Engineering Support at Builds

Hello Everyone! I’m a Mechanical Engineer with the Portland portion of the Oregon GBG Chapter, and at one of our recent builds we tried to make a sheet where an engineer would sign off on the quality of the build. The issue we ran into was the liability that it would put the engineers into that we didn’t think about, especially since none of the engineers present were registered professionals.

I know there are some other chapters that work with engineers during their builds and have professional engineering assistance. Does anyone know what the best practices are to have engineering support to ensure the quality of the builds? Is that best done in an advisory sense, or is there a way to do a form without having the engineer signing it liable?

Hi Parkere,

I have volunteered and collaborated with the Central Connecticut State University chapter of Go Baby Go for the past few years and know we never ran into issues about having a certified engineer sign off on builds or alterations. While we do not typically work with certified engineers, we do make sure to test all functions in each build prior to them being used by children to ensure their safety.
While we don’t have certified engineers sign off on each build, we do make sure to have physical and/or occupational therapists assess the designs and modifications to ensure needs of each child are met appropriately.
I think if the cars were more similar to full-sized automobiles where more could go wrong, having an engineer sign off on builds would be much more necessary.

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Hi Parkere,
I currently do the engineering for Go Baby Go Central Ohio, and previously with Katelyn’s Krusade. There, I would check the modifications made by the volunteers as best I could, but sometimes there were things I couldn’t easily see or test. Now, I make most of the complicated adaptations myself, which I worried would increase my liability risk. Fortunately, I just had a quick talk with my insurance agent (State Farm) and she discussed it in turn with the experts in their headquarters. They said I was definitely covered for liability doing this under my Umbrella Policy as long as I was strictly a volunteer. (Obviously I don’t get paid, but in addition I cannot be on the Board.) An Umbrella Policy is something many of your engineer volunteers will already have purchased if they get their homeowners and auto insurance with the same company, and these policies are relatively inexpensive. So my suggestion is, if you have anyone worried about their liability, just have them talk to their own insurance agents and find out where they stand. I was pretty relieved after my own discussion.
Best regards,
– Doug

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I lead the GoBabyGo Saint Michael’s College, Vermont chapter of GBG. THe College attorney wrote a pretty specific waiver to cover the cars and those who work on them. Two elements that I think are particularly helpful are: (a) cars must come back once per year for maintenance check and (b) at end of usefulness of the car, it has to come back to SMC because is it goes out of use and another child receives it and plays around with it and get hurt, we could be held liable because we adapted to car. While I am very confident in our builds, better safe than sorry. Feel free to email me if you’d like a copy of hte waiver: mdoyle@smcvt.edu

Mary Beth Doyle

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