[LMB] Education OT:

Bart Kemper bkemper at bigdogz.com
Mon, 04 Feb 2002 12:28:30 -0600

 > Subject: Re: [LMB] OT:Multiple-Guess :-) was: Education From:
 > J-Mag Guthrie <j-mag at brokersys.com>
K Kuhn wrote:
 >> As a possible data point - one of the guys in my office now
 >> has passed three PE tests - one in mechanical (what he got
 >> his degree in), one in environmental (what he's been doing
 >> for the last 20 years) and one in nuclear (he thought it
 >> would be interesting to see how badly he did, so he picked up
 >>  a reference book, studied it - and passed the PE for nuclear
 >>  engineering.  Fortunately, he doesn't intend to go into consulting
 >>  work designing nuclear reactors.
 > Is it true that one has to have the recommendation of a PE and
 > 5+ years of experience to sit for the PE exams?  I heard that
 > somewhere.

In order to be allowed to take the Professional Engineer exam, you 
must have[1]:

1.  Graduated from a program accredited engineering or engineering 
tech program.
2.  Passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.  (8 hours of closed 
book joy...you get an issued sheet with constants and formulae, that it)
3.  Have worked *under the supervision of a PE* for three-five 
years, depending on the state and whether you have advanced degrees.
4.  Submit a *detailed* work history that documents the nature and 
scope of work, how many supervised, degree of responsibility, etc. 
The intent is to determine if you are working in a technical job 
(not sales, forex) and that you are progressing to the point where 
you can take the test.
5.  Have the recommendations of 5 people, 3 of which must be PE's 
and have direct knowledge of your work.  They should be different 
than the person who was supervising you.

After you've satisfied these requirements, you may attempt the test. 
  On the test you check whether this is your first, second, third, 
forth, fifth or more attempt.  Mech engineers average around 25% 
passing (the exam is as broad as the field, whereas most work in 
narrower bands).  Civils are around 60-70%.  I'm not up on the other 
fields off hand.  Structural I and II exams are in *addition* to 
being a PE and have pass rates around 20-25%

Once you pass the exam you can be a Professional Engineer, allowing 
you to offer engineering services independently as well as the the 
official "in charge" of a project within a company.  The PE puts his 
stamp on drawings and reports...and if something happens, they look 
to him.  As a PE you are responsible to the state for public safety 
above all concerns, including the person paying your check.  This is 
why industry and the gov't doesn't always support professional 
licensing--you don't even have to invoke "whistleblower" protection 
to stop a project or report unsafe decisions.

If you want to get a license in another state, you have to do 
EVERYTHING again except pass the exam.  A real pain in the butt.

[1]  I'm basing these requirements on Louisiana, which have some of 
the more stringent requirements.  However, the only variable these 
days in the number of years of working for a PE and perhaps how many 
of the references must be PE's.  I'm also basing the passing rates 
on the number I hear locally.  Results may vary.  Objects may be 
closer than they appear.  Rinse twice.

Bart Kemper, PE  and Crazed Inventor
President, Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louisiana Engineer Society (a 
state chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers)

who passed the exam on the second try

and thinks PE should stand for "P**sed off Engineer" as a complement 
to the "Mad Scientist."