Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer, author and mentor 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 is 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 recent national awards from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly articles for “Dr.Z’s Corner “ and offering hundreds of engineering problems, for free, every month for students, engineers and engineering educators worldwide. Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the greater Washington metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch! Starbucks coffee is always a must have for Dr. Z.

Best Advice from Dr. Z. to Engineering Students: Take the F.E. Exam While You’re Still in College

For students and educators, January means the beginning of the Spring semester. Our colleagues and friends know that we truly enjoy being an “Engineering Educator” since we are continuously working with young minds, inspiring, motivating and most importantly educating them to become our future engineers.

Quite often, our readers and engineering students ask us for advice to become a competent civil engineer. And the best advice to them is to set goals, work hard and most importantly, take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam before you graduate. Last year, almost half our civil engineering students took and passed their FE exams on their first attempt, while they were in school. Of course, all of them received job-offer letters from well-known engineering firms after taking their first interviews.

For this month’s ASCE-NCS, Dr.Z’s Corner article, I’ve decided to share the success story of Maksim Bahdanovich, a civil engineering student from Belarus. Currently he is a senior engineering student at UDC. He just conquered the formidable FE exam before graduation. I hope our readers will enjoy reading Maksim’s interesting story:

Dear Dr. Zeytinci,

I was born and raised in Brest, Belarus. When I was a kid I fell in love with math. I was receiving a lot of joy from solving simple math problems, it really made me feel smart. As a result, I became really good at it. I passed math and physics exams and entered one of the best schools in my hometown. Throughout my high school education, I won many prizes at Olympiads in mathematics and physics. Because of my achievements, some universities from Belarus and Russia reached out to me with scholarship offers. However, I decided to try to enroll into a University in the United States so that I could continue my tennis career and engineering education.

I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old. I played for the regional tennis team and took part in many national and European tournaments. My achievements helped me to become a member of the Men’s Tennis team at the University of the District of Columbia and to receive a good scholarship. During my tennis career, I have learned so many things that help me succeed in my personal life as well. I learned a lot about the benefits of a healthy diet and gained strong willpower.

My father is a very respected Civil Engineer with years and years of experience. He has been managing multi-million-dollar projects of major construction companies in Europe and Asia. Quite often my father took me to the construction sites and taught me about various construction materials and processes. I really liked what he was doing, that is why I decided to become a Civil Engineer.

In August of 2018, I came to Washington, D.C. and started my college education receiving a full scholarship at the University of the District of Columbia. As an international student it was not easy for me to study at the beginning. However, with the support of my teachers, coaches, teammates and friends, I was able to adapt relatively fast. My analytical thinking and learning skills also helped me to understand the material and get good grades throughout my undergraduate education.

All of my professors at the University of the District of Columbia, Civil Engineering department, continuously reminded me that the first step to becoming a good civil engineer is to conquer the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. That is why I’ve decided to work hard and pass the FE exam before I graduate.

As soon as I started my senior year, I was preparing for the FE exam and solving all the problems published at ASCE-NCS, Dr. Z’s CORNER. I also covered several classes that I had not yet taken at school myself, and successfully passed my FE exam in November of 2021. That was great news for me and for my family. Years of hard work paid off.

I really value the knowledge I gained at the University of the District of Columbia. After graduation, I want to work as a civil engineer and get some experience in the office and the field.

Thank you, Dr. Z., for all the help. I can’t wait to send you the “good news” after I also pass my Professional Engineering (PE) exam!

– Maksim Bahdanovich,
UDC-Senior Civil Engineering Student

Finally, as always, we have to remind our readers that FE and PE exams are very fast paced exams and you will have little time to look up information. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your NCEES-FE Reference Handbook, Version 10.1 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. During the exam, 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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