April 2011 exam stories - Page 2 - Anything about the PE Exam - Engineer Boards
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i dont believe this, a non degree person cant pass PE exam, consider the topics covered and foundation courses required, youre dreaming.

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i dont believe this, a non degree person cant pass PE exam, consider the topics covered and foundation courses required, youre dreaming.

Believe me, a piece of paper that says you have a degree (even from an accredited program) does not mean a damn thing. I personally know several engineers who are much better at problem solving (real world, not in theory only) than many of their 'better-educated' compatriots. Many undergraduate engineering programs are now a joke, cutting and trimming programs to make it more attractive to potential students.

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i dont believe this, a non degree person cant pass PE exam, consider the topics covered and foundation courses required, youre dreaming.

Actually, the Civil PE wasn't that hard. I found the Fundamentals exam to be harder; the PE was largely about what I practiced (though I rarely do storm/wastewater, maybe 1-2 projects a year) whereas the FE covered a large range of subjects. Fortunately, my memory for numbers & formulas generally approaches photographic; once I've done something a few times, I can remember it for months. That made the studying somewhat easier.

Believe me, a piece of paper that says you have a degree (even from an accredited program) does not mean a damn thing. I personally know several engineers who are much better at problem solving (real world, not in theory only) than many of their 'better-educated' compatriots. Many undergraduate engineering programs are now a joke, cutting and trimming programs to make it more attractive to potential students.

Yeah, I'd have to agree with this. I've run into a several E.I.s and a few P.E.s that I think aren't terribly good engineers. Nothing malpractice, everything's safe, but it's so overbuilt because they don't do simple things like putting reinforcing on the tension face of a retaining wall (it was centered, in a cantilevered wall with no corners or counterforts).

Lol. If im a client and know this PE i wouldnt choose this company , sorry.

Completely your prerogative, of course. I would argue that as an Engineer with now 10 years of almost exclusively (small to medium) structural experience, I'm better with (small) structures than most. After all, someone with a degree and 6 years experience has only been doing practical structural work for 6 years total, right? Add to that my generally "outside the box" approach to significant issues, and you might find that someone like me (though I really hope I'm unique) is better able to develop solutions to uncommon structural issues. I also tend to have a better rapport with contractors and owners, because I've been "in the trenches" with them instead of "off studying with my head in the clouds" (as a contractor once said while we were discussing a project).

Of course, I never mention my lack of college degree unless I am asked questions regarding my education. But when I do bring it up, the end responses vary between disdain, curiosity, and being impressed. Generally Architects are disdainful, Home/Business owners are curious, and Contractors are impressed. Engineers tend to run the gamut; most civil and structural engineers I know have been impressed, while a few have been openly disdainful.

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Lol. A "real" PE knows he/ she should be ethical not like mentioned above.

I will cite an example if youre terminally sick then there are two doctors one a quack the other a grad of univ which one would you choose think it over.

Professionals are suppose to protect the public i doubt such case for non grads.

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wow, this has gotten my attention. I work with a group of engineers, all went to university, guess who they come to for building plans and structural questions? Me, and I only have an associates from a community college. It is not where or how you learned something, but what you do with it and appreciate how you apply it. It is when you think you know everything you stop going over your numbers and mistakes happen.

As far as the terminally ill, I lost my wife to cancer and took her to some of the best cancer doctors around. Some analogies would be best left out.

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Now, getting back to the original topic: The table that was supplied to me and another test taker was delaminating and had splinters lifting up from the plywood surface. They originally positioned some poor surveying test taker with the sun coming through a high window right into his face. Both matters were taken care of right away. That was the worst of it, not bad for a test day.

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Not 2011 (I just found the site), but when I took the test I had a conversation with a guy in the hallway outside. He was incredulous that I was taking the exam (Civil P.E.) based on experience only (no college). He had a bit of an attitude in the morning.

I'm confused...

While I'm in no way saying that it can't be done, I thought it was a requirement to have a 4-year degree at an ABET acrredited school in order to sit for the P.E.

