Mechanical Eng taking the Civil PE (Water Resources)

Help Support Engineer Boards:

utilityeng

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
78
Reaction score
23
Location
Tampa, FL
A little background info: I received my degree in mechanical engineering and worked for 6 yrs after college designing components for airplanes.

Seven months ago I made a career path switch into Civil as a utility engineer in the water/wastewater field. My main responsibility is designing water/wastewater infrastructure (water mains, force mains, gravity mains, lift stations etc). In order to advance in my career (and be the EOR on plans) I need to pass the Civil discipline of the PE. You may be wondering why I've chosen to take the PE so soon, having just entered this field. What I do on an everyday basis encompasses such a small percentage of the topics covered on the Civil PE, that I don't think it would matter a great deal if I waited to take it some years from now, other than the fact that it would offer me more study time (which certainly can't be discounted).

Here's the deal. I've purchased 4 books so far: CERM, 6 minute solutions for water/environmental, NCEES prep exam water/environmental, Engineering Unit Conversions. I'm thinking about picking up an engineering dictionary as well. Due to my life situation, I've chosen not to take a prep course. I learn best in person and my wife's work schedule will not permit me to attend classes (gotta watch the kids). I'm hesitant to shell out $1k+ to watch prerecorded classes, as I'm not sure how much I'll be able to absorb from them.

To be honest, taking this test scares the crap out of me. I have very little experience in Civil engineering, and no formal education in most of the classes Civils are required to take. At my school, after statics, the CEs and MEs went different directions regarding curriculum. I didn't have to take structures, soils, concrete, etc. That said, I have literally zero class or real world experience with the majority that will be presented to me on the Civil PE.

My hope is that over the next eight months (I'm sitting for the October exam) I will have amassed enough study time to have at least a fighting chance at passing. The trouble as I see it, is that the majority of information I'm studying won't be just rehash for me. I can't just jump into problems, I'm going to have to learn concepts along the way. However, if I was sitting for the ME exam, I'd likely have to do the same thing, as I'm sure I've forgotten 60-70% of the material I learned in college. But at least the stuff would be more familiar to me. There is a little overlap between some ME and CE topics but not enough to make an appreciable dent in my opinion.

So, I guess I'm just looking for any advice in general on how best to prepare, or words of encouragement from those who've done this same thing. I feel as if I'm in a different category than most test takers who have practical experience (or at the very least have taken classes) on the topics they will be tested on.

As a side note, I have zero reference books for the depth portion of the test. Can I possibly get by with just the CERM and the two depth practice problem/exam books, or is that a pipe dream? I haven't a chance in hell of studying all of the material in the CERM, so I plan on only studying those topics that are specified by NCEES as being on the test. Granted that list is somewhat broad, but at least it gives me a direction to go in. My goal is to put in about 10-12 hrs a week until test time. That equals approx. 380 hrs of study time, which in my case, probably still won't be enough. I guess if I don't pass, I will at least have a feeling for the types of questions to expect for the next go round, but at $475 a pop for retakes, it gets a little expensive.

Thanks for reading!

 

matt267 PE

"1000000 warning points" Club Member
EB Supporter
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
46,664
Reaction score
4,233
It can be done.

In addition to the depth books you bought, I would recommend the following:

https://ppi2pass.com/water-resources-and-environmental-depth-reference-manual-for-the-civil-pe-exam-cewe.html and

https://ppi2pass.com/water-resources-and-environmental-depth-practice-exams-for-the-civil-pe-exam-cewepx.html and

https://www.amazon.com/Water-Wastewater-Calculations-Manual-Third/dp/0071819819/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486138002&sr=8-1&keywords=water+and+wastewater+calculation

Keep in mind that "6 minute solutions" for the WRE is more like "45 minute solutions." You'll likely get stuck with most of them even while looking at the solution. Don't let that get you down. You'll just have to research the topics a bit.

For the AM part of the test, do the best you can with the CERM. The CERM should have everything you need for exam day. But you might need supplemental material while studying. I found CERM questions to also be harder than the actual test. 

Good luck and don't be afraid to ask us questions.

 

utilityeng

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
78
Reaction score
23
Location
Tampa, FL
Thanks Matt,

I shied away from the 1st book in your suggested list due to Amazon reviews stating the majority of it overlaps with info found in the CERM. I'd never heard of the third book, so thank you for the suggestion. It's been 7 years since college, so I found myself struggling with even basic concepts in the CERM last night, namely unit conversions. I'd forgotten what a paint those can be. I'm sure as I spend more time with it, things will start to click a little better.

