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Licensure of certain software engineers in the US will be required in at least 10 states by 2013 and, likely, by all US states and jurisdictions within a few years. States license engineers to ensure that those who offer services directly to the public are minimally competent. But what kinds of kinds of software systems affect public health, safety, and welfare? Which software engineers will need to be licensed? The answers to these questions are a matter of both law and science. This department introduces some of the scientific aspects of these two questions from the perspective of reliability engineering and suggests new research directions to help answer these questions.