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Not 2011 (I just found the site), but when I took the test I had a conversation with a guy in the hallway outside. He was incredulous that I was taking the exam (Civil P.E.) based on experience only (no college). He had a bit of an attitude in the morning.

I'm confused...

While I'm in no way saying that it can't be done, I thought it was a requirement to have a 4-year degree at an ABET acrredited school in order to sit for the P.E.

nope. a lot of states will allow it with usually much more experience required.

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Not 2011 (I just found the site), but when I took the test I had a conversation with a guy in the hallway outside. He was incredulous that I was taking the exam (Civil P.E.) based on experience only (no college). He had a bit of an attitude in the morning.

I'm confused...

While I'm in no way saying that it can't be done, I thought it was a requirement to have a 4-year degree at an ABET acrredited school in order to sit for the P.E.

nope. a lot of states will allow it with usually much more experience required.

NY and VT require 12 years of experience.

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Not 2011 (I just found the site), but when I took the test I had a conversation with a guy in the hallway outside. He was incredulous that I was taking the exam (Civil P.E.) based on experience only (no college). He had a bit of an attitude in the morning.

I'm confused...

While I'm in no way saying that it can't be done, I thought it was a requirement to have a 4-year degree at an ABET acrredited school in order to sit for the P.E.

Oregon (where I live, and work under the direction of a licensed S.E.) requires 12 years (8 for EI, 4 for PE), Washington (where I am licensed as a Civil P.E.) requires 8 years (4 for EI, 4 for PE), and California of all places requires *6* (3 EI, 3 PE). In Washington and CA, the law is written so that up to 5 years of education (4+1 postgrad) can be substituted for experience; for Oregon, it's 4 year degree + 4 years experience, 2 year degree + 10 years experience, or no degree + 12 years experience. At this point, going to college would be counterproductive from a purely logistical standpoint; I have more than 10 years of experience, so I'd take longer going to school than I would just getting the experience. Not to say that the school would be useless by any means. I fully admit that I have limitations on what I know; because I am extremely specialized in structures, I'd like to know more about the other subjects.

I intend to sit for my CA-specific exams in either Oct '11 or April '12, and my Washington Structural in Oct. 2012. I have a personal plan that after I get my structural I will be getting my Oregon Geotechnical, Electrical, and Mechanical licenses, just because. Unfortunately, this takes back seat to other, larger financial and personal concerns (the Geo/Mech/Elec licenses wouldn't help me in my career), so it will likely not happen for another 5-6 years.

Edit: Holy run-on sentence Batman!

Edited by Karen S. P.E.

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I intend to sit for my CA-specific exams in either Oct '11 or April '12, and my Washington Structural in Oct. 2012. I have a personal plan that after I get my structural I will be getting my Oregon Geotechnical, Electrical, and Mechanical licenses, just because. Unfortunately, this takes back seat to other, larger financial and personal concerns (the Geo/Mech/Elec licenses wouldn't help me in my career), so it will likely not happen for another 5-6 years.

So, you plan on getting 12 years of Geotechnical, 12 years of Mechanical, and 12 years of Electrical experience in 6 years? I think you'll find trouble with that with your state board as you've stated you're limited in experience to structures. I certainly hope anyway.

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I intend to sit for my CA-specific exams in either Oct '11 or April '12, and my Washington Structural in Oct. 2012. I have a personal plan that after I get my structural I will be getting my Oregon Geotechnical, Electrical, and Mechanical licenses, just because. Unfortunately, this takes back seat to other, larger financial and personal concerns (the Geo/Mech/Elec licenses wouldn't help me in my career), so it will likely not happen for another 5-6 years.

So, you plan on getting 12 years of Geotechnical, 12 years of Mechanical, and 12 years of Electrical experience in 6 years? I think you'll find trouble with that with your state board as you've stated you're limited in experience to structures. I certainly hope anyway.

