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Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

  • 1.  Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-09-2019 10:14

    My research into the history of U.S. engineering led me to the realization that less than half of civil engineering graduates are PEs. I hope to start a sharing of views and experiences about working as an unlicensed civil engineer in a licensure exemption organization.

     

    Full disclosure: I do not believe that all engineering graduates, regardless of their highest degree, should be licensed. Engineers, CEs and others, who chose to forego licensure can fulfill many other varied and useful roles, such as:

    • Perform mostly technical work indefinitely under the supervision of licensed engineers
    • Teach primarily engineering science courses in contrast with engineering design and practice offerings
    • Conduct research and development within or outside of academia
    • Market engineering services or engineered products
    • Start an engineering business that produces a product not subject to current laws or rules requiring engineering licensure
    • Start a non-engineering business utilizing science, analysis, and design knowledge and skills acquired during undergraduate engineering studies
    • Move on to medicine, law, or some other professional program outside of engineering, after earning a baccalaureate degree in engineering

    The preceding options aside, many unlicensed engineers, including unlicensed civil engineers, work for industries, manufacturers, utilities, government entities, and other organizations operating under state and territory licensure exemption laws. I recently developed a deeper and broader view of how personally debilitating, for engineers, and seriously damaging, for society, engineering licensure exemption cultures can be. Notice that I said "can."

    More specifically, up to 80 percent of the U.S. engineering community is practicing in situations where, very often, engineering ethics codes don't apply or are weakly administered and too many engineering decisions are made by "management" whose primary focus is the bottom line. Those engineers frequently work in environments where engineering is performed without the guidance of a competent and accountable licensed engineers whose paramount responsibility is public protection. In my view, this falls embarrassingly and frighteningly short of where engineering should be, given its potential for positive and negative impacts on the public. That is not how a profession functions.

     

    If you have foregone licensure and worked for a licensure exemption business, please consider sharing your positive and/or negative experiences. I am also interested in knowing when and why you choose the non-licensure option.

     

    Thank you.

     



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-13-2019 11:21
    Great topic Dr. Walesh,
    I agree with everything you've said in your post. I advocate for engineering licensure as necessary for society but like you, I also believe non-licensed engineers can be very successful. I love engineering - all disciplines! One of my downfalls has been has been that I'm interested in just about anything complex. I'm good at understanding how things work and how to build a concept from scratch! I tend to see things from a different perspective and can break down complexity quickly. This has led me to an engineering management career as opposed to an engineering specialist. I chose not to pursue the PE because my interests spanned creative design, installation, project and program management, finance and legal issues -I didn't need a license for any of those. Just this week, in various meetings, I've been referred to (by laypersons without a clue as to the distinctions) as an architect, an engineer, a finance planner, and a strategy consultant - smh. I was thinking about those awkward introductions as I lie in bed last night and was wishing I could pick up the phone and call the Industrial engineer turned famed GE business executive Lee Iacocca and ask him how he dealt with it. There are some incredibly smart licensed PE's out there - much smarter than me - but where I excel may be an area where some technical geniuses struggle. From time to time, I've felt as some PE's act like the PE is a "club" to which I will never belong; both in academia and in industry. And that somehow discounts my contribution, perspective, suggestions, or even my whole career or education. As an example, when working out some difficult issues on a steel detail, I was told by the PE that his opinion was the only one that mattered in court and therefore didn't care what anyone else thought. Thankfully I've never worked with that PE again.

    As I get older, I find my self wondering about my legacy. Over the past summer I've been reading bio's of Christoper Wren, DiVinci, and a few others. History holds these people as Architects, Engineers, Scientists, and Artists even though none of them have gone through the educational or regulatory gauntlet that exists today to hold such titles. I see a distinction between the philosophical idea of an engineer and the legal perspective for public safety. Like everything in life, the balance lies somewhere in between the extremes.


    ------------------------------
    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-14-2019 09:43
    Jesse:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and ideas -- they have strengthened my bulleted list of examples of career directions that could be taken by engineers that choose not to pursue licensure.

    You mentioned biographies. I read this biography of engineer Arthur Morgan decades ago:

    Leuba, C. J. 1971. A Road to Creativity – Arthur Morgan – Engineer, Educator, Administrator, North Quincy, MA: Christopher Publishing House.

    He "did it all" -- started his own firm, revolutionized Minnesota drainage laws, created the Miami Conservancy District with its detention reservoirs, helped found the TVA, and served as a college president.

    Stu

     



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-31-2019 13:37
    @Stuart Walesh Thank you for the suggested reading. I will most certainly pick that up. From what I've just read via a brief online perusal he seems a fascinating character. I love hearing about individuals that carve their own paths within their interests.

    Everyone - I've thoroughly enjoyed this discussions. Please keep them coming. Your comments have produced many ideas (at least in my own head) towards a better system of safety and ethics within US engineering while also celebrating the spirit of "just do-it" that humanity throughout the ages has embraced. I believe there is a balance and I look forward to working to advance the profession with you.

    ------------------------------
    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-13-2019 12:49

    Dear Colleagues:

    I agree with much of what Stuart has said.  I would also add that many academics are looking or expect exemptions from licensure. For most states, PhDs are exempt from taking the FE exam.  In many cases, these applicants do not have an undergraduate engineering degree from an ABET accredited engineering program, but complete PhD in engineering (i.e., mainly research oriented degrees).  Research degrees do not necessarily give an individual a foundation in engineering. Academic institutions do not require all PhD candidates to complete basic coursework in engineering. So, the professions end up with PhDs with PEs who may not be as well prepared to practice engineering, in some cases, not qualified to practice engineering altogether.  There are other cases, where PhDs have acquired their undergraduate engineering degrees from overseas and from non-ABET accredited engineering programs.  These programs often do not have the rigor of American based engineering programs.  Some of them are political degrees. 

