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WoodSlinger

16 Hour Structural Exam

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I would have posted this in the "Structural" section, but activity is usually pretty low there, and I'm interested to see if anyone has an opinion on this subject.

I have noticed in the PE Results section, since results started coming in, that there are a good quantity of people that have unsuccessfully passed the SEI exam jumping ship to take the Civil exam in the future. It makes sense, I suppose. Who wants to take a 16 hour exam versus an 8 hour one, especially when you live in a state that doesn't recognize a different licensure process for structural engineers?

My problem with this, however, is I fear that this may end up producing under-trained engineers performing structural design. I'm not saying that someone who works in the structural field that took the Civil PE can't be just as knowledgeable or qualified as one who took the SEI and/or SEI/SEII, but the general concensus is that the preperation and knowledge required is significantly less for passing the Civil exam in comparrison to the SEI. (this is the feeling I'm getting anyway) Intuitively, this leads me to believe that the quality will suffer.

Again, I'm not trying to slam anyone here, and I'm not making a statement that one group is smarter or better than another, it just seems to me that there is potentially an unintnetional consequence of moving to the 16 hour exam; licensed engineers in the structural field performing and supervising work that are less informed than there counterparts.

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Well for most states you could have taken and passed either exam and worked on buildings, and even the states that do recognize the SE, they only required it for certain types of building design.

Although I do see where you're coming from. I never understood why they would have two exams, one significantly harder than the other, that in most states got you to the same place (ie becoming a PE). There is one girl in my office who is awful at engineering (the other day she used the tension yielding equation to design for the bearing of a base plate simply because that was the only equation she had ever seen used with a plate before...clearly not the brightest), and she opted to take the civil exam simply because it's "easier." It worries me that someone like her could be a licensed engineer. As my boss has said many times "just because you can pass the PE doesn't mean you're a good engineer."

But for either test, I think the amount of studying people do actually does help improve their skills as a engineer, I know I learned a whole lot through my studying for the structural 1!

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I've heard rumors of some firms encouraging their EITs to take the civil instead of the SE because it's easier to pass, but my state board (GA) wouldn't allow me or any of the folks working in our office to do that. They required us to take the SE because that's what we were practicing. I'm thinking that boards will likely start to crack down on it now that many of them are moving toward separate SE licensure.

Thankfully, I passed the SE1 at the last offering, so I don't have to worry about it. My boss, who took the old Civil exam before there was an SE version, has always joked about going back and taking the new exam, just to see if he could pass. He'd probably have a hard time with it, but he's easily the sharpest engineers I've ever worked with. Like VAPSU says, a PE doesn't make you a better engineer, but it also goes the other way. Not being able to pass a very tough test in under 8 hours doesn't make you a bad one either.

I'd encourage others to take the new 2-day instead of settling for the civil. I've never felt more prepared to take on any type of work than I do right now - and that's all down to the preparation I put in for the SE1.

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Well for most states you could have taken and passed either exam and worked on buildings, and even the states that do recognize the SE, they only required it for certain types of building design.

Although I do see where you're coming from. I never understood why they would have two exams, one significantly harder than the other, that in most states got you to the same place (ie becoming a PE). There is one girl in my office who is awful at engineering (the other day she used the tension yielding equation to design for the bearing of a base plate simply because that was the only equation she had ever seen used with a plate before...clearly not the brightest), and she opted to take the civil exam simply because it's "easier." It worries me that someone like her could be a licensed engineer. As my boss has said many times "just because you can pass the PE doesn't mean you're a good engineer."

But for either test, I think the amount of studying people do actually does help improve their skills as a engineer, I know I learned a whole lot through my studying for the structural 1!

I've heard rumors of some firms encouraging their EITs to take the civil instead of the SE because it's easier to pass, but my state board (GA) wouldn't allow me or any of the folks working in our office to do that. They required us to take the SE because that's what we were practicing. I'm thinking that boards will likely start to crack down on it now that many of them are moving toward separate SE licensure.

Thankfully, I passed the SE1 at the last offering, so I don't have to worry about it. My boss, who took the old Civil exam before there was an SE version, has always joked about going back and taking the new exam, just to see if he could pass. He'd probably have a hard time with it, but he's easily the sharpest engineers I've ever worked with. Like VAPSU says, a PE doesn't make you a better engineer, but it also goes the other way. Not being able to pass a very tough test in under 8 hours doesn't make you a bad one either.

I'd encourage others to take the new 2-day instead of settling for the civil. I've never felt more prepared to take on any type of work than I do right now - and that's all down to the preparation I put in for the SE1.

I'm not a civil or structural but the bolded parts are the reason I'm taking my exam before my experience and it's good to hear others that have gone through the same thing. I viewed the studying for the exam as somewhat more important than the test itself that's why when I read some of the other posts on this board of people asking "I just need to know how many to get right to pass" or "I just did the NCEES and took the solutions with me" and not learning through the steps/process it leaves me scratching my head.

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I am considering taking the Structural PE exam for getting licensed as a SE. Alaska does not honor Structural PE's (at this time); so I took the Civil. I practice Structural during the work week though. I know that I'll have to go out of state, or pay a special proctor fee, to take it here; but that's the cost of becoming a PE.

Each state is a little different; will be interesting to see how things get changed as more states accept the other disciplines.

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For me, the civil-structural exam makes sense because I ONLY work on bridges and transportation projects. I don't do buildings, ever. I look at truck or train loads, pedestrian loads, superimposed loads, and I mostly design beams, determine beam spacing, span lengths, and design connections. We also design substructures - footings/piles/abutments etc. and earth retaining structures.

