in a state, thus the term "passing the Bar").

PS. D.D.Sc (or just D.D.S.) actually qualifies as one of those specific degrees. It's the one you need to become a professional dentist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Landgrab again

In Canada, we have three levels of designation:

1) Technician - one year certificate, possibly followed by further classes and apprenticeship.

2) Technologist - two or three year college diploma - course will include calculus and design

3) Engineer - four or five year university degree

Well, there's your problem. In the US they have a level that precedes that:

0) Utter moron whose only goal in life is to find something to be offended or upset about.

Unfortunately, it is self evident that the majority of the people in charge never get past that first level.

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Re: Landgrab again

My father was an operating engineer for Trans-Canada Pipelines for many years operating the pumps that pushed natural gas across Canada.

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I thought that in America an "egnineer" was a train driver.

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Nope... We make things like Windows/Mac/Linux ... so morons like you can vomit your ineptitude on a website...

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Facepalm

Yeah, right. Linux being made in the US state of Finland.

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I wonder how all of the Sanitary Engineers will feel about this. They might go on strike if we start calling them "janitors" again.

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