    To add insult to injury, ASCE for the last decade or more, has promoted this Body of Knowledge that include acquiring a master's degree before an individual can obtain a PE license.   I agree with this concept, except that many of the professors who will teach these courses are not PE, themselves.  I also know PhDs who have failed the PP exam but teach and conduct research.  So, PEs will be taught by non-PEs in advanced areas of engineering.  So, what will they be taught; how to be research engineers? Something is amiss. Research is most often theoretical and not very practical. Typically, it is unproven. PE's need advanced engineering knowledge including methods and procedures that have been validated and proven. We really need to be taught this by other PE's (who have completed all their exam requirements).  When we look at other professions such as the medical field, we find that medical doctors are taught by medical doctors, not PhDs.  Although some may have a PhD, they also have MDs.  If you are sick you go to a practitioner, an MD, not a researcher. In the law profession, lawyers who hold JDs are taught by other JDs, not researchers.  But for some strange reason, engineers are taught by non-practitioners, non-PEs. Again, something is amiss.  It is sometimes hard to take ASCE seriously when they talk about raising the bar. Are they raising the bar?

    Personally, I completed my PE before my PhD, therefore, I completed both exams plus a law/ethics exam.  I have worked overseas in an academic and administrative capacity, so I have seen a lot of PhD applicants to civil engineering programs.

    Finally, I would say that most exemptions for licensure do not protect the public.



    ------------------------------
    Mark J. Vanarelli, PhD, PE, PG, BCEE, D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Adjunct Professor/Colorado School of Mines and
    Former Department Head of Civil Engineering & Associate Professor
    University of Kurdistan Hewler
    Broomfield CO, USA
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-14-2019 11:59
    An interesting discussion.

    As background before I weigh in, I spent the first 25 years of my career as a practicing engineering.  The majority of this as a USAF civil engineering officers where PE registration was not required. My professional engineering career did also include significant time in the private sector where registration was essential.  For the past 15 years I have been a full-time academic and done some consulting.  I'm currently registered in CO, CA & TX.  I have taught a professional practices class, which includes a section on professional registration, for the past 15 years.

    I agree that there are many professional roles for engineers.  I would venture to guess that most do not require professional registration.

    One thing that is critical to understanding this situation is that PE registration is under the jurisdiction of the States, not the federal government.  We have, therefore, 50+ different interpretations of what is required for professional registration and of registered engineers.  Additionally, the interstate commerce clause of the constitution prevents states from requiring the design of a device built in state A to be reviewed and approved by an engineer registered in state B.  This is why you will find no PE stamps on the designs for automobile parts, for example.  This is also why the majority of registered engineers work in the civil construction industry.  Because civil works are by their nature fixed in the jurisdiction of a specific state, that state has the ability to regulate who designs and constructs the facility.  No so with, cars, medical equipment, computer software . . .  The vast majority of engineers pursue professional registration because it is in their financial interest to do so.  While ethics, professionalism, and prestige are part of the motivation, fiscal interests really drive registration numbers.  For example, the current numbers for active PE license holders in California (which documents registration by discipline) are:
    • Civil Engineering: 57,320
    • Mechanical Engineering: 15,323
    • Electrical Engineering: 10,283

    Now there are almost certainly many more electrical and mechanical engineers working professionally in California than civil engineers.  However, the only EE and ME professionals who really need registration are those working in the facilities design and construction business, or other areas (such as litigation) where there's either an express requirement for registration or other strong incentive.  This is not to say that engineers working in the aerospace business, for example, are any less professional or ethical than those working in the civil/infrastructure/construction business.  Outside of the civil/infrastructure/construction business (where state laws have jurisdiction) the quality and ethics of design professionals is supported by professional certifications from organizations such at SAE, AIAA, AIA, ASHRAE, EPRI, etc.  So it's not really fair to expect engineers to pursue professional registration where it's not legally required and there's no monetary benefit.

    Concerning registration of engineering faculty, I believe Mark is wrong in stating PhDs are exempt from taking the FE exam.  That's not true for CA or TX, and I just briefly reviewed the CO statute and I didn't see any such exemption.  (Almost all states have some sort of alternative qualification path which usually require extensive experience, but none of these are tied to having a PhD, as far as I know.) The balance of researchers versus practitioners in academia is an issue.  The business of higher education is not well aligned to support the hiring and advancement of practicing professionals.  For research institutions the finances are driven by acquiring research funding.  For teaching institutions, the finances are driven by the number of student taught.  It is extremely hard to find a PhD who has the professional practice experience to qualify for registration in most states.  People like Mark any myself who came to academia after extensive professional practice careers are few and far between.  We can't expect most faculty to have extensive professional practice experience unless and until we're willing to change the model to something like the medical school model, where most faculty are working professionals who also teach.  (I'd love to pursue such a model.)
    In fact, I can make the case that it would be detrimental to require all faculty to hold professional registration.  I know a number engineering faculty who's background started in the sciences.  They are invaluable members of their departments and the diversity they bring to engineering education is powerful.

    Finally, I'd like to point out that professional registration is not guarantor of either professional competence or ethical behavior.  It is, by it's nature, a minimum standard.  If you think it inoculates engineers against unethical practice, just do a quick check of the enforcement actions in your state and you'll be quickly disabused of this notion.

    I'll close by saying I'm proud to be a registered professional engineer.  I encourage my faculty and students to pursue professional registration.  But it's not the path for all.  There are plenty of fulfilling engineering careers where professional registration is neither required nor beneficial.

    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-15-2019 10:31
    William:

    Thank you for your comments, including the information about interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.

