An Independent Engineer, or IE, is many things to many people. At PF Engineers our definition of an Independent Engineer is:
An engineer who provides independent opinions to help mitigate technical risks enabling a project to succeed.
Breaking down this definition into parts you get:
An engineer: The Independent Engineer should have the expertise in the technology being reviewed to provide opinions on the project.
Independent: The Independent Engineer should not be beholden to any one party. The focus of the IE should be the success of the project.
Mitigate technical risks: The Independent Engineer should provide recommendations to minimize the risks to the project whether these risks are in the technology applied or in the technical requirements of the contracts.
Enabling a project to succeed: The definition of success varies from party to party. In short, the project should operate to provide a return on investment for all parties. There are numerous factors that can adversely effect this definition of success and the IE is there to help identify those factors and to help resolve them.
Independent Engineering has evolved over the years. Now Independent Engineers are actively involved in the evaluation of the technical aspects of the business. For example, the Independent Engineer will regularly opine on the cost to build and/or operate a project. The Independent Engineer has to be able to look at the contractual requirements of a project as much as detailed technical design. Then, the Independent Engineer must clearly and concisely communicate all findings to the developer, sponsor, and/or lender.
The combined skills of an Independent Engineer is generally outside of the skill set of a stereotypical engineer. The ability to review contracts and the business deal on top of the understanding the detailed design elements of the project is concept foreign to most design engineers. Then add in the ability to communicate their findings, both written and verbally, in a manner that is understandable the non-technical lay person and you have a very unique skill set.
At PF Engineers, we want to make sure that we are not just a box to be checked. We want to be a resource to add value to a project by providing sound technical advice to maximize the return on investment for all parties.