Engineer’s Profession

Sometime soon, Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape will witness an attempt to drive a car at over 1 600 kph.1 This is the Bloodhound SuperSonic car, powered by a rocket similar to that which launches massive surface-to-air missiles with such thrust that they reach 1 000 kph in just 2.5 seconds. The community at Hakskeen Pan, by the way, spent two years gathering 16 000 tonnes of pebbles and stones from the proposed track.2

The Chief Engineer on the team building the Bloodhound has been Mr Mark Chapman. With him, there are aerodynamicists, project managers, rocket systems specialists, stress engineers, mechanical engineers, electronics experts, IT and system engineers, composites engineers, assembly engineers, design engineers, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) experts, metrologists and safety engineers – to list some of them.3

Of course, there are a lot more different types of ‘engineers’ who design and build most of the things we take for granted – well, actually, almost everything that does not come from nature.4

These engineers study hard for a long time before graduating. Then, before they are set loose in the world, there is more certification awaiting.5 Bearing in mind that these things we take for granted – roads, bridges, electrical apparatus, petrol pumps; the list is endless – are safety critical, it is not a bad thing, all this stringent and rigid process to qualification.

In South Africa, this is governed by the Engineering Profession Act 2000. Administered by the Minister of Public Works, it provides for the Engineering Council of South Africa, its role and functions, and for the registration of professional and candidate engineers.

A. Registration

  1. It is a crime to practise as a Professional or Candidate Engineer, Engineering Technologist, Certified Engineer, or Engineering Technician unless registered as such with the Engineering Council.6
  2. It is also an offence to practise in any such category unless you are registered in that category.7

  3. Any person whose registration with the Council has been cancelled must return his registration certificate within 30 days from the date he is directed to do so, and commits an offence if he fails to do so.8

  4. The same applies to a voluntary association whose recognition with the Council has lapsed.9

B. Disciplinary Hearings

  1. The Council investigates charges of improper conduct. It has extensive powers of investigation, and enquiry, and it can establish disciplinary tribunals. Any person who has been subpoenaed to a disciplinary hearing of the Council commits an offence if:10
    • without sufficient cause, he fails to attend the hearing at the time and place specified in the subpoena;
    • he refuses to be sworn in, or to be affirmed as a witness;
    • without sufficient cause, he fails to answer fully and satisfactorily (to the best of his knowledge) all questions put to him;
    • he fails to produce any book, document or object in his possession or control which he has been required to produce.
  2. A witness who has been subpoenaed must remain in attendance until excused by the chairperson of the disciplinary tribunal, and commits an offence if he fails to do so.11
  3. After having been sworn in, or having been affirmed as a witness, it is a crime to give a false statement on any matter to the Tribunal.12
  4. It is a crime to prevent another person from complying with a subpoena.13

C. Audited Statements

  1. The Council must submit to the Minister for Public Works (and also to the Council for the Built Environment) an audited statement of income and expenditure, and a balance sheet showing its financial position, within 6 months of the close of each financial year.14 It is a crime not to comply with this provision.15
  1. It was reported on the Bloodhound webpage on Dec 15, 2017 that in the second quarter of 2019, BLOODHOUND SSC will run for the first time on its specially created race track at Hakskeen Pan. On 19 November 2019, testing up to 1010kph was achieved. See 

  2. ‘Hakskeen Pan flooding a blessing for Bloodhound land speed record attempt.’ 


  4. ‘Engineering’ lists qualifications in the following engineering disciplines:Aeronautical, Agricultural, Architectural, Astronautical, Biological, Biomedical, Ceramic Sciences, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Drafting and Design, Electrical, Electronics, Environmental, Forest, Geological, Industrial, Manufacturing, Marine, Materials, Mechanical, Medical, Metallurgical, Mining, Nuclear, Naval, Ocean, Plastics, Petroleum, Systems, Surveying and Textile Technologies. 

  5. It is not a requirement that all engineering graduates attain the certification – just to practise professionally as an engineer. 

  6. Section 41(1) read with 18(2). 

  7. Section 41(1) read with 18(2). 

  8. Section 23 read with 41(1). 

  9. Section 25(8) read with 41(1). 

  10. Section 31(8) read with 41(1). 

  11. Section 31(8) read with 41(1). 

  12. Section 31(8)(e) read with 41(1). 

  13. Section 31(8)(f) read with 41(1). 

  14. Section 15(8) of the Act. 

  15. Section 41(2).