WHY STOP AT JUST ONE?
Published by NSPE - December 07
For engineers, there are few things more satisfying in their career than passing
the PE exam and becoming licensed. For PEs, applying their first seal and
signature and earning engineering licenses in other states are also memorable
But Reese Leavitt has gone above and beyond what most have done. If you walk
into his office, you'll see one of his walls lined with framed certificates
showing that he is licensed in all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and even
Leavitt is the president and CEO of Leavitt Engineering which
is based in Nampa, Idaho, and specializes in structural and civil engineering,
surveying, and inspection. The son of a blacksmith who worked hard to provide
for his family in the small town of Melba, Idaho, Leavitt was encouraged by his
father to be the first in the family to go to college.
Although dreams of being a pilot came before engineering, a sense of
practicality and the advice of his wife, who is not fond of flying, prevailed.
"It was the best thing I ever did, becoming an engineer," says Leavitt, a
Brigham Young University graduate and father of eight.
Leavitt earned his first few licenses while working on projects for Yanke
Energy, Inc., in the 1980's because the company conducted projects in several
western states. But 1996, the year he received 13 licenses, was the turning
point. "That's when I decided that I may as well get licensed in the remaining
states, he says. "I started and just couldn't stop."
At the time, Leavitt's firm was doing subcontracting work for a company that had
projects in all 50 states and worldwide. He received 12 licenses in 1998, five
in 1999, and 14 in 2000. The final count ended at 64 in 2001 when he became
licensed in Guam.
The multiple licenses, he says, have given his firm an edge over other
companies. "The advantage is that we have been able to help companies that need
to do projects in various states and projects that we wouldn't be able to do
otherwise." Some of these projects have involved design work on food processing
plants and his favorite, power plants.
Leavitt gained most of his licenses via reciprocity, but the unique process to
get a few of them stick out in his mind. Alaska requires licensure applicants to
take a course in cold-weather engineering, a requirement he fulfilled by taking
a week long crash course in Washington. Licensure in Alberta, Canada requires an
ethics course that he found interesting. Licenses in New York and Alberta took
the longest to get at nine months, he recalls.
One of the most difficult licenses to get was from Puerto Rico. "My Spanish
isn't very good," he says, but he got some help from others. "Luckily my wife is
learning Spanish, I'm hosting an exchange student from Mexico, and several
people in the office speak the language." he says. "I have a lot of interpreters
Leavitt is proud of his accomplishment, but maintaining so many licenses is
challenging, particularly keeping track of renewals and fulfilling continuing
education requirements. "It seems as if I have eight or ten licenses to renew a
month," he says.
One thing that has made this task easier for Leavitt has been the National
Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's Records Program. He highly
recommends that anyone with multiple licenses keep a record with NCEES. "once
you're registered with NCEES, most states accept their short-form application,
and they also maintain letters of references for you, " he says. "They are very
At 54, Leavitt is not ready to retire, but he's looking forward to winding down
and allowing others in the company to take over more management duties. "I'm
just excited as can be to sit in my office and just do the engineering work,"
says Leavitt, who serves as a Boy Scout leader and is active in his local
Leavitt's advice to young engineers: "Any engineer with any initiative shouldn't
think about anything else but getting a license, " he says. "That should be the
goal for the first four years out of college."