No, as with any license, once you get the first you can sit to take the exams for the others (except Structural, which has further limitations that I have already met for WA). The assumption is in place that you have the self-knowledge to only sit for exams you think you can pass, and once passed that you won't do anything that is outside your expertise. For example, I'm legally able to design flood controls, waterways, roads, etc. - but I don't, because while I know enough about them to have passed the exam, I wouldn't want to put my stamp on them until I am confident that I can do them correctly.

Like I said, I'd be getting the other licenses for my own reasons - I don't plan (at this time) to actually practice any of those disciplines. Mostly, I want to do it because I think it'd be impressive and somewhat interesting for someone in my position to have passed every major exam administered in my local area. Plus, study purely for the sake of knowledge is a good thing.

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After reading most of the explanatinons in this thread I understand better why engineers are so low in the professional-totem pole.

How many licensed cardiologists out there do not have a valid medical school degree?. Same with lawyers? What has been said here is that you do not have to go to engineering school to be an engineer. Just work 3,6,9,12 or whatever years you can with one and you are even fit to go for a license as one. Is not that nice? So many of us wasted from 5 to 6 years.

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After reading most of the explanatinons in this thread I understand better why engineers are so low in the professional-totem pole.

How many licensed cardiologists out there do not have a valid medical school degree?. Same with lawyers? What has been said here is that you do not have to go to engineering school to be an engineer. Just work 3,6,9,12 or whatever years you can with one and you are even fit to go for a license as one. Is not that nice? So many of us wasted from 5 to 6 years.

Actually, lawyers in some states can pass the bar without the benefit of law school. It's called "reading the law". It's uncommon - almost if note more uncommon than it is for Engineers - but it happens.

And you didn't waste those years. Completely neglecting the practical effect education has - that you do in fact have a much broader knowledge of multiple subjects - there's the added benefit that you don't have people questioning your ability to become an engineer, or calling you unethical without having direct knowledge of your experience. Speaking personally, I would much rather have gone to school and studied engineering. If I had the cash on hand *right now* to attend college, I would do so in a heartbeat. I don't; I have personal issues (medical, for both my wife & I) and other debts that must be paid first.

Edited by Karen S. P.E.

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I'm surprised some states would allow this. Seems like it would be opening themselves up to a whole world of liability.

Not that I'm saying (or not saying) there'd be any corrolation for this, or that this couldn't happen to an engineer with a degree...

But what happens if, heaven forbid, a bridge fails or something similar and the public finds out that the engineer that designed it didn't even go to school for engineering?

Seems to me as though the State would just as soon require the degree to give some sort of standardization. ABET accredidation is a standardized requirement. What standardizes the 12-years of experience that replaces that?

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I'm surprised some states would allow this. Seems like it would be opening themselves up to a whole world of liability.

Not that I'm saying (or not saying) there'd be any corrolation for this, or that this couldn't happen to an engineer with a degree...

But what happens if, heaven forbid, a bridge fails or something similar and the public finds out that the engineer that designed it didn't even go to school for engineering?

Seems to me as though the State would just as soon require the degree to give some sort of standardization. ABET accredidation is a standardized requirement. What standardizes the 12-years of experience that replaces that?

Well, I'll admit that it's not a fully standardized system. But:

-I've taken the same FE and PE exams as any other licensed Civil Engineer.

-I've taken the same ethics exam as any other WA engineer.

-I've met the qualifications as laid out by the state

-I've worked under the direct supervision of the engineers that have trained me, who did attend ABET-accredited programs.

-I've made it clear to those engineers that I am worthy of being an Engineer.

If it helps, I guess you could consider it an extended unaccredited tutoring system. After all, what are Engineering professors, aside from Engineers passing on their knowledge to their students?

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i dont believe this, a non degree person cant pass PE exam, consider the topics covered and foundation courses required, youre dreaming.

If you have a brain, you can teach yourself with the books. I myself took HVAC and passed the first time. My undergraduate degree is environmental engineering (Germany) and my Masters is Mechanical engineering (US). None of the PE test equations I learned at school, all my schooling was in metric. MAsters degree wa a lot about programming the thermodynamic relations, so that didn't help for the test either. Trust me, it can be done to pass a test that requires reading psychometric charts and calculate pump head without an instructor teaching you how to do it.

while studying for the test, i learned a lot useful things, though.