    I have a very different view regarding what you said about licensure not inoculating engineers "against unethical practice." Yes, some PEs are unethical.

    Somewhat like you, I worked eight years for a consulting firm (led and staffed by PEs) and am in my 20 th year as a consultant to such firms. As a former academic, like you, I give the leaders and members of those firms at least a B+ in ethical behavior.

    I am studying engineering disasters, including the following involving licensure exemption companies: Ford Pinto, Space Shuttle Challenger, General Motors Ignition Switch, Deep Water Horizon, amusement rides, and Merrimack Valley. These investigations reveal characteristics of some exemption cultures such as: engineering decisions made by bottom-line managers, not engineers; extreme attempts to justify production of known flawed products; ignoring the warnings of concerned engineers; the ability of engineers and others to know the company was selling a dangerous product but not take corrective action; rank amateurs designing critical devices; and outright incompetence.

    That exemption culture can emasculate individual engineers and escalate the public risk.

    No grade yet, but far below B+

     






    Stuart G. Walesh, Ph.D., P.E.
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    Tel: 941-460-6323
    Cell: 219-242-1704
    Website: www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    www.linkedin.com/in/stuwalesh






  • 8.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-16-2019 08:27
    Stuart,
       I didn't realize until I started studying PE licensure for my Professional Practice class why there were so few non-CE practitioners pursuing PE registration.  Licensure laws came into being after CE failures resulting in major fatalities, in particular dam and building failures.  Since these projects were all confined to state boundaries, state laws were effective in improving quality of engineering for such civil works.  However, this path will never be available for manufactured systems which are not confined to a single state jurisdiction.  This would require national, or even international statutes.  I wouldn't use the term licensure exempt companies for the designers of these systems.  It's not that they're exempt from licensure, it just that the state by state system doesn't apply in their world.  I think the most fruitful avenue for continued quality improvement in these arenas is in certifications by professional organizations.  The medical profession does this fairly well through board certifications.  Medical licensure, like engineering licensure, is a state function.  However, the board certifications are national (maybe even international in some cases).

      You should add the Boeing 737 Max failures to your list.  Would be a very interesting case history.  It occurred in a very highly regulated industry.  Software was a key part of the failure.

    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-17-2019 08:45

    William:

    Thank you for the additional info/ideas.

    Board certifications: As you may know, ASCE is taking the route you suggest. This year, they officially abandoned their almost two-decade initiative to broaden and deepen the education required for licensure and move to a civil engineering-centric credentialing approach.

    Boeing 737 MAX failures: I am tracking this case and waiting for more NTSB results. They do an amazing job of analyzing disasters, including causes, and making useful recommendations.

    Regarding Boeing, last month the FAA informed Boeing that the company will cease inspecting its own aircraft – FAA will conduct the inspections. The new approach will apply until the FAA "is confident that, at minimum, Boeing has a fully functional quality control and verification processes in place; delivery processes are similarly functional and stable; and Boeing's 737 MAX compliance, design, and production processes meet all regulatory standards and conditions for delegation and ensure the safety of the public."   

    This action seems to provide an opportunity for FAA to require that design and other engineering functions be under the guidance and with the approval of accountable, competent, and licensed engineers whose paramount responsibility is public protection.

    Do you know if FAA has such authority? Can it over-ride state licensure laws? Has it ever done so?

    A search of the FAA website did not answer my question.

    Stu

     



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-18-2019 16:56
    Stu,
      In regard to ASCEs abandoning increase licensure requirements and moving toward board certifications, my understanding is that was significant push back on increasing licensure requirements from two directions: 1) non-CE engineering societies especially ASME, and 2) industry, including our own A&E and construction industry.  The opposition was so strong it was clear that battle could not be won.  If you want more factual info on this you should contact some of the original Raise-the-Bar initiative committee members.

      I'm not a lawyer so I can't comment on federal versus state jurisdiction in the Boeing 737 case.  That's a legal battle that has been going on in many venues since the signing of the constitution and looks like it will always be a point of tension.


    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-16-2019 08:31
    Stuart (and all):
    This is a great discussion topic and very timely. In case you aren't following it, all engineers should be following what is going on in the state legislatures. While nothing has passed yet, there is a movement that says that licensure is a barrier to free market operations. These groups are effectively stating that the free market will weed out the bad/unethical engineers, but I would ask at what cost?

    https://www.nspe.org/resources/issues-and-advocacy/action-issues/threats-professional-licensure/state-list

    A week ago, I was in Reston where the discussion of the CEBOK 3 was discussed. First, if you read BOK3, there are several great tables that highlight the mixture of education and mentored experience. The question that ASCE and I (as an educator) have is what does it take to prepare an engineer of the future, especially in light of the fact that many state legislatures are pushing to have all BS degrees have no more than 120 credit hours. What depth and breadth of knowledge does a student need in order to be a competent professional in 2030 or 2040 or, for those graduates leaving this year, 2070? In this era of computer modeling, integrating the clients and end users into the design process, and need for sustainable and resilient deisgns, is the Body of Knowledge for a practicing engineer, especially a licensed practicing engineer, much greater than it was when we were all in school? Many of our local firms think so, especially in the area of water and wastewater treatment. In the undergraduate curricula, we don't have time to do more than introduce kinetics-based design for wastewater treatment, especially since our CE degree only requires 1 semester of chemistry and no biology/microbiology. So several companies are sending their employees back for a graduate education. The integration of new materials in structural design also is showing the deficiencies of our current undergraduate education. I personally don't think that anywhere in a traditional CE curriculum do we talk about the cities of the future and smart design.

    Second, ASCE is no longer pushing for a change in licensure, but they are concerned that engineers of the future are going to need to know more economics, social sciences, etc., to address the future changes, in addition to having a specialized depth of knowledge in their field.