 

matt267 PE

"1000000 warning points" Club Member
EB Supporter
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
46,664
Reaction score
4,233
You're welcome. I found the wre depth review book helpful and with topics better organized than the cerm. The practice problems were better too. (IMHO)

I was about 8 years out of school when I started to study for the pe. It can be done. Good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions. There are lots of helpful folks around here.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

utilityeng

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
78
Reaction score
23
Location
Tampa, FL
After learning today that I passed the October 2017 Water Resources & Environmental PE (still pinching myself), I figured I'd update this thread for others who may find themselves in the unique position I was in. I guess the takeaway here is that yes - you can have little to no background, experience, or even knowledge of Civil topics, and still pass the Civil PE, albeit with one huge caveat - it doesn't come easily, at least it didn't for me.

I studied solid for 8 months (well, as solidly as my schedule would allow). I became pretty familiar with the breadth topics and slightly less so with the depth topics. Ironically, during the actual test, I felt as if I bombed the breadth portion and did better in the afternoon depth session.

As I studied, I found there to be a little bit of overlap with my mechanical knowledge, (eg. trusses, some structural loading, and some fluids) but the majority of topics were completely foreign to me. That said, math is math, and if you have an engineer's mindset, you can apply that to solve anything. 

While it likely would have been much easier for me to study for and pass the mechanical PE, I'm glad I opted for the Civil. I'm still an ME at heart, but my career for the foreseeable future will be in the Civil field, so it just felt more appropriate for me to take the test in the discipline in which I currently practice.

The resources I ended up using were:

1. A heavily tabbed CERM (15th edition)

2. The NCEES Water & Enviro practice exam

3. Engineering Unit Conversions (GET THIS BOOK!!!)

4. Goswami's All-In-One reference book (used during studying only, did not open during the test)

5. Goswami's practice exams (I think 4 of them)

6. Six-Minute-Solutions exam for Water & Enviro (used sparingly, found the problems to take much longer than 6 min)

7. 2 or 3 other random practice exams

I have a full time job, a wife, and 2 young children. The best piece of advice I could give is to embark upon this endeavor BEFORE kids come along. I found myself struggling trying to alternate between study time and family time. For me, I need a solid 3-4 hr period to really be able to absorb material. It can be tough to find that kind of time on a regular basis when there are small children in the house. This is one of the reasons I would have cried had I not passed the test - I just did not want to invest that kind of time all over again while neglecting my family in the process.

Anyway - now I'm in the unique position of having a PE, but not having enough experience in my field to advance. The position on the next higher ladder rung at my work requires a PE and 4 years of related experience, as do similar positions at other companies. I guess I'll be one of the few individuals who won't see a financial benefit to obtaining their PE in the short term. I have no issues putting in the time though, and in the long run - it will certainly pay off.

Right now, I'm just very thankful for having passed the hardest test of my life!!!

 

JaxTeller

Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2016
Messages
35
Reaction score
4
I passed WRE in California this time on my 4th try. I would say the CERM covers about 90% of the depth portion and almost all of the breadth. I would just use the CERM and keep doing the problems in the practice problems book. 

 
Joined
Dec 7, 2016
Messages
51
Reaction score
20
A little background info: I received my degree in mechanical engineering and worked for 6 yrs after college designing components for airplanes.

Seven months ago I made a career path switch into Civil as a utility engineer in the water/wastewater field. My main responsibility is designing water/wastewater infrastructure (water mains, force mains, gravity mains, lift stations etc). In order to advance in my career (and be the EOR on plans) I need to pass the Civil discipline of the PE.
YES.  I found someone else who has taken the same path.  I am in the water/wastewater field as well.  However, it was not until recently that I needed to get a PE license.  For 19 years, I had a very secure job that would take me to retirement however God had a different plan for me.  I quit my job and moved to Texas where He provided another amazing job opportunity.  They did not require a PE license but I got one anyways.  It has been a fun journey and I am really enjoying it.  How has the transition been for you?

 

utilityeng

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
78
Reaction score
23
Location
Tampa, FL
YES.  I found someone else who has taken the same path...How has the transition been for you?
I know!! Before I saw your post in the other thread, I never thought I'd come across someone in my same position.

