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eaglewu

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I am planning to take PE exam Mechanical Engineering MDM hopefully in April 2020. Where should I start? Just decided to take MDM yesterday.

I passed FE 5 years ago and I left school for a long long time. I have master and ph.d degrees and they are in fields of NVH.

Which book should I buy and read first? Should I review my FE books?

 

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Last week i just took the MDM PE EXAM 

you really need 6 months of time due to the various factors involved during preparation

questions can vary from a simple topic to something very advanced  " as of today mechanical MDM have been reformatted to CBT hence you will be first ones to experiment this testing formatting   

A) MERM GUIDE 

B) NCESS PRATICE EXAM 

 

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55 minutes ago, eaglewu said:

I am planning to take PE exam Mechanical Engineering MDM hopefully in April 2020. Where should I start? Just decided to take MDM yesterday.

I passed FE 5 years ago and I left school for a long long time. I have master and ph.d degrees and they are in fields of NVH.

Which book should I buy and read first? Should I review my FE books?

 

Take Dr. Tom's class and call it a day. Seriously.

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First steps would be to apply for exam ( if havent done so already), and review the exam specifications for the test you sign up for. The specifications will list the topics covered by the exam and whaf regulations they refer to. Since you will be doing CBT, you need to become very familiar with the reference guide you will have access to. You won't have the luxury to tab, highlight, and/or create your notes. Some topics may fall under different sections so you should familiarize yourself with the layout of each section.

Also pay attention to vocabulary you come across and if it's different than what you normally use. You may refer to something by one name, but it may be referred to by an alternative term in the reference guide. If doing a search by term, it may not come up if its using different terms. This is something I come across when researching ordinances for mechanical equipment setback requirements.  The same information is under air compressor,  HVAC, air conditioner,  mechanical equipment, and a/c units depending on the town. Often times I have to search for all those terms to locate the information we need.  For the CBT exams, you dont want to waste too much time just trying to navigate the manual on the PC.

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2 hours ago, youngmotivatedengineer said:

First steps would be to apply for exam ( if havent done so already), and review the exam specifications for the test you sign up for. The specifications will list the topics covered by the exam and whaf regulations they refer to. Since you will be doing CBT, you need to become very familiar with the reference guide you will have access to. You won't have the luxury to tab, highlight, and/or create your notes. Some topics may fall under different sections so you should familiarize yourself with the layout of each section.

Also pay attention to vocabulary you come across and if it's different than what you normally use. You may refer to something by one name, but it may be referred to by an alternative term in the reference guide. If doing a search by term, it may not come up if its using different terms. This is something I come across when researching ordinances for mechanical equipment setback requirements.  The same information is under air compressor,  HVAC, air conditioner,  mechanical equipment, and a/c units depending on the town. Often times I have to search for all those terms to locate the information we need.  For the CBT exams, you dont want to waste too much time just trying to navigate the manual on the PC.

Thanks, do I need to take course from PPI? They are providing learning Hub access for free for 6 month if you buy the two books for $300. Should I do it?

I have difficulty to find 3 licensed engineer for reference. People I worked with don't have PE license.

Can I use my classmate as a reference?

 

 

 

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I passed the Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials exam in October 2018. But there are several unknowns with the switch from pencil and paper to computer based test (CBT).

My advice

  • I would definitely download a copy of the official reference CBT reference and use that while you prepare if at all possible.
  • The official NCEES practice exam can be purchased from their site, and is the best source for "exam-like" questions. 
  • Everyone is different, but it took me a solid 5-6 months to prepare (probably 7-15 hours per week). Make sure you leave yourself enough time.

 

The rest of my advice (below) is kind of based on the old pencil and paper format. I really don't know what's different now.

  • The Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual (MERM) is the single best reference for PE prep. Officially NCEES doesn't create the exam based on the MERM, and the MERM author doesn't have any inside test info, but there is SO MUCH overlap that I'm skeptical (in a good way). It covers everything that you'd need to know.
  • That being said, the practice problems in the MERM and it's companion workbook are known to be MUCH HARDER than the real exam questions. The idea is that if you can do those then the exam will be easy. But working those long hard problems doesn't allow you to practice your test-day skills, like time management. So I wouldn't focus on those too much.
  • I decided to take a class because that's how I learn best. I compared several classes and decided on Dr. Tom's Classroom. I can't say whether it's better or worse than other classes, but I thought it was great and was instrumental to my passing.
  • Dr. Tom's course will also have you buy "Six-Minute Problems". It's a pretty good set of example problems. Better than the stuff in the MERM.
  • I also referenced "Shigley's Mechanical Engineering Design" and "Roark's Formulas for Stress and Strain" pretty extensively... mostly because those are references that I use regularly for work, and I know them well.
  • Many people use Machinery's Handbook, which is a great reference. It's not a reference that I'm familiar with, and I didn't find that I needed it with the class and my other references. You mileage may vary.
Edited by jean15paul_PE

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14 hours ago, eaglewu said:

I am planning to take PE exam Mechanical Engineering MDM hopefully in April 2020. Where should I start? Just decided to take MDM yesterday.