    Back to your original question, we are seeing more cities and even smaller towns paying their engineers to come back and get a graduate degree to address the needs of new water regulations. They also are seeing this degree as a path to licensure and updating knowledge. Now that the CE FE exam has deleted much general engineering knowledge (no electrical, for example), the FE exam is no longer the barrier that it was, especially in this era of protecting public health. So I think, in some areas of the country, we will see municipal government be a smaller portion of the unregulated communities.

    Unfortunately, I don't think it is just the unlicensed community where problems exist in bad design. Dr. Blumberg (who has an undergraduate degree in engineering) studied these challenges and noted that it is more tied to corporate culture. Bad culture can exist in both the regulated and unregulated sector. https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/dlr108&div=16&g_sent=1&casa_token=gP8gTnWR1c8AAAAA:HeTIzCAFaCsDXa9xOAficf5R8H3Q-RNKhjQPNcGyyTtpHwAAXozjOpKCB4D3x8ddIqn2yCCo&collection=journals

    As my signature will highlight, I'm an academic with a PE. My undergraduate degree is in chemical engineering (it was the easiest degree to get). I tested under the Environmental PE exam, after years both in consulting and in academia - both experiences counted in terms of professional experience. People in academia can get meaningful engineering experience in academia, even when doing research. If you had ever seen some of the constructions that I had to do to build my research project, using my experience in plumbing and piping from both my undergraduate education and my field experience, you would see that I had to do design. I also was a project manager, specification writer, cost estimator, etc., as part of my Ph.D. degree. I had to analyze data, explain it to EPA, and write a guidance manual for EPA based on the data. This is not as unusual as it seems. Since then, in my 20 years in academia, I've had to design and build experimental apparatus, written contract specifications, managed budgets, supervised future engineers, provided expert witness, and taught engineering. So there is a portion of academia who have the experience to justify sitting for the PE. Also, please note that the PE exam only tests how well you can answer questions based on what's in the review books. It is a minimum level of calculational experience. It does NOT test engineering leadership.

    I have deviated from the original question, but I think that we need to be looking forward at what engineering is going to be AFTER we all retire. What we are today is not where this profession will be in 20 years. Engineering licensure is being attacked as a limit to free market values. That is the biggest challenge we have, immediately followed by modifying education and experience requirements to make sure that they reflect what the college freshman will need to know and be able to do at the time of licensure.

    Interesting discussion. I strongly suggest you follow the current discussions inside ASCE and provide your voice to the current discussion. Voices who can see the future and focus on where our profession needs to be in 30 - 50 years are needed.

    ------------------------------
    Shirley Clark Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, F.EWRI, M.ASCE
    Professor
    Penn State Harrisburg
    Middletown PA
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-17-2019 16:45

    William:

    Thanks for you feedback.  I have not looked at CA licensure exemptions for the FE exam for at least ten years, but that is what it was over a decade ago.  Perhaps, they changed it.  Once, I knew a PE with his PhD from California.  He did not have bachelor's degree in engineering but in geology.  He managed to get into Berkeley's civil engineering program. Berkeley at the time had a PhD civil program that functioned as an umbrella program for some sciences including engineering geology and geophysics. So, you can get a PhD in civil engineering at Berkeley and just be a geologist or geophysicist.  I saw him teach a course in statics and observed that he struggled to teach it.  Later, I sat in on one of his upper division, courses where he presented a problem but could not solve it, himself.  He was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in engineering which tells you a lot about academia. Tenure-track academics are normally given seven years to prove their value in academics.  They may be fired afterwards, but they are pay a good salary during this period. Nice system. Young engineers can be trained and educated by these people for several years before academia will acknowledge any deficiencies.   

    I was also recently told by a young academic who was looking to avoid the PE exams that the state of Wyoming has an exemption from all the exams for PhD holders. They will interview candidates for PE licensure and issue a license based on the results.  I am not sure how an interview can be used as a substitute for 16 hours of examination, but Wyoming does it.   I understand that there are no taxes in Wyoming and revenues are generated by fees.  I guess that they are now selling the PE license to PhD holders there.

    Why are there any exemptions for PhD holders?  I do not know.

    These exemptions are created by state laws.  Engineering boards are said to have some oversight but members to these boards are appointed politically.   It seems that professional societies have abrogated this responsibility.   

    It's great that we have national exams.  But they do not mean anything unless everyone takes it and has obtained supervised experience.

    Licensure exemptions seem to abound.   I am not sure if we will have a profession soon.

     



    ------------------------------
    Mark J. Vanarelli, PhD, PE, PG, BCEE, D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Adjunct Professor/Colorado School of Mines and
    Former Department Head of Civil Engineering & Associate Professor
    University of Kurdistan Hewler
    Broomfield CO, USA
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-16-2019 11:56
    Hi Stuart,

    Two additional engineering disasters involving licensure exception entities that you might investigate are 1) the failure of the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System during Hurricane Katrina and 2) the flooding of homes constructed in the Houston Addicks and Barker Reservoirs during Hurricane Harvey. Both of these disasters involved civil engineers and both could have been preventable or partially mitigated. I was living in the New Orleans area at the time of Katrina and keenly followed the subsequent investigations. I'm currently living in Houston where I'm following the Harvey investigations. By way of full disclosure I'm a PE and retired from a career in oil and gas working for a licensure exception company.

    Regards,
    Mitch Winkler





  • 14.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-17-2019 08:45
    Mitch:

    Thanks for the additional engineering disaster ideas.

    Because the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is one of my case studies, I have a question given your experience in that industry.

    BP was apparently operating under a licensure exemption. Was it given by one or more of the gulf states and/or by some other governmental entity?