As for me, other than the big pay cut, It's been great! I knew switching from private industry to government would put a dent in my salary, but the additional benefits make up for it in my opinion (PENSION!). 

One of the main reasons I switched is that I desired more field time and less 8 hr days glued to a computer. Now I get to go out in the field to assess designs, oversee construction, etc. The other reason I switched from ME to CE, is that I really desired to obtain my PE. It wasn't required at my work but I wanted the sense of accomplishment it would bring and the possibility of opening more doors in the future. Unfortunately, as is common in ME fields that don't require sealed drawings, engineers who are a PE are few and far between. We only had one PE in our office, so I didn't even know enough PEs to be able to apply for the exam (lack of references).

When I made the switch to civil, I immediately had access to multiple PEs and could get the ball rolling. I never dreamed I would have my PE just a little over a year from making the switch. I had a different degree and career before going back to school for engineering, so I've gotten a late start, but I finally feel like I'm on the right track. 

 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Location
California
After learning today that I passed the October 2017 Water Resources & Environmental PE (still pinching myself), I figured I'd update this thread for others who may find themselves in the unique position I was in. I guess the takeaway here is that yes - you can have little to no background, experience, or even knowledge of Civil topics, and still pass the Civil PE, albeit with one huge caveat - it doesn't come easily, at least it didn't for me.

I studied solid for 8 months (well, as solidly as my schedule would allow). I became pretty familiar with the breadth topics and slightly less so with the depth topics. Ironically, during the actual test, I felt as if I bombed the breadth portion and did better in the afternoon depth session.

As I studied, I found there to be a little bit of overlap with my mechanical knowledge, (eg. trusses, some structural loading, and some fluids) but the majority of topics were completely foreign to me. That said, math is math, and if you have an engineer's mindset, you can apply that to solve anything. 

While it likely would have been much easier for me to study for and pass the mechanical PE, I'm glad I opted for the Civil. I'm still an ME at heart, but my career for the foreseeable future will be in the Civil field, so it just felt more appropriate for me to take the test in the discipline in which I currently practice.

The resources I ended up using were:

1. A heavily tabbed CERM (15th edition)

2. The NCEES Water & Enviro practice exam

3. Engineering Unit Conversions (GET THIS BOOK!!!)

4. Goswami's All-In-One reference book (used during studying only, did not open during the test)

5. Goswami's practice exams (I think 4 of them)

6. Six-Minute-Solutions exam for Water & Enviro (used sparingly, found the problems to take much longer than 6 min)

7. 2 or 3 other random practice exams

I have a full time job, a wife, and 2 young children. The best piece of advice I could give is to embark upon this endeavor BEFORE kids come along. I found myself struggling trying to alternate between study time and family time. For me, I need a solid 3-4 hr period to really be able to absorb material. It can be tough to find that kind of time on a regular basis when there are small children in the house. This is one of the reasons I would have cried had I not passed the test - I just did not want to invest that kind of time all over again while neglecting my family in the process.

Anyway - now I'm in the unique position of having a PE, but not having enough experience in my field to advance. The position on the next higher ladder rung at my work requires a PE and 4 years of related experience, as do similar positions at other companies. I guess I'll be one of the few individuals who won't see a financial benefit to obtaining their PE in the short term. I have no issues putting in the time though, and in the long run - it will certainly pay off.

Right now, I'm just very thankful for having passed the hardest test of my life!!!
Thank you.  This is the post I'm looking for.  I'm taking the EET Breadth and WRE Depth course right now, but I've been wondering what to bring with me when I take the test.  Thanks again.

 

utilityeng

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
78
Reaction score
23
Location
Tampa, FL
Thank you.  This is the post I'm looking for.  I'm taking the EET Breadth and WRE Depth course right now, but I've been wondering what to bring with me when I take the test.  Thanks again.
You're very welcome! 

From what I understand about EET, the binders they provide are pretty comprehensive, so you may not need much else. Couldn't hurt to familiarize yourself with the CERM though. I'm not sure if EET has a units conversion section in their binders. If not, I HIGHLY recommend getting the Engineering Units Conversion book. Since time can be such a huge factor during the test, I had my copy spiral bound, I alphabetically tabbed each section, and I highlighted all of the common conversions I found myself using over and over during studying.

Here's a pic of what mine looked like. I actually had all of my books except for the CERM spiral bound so they could easily stay open to a certain page.

 


 
Top