I passed FE 5 years ago and I left school for a long long time. I have master and ph.d degrees and they are in fields of NVH.

Which book should I buy and read first? Should I review my FE books?

 

In its first iterations, the PE exam had human beings grading your work. It was a tough exam because you had to use real engineering judgment, reasonable assumptions, and rely on your reference materials. They were real design problems.

Then NCEES went to scantronic, multiple choice format so the difficulty level dropped considerably. Problems could no longer be that “open ended” and had to be written carefully so that only one answer choice was correct.

Now with CBT and the exclusive use of their on-screen reference manual , the exam is a complete joke. It is virtually the same as the FE.

Since you have a Ph.D. this exam will be a cakewalk for you. The qualifying exam you took as part of your doctoral program was several orders of magnitude harder, and I don’t care if that was 15 years ago. You have that knowledge in there somewhere and you just need to dust it off with some studying.

Take a look at the problems in the sample NCEES exam. They’re all “academic” undergrad level problems in statics, dynamics, strength of materials, vibrations, and design of machine elements.

I also have a PhD, but my grad school work and research was in Heat Transfer. I was a TA in Thermo and Fluids, so naturally when I had to take the PE I took the TFS. It had been 8 years since my PhD when I took the FE and PE. When I saw the NCEES sample exam I was shocked to find that not a single problem in there was harder than the solved examples in my undergrad textbooks which I still had. All the end-of-chapter problems in Incropera’s Heat Transfer book were harder than the PE exam problems. Same with the Fluid and hydraulics and with the Thermodynamics problems. The only real hurdle for me was getting used to the cumbersome calculations in English units with the annoying conversion factors because all my education had been almost exclusively in SI.

Look at the topics for MDM that are in the new PE Reference Manual and use your old undergrad textbooks. If you don’t have your old undergrad textbooks then get the Schaum’s Outlines. They have sooooo many problems. Also, for MDM get Shigley’s. With these books, work the problems that can be solved with the equations in the new PE Reference Manual.

In your qualifying exam you probably had some advanced elasticity problems in which you had to use the Airy Stress Function or some weird stuff like that (not my field) so there’s no way some simple combined loading problem or the use of Mohr’s circle is going to overwhelm you. That’s the level of this exam. Whichever way you prepared for the FE should work again. Like I said, there is almost no difference between them, especially now that it’s CBT.

Edited by Dr. Barber

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9 hours ago, Dr. Barber said:

In its first iterations, the PE exam had human beings grading your work. It was a tough exam because you had to use real engineering judgment, reasonable assumptions, and rely on your reference materials. They were real design problems.

Then NCEES went to scantronic, multiple choice format so the difficulty level dropped considerably. Problems could no longer be that “open ended” and had to be written carefully so that only one answer choice was correct.

Now with CBT and the exclusive use of their on-screen reference manual , the exam is a complete joke. It is virtually the same as the FE.

Since you have a Ph.D. this exam will be a cakewalk for you. The qualifying exam you took as part of your doctoral program was several orders of magnitude harder, and I don’t care if that was 15 years ago. You have that knowledge in there somewhere and you just need to dust it off with some studying.

Take a look at the problems in the sample NCEES exam. They’re all “academic” undergrad level problems in statics, dynamics, strength of materials, vibrations, and design of machine elements.

I also have a PhD, but my grad school work and research was in Heat Transfer. I was a TA in Thermo and Fluids, so naturally when I had to take the PE I took the TFS. It had been 8 years since my PhD when I took the FE and PE. When I saw the NCEES sample exam I was shocked to find that not a single problem in there was harder than the solved examples in my undergrad textbooks which I still had. All the end-of-chapter problems in Incropera’s Heat Transfer book were harder than the PE exam problems. Same with the Fluid and hydraulics and with the Thermodynamics problems. The only real hurdle for me was getting used to the cumbersome calculations in English units with the annoying conversion factors because all my education had been almost exclusively in SI.

