Hey everyone! I passed, and just got my stamp and new business cards in the mail .
Since there's so little out there regarding experiences with the Architectural Engineering (AE) PE exam, I knew from the get-go that I would want to share what did/didn't work for me, regardless of the outcome.
I got my bachelors and masters in Kansas State's Architectural Engineering program. That education was a cross-discipline engineering education (electrical, structural, mechanical), with many building-industry specific classes (power, lighting, fire protection, LRFD, HVAC, plumbing, energy codes, estimating, project management and so forth).
After school, I began working for an MEP consulting firm who permitted me to practice cross-discipline design and CA. My day-to-day prior to the PE exam involved mechanical, plumbing, power and lighting design; energy modeling under various contexts(LEED, commissioning, calibration), and project management from start to finish.
The only parts of the exam material which haven't been part of my day-to-day life in my career are the structural topics and rated fire constructions. Everything else I either do on a regular basis or have at least have dabbled in.
Primary study material was the 2nd edition of the Principles and Practice of Engineering - Architectural Engineering practice exam. I also ordered the first edition hoping to double the amount of practice questions to work from, but was dissapointed to find they are largely the same. My advice is to just get the latest edition. Also grab the errata and work those in from the AEI site below, and peruse the forums here for further corrections to the practice exam solutions .
- This forum: http://engineerboards.com/
- Sign up for your test here: http://www.ncees.org/
- Read this in entirety: http://content.aeins...ng/pe_exam.html
- Bookmark your state board's site: http://content.aeins...ring/state.html
- Tons of useful fundamentals explained simply and with pictures - great source for reference materials to bind: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/
HOW I STUDIED:
I resolved to photocopy each problem from the practice exam onto a separate sheet. I then wrote out a full solution (and sometimes multiple approaches to the same problem), with references as necessary, on engineering paper. Answers were stapled to each problem, then each problem was sorted by discipline for easy reference in my PE exam binder (i.e. lighting, plumbing, power, HVAC).
Along the way, every time a problem referenced something, even if I didn't need to look it up, I tabbed that reference.
Every time a concept or "fundamentals" came up that I didn't know or was fuzzy on, I hopped onto google and found a good resource illustrating and explaining the topic thoroughly, printed it off, and filed it in my PE binder.
I recognized pretty quickly that if I was weak in any area of the exam, it was definitely structural. I resolved to study all the other topics first, assemble my notes/tabs and complete all the non-structural exam questions before touching anything structural. Then with about a month to go before exam day, I crammed structural solely. I found these forums and google to be my friends in finding problems and solutions similar to each the practice exam brought up. I made sure I was capable of solving each problem on my own, and identified where to look in my structural references for each subtopic. I thoroughly skimmed the contents and retabbed all structural references. There are a LOT of gems that can save much time in the AISC manual for example... more than I remember!
REFERENCES USED ON TEST DAY:
See uploaded picture below - that's the large suitcase I use for international travel... so full I couldn't close the zipper! I referenced all but a few items through the test however:
- 3-ring binder of PE reference materials - following post will provide another picture/discussion of its contents
- "Nick's Plumbing Handbook" is a continuation of my college notes from plumbing/fire protection classes that I've added to and often referenced in practice. It contains code snippets and journal/manufacturers guidelines for sizing and designing water/waste/steam/gas/vent/medical and other related plumbing systems.
- This Binder's title is pretty self-explanatory. I took the full NFPA sections 14, 101, 99, 13 and 72 from our office's loose-leaf reference set. It could mean the difference between a right and wrong answer to bring the right year for each, by the way! Refer to the practice exam's suggested reference list.
- The Acoustic Systems is a notebook from a college elective of the same name. Covers various noise criteria, construction acoustic properties, and related formulae.
- Generic Engineering Economics text with all the usual formulae
- NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering Structural Engineering I Sample Questions & Solutions
- IBC 2003
- IPC 2006
- ASCE 7-02 : Minimum Design Loads for Building and Other Structures
- NFPA 72 - 2002: National Fire Alarm Code. Brought this as this is the version I studied in school, and it has all my tabs/margin notes.
- ASHRAE Principles of Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (Red cover, based on 2001 Fundamentals)
- The four ASHRAE Handbooks: Fundamentals, Refrigeration, Applications, Systems
- (see above)
- (see above... and I cannot count to 4 apparently... to lazy to fire up mspaint again!)
- IESNA Lighting Handbook 9th ed.
- NEC 2008
- ASHRAE/IESNA/ANSI Standard 90.1-2007
- ACI 318-05: Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and commentary
- ANSI/AF&PA NDS-1997: National Design Specification for wood construction, and supplement
- Text: Structural Design in Wood, 2nd edition, Stalnaker
- "Engineering Dictionary" a colleague suggested I borrow - I didn't need it
- AISC Steel Manual (13th edition)
WHAT ELSE DID I BRING ON TEST DAY?:
Straight edge, approved calculator, orange Gatorade, Chex Mix, lunch box (though a surprise lunch was provided), light jacket, wallet with ID, google map of directions to the testing center.
WHAT DID I LEAVE IN MY CAR?:
Cell phone, coffee... emptied my pockets, and kept only my car keys and wallet/ID.
HOW DID IT GO?
I finished the last problem of the morning portion in a little over 2 hours... lots of time to spare. I used another hour to review dog-eared problems where I felt I could use a confirmation from one of my references, and to re-work all problems that involved a calculation... just to double check for user-error - this resulted in a few changed answers. With an hour left to go, and feeling hungry for lunch, I think I was the 2nd person out the door.
The afternoon session was rougher, with more than a few problems requiring some "reference perusal." I used all 4 hours in the afternoon, until it was called for pencils to drop, but I had time to at least attempt to work all problems. Ultimately, I think there no more than 3 or 4 problems where I had to fall back to an educated guess (trying to eliminating one or more options first).
Opening the letter that arrived was dreadful... I really no longer cared about passing - I just wanted to never take that test again! Fortunately the results provided some much needed relief!
***Thread is in progress - this is gonna take a while!***
Edited by Nickarus, 09 June 2011 - 11:40 PM.