Three Es & Statistics: Journey to Become a P.E.
By Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., F-NSPE
Quite often engineering students ask us why engineering graduates with engineering degrees need licensure to practice. The answer is quite simple: to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. To ensure the protection, the practice of engineering has been entrusted by various governmental entities only to those persons duly licensed and registered. To become a licensed Professional Engineer, commonly called the three Es: approved Education, appropriate Experience, and Examination is required.
For the last five articles of Dr. Z’s Corner, we focused on the PE exams to answer some of our readers’ questions – mostly senior engineering stu-dents. This month, we will talk about the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exams and provide some basic facts and statistics.
- The FE exams are designed for recent graduates and students who are close to completing an undergraduate degree in engineering.
- Passing the FE exam is an important first step in the engineering licensure process.
- The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) administers the FE exam throughout the year, during the months of January, February, April, May, July, August, October, and November.
- NCEES policy allows an examinee to take the FE exam once during a two-month window, and no more than three times during a twelve-month period.
- NCEES is a national nonprofit organization composed of engineering and surveying licensing boards representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many schools realize that engineering positions at all levels of industry and government increasingly require licensure and because of that, they promote the benefits of licensure to their students and encourage their students to take the FE exam.
According to the American Society for Engineering Education:
- The total number of engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2013 was 93,360, and among those, the total number of FE exam takers was about 50%, or about 45,362.
- The pass rate of all first-time FE exam takers was about 70%.
- The total number of the first time takers with EAC/ABET Bachelor’s Civil Engineering degrees in the same year was about 9,650, with the pass rate of 72%.
- There were 3,180 repeat takers, with a pass rate of 31%.
- The average age of FE exam takers was about 27.5 in 2010, while in 2014 the average age of the FE exam takers dropped to 25.
The FE exam fee is about $225. It consists of 110 questions, and you have 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete the entire exam. The latest version of the appropriate NCEES Reference Handbook (Currently version 9.3, Computer Based Test) will be supplied onscreen as a searchable PDF. All NCEES examinees will use a 24-inch monitor while testing to allow sufficient space to display both the exam question and the reference handbook.
Those preparing for the FE exam are strongly advised to use a self-study approach and review subject areas with which you are familiar or you know best. This will give you more time and build your confidence. For many students, reviewing the problems given in the NCS archives for “Dr. Z’s Corner” monthly articles was very helpful (available on our website).
As we always remind our readers, FE is a very fast-paced exam and you will have little time to look up information. Knowing the locations of the various formulas in the FE Reference Handbook is a crucial time saver. Also, remember to consider reverse engineering the problems by substituting the answers and seeing which one works. To help prepare for the exam, Click Here for this month’s problem set.
As we always advise, stay relaxed and confident. Keep a good attitude and remind yourself that you are going to do your best!
Until next time,
Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., (Dr. Z.)
Editor’s note: All of the past problem sets are available on our website.