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In Pursuit of a PE

Posted April 28, 2016 7:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

This Saturday will mark two weeks since the last "principles and practice of engineering examination" was administered by the NCEES to thousands of engineering professionals seeking certification. I am aware of this date partially because coworkers in my office have just taken the exam, and are awaiting their pass/fail results. But more so, I'm aware because I hope to take the exam in the fall of this year.

The professional engineering (P.E.) license is given by individual states to certify individuals as approved to practice engineering in said state. P.E.'s are needed in every discipline of engineering to sign off on designs and . But having a P.E. is more than just signing design documents - it is a recognition of competency, understanding, and responsibility for the demands and ethics that must accompany this field of work and service.

The process to this certification, however, does not start with the P.E. exam. It starts with the Fundamentals-In-Engineering (FE) exam. I took the FE in the spring of 2011, my senior year of college. At that time it was a paper and pencil test consisting of some 80 to 100 questions (I've long forgotten those details) over a grueling eight hours. The questions encompassed both a broad sweep of the different engineering disciplines, and my discipline of choice which at the time was chemical engineering. Today, the FE has morphed into a computer-based exam of 110 questions over 6 hours - whether that is an improvement I'll leave open to debate…

Once passed, I received my Engineer-In-Training certificate, allowing me to gain experience towards my license under engineers and other technical professionals in the disciplines and practice of engineering. This month will mark just short of 5 years of engineering experience, a majority of that work under the title of Environmental Engineer.

The next step in the process is an application, from which I must prepare a summary of my experience and contributions as an engineer-in-training, and provide references who will sign-off and certify my experience as adequate. Each state's application requirements differ, though most if not all require four years of approved experience for those with a bachelor's degree, and two years of approved experience for those with a master's degree.

My application, though not due until July, is nearly complete. It includes a fairly exhaustive list of my projects, and the engineering theory and design principles that accompanied my work. Once I submit my application, I will shortly be either approved (hopefully) or denied passage to sit for the principles and practice of engineering exam. And so will begin my review for the exam. More on that in an upcoming post…

I would welcome any insight and discussion from those who have obtained their PE license, and for those who, like me, are in the pursuit. I'm sure there are many joys and perils to talk about along the road.

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#1

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/28/2016 8:11 PM

Picture looks like it was taken on a naval ship.

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#2

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/29/2016 7:47 AM

My recommendation for you is to start studying for the Principles & Practices Exam NOW, instead of later on. Believe me, you will need the extra time.

I don't know if they still offer their review course now or not, but I found the NSPE review course to be incredibly good. Better than the courses offered by colleges.

Back when I was reviewing for the "P.E." exam 21 years ago, the NSPE course had a 100% guarantee that if you didn't pass the exam, they would refund your $$$, etc etc etc.

BTW, NSPE = National Society of Professional Engineers.

GOOD LUCK!

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#3

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/29/2016 3:48 PM

I'm actually thinking about this much later in the game. Sort of a hedge going into my retirement years. I've never needed a P.E. for my active duty or staff engineer job for defense contractor, but when I retire . . . .

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/29/2016 5:14 PM

People say, from college to keep pursuing you PE, you still have that learn mode skills, that tends to wear off in time. Making it more difficult later. But hey, I just repeat what I hear on this matter.

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#5
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/29/2016 11:05 PM

I thought I heard something like that, but I can't remember . . . .

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#6
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/30/2016 5:16 AM

Neighbor of mine, her husband, which was a stereo typical Irish man, was livid one day and I asked what's the problem.

He was retire, and his wife was still working. It was about 4 years before she retired. And she wanted to get her masters degree before she retire, (which she did). He was livid about it, because he couldn't understand why, it wouldn't do her any good.

But she was doing it, because she always wanted to, guess it was on her bucket list.

And thinking about it, she was in education, (Taught at the local technical college) maybe if she retire with a masters, her pension may increase....

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#7

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

04/30/2016 7:42 AM

Sir Robin, I say go for it!

That is all.

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#8

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

05/02/2016 4:10 PM

Is something equivalent to the PE qualification available in countries other than the US? I'm guessing that the answer is yes. Are qualifications pretty similar -- breadth of knowledge, length of time working in the field, etc.?

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#13
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/22/2016 6:48 PM

Yes, they would be similar, but U.S. P.E. exams would require reference to U.S. Codes, where non-U.S. P.E. exams would require reference to non-U.S. Codes...

And therefore would not automatically translate from one country to another, or even from one U.S. State to an adjacent U.S. State, automatically...

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#9

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/21/2016 6:52 PM

It's a common misinterpretation to think of the PE exam as only a test of knowledge...

Stepping back, and getting a wider view of the whole process, it should become apparent that is actually more of a test of project management...

I realized this, after graduating from (a 1-horse, tiny, for-profit, engineering) college, back some thirty five years ago, (when tuition was increased to $33 per quarter unit...), and took my (limp) GPA into the (PE competition) with stellar students, from top-notch universities, with superb lab equipment, nationally recognized professors, and copious ivy (dripping?) from their hallowed halls, and I passed it on the first try.

Many, muuuuuuch (better) candidates did not pass it on their first try...

By the way, about 8 out 10 of my fellow graduates were are also registered within 6 years after we graduated...

(I know this because I bought a copy of the roster and checked it...)

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#10
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/21/2016 7:06 PM

Percentage wise, I saw more failures due to nonperforming projects that came from ME's with PE's than ME's with just an undergraduate degree.

and the PE's were very smart people, this alone, did not impress me.

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#11
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/21/2016 7:15 PM

As a point of clarification, am a Registered Civil Engineer...

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#12
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/21/2016 9:53 PM

As a point of clarifications, I was talking about PE in ME

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#14
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Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/22/2016 7:00 PM

Intelligence is not (gifted) to everyone, but is worthy of some regard, where ever it exists, but (mental effectiveness) is the more valuable attribute, because it's an even more rare attribute, no matter who has it...

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: In Pursuit of a PE

11/22/2016 7:11 PM

Too many claim both.

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