My title is "structural engineer", but really I don't deal with wood or masonry, and am primarily focused on concrete and steel design using AASHTO and my state specific bridge/highway manuals. Seismic design for bridges is state controlled. They over design everything by in the manuals we use. Software is used if seismic analysis needs to be performed on a bridge.

I think if you work on buildings, the structural I and II exams make sense...for the complicated frame analysis, as well as vertical/lateral forces needed to design buildings is in the SE exam. Obviously if you work for a high seismic region (CA,Wash etc) it is required that you take the SE exams and state specific tests in order to use the title "structural engineer."

If I ever have to change my title to "civil engineer" to satisfy some nation wide movement toward making the SE title require two exams, I will. I don't see the point in taking a harder exam which covers designs/materials I will never use.

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For me, the civil-structural exam makes sense because I ONLY work on bridges and transportation projects. I don't do buildings, ever. I look at truck or train loads, pedestrian loads, superimposed loads, and I mostly design beams, determine beam spacing, span lengths, and design connections. We also design substructures - footings/piles/abutments etc. and earth retaining structures.

My title is "structural engineer", but really I don't deal with wood or masonry, and am primarily focused on concrete and steel design using AASHTO and my state specific bridge/highway manuals. Seismic design for bridges is state controlled. They over design everything by in the manuals we use. Software is used if seismic analysis needs to be performed on a bridge.

I think if you work on buildings, the structural I and II exams make sense...for the complicated frame analysis, as well as vertical/lateral forces needed to design buildings is in the SE exam. Obviously if you work for a high seismic region (CA,Wash etc) it is required that you take the SE exams and state specific tests in order to use the title "structural engineer."

If I ever have to change my title to "civil engineer" to satisfy some nation wide movement toward making the SE title require two exams, I will. I don't see the point in taking a harder exam which covers designs/materials I will never use.

This brings up another point. I don't understand why they group building designers and bridge designers in the same category. Well, I do understand why they do it, but I don't believe that they should. I think the new 16 hour format is the step in the right direction, but I still think that bridge designers should have their exam, and building designers should have theirs, just as the SE II was set up.

At any rate, the bridge designer is at a disadvantage. I've never blamed someone in that industry for avoiding the SEI exam. It's a difficult undertaking to be successful on an exam when 80% of its content isn't really applicable to your every day activities.

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I took and passed the SE1 a few years ago. I didn't bother with the SE2 because in MA I am registered as a PE-Structural because of the SE1. Had I taken the Civil/Str exam the stamp would say PE-Civil. I'm concerned that with the evolution of the new 16 hr exam, I will lose the Structural designation or it not be as recognized because I don't meet the new requirements. I'm considering taking the 16 hour exam just to keep my credentials current and it will make my SE designation more portable (comity applications will be easier) in the future.

The exams are difficult but they are intended to be minimum competency exams for the profession. It is my understanding that the Structural exams, especially since they went to a multiple choice format (I work with a lot of older PE's that took the old 8 question essay test), became more code based and less focused on recognizing structural behavior.

I believe the "Vertical loads"/Lateral loads format of the new 16 hour exam is an attempt to get back to focusing on the global structural behavior of materials regardless if it's wood, concrete, steel etc and away from just knowing the code provisions.

The AASHTO LRFD code is another good example of trying to "standardize" design methods. They are making the fundamental approach the same for all materials instead of using ultimate strength for concrete and ASD for steel for example. It is always tough to try to change the industry mindset to a new way of thinking.

I leave it to others to say whether this is a good idea or not, but it is certainly being implemented.

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^^ MA, I don't think that the commonwealth will strip you of your structural licensure. I believe that the board has simply said that they will issue no more structural licenses unless you pass the 16 hour exam.

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I just registered for the civil exam today. I have failed the Structural I twice now. Texas doesn't require an SE, so I decided to take the civil. I have heard (and read) that it is much easier. I know that it is a cop-out on my part, but I am not confident about a two day exam with essay and multiple choice. I just want to be finished with the whole mess.

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For me, the civil-structural exam makes sense because I ONLY work on bridges and transportation projects. I don't do buildings, ever. I look at truck or train loads, pedestrian loads, superimposed loads, and I mostly design beams, determine beam spacing, span lengths, and design connections. We also design substructures - footings/piles/abutments etc. and earth retaining structures.

My title is "structural engineer", but really I don't deal with wood or masonry, and am primarily focused on concrete and steel design using AASHTO and my state specific bridge/highway manuals. Seismic design for bridges is state controlled. They over design everything by in the manuals we use. Software is used if seismic analysis needs to be performed on a bridge.

I think if you work on buildings, the structural I and II exams make sense...for the complicated frame analysis, as well as vertical/lateral forces needed to design buildings is in the SE exam. Obviously if you work for a high seismic region (CA,Wash etc) it is required that you take the SE exams and state specific tests in order to use the title "structural engineer."

If I ever have to change my title to "civil engineer" to satisfy some nation wide movement toward making the SE title require two exams, I will. I don't see the point in taking a harder exam which covers designs/materials I will never use.

From what I have heard, and from my experience taking the SE1 exam, the civil actually has fewer and much easier bridge problems than the structural. In the times I've taken the SE1 exam I've been really annoyed because even though NCEES claims to only have only 20% bridge problems there have been much more than that. From the times I've taken the SE1 I'd say there are closer to 40% of the problems on AASHTO, especially fall 2009 when I skipped those problems for last and realized at the end of each session I had skipped more than half the problems since they were on AASHTO.

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Guys,

Any Idea which states offer 16hour exam, I passed OCT 2010 Civil PE from California, California has a restriction of 3years before one can register from SE exam.

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