    I understand that, for the U.S., the offshore oil wells are only allowed in the Gulf of Mexico and that there are hundreds of them.

    Stu




    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-17-2019 22:39

    Stu,

    Some specific answers to your questions follow below, but first some general comments on this thread. There have been two points in this discussion that really resonate with me.

    Shirley Clark writes "Unfortunately, I don't think it is just the unlicensed community where problems exist in bad design. Dr. Blumberg (who has an undergraduate degree in engineering) studied these challenges and noted that it is more tied to corporate culture. Bad culture can exist in both the regulated and unregulated sector."

    And William Kitch writes "Finally, I'd like to point out that professional registration is not guarantor of either professional competence or ethical behavior.  It is, by it's nature, a minimum standard.  If you think it inoculates engineers against unethical practice, just do a quick check of the enforcement actions in your state and you'll be quickly disabused of this notion."

    While not meaning to be dismissive of professional registration, one of its greatest values may be in the ethical awareness it creates and the reinforcement that occurs each year at renewal time. This has been true for me as a me as a PE. I know that I have a duty to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public and have the awareness to not work outside of my area of competency.

    If the desire is to achieve safe, functional, and time or cost-effective outcomes I think what's required is a combination of individuals possessing engineering competence and a strong ethical compass and organizations having an unwavering safety culture from top to bottom  and no tolerance for non-compliance. Also of vital importance is that safety is a shared value across all interfaces. When one of these things breaks down, is missing or ambiguous, the likelihood of an unwanted outcome is increased. It's a systems problem and the system is only as good as its weakest link. Note, I've used safety as a proxy for both people and the environment.

    With respect to your specific questions

    Oil and gas development in the US offshore falls under a combination of state and federal jurisdictions. The state zone extends from the coastline to 3 nm offshore and the federal zone outwards to 200 nm. Historically, exploration drilling activity has taken place in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific coast and Alaska. Active offshore producing wells today are in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore California, and Alaska (Cook Inlet and Beaufort Sea). At the time of the Macondo blow out and spill I don't believe there was a requirement for PE sign off on a well construction plan. This changed post-Macondo and the Feds instituted a new rule requiring certification signed by a registered professional engineer that the casing and cementing design is appropriate for the intended purpose and conditions. The number of wells drilled in the US offshore is in excess of 50,000.

    Mitch



    ------------------------------
    Mitchell Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-18-2019 08:38
    Mitchell:

    So much for believing what I read in the newspaper about off-shore oil drilling. Thank you for the facts.

    I just finished reading Blumberg's article, as suggested by Shirley Clark, and he stresses the influence of organizational culture in determining ethical behavior, or lack thereof. So far, my studies of engineering disasters increasingly reveal the power of culture. 

    Engineer Stephen E. Armstrong says "culture wields great power over what people consider permissible and appropriate ...The embedded beliefs, values, and behavior patterns carry tremendous weight. The culture sends its energy into every corner of the organization, influencing virtually everything." That definition expresses cultures complexity and power.   

    Which raises the question, how does an organization create its culture?

    Like you, and unlike William Kitch, I believe that engineering licensure is more than a set of minimums if, and that's a big IF, licensure's ethics responsibilities are held and consistently acted on by one or more PEs. They can create a public and environmental-protection culture in an engineering organization. Your fifth paragraph eloquently explains how. 

    I also am seeing how the licensure exemption environment, while supporting profitable businesses, often creates cultures that pose unnecessary public risks.  

    How do we reconcile profit in our capitalistic system, with all of its societal benefits, with protecting the public and the environment? The current almost omnipresent licensure exemption system is not the way -- "costs" too much.

    One more thought: I would like to briefly communicate with you offline. If OK, please email me at stu-walesh@....

    Thank you,

    Stu








    S tuart G. Walesh, Ph.D., P.E.

    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    Tel: 941-460-6323
    Cell: 219-242-1704
    Website: www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    www.linkedin.com/in/stuwalesh






  • 17.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-19-2019 11:05

    Great topic! Readers of this forum may be predominantly licensed engineers, making it difficult to gain insight here. I believe Jesse is the only respondent from the target group thus far. Still, there has been a lot of good discussion. This topic and similar ones are important and deserve more time and attention. 

    I believe that our profession would benefit if licensure was almost ubiquitous. Mitch stated the value of licensure well ("…one of its greatest values may be in the ethical awareness it creates and the reinforcement that occurs…"). Interestingly, many of the unlicensed Civil Engineers that I know are also not professionally active*; many treat their employment as a "job" as opposed to a "profession." The combination is not conducive to a culture of (also stolen from Mitch!) "… individuals possessing engineering competence and a strong ethical compass and organizations having an unwavering safety culture from top to bottom and no tolerance for non-compliance." (*Based solely on my anecdotal observations, this trend does not seem to hold as strongly for other engineering disciplines; I have no idea why.)

    With that in mind, why don't more engineers pursue licensure? I always encourage graduates to pursue licensure for their own benefit, not that of their employer. Benefits may not be obvious at first, but the increased opportunities are always good. Very few graduates from ABET accredited engineering programs would have difficulty passing the FE and PE exams if sufficiently motivated to prepare. Licensure fees are not prohibitive in the states I am licensed in. Continuing education requirements might seem ominous, but I don't think they really are. Maybe design experience requirements under a PE limit some? I have run across that a few times and occasionally provided supportive letters for licensure as someone who was familiar with the applicant's work, but not a direct supervisor. Still, I can't imagine this is a widespread barrier. I did run across a construction company once who prohibited their engineers from holding a license for liability reasons; I don't think that is common. I remain perplexed that so many forgo licensure when the potential benefits seem - to me - to greatly outweigh the costs. But, the numbers suggest that it it me who is in the dark; I am hopeful someone can shed some light so that we can identify - then hopefully remove - the barriers.