Look at the topics for MDM that are in the new PE Reference Manual and use your old undergrad textbooks. If you don’t have your old undergrad textbooks then get the Schaum’s Outlines. They have sooooo many problems. Also, for MDM get Shigley’s. With these books, work the problems that can be solved with the equations in the new PE Reference Manual.

In your qualifying exam you probably had some advanced elasticity problems in which you had to use the Airy Stress Function or some weird stuff like that (not my field) so there’s no way some simple combined loading problem or the use of Mohr’s circle is going to overwhelm you. That’s the level of this exam. Whichever way you prepared for the FE should work again. Like I said, there is almost no difference between them, especially now that it’s CBT.

I would push back on a couple of your points @Dr. Barber.

I wouldn't say that the exam got easier with the switch from long-form "show your work" questions to multiple-choice scantron, but the focus definitely changed a lot.

With the old long form question format it was about thoroughness, good assumptions, and good design decisions.
With the scantron format it's really about speed and time management.

I only took the scantron format PE exam, but having worked some of the old long-form type problems, I personally found them to be much easier. Maybe because that's what I do everyday at work, but I think that's true of many engineers that work in design and analysis. Obviously each person is different, but making good design assumptions, and taking my time to solve complex a problem is much easier for me than cranking out A LOT of "simpler" problems super fast.

Also you mentioned that the problems are no more complex than undergrad work. That has always been the case for the PE exam and that's generally true in industry (unless you have specialized in something very complex). Almost all engineering design is algrebra-based, maybe a little bit of "calculus 1" or  the simplest of differential equations. But definitely nothing more complex than that. I think that my current work is at the more complex end of engineering analysis in industry (structural analysis of visco-elastic materials), and still I've never had to use the derivations and advanced math that I learned in grad school. Same was true when I was in aerospace and in ship-building. The research and theoretical derivations that we learn in grad school just isn't how day to day engineering is done. Now I'm not saying that it's not valuable. Getting my MS in MechEng has definitely made me a better engineer. But that type of work has never been the focus of the PE exam.

Edited by jean15paul_PE
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34 minutes ago, jean15paul_PE said:

I would push back on a couple of your points @Dr. Barber.

I wouldn't say that the exam got easier with the switch from long-form "show your work" questions to multiple-choice scantron, but the focus definitely changed a lot.

With the old long form question format it was about thoroughness, good assumptions, and good design decisions.
With the scantron format it's really about speed and time management.

I only took the scantron format PE exam, but having worked some of the old long-form type problems, I personally found them to be much easier. Maybe because that's what I do everyday at work, but I think that's true of many engineers that work in design and analysis. Obviously each person is different, but making good design assumptions, and taking my time to solve complex a problem is much easier for me than cranking out A LOT of "simpler" problems super fast.

Also you mentioned that the problems are no more complex than undergrad work. That has always been the case of the PE exam and that's generally true in industry (unless you have specialized in something very complex). Almost all engineering design is algrebra-based, maybe a little bit of "calculus 1" or  the simplest of differential equations. But definitely nothing more complex than that. I think that my current work is at the more complex end of engineering analysis in industry (structural analysis of visco-elastic materials), and still I've never had to use the derivations and advanced math that I learned in grad school. Same was true when I was in aerospace and in ship-building. The research and theoretical derivations that we learn in grad school just isn't how day to day engineering is done. Now I'm not saying that it's not valuable. Getting my MS in MechEng has definitely made me a better engineer. But that type of work has never been the focus of the PE exam.

I think we agree more than you think ;)

My point was that those of us that went to grad school, have a definite advantage even though none of the PE exam problems are at the complexity level of what we did in grad school.  Its because we really know the fundamentals, i.e. the undergrad level stuff.

You're quite right about the exam now being about speed and time management, so I stand corrected about it being "easier".  But still, having gone to grad school (and the ensuing "domination" of the fundamentals) still gives us an advantage: we only have to hone our speed and time management skills, whereas the regular undergrad only working engineer has to not only hone those skills, but also revisit technical skills (the fundamentals) that are in all likelihood forgotten.

Also, I wanted to make a point that the PE and FE used to be very different animals, whereas now... they seem indistinguishable. If the OP found a way to pass the FE, there should be no problem with the PE.  All time management and speed skills acquired for the FE will be useful again. 

 

 

 

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I'd like to chime in here and suggest that, at least for, the Machine Design and Materials (MDM) PE exam, the PE exam might be easier to prepare for than the FE Mechanical exam because the breadth of the MDM is narrower than the FE Exam (no fluid mechanics, no thermodynamics, no heat transfer, no measurement, instruments, and control, etc.).