That is one thing an engineer does, figuring something out without someone else explaining it.

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I'd rather hire someone with no degree that had enough experience and competency to pass the exam on the first attempt than someone that holds a degree but took 8 shots at the exam before they finally got lucky and passed.

Nobody interviews a potential engineering firm by asking them how many of their PE's are degreed, or even how many times those PE's took the exam. The question everybody asks is, how much EXPERIENCE does your firm (and by inference, your PE's) have in designing X-Y-Z type projects.

When was the last time you heard of ANY professional firm (doctors, engineers, lawyers, whatever) being hired solely because of the status of its employee's undergraduate degrees? If you can find one example, I'd be impressed.

when i hire consultants i require them to state their education and also ask them int he interview. I'm the only one in my firm who does that, though.

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One of my proctors was pretty freaking hot. After everything was collected and we were dismissed, at the door she said "I never want to see any of you guys again, ok?" I said, "I might come back just to see you again." :P

You're lucky. Just about every proctor at my test had one foot in the grave. I don't think any of them were under 80 yrs old.

Same thing in CA. I'm pretty sure one of my proctors knew Isaac Newton back when he only had a first law and went by "Ike".

Just saw this now. That's too funny man!

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Upthread some guys were laughing about how Canadian engineering PE's were given out in a cracker jack box. Guess what? I got a Canadian engineering degree and I wrote the American FE and PE exams. Neither exam was much harder than some of the SEMESTER finals for individual classes I took in school. In Canada, the point is getting the degree. Then, as long as you have 4 years qualified experience they don't retest anyone for the PE (other than an ethical exam which isn't nearly as difficult).

Here, the degree is unimportant - you don't even need a degree if you have enough experience. All you have to do is pass ONE TEST. That process is a joke. The test is not a cake walk, but it is just one multiple choice and open book exam. Any fairly intelligent person with good test taking skills should be able to pick up the review books, study like a crazy person for a few months and then have a decent chance to pass this test - even if they never previously cracked an engineering text in their life. Obviously if you take a guy with 12 years 'experience' in the construction field - he has had no or little exposure to many of the topics in the PE exam and has to learn them from scratch anyways.

Ever wonder what other profession forces its members to take a comprehensive technical exam 4 years out of school? I can't think of any. Law student write their exam right out of college, medical people like pharmacists might write an exam right out of college. In my opinion it doesn't make a lot of sense to set the bar for being an engineer so low as to pass just 1 exam. To get CPR certification - okay, one exam makes sense. To get a PE, nah not so much. Better to go the Canadian route and have only certified schools which properly weed out the non-engineers over many years and many exams, assignments, projects, labs etc.

The 4 years of experience thing is fine. But why should you have to prove you can relearn structures after 4 years when you a transportation engineer? I can't buy into a justification saying someone is more 'well rounded' since any engineer is likely to quickly forget [again] that material you don't use a work anyways. Should cardiologists be taken aside and tested on dermitology after 4 years experience? After all, if they can't prove they know it all they shouldn't be doing heart surgery.

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Upthread some guys were laughing about how Canadian engineering PE's were given out in a cracker jack box. Guess what? I got a Canadian engineering degree and I wrote the American FE and PE exams. Neither exam was much harder than some of the SEMESTER finals for individual classes I took in school. In Canada, the point is getting the degree. Then, as long as you have 4 years qualified experience they don't retest anyone for the PE (other than an ethical exam which isn't nearly as difficult).

Here, the degree is unimportant - you don't even need a degree if you have enough experience. All you have to do is pass ONE TEST. That process is a joke. The test is not a cake walk, but it is just one multiple choice and open book exam. Any fairly intelligent person with good test taking skills should be able to pick up the review books, study like a crazy person for a few months and then have a decent chance to pass this test - even if they never previously cracked an engineering text in their life. Obviously if you take a guy with 12 years 'experience' in the construction field - he has had no or little exposure to many of the topics in the PE exam and has to learn them from scratch anyways.