     BTW, my experience with licensure and academia contrasts strongly with what Mark describes; I hope my experiences are closer to the norm than his!

     Great discussion, Stu.

    Don



    ------------------------------
    Don Hayes, PhD, PE, BCEE, F.ASCE
    Research Environmental Engineer
    Engineer Research and Development Center

    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-19-2019 19:05

    Don:

    Thank you for sharing ideas and a big question: Why don't more engineers pursue licensure?

    Allow me to share an answer, for your and other's consideration, based on my studies.

    The short answer is that about 80 percent of engineering graduates work in that exemption environment where licensure is not required and is sometimes disparaged.

    Now for the long answer. Most aspiring engineers, as students, don't suddenly make a "no licensure" decision. They slip into it. They didn't realize that when they started to study engineering, especially in majors other than civil engineering, that their deans (only one-third licensed), instructors through professors (overall small percent licensed), curriculum, co-op/internship programs, summer jobs, and co-curricular activities were preparing them to work, as non-licensed engineer employees, in exemption organizations. They were recruited, taught, counseled, mentored, and influenced largely by members of the exemption community and spent four or more years in colleges whose principal client is that culture.

    Even once employed, some may not initially fully understand that their employer's zeal for profit will likely take precedence, big time, over public protection regardless of what many academics and practitioners frequently said about ethics. And, they may not realize that there are other ways to practice or be involved in engineering.

    If all graduate engineers working in the licensure exemption community had to do it over, now fully informed, many, if not most would probably go right back into that environment. It offers many advantages and disadvantages and many would find the former more compelling than the latter. I often hear energetic defenses of exemption laws.

    More bluntly, the licensure exemption world is where the majority of engineering jobs are, engineering colleges knowingly or unknowingly serve that world, and bottom-line oriented businesses determine the working conditions. It's all legal and understandable. In my view it is also very unfortunate because it causes unnecessary risk to the public. By the way, I love capitalism, but like Socrates said, in all things we should seek the "golden mean."

    My thoughts.

    Stu








    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-20-2019 13:20
    Dear Colleagues:

    I am in total agreement with Stu.  Well said.

    ------------------------------
    Mark Vanarelli Ph.D.,P.E.,P.G.,D.WRE,M.ASCE
    Adjunct Professor/Colorado School of Mines
    Former Department Head of Civil Engineering & Associate Professor
    University of Kurdistan Hewler

    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-21-2019 09:31
    Good morning, everyone. The contrarian is back to add her two cents' worth. This has been a great discussion, but I think that the problem is not just in the exempt areas.

    First, when I was applying for academic positions 20 years ago, most wanted a PE or the ability to be licensed as a PE. As noted in the ABET requirements, design classes must be taught by someone who can document professional design competency and the PE is the way to do it (or they must be supervised by someone who has that competency). This even applied to Research 1 campuses of large state systems.

    I chose to work at the 2nd largest campus in our system, not the Research 1 campus. My PE was almost a requirement because of ABET. I had it when I applied because I got it in the same year as my Ph.D.

    Also, many programs use the number of students passing the FE exam as an indirect measure of program quality when they submit their ABET reports, so at least in the last 10 - 15 years, the FE exam has risen in importance in the academic environment.

    So the academic universe is not solely responsible for the lack of PEs in the profession.

    Let's look at the timing of the PE for most people. Let's assume that most college graduates are 22-ish. And it is fair to assume that most will have taken their FE exam at least once by age 23. With 4 years of experience, that puts the PE candidates in their late 20s. From what I have seen for most BS graduates when they get out, they go work for companies and work in very specific areas. Maybe they design pump stations or clarifiers or a bridge deck. We live in a specialized world. They also tend to find their lives at that point. Many get married and start families.

    Now they've been out of studying for 4+ years, they have a family, they have an employer for whom this isn't important, and they are realizing that their specialized knowledge of bridge design or water treatment plants is the not the full breadth of what they'd have to relearn or learn to pass a PE exam. Even in for-profit companies, there is a $$ associated with every PE. It's the increased salary. It's the increased PDHs that someone has to pay for. So there is no motivation to have the non-motivated pursue a PE once a company has "enough" to fill the positions that require a PE.

    Since I supervise our graduate programs, I see a lot of my students take a semester off of their graduate students in order to study for the PE. It's not a trivial activity, especially for students that weren't great studiers in the first place. They need the semester to learn/refresh material outside of their work arena and it has to fit around the employer's work schedule. They don't get a lot of support except the day off to take the exam. In some cases, instead of seeing raises, we've seen the PE become a one-time bonus. So there is a limited amount of motivation.

    Just as an example of an employer that thought this was necessary but did it as a bonus, PennDOT several years ago thought they didn't have enough PEs and they offered bonuses and paid for review classes for their engineering staff that wanted to take the exam. PennDOT generally is an exempt employer but thought the exam was necessary. But they had to pay for outside training and toss in a bonus.

    Also, while I'm being a contrarian, I think the PE is the minimal qualification to be a competent engineer and I don't see that it emphasizes ethics. Technically, yes, when I got my PE, I got my state's ethics booklet. But having seen enough corners cut, I associate ethics with the person and organizational culture, not with the licensure board.