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1 hour ago, DKS said:

I'd like to chime in here and suggest that, at least for, the Machine Design and Materials (MDM) PE exam, the PE exam might be easier to prepare for than the FE Mechanical exam because the breadth of the MDM is narrower than the FE Exam (no fluid mechanics, no thermodynamics, no heat transfer, no measurement, instruments, and control, etc.).

source.gif

 

Yes. When I took the PE, the morning session was a "breadth" section, and the afternoon session was a "depth" section, so the morning was more like the FE.  Now they did away with that and made the whole test a "specialty" test, making it easier than FE.  You didn't have to study thermo, fluids, heat etc. and I wouldn't have had to study statics, dynamics, strength of materials, etc.

Edited by Dr. Barber

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On 10/31/2019 at 8:18 AM, eaglewu said:

I am planning to take PE exam Mechanical Engineering MDM hopefully in April 2020. Where should I start? Just decided to take MDM yesterday.

I passed FE 5 years ago and I left school for a long long time. I have master and ph.d degrees and they are in fields of NVH.

Which book should I buy and read first? Should I review my FE books?

 

First step is to know if the test is CBT or Pencil/Paper because there hasn’t been any formal announcement of MDM PE being Converted to CBT for the April 2020 exam but people still keep saying Oct ‘19 was the last pencil/paper exam. The schedule that NCEES has for the conversion is tentative and mentions that a formal announcement will be made 12 months in advance. If they follow what they mentioned, it means possibly even Oct 2020 might be pencil/paper still.

Of course no one has taken the CBT exam yet but I have a feeling that the preparation will be a little easier and the stuff you will see on the test will be more expected stuff but you should still study everything they mention in the exam specs. Since no references will be allowed except their given manual, I think some memorization will be needed for stuff like materials or if you have extensive industry experience you won’t need to memorize anything, you just know all that stuff. 

if you are taking the pencil/paper - start with MERM and read/study in detail, Shigley’s is great too. Some people might disagree but Study EVERYTHING they mention in their exam specs. 

 

Edited by Abogos

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6 hours ago, Abogos said:

First step is to know if the test is CBT or Pencil/Paper because there hasn’t been any formal announcement of MDM PE being Converted to CBT for the April 2020 exam but people still keep saying Oct ‘19 was the last pencil/paper exam. The schedule that NCEES has for the conversion is tentative and mentions that a formal announcement will be made 12 months in advance. If they follow what they mentioned, it means possibly even Oct 2020 might be pencil/paper still.

Of course no one has taken the CBT exam yet but I have a feeling that the preparation will be a little easier and the stuff you will see on the test will be more expected stuff but you should still study everything they mention in the exam specs. Since no references will be allowed except their given manual, I think some memorization will be needed for stuff like materials or if you have extensive industry experience you won’t need to memorize anything, you just know all that stuff. 

if you are taking the pencil/paper - start with MERM and read/study in detail, Shigley’s is great too. Some people might disagree but Study EVERYTHING they mention in their exam specs. 

 

According to the NCEES site, registration for the April 2020 pencil-and-paper exam starts in December 2019.

Also, according to the NCEES site, the first CBT will be administered in April 2020 and registration starts in November 2019.

So, there you go. Super confusing. Check out the two screenshots below:

 

1550063811_ScreenShot2019-11-02at6_52_25PM.thumb.png.e4383403a1b51731a9ef925552a32255.png

 

2064901283_ScreenShot2019-11-02at6_55_31PM.thumb.png.ca3eeebeea2ffad0213995ca388cdaf4.png

 

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55 minutes ago, Dr. Barber said:

According to the NCEES site, registration for the April 2020 pencil-and-paper exam starts in December 2019.

Also, according to the NCEES site, the first CBT will be administered in April 2020 and registration starts in November 2019.

So, there you go. Super confusing. Check out the two screenshots below:

 

1550063811_ScreenShot2019-11-02at6_52_25PM.thumb.png.e4383403a1b51731a9ef925552a32255.png

 

2064901283_ScreenShot2019-11-02at6_55_31PM.thumb.png.ca3eeebeea2ffad0213995ca388cdaf4.png

 

Whaaaaat! Registration usually opens after the results so it is a bit confusing that the CBT is available for registration in November. It is also possible that once you click to register the only option will be CBT and this is just an outdated description that needs to be updated. It is confusing! Usually when they convert the exams to CBT, the announcement should appear in the news section, I saw that in the news when they converted the Chemical to cbt. 

Edited by Abogos

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