Ever wonder what other profession forces its members to take a comprehensive technical exam 4 years out of school? I can't think of any. Law student write their exam right out of college, medical people like pharmacists might write an exam right out of college. In my opinion it doesn't make a lot of sense to set the bar for being an engineer so low as to pass just 1 exam. To get CPR certification - okay, one exam makes sense. To get a PE, nah not so much. Better to go the Canadian route and have only certified schools which properly weed out the non-engineers over many years and many exams, assignments, projects, labs etc.

The 4 years of experience thing is fine. But why should you have to prove you can relearn structures after 4 years when you a transportation engineer? I can't buy into a justification saying someone is more 'well rounded' since any engineer is likely to quickly forget [again] that material you don't use a work anyways. Should cardiologists be taken aside and tested on dermitology after 4 years experience? After all, if they can't prove they know it all they shouldn't be doing heart surgery.

It's not so much a test to see if you know the right answers, as it is a test to see if you know how and when to apply the correct answers. The first is pretty basic math, the second involves practical knowledge of building and material-specific codes. While they could test for that at graduation, it makes more sense (to me) to wait until after the experience is earned; your point about the transportation engineer is somewhat valid - though I'd argue that they need more specific testing (that is, more limited licensing, rather than a single discipline that includes water/insignificant structures/roads) rather than earlier testing. That is, the issue is that Civil is a discipline that encompasses multiple disciplines, that could be broken up into sub-licenses.

While I certainly have a lot of respect for those that graduate from college, I must say that the number one issue I've seen with them is a lack of knowledge of real-world situations. Knowing the theories is great. Putting them into practice is something completely different. The post-graduation experience gives them the ability to learn the code, and how to apply the code (and the exceptions, special rules, etc. that are within the code) to a specific question. The PE exam is to make sure you know what you are doing in regards to that specific discipline; how many ME-degreed people go into Civil/Structural work? I seem to recall seeing that very discussion on here a while back.

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I think that is why we need a Master Degree to take the PE in 2020.

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I think that is why we need a Master Degree to take the PE in 2020.

Honestly not sure that will help when it comes to training good, practical engineers. One of the worst (from a practical standpoint) engineers I ever worked with was a PhD. He learned all the theory, none of the practice. His experience was all lab-based, as well.

What's that saying? The difference between theory and practice is larger in practice than it is in theory?

I suppose he could have been atypical - aside from him, the only PE's/EI's I've worked with regularly have been BS/Architectural Engineering, MS/Physics or BS/Civil Engineering. Oh, and a BA/Architecture that could have been a PE (12 years experience under an engineer) but failed the FE exam twice and gave up.

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I think that is why we need a Master Degree to take the PE in 2020.

Honestly not sure that will help when it comes to training good, practical engineers. One of the worst (from a practical standpoint) engineers I ever worked with was a PhD. He learned all the theory, none of the practice. His experience was all lab-based, as well.

What's that saying? The difference between theory and practice is larger in practice than it is in theory?

I suppose he could have been atypical - aside from him, the only PE's/EI's I've worked with regularly have been BS/Architectural Engineering, MS/Physics or BS/Civil Engineering. Oh, and a BA/Architecture that could have been a PE (12 years experience under an engineer) but failed the FE exam twice and gave up.

I have to agree with you, particularly as it relates to practical experience. I work in manufacturing, and I have the least amount of respect for Process Engineers with PhD's compared to any other Process Engineer coming from a 4 year college. PhD's, in my experience, have a really difficult time with practicality - they love to theorize about the way things could turn out based on this principle or that principle, but in practice, it rarely ever happens the way they think it will. That results in lost time, lost money, and a general loss of respect for their capabilities as engineers. I'd also take a trained operator with years of process experience and practical knowledge and ask him/her to help with a process design over a PhD almost any day.

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