    ------------------------------
    Shirley Clark Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, F.EWRI, M.ASCE
    Professor
    Penn State Harrisburg
    Middletown PA
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-22-2019 09:25
    Hello
    This is one of the best summaries I ever read.
    I like to pick up the sentence about ethics and organizational culture. I would like to see the ethic code also adresses to licensed Engineering Firms. But I need more to support on the ethics discussion board. Thank you

    ------------------------------
    Tino Bretschneider Ph.D., P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Engineer
    Elmwood Park IL
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-22-2019 13:17

    When I graduated from college, you needed to have graduated to take the FE exam. I took the exam the fall after graduating and passed.  I was employed by a large engineering constructor firm in the Construction Department.  A PE was not a requirement for employment.  Remembering the constant advice as an undergraduate from the Asst. Dean of Engineering (who was on the State Licensing Board) to get your PE as quickly as possible, as you don't know what the future might bring, I decided to go it alone and sit for the PE exam 4 years later.  It took time studying on my own through a study course (as I was not using design oriented work in my position) nights after the kids were in bed, at lunch time and during my bus commute each day, but I passed on the first attempt, receiving my PE the spring of 1976.

     

    Fast forward 20 plus years:   I transitioned to design consulting as the market for engineers in construction changed.  I was able to do so easily in part because I had gotten the PE when I was early in my career. (Additionally, the quality of my engineering education was also a contributor.)

     

    I know of several professional acquaintances that futures were enhanced by having a PE, though not required by their initial employers.  Several went into Patent law while some went into both product and professional liability law.  They settle many cases out of court on the strength of having PE as part of their title.

     

    Moral of the tale:  You may not as a young adult think a PE is necessary, but you do not know what the future will bring.  I would never have been able to get my PE so easily in middle age.

     

    Peter J. Fadden, PE (Retired)

     

     

     






  • 23.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-30-2019 10:31
    Greetings, and thank you for bringing up a topic that is close to my heart. It seems very askew to me that engineering graduates, after 4 years of practicing under the supposed tutelage of Professional Engineers are passing the exam at rates in the 60%s. This is surely the worst passing rates of professions that require exams such as the Bar exam for lawyers and medical board exams for doctors and nurses.

    I love the engineering education and profession, and I espouse to all what a great field it is. Civil Engineering is an extremely rigorous education, that is broad and also requires combining different areas such as science, economics, mathematics, and humanities, which keeps it interesting and ever evolving. I think one of the best aspects is that absolutely it is impossible for any two projects to be exactly the same; therefore engineering judgment requires experience and collaboration.

    There are some flaws that I see in the licensure process that as far as I know have not been considered, pulled apart, and discussed. While I was able to do well in my engineering education, it took 5 times for me taking the exam to get a license. After taking it 3 times, I gave up for 5 years, until this year, when I passed after taking it twice this year and the second time taking the very expensive ASCE prep course (which was the ticket - it is very good). The important thing, I think, is my demographics. While I'm sure there are others, I am the only one I know of that passed as a single mother of 2 children (who have minimal care from their father that would allow me to study). I know other mothers who it took multiple times to pass, although they were always good engineers and the difference in their engineering abilities did not change significantly between taking the exam from one time to another, what changed was their ability to get in the study hours.

    And guess what, I am a very fortunate single mother - I am a middle class, not income stressed, white, middle aged professional with secure employment. There are many others who do not have the privileges that I have that have serious barriers to becoming licensed that are not necessarily relevant to abilities. I have worked with several people in engineering who are in engineering with English as their second language - they even usually do a master's degree in order to become fluent with engineering in English, and have a difficult time passing. When I have taken the exam, I am turned upside down and surely answered several questions wrong because the grammar made it unclear how the question needed to be answered. I have practiced engineering for 14 years across several disciplines, and yet it was only by taking a very expensive course that honed the concentration to key skills that I was able to pass. And, as I mentioned, the study time was key, because in our workplaces, new-ish staff engineers are not being groomed to practice cross/multi-discipline so that they practice enough to tie things together in their approach perspective. Contrarily, there is more pigeon-holing to meet project requirements. New practitioners are not given the time to work through things long form so that they truly integrate the principle concepts and breadth for the practical aspects into their view of an engineering project.

    While an applicant has to have PE's attest to their ability and reputation, those PE's do not take on an employee with that in mind. They don't early on identify themselves as a mentor who is ensuring that the EIT is getting what they need to develop the ability to pass the PE (from what I have seen in consulting and government work). From an efficiency standpoint, supervisors prefer to have EITs doing limited and routine work, and so test-takers are subject to practicing and principles of this exam by what their supervisor allows in their assignments, and what they need to pass the exam must be done on their personal time.

    I think this could easily be remedied by letting EITs take the exams in modules over time. If each discipline had a one hour (or more) exam for general knowledge that were credited to the applicant over time, the applicant would be better able to demonstrate knowledge because that is what they had been able to put their time into working on prior to the exam. The questions could even be more demonstrative of understanding, because the applicant will have been studying just that discipline for a few months, rather than trying to cover 5 different disciplines guessing what might be asked. There could still be the half day exam of the concentration. I posit this because so much of passing the exam is based on studying the right way for the right things and exam skills, rather than actual practicing and principles of engineering.

    I'll really appreciate hearing other's opinions. Unfortunately my membership will expire until my professional fund replenishes on July 1, 2020, but I am very excited to advocate for more inclusive licensing practices.
    Respectfully - Colleen

    ------------------------------
    Colleen Cunningham A.M. ASCE
    Sr. Engineering Associate
    City of Portland, Oregon, USA
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-30-2019 16:06
    I want to share my frustrating experience with NCEES and their process of registering with them in order to provide documentation for registration by comity in other states than my originally licensed state.  Keep in mind as I write this I have been continuously registered in Florida since 1975 (45 years).  I was also registered in Georgia for about 10 years and Maryland for about 5 years.

