I’ve heard that ACI may soon be offering a certification program for competency in concrete design. Does this have anything to do with NRMCA’s P2P and the move toward performance specifications? And what can you tell me about the certification program?

Plans are well under way at ACI for just such a program, and if everything falls into place, the first exam could be given as early as April 2006. To get more specific information on this we contacted Alfred L. Kaufman, P.E., FACI, who is heading the effort within the ACI certification subcommittee.

Kaufman says the development of a certification program for concrete design professionals has been a goal of his for the last 25 years. And two things that are happening these days are giving him hope that there is now an opportunity for the successful launch of such a program.

First, the NRMCA is making a push for the acceptance of performance specifications as an alternative to traditional, prescriptive specifications. Concurrently, many state and federal agencies are having contractors provide quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) on construction projects.

And to quote Kaufman’s certification program proposal, “A critical component of the movement to performance specifications and contractor QA/QC will require the administration of quality control and mix proportions be under the supervision of a Competent Professional (CP).” The CP certification program would serve to identify individuals who are knowledgeable in concrete technology as well as having the judgment required to perform QA/QC administration and do mix proportioning.

The very first certification program developed by ACI is serving as a model for the current initiative. In the late 1970s ACI joined forces with ASME to development the nuclear level III certification program (N3), which certified the technical competence of professional-level personnel in charge of concrete quality for nuclear reactors. Other certification programs have been developed since then, but they have been for junior and senior technicians at the “hands on” level, focusing on such things as finishing, inspection, and testing.

The proposed CP program would be at the Professional Concrete Technologist level and cover professionals in charge of material selection, mix proportioning, production, use, and inspection of concrete. And because the design, production, and placement of concrete involve multiple players, Kaufman says it’s important to have people involved throughout the process who are “certifiably qualified.”

“We need to have people with owners and with contractors who can do this,” says Kaufman. And on the production side, this would give even small producers a way to boost their credibility by retaining the services of CP-certified consultants.

Realistically, Kaufman says, the program is designed to be tough for individuals to qualify for, which follows naturally from basing it on the N3 model. But that is precisely what will be needed to establish and maintain its credibility.

The exam will tentatively have two parts. The technical portion will be based on ASTM 4.01, Cement, and 4.02, Concrete and Aggregates, and the ACI Manual of Concrete Practice. Its sections would cover field inspection and knowledge; mix proportions and design analysis; and general knowledge. A second portion of the exam would cover codes and specifications and probably would be tied to particular jurisdictions.

Where does the program development stand today? Kaufman says the ACI Certification Program Committee’s “CP” subcommittee at its October meeting tentatively accepted the proposed program, pending completion of a market survey. As a part of that investigation, readers of this magazine who are interested in learning more about the Competent Person certification program are urged to contact him as soon as possible by sending e-mail to akaufman@rmcpmi.com.