Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PE Exam Study Materials

There are many available study materials for the PE exam. Not all of them are worth your time. The basic books you need are the code books listed on the NCEES website. (Use the search bar on this page to find some posts on that list, which contain links to the lists of reference books.)

Each prospective engineer who intends to sit for the Professional Engineer's exam needs to attain the relevant study material. Acquire these as soon in the process as possible.The best deals are consistently on Amazon.com. This is because every seller must agree with Amazon to list their products at a price equal to or lower than their listed selling price on any other site, anywhere. Even if the seller discounts their price somewhere else, when Amazon catches the sale, they automatically cut the retail price on Amazon to match it.

Civil PE exam study materials

Mechanical PE study materials

Structural PE exam study materials

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to become a Civil Engineer

How to Become a Professional Engineer (PE)

The path to become a civil engineer is easy to explain. Walking that path to the end is a more challenging event.

The first part of the most common path involves making a decision in high school to pursue a science tract. Most engineering college freshmen completed physics, calculus, and chemistry courses in high school. Undergrads matriculating from larger high school campuses may also have prepared with courses in statics, advanced physics, or electronics.

Those courses are not mandatory from high school. If your heart is set on engineering, you can CLEP out of some college entrance prerequisites, and take others at a community college. 

Once in college, the engineering major must pack a little more than 5 years worth of semester units into four years. This is theoretical. Reality is that about a quarter of those who graduate finish in under 6 years. Four years is possible. However, some semesters will be 18 unit and 21 unit semesters. The underwater basket weaving major may have eight 15-unit semesters, but the future engineer must work hard.

Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

The first exam in the path to professional licensure is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The exam formerly known as the EIT, or Engineer-in-Training, sounded more like a journeyman. The current nomenclature looks more impressive in a signature block:

John Knowitall, FE

Or, maybe:

Mary Knowsmore, FE

The National Council of Engineering Examiners Society (NCEES) administers the FE exam. Each state's engineering hopefuls sit for the same exam. There is no difference between states.

Requirements to Sit for the FE:

States vary in requirements to register and take the FE exam. Some states require only payment (e.g. New Hampshire). Other states require three completed years of engineering study at an ABET accredited college or university program. Students from those schools often have excellent prep programs to take and pass the FE exam at the end of their junior year of college engineering. Note: If you only have 2 years of community college, those years do not qualify. No community college in any state is ABET accredited. Once an engineering student enrolls at a 4-year ABET institution, and completes the junior year, those credits qualify.

Format of the FE Exam:

There are two sessions. The morning session lasts four hours. You must answer 120 questions at a pace of 2 minutes per question.

The afternoon exam gives options. You may choose a concentration of your preference. Typically, this should match your major concentration, or the work you perform professionally. The available concentrations for the FE afternoon session are: Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical. You can download the prep books here: FE afternoon

The afternoon session lasts the same time, four hours. There are fewer questions. You must answer 60 questions at a pace of 4 minutes per question. Obviously, the questions are more difficult on average than morning session questions.

Materials for the FE exam:

FE exam study book from PPI.
The FE exam is a closed book test. You will receive a reference manual on exam day. You can download a copy or purchase a copy with which to practice. However, there is a cornucopia of options to prepare for the FE exam. The largest offering of FE study materials comes from ppi2pass: FE exam study materials. You can get a discount by using this link and entering ppi2pass promo code PASS1114. You'll be amazed at the options. Check it out.

You will also need an NCEES approved engineering calculator

For the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, examinees are not permitted to bring books into the examination center. They are issued a clean copy of the FE reference manual. So, why not buy an e-book?

Professional Engineer Exam

Only those who first pass the FE exam and subsequently meet other criteria may sit for the NCEES Professional Engineer (PE) exam. Requirements vary by state. Typically, a number of years of experience working with licensed engineers, three letters of recommendation, and proof of any education claimed as qualifying years must be provided.

Reviewing, studying, and preparing for the PE exam can be rigorous. The book, Pass the PE like a Pro can help ease the burden. It has a lot of useful links, tips, schedules, and tips. It is a great place to start. 

There is a "take-home" exam on ethics. This is completed and sent in with the application.

On exam day, examinees take two sessions, following the same format as the FE exam. The morning session is four hours. So is the afternoon session.

The Morning session has 40 questions (=6 minutes per question). The afternoon session has 40 questions. This is also 6 minutes per question. But, afternoon sessions on the NCEES exam are correspondingly more difficult. As with the FE exam, the morning session is a breadth exam covering all the major specialties within engineering. The afternoon exam is a concentration selected beforehand by the examinee.

How to be an Engineer

Once you pass the NCEES exam, and receive a license from your state board, you can begin calling yourself an engineer. It is illegal in the United States for non-engineers to call themselves engineers or to even use the word "engineer" or "engineering" in advertising, marketing, or official documents. To do so requires having an engineer on staff. In California, an engineering business must be owned at least 50% by an engineer.

Professional Development:

Many states require professional development units. Engineers must stay current. PDU classes ensure new learning continues throughout a career. These are also called Continuing Education Units, or CEUs. If your state requires them or not, engineering is a professional field. Each engineer must stay current on civil codes, safety procedures, and design process changes.

Remember, when people say, "scientist", they almost always mean an engineer!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What is Better than Online PE Exam Review Courses?

PE examinees: If you seriously plan to pass the NCEES exam, you need to beat the competition. There is no set passing score for the professional engineering exam. This is because you compete against other working FEs for placement above the cut score. The cut score is the yet-undetermined qualifying score. If you can score 70 on the scaled score, you pass (a rule of thumb.) To be sure, if you can regularly score a literal 70% on practice exams, you will earn your state license. You need to outperform the 30 to 40 percent of examinees who will not pass.

How will you beat all those other engineers studying diligently? Simple: get the best materials and take many practice exams. I passed both NCEES exams on the first effort. (Please don't ask about the California seismic exam!)

Online review courses have some advantage: they cover most or all of the material; they provide a framework for you to follow; they (often, not always) include a PE to answer any questions.

Is there a better way? Well, a classroom environment is superior. Online, you are often at your own pace. Always, you are alone (unless a friend joins you at your home.)

When cost is isolated as a consideration, there is a better method than online review courses. Take a series of practice PE exams. There are several good offerings on Amazon: PE Exam Study Materials

Study Plan for the Professional Engineer Exam: This links to a 6-week study plan for the PE. Most sources recommend 3 months and 300 hours. However, if you are starting late, this is a great plan, and I believe you can pass with it.