Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer and author living in Washington, D.C. Since joining academia, "Dr. Z", as he is known by his students and colleagues, has distinguished himself on campus and beyond. He is passionate about engineering, gifted in teaching, and a true champion for professional licensure. Dr. Z. has extraordinarily high standards; has produced award-winning designs; is prolific in professional service; and infects others with these same values. He is the recipient of numerous local, regional and national awards, including the recent national award, “Excellence in Engineering Education-2015” from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly technical articles here for ASCE-NCS and his column is titled "Dr. Z’s Corner." Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch!

Dr. Z's Corner

Dr. Z’s Corner (201603)

You Finally Are Ready To Take the Exam:
Now What Do You Do?




To answer many of our new readers’ questions, today we would like to review all the basics for the first time FE exam takers and tell you step-by-step what to do before the exam and during the exam day morning.

As you may know, The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) develops and scores the FE, PE, and SE exams for engineering licensure. The FE Exam is the first step in the arduous process leading to obtaining a Professional Engineering (PE) license and it is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing their undergraduate degrees.

How do you register for the FE exam?

If you are ready to take the FE exam first time, do the following to register:

  • Visit the NCEES website at www.ncees.org
  • Click on the exam tab in the menu,
  • Select your state or foreign entity from the drop-down list,
  • Follow all the instructions to get approval to sit for the exam,
  • Create an account with NCEES and register before the deadline,
  • Pay the exam fee required in your state or territory,

Once you complete all the above, then wait for the confirmation email.

What do you do on the morning of the exam?

Once your registration is approved, you will receive an email notification that you have been authorized to take the exam and are eligible to schedule your exam appointment. FE tests are computer based tests and offered in testing windows throughout the year during January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November.

When approaching the FE Exam for the first time, it is natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. The best way to build your confidence is to prepare for the test (visit this month’s problem set) and to know the ins and outs of the test.

Once you register and know your exam date, we suggest you arrive at the testing center 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. Upon arrival:

  • A representative will provide you with a copy of NCEES-CBT (Computer Based Test) rules for your review.
  • After reviewing, provide your digital signature to confirm that you have read the rules and agreed to abide by them.
  • You will need to provide a current government issued identification (such as a driver’s license).
  • Once the representative confirmed your identification and the exam that you are taking, you will be asked to provide palm vein scan and have your photo taken.

Prior to being admitted into the testing room, a representative will confirm that the only NCEES-allowed items with you in the testing room. These include your ID, an NCEES-approved calculator and eyeglasses. Most test centers have secure storage lockers on site for you to store prohibited items such as cell phones, other electronic devices, and personal belongings (e.g., wallet and bag).

Once you complete the check in process, report to an exam proctor who will confirm your ID through a palm vein scan. The proctor will then provide with you with a reusable booklet and marker for scratch work, review the exam rules, and escort you to the exam room and assigned workstation, and launch the exam.

Before starting your exam, all examinees are required to read and agree to the NCEES’ non-disclosure agreement and complete a brief tutorial to learn how to ADVANCE to the next item, RETURN to a previous item and FLAG items for review.

After completing approximately 55 questions, examinees will be prompted on screen with the option to take a 25-minute break. Examinees who wish to take the scheduled break should raise their hands and wait for the prompter tor assistance. Unscheduled breaks may be requested at any time during the exam by following the same procedure. However, be aware that the clock will not stop during an unscheduled break.

After completing the exam and a brief survey, you should raise your hands and proctor will verify that you had properly exited from exam, escort you from testing room, and collect your booklet and marker. You will receive an email from NCEES within 7 to 10 days notifying you that your results are available for viewing in your MYNCEES account.

Remember during the FE exam, timing is everything and that is why you must have a game plan and a wristwatch. All the best!

Until next time,

Ahmet Zeytinci, PE

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Dr. Z is our March 2016 NCS Centennial Engineer of the Month! Read his interview in the newsletter.



Dr. Z’s Corner (201602)

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words:
Demystifying the Shear Force and Bending Moment Diagrams

By Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., F-NSPE



It is no secret that I received all my degrees from Istanbul Technical University (ITU), founded in 1773. ITU is one of the premier engineering schools in Europe, and back in the early 1970s, we had about 150 full-time faculty members and support staff in our Civil Engineering department. For my doctoral research, I was working on a highly mathematical problem on vibrations of plates and one of my Ph.D. advisors was a professor who worked with the well-known scientist Richard Edler von Mises at Harvard University while completing his PhD. Some of my readers may also remember von Mises who defined the yield criterion that suggests that the yielding of materials begins when the second deviatoric stress invariant J2 reaches a critical value. As I reflect on my 40-year career in structural engineering, it is remarkable to see how the landscape has changed, while some knowledge and educational tools that I learned from my mentors are priceless and I use them in my classes every day. Today we will focus on shear force (V) and bending moment (M) diagrams. Many students struggle when they try to draw their first shear and moment diagrams.

In structural engineering, we are interested in the analysis and design of beams or structural members supporting concentrated and/or distributed loads that are mostly perpendicular to the axis of the members. In practice, beams are usually long, straight, and prismatic and such transverse loadings would cause only bending and shear forces. When the loads are not perpendicular to the member, they also produce axial forces as well. The concentrated loads may be expressed in newtons (N), pounds (lb), or their multiples, kilonewtons (kN) or kips. Distributed loads are generally expressed in N/m, kN/m, lb/ft or kips/ft. A shear force diagram (V) is a graph in which the abscissa (horizontal reference axis) represents distances along the beam length, and the ordinates (vertical measurements) represent the transverse shear at the corresponding beam section. A moment diagram (M) is a graph in which the abscissa represents distances along the beam and the ordinates represent the bending moment at the corresponding sections. Shear and moment diagrams can be drawn by calculating values of shear and moment at various sections along the beam and plotting enough points to obtain a smooth curve. Such a procedure is rather impractical and time consuming.

Right at this point, I remember my Ph.D. advisor’s words, “A well-drawn (V) and (M) diagram is like ‘poetry’ for some of us and you have to feel them without doing any number crunching.” My colleague Vagelis did just that for our readers and prepared a dozen beautiful diagrams using his well-known software, Beam-2D as shown in the Problem Section this month.

For the sign conventions, positive moment generates a curvature that tends to hold water (concave-upward curvature) or moment creating tension in bottom fibers of beam, whereas negative moment causes curvature that sheds water (concave-downward curvature). For the sign of shear, positive shear is the upward shear to left. This is a standardized and universally accepted convention. Because the convention is related to the probable deflected shape of the beam for a prescribed loading condition, it may be helpful to intuitively sketch the beam’s deflected shape to help in determining the appropriate signs. With the aid of such diagrams, the magnitudes and locations of various important quantities like Mmax become immediately apparent. The maximum moment Mmax occurs at places where shear = 0 or V changes sign. It is convenient to draw these diagrams directly below the free-body diagram of the beam using the same horizontal scale. Why these diagrams are so important? Because by using these diagrams, an engineer can see, at a glance, the performance requirements of a structural member at every section.

Finally, we have to remind our readers that FE and PE are very fast-paced exams and you will have little time to look up information. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your reference material and begin with the subject areas you know best. This will give you more time and build your confidence.

Most importantly, stay relaxed and confident. Always keep a good attitude and remind yourself that you are going to do your best!

Until next time,

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E.

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