June 2023 From the President’s Keyboard: To CPD or Not to CPD

June is a busy month for ASPE, on both the Chapter level and the Society level. Chapter election results are in, and in many cases the transition of officers gets addressed. Chapter year-end reports are due by the end of the month, and Chapter Treasurers need to have their annual treasurer reports balanced and ready to send by the July 15 deadline.

Society Staff is fielding the new Chapter officer rosters and prepping for two big events: the Leadership Summit and the Tech Symposium. June 30 marks the end of ASPE’s fiscal year, so the Society‘s financial report has to be prepared for annual audit. That’s on top of the year-round tasks of collecting membership applications, sending dues rebates, publishing ASPE Pipeline, arranging webinars, issuing certification results, issuing CEUs, monitoring ASPE’s website, and being on call to implement any directives from the Society Board of Directors.

For the Board of Directors, our workload also increases. ASPE now has 64 Chapters and Satellites. Every member of the BOD must review all 64 Chapter annual reports and then all 64 annual treasurer reports. The Board is also involved in the planning for the Leadership Summit and the Tech Symposium.

Typically, the individual Region Meetings are held in June. That’s another addition to the workloads of both Chapter officers and the Society Board of Directors. This year, we’re departing from that format in favor of the Leadership Summit. It will be on a trial basis this year, but the concept is to bring Chapter officers from all five Regions together in one place to provide a more comprehensive platform to share ideas. We still will have individual Region breakouts, but the emphasis will be on Society-wide communication. In my next Pipeline article, I will provide my wrap-up of the Leadership Summit. However, for this month, I have something else I’d like to discuss.

To CPD or Not to CPD—That Is the Question

Here’s a little history on the CPD, or Certified in Plumbing Design, program. The CPD program evolved from the original Certified in Plumbing Engineering (CIPE) program that was stablished in 1982. The CIPE was developed to provide a credential for those who designed plumbing systems but did not hold a Professional Engineer license. It was never intended to be the equivalent of the PE license. CIPE holders could not stamp engineering drawings.

After some understandable influence from NCEES, which administers the PE program, ASPE’s credential was changed to CPD, Certified in Plumbing Design. To be clear, the CPD credential is not a professional license. It is intended to show that those holding it have the highest level of skills in the design and specification of plumbing systems. While CPDs still cannot stamp drawings, several jurisdictions recognize the CPD for the design of plumbing systems. Beyond that, the CPD credential demonstrates to employers, peers, and clients that the holder has proven to have the highest skill level, which translates to immediate value to the CPD in salary, promotions, and hiring potential.

Licensing and credentialing examination questions must be revised on a five-to-seven-year cycle, and this year’s exam was the first in a new cycle. Historical passing rates will typically drop with a new exam, which did occur with the CPD exam that was administered in April. Average pass rates had been around 61 percent, and this year’s rate was approximately 51 percent. That is not out of line with the NCEES passing rates of 51 to 69 percent for FE exams and 49 to 82 percent for PE exams. Was the 2023 CPD exam more difficult? Possibly. Was it too hard or unfair? Statistically speaking, no. The pass rate is down from prior years but still within the range of the PE exams.

The CPD exam is justifiably difficult. To reiterate, the intent of the CPD credential is to show that an individual demonstrates the highest level of skills in plumbing design. The requirements to sit for the exam are four years of practical experience in a position of responsibility for design PLUS a bachelor’s degree, or eight years of practical experience. That considerable set of requirements ensures that an applicant has a depth and breadth of experience in plumbing design. Individuals with less practical experience have the option of taking the CPDT (Certified Plumbing Design Technician) exam instead. That credential is for individuals with a degree and less than four years of experience or no degree and less than eight years of experience. There is a clear distinction between the two credentials in experience and expertise.

Some 180+ individuals qualified and registered to take the CPD exam this year. ASPE extends congratulations to the 94 new CPDs this year. They can be proud of the achievement and put their credential to work for them. For those who tried but did not achieve success this time, don’t despair. There will be another opportunity. I personally know of a PE who missed his first attempt at the EIT (now FE) exam by a single point. It took two further tries until he passed that exam, but perseverance prevailed. That’s the key: perseverance. Don’t look for excuses and don’t give up.

The CPD is a credential of excellence that we should all want to uphold. Now, let’s get back to our busy June schedules. I will see some of you in Chicago at the Leadership Summit. Until next month, thank you for your time in reading this. Signing off for now.


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