    I filled out my experience in the detail that I thought was necessary, and provided contacts for verifiers.  It wasn't so easy since about half of my early supervisors are passed on.  The reviewer found my application to be deficient.  I spent my early years like most engineers doing detailed engineering tasks.  However, I was promoted to management early in my career and most of my 45 years has been engineering management (supervising small, then large engineering teams).  During these years I have also served as a program manager for large capital projects and then as a water and wastewater utility manager.  I have always been a hands on engineering manager.  I have checked calculations and red-lined hundreds of design drawings submitted by my staff and consultants.  I have personally made decisions regarding treatment process selections by consulting engineers.  I have personally written Master Plans, Strategic Plans and conceptual designs (30% designs and cost estimates).  I am a Past President of the American Water Works Association and a Life member of ASCE.  I have received a page full of national awards.  I have served as an expert witness numerous times. Not trying to brag, just put my frustration in context.

    I called the NCEES supervisor for review, and she told me that my experience didn't qualify for registration!  I needed to provide detail on the projects I worked on, the equations I used for calculations, the models I worked on for each project, etc., etc.  I basically gave up at this point.  Maybe NCEES is part of the problem why many engineers, especially older, experienced ones, skip the registration process.

    ------------------------------
    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-30-2019 17:48
    Bevin, thanks for sharing.  Knowing your career this is indeed the height of absurdity.

    Chuck

    ------------------------------
    Charles Haas F.ASCE
    LD Betz Professor of Environ. Eng. & Department Head - Civil, Architectural and Environmental Eng.
    Drexel University
    Philadelphia PA
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-31-2019 12:33
    Bevin,
       My career is neither so long or storied as yours.  However, I have similar frustrations with NCEES.  I've been a registered engineering in Colorado since 1990, in California since 2007, and just last year became registered in TX.  Since my career not only has covered decades, it has taken me around the world.  Putting together my experience record for NCEES is a major effort for the reasons you point out--supervisors are dead, or have moved--I can't remember specifics of projects I worked on 30+ years ago.  When I put together my NCEES package last year for my Texas registration, it took me three tries and tens of hours of non-billiable time to get it through the NCEES reviewers.  NCEES reviewers seem to assume everyone applying for registration is a staff engineer working on the details of project at only one or two firms.  They either don't know how to evaluate, or don't value the professional expertise of principal level engineering.  They also don't value teamwork.  I initially describe the teams I had worked on and their accomplishments and was summarily told, NCEES didn't want to hear about teamwork.  I finally got around the issues by a) telling NCEES what they wanted to hear, and b) claiming most of my assignments in the past 20 years were supervisory and not engineering.  For one period of time, I chose to claim zero engineering experience rather than try to explain the situation. Since I have 36 years of professional experience, I still demonstrated way more than the 4 years required for registration, even with under reporting my experience.  The process was definitely frustrating and time consuming.

    Interestingly, I've had similarly frustrating experiences with NCEES as an academic department head.  Ours is a new program with only 24 graduates to date.  Getting the program registered with NCEES and getting my students' exam results reported properly has been really problematic.  I have received data on only about half of my students who have taken the FE exam.  I gave NCEES the name of every student who sat the exam and they would not produce the report I needed for my ABET assessment.  They claimed that most of the students weren't properly registered on the NCEES site as being enrolled in the correct engineering program at our university.  This was true, no doubt, because our new engineering programs weren't listed on the NCEES website at the time these students registered.  While I understand this is a startup issue, I expected they would be able to correct the problem when I provided the data--not so.  Most disturbingly of all, one NCEES representative told me that most students with certain types of surnames [read non-western European] just didn't seem to know how to properly use the NCEES website.  When I remarked that the website was confusing and difficult to navigate even for me, this person's suggestion was for me to personally sit down with each of our students and walk them through the proper NCEES website registration. I find this "its your problem not mine" attitude very frustrating, particularly coming from a service provider like NCEES.

    I find there is a real insular attitude within NCEES.  Their we're right and you're wrong stance is not helpful.  The overt bias against non-white males is particularly problematic.

    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 12-31-2019 13:26

    I like to defend NCEES. There are 50 Boards out there. And NCEES has to follow (nearly) the maximum requirements to keep the system widely accepted.
    For this they do a very good job, evenso some processes are now quite tedious.

    So I like to encourage everyone who finds out that a particular board is introducing or having deviating (stronger) requirements, parallel systems, whatever to give these boards feedback.

    As an example, one board made it mandatory to input all education hoers in their own system again to be able to reneval. Thy did not even think about an import function from NCEES.

    ------------------------------
    Tino Bretschneider Ph.D., P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Engineer
    Elmwood Park IL
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 01-01-2020 10:06
    Tino,
      You make a very good point.  The fact that PE registration is a state jurisdiction is key to understanding the issues.  To its credit, NCEES works to unify the different jurisdictions.  However, they have little power to do so.  Each state (plus District of Columbia) has its own constituency and political environment and NCEES has little leverage in these jurisdictions.  NCEES is forced to play to the lowest common denominator.  My criticism with NCEES is not that they do this, but the way in which they do it.  In my experience, they don't listen well and don't respond to constructive criticism.  As a simple example, they seem unresponsive to criticisms that their website is obtuse at best.

    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 01-01-2020 10:02
    Colleen,
      Congrats on achieving your professional registration.  You're to be commended for your tenacity as well as your professional expertise.

      Your comment about comparative passing rates among professional registration exams piqued my interest. Unlike yours, my impression was that the PE pass rate was on par with other professional exams.  So I look up some data. Here's what I found
    So the PE and Bar exams are on par with pass rates in the upper 50% and the medical exam rates are much higher.  My daughter happens to be in her first year of medical school so we discussed the disparity among medical, PE, and bar exam pass rates.  She observed two factors I believe are key.  First, total medical school enrollments are much smaller than those of law schools or engineering schools, thus medical schools can afford to be, and are, much more selective about enrollments.  Second, the entire 4-years of medical school is focused around high-stakes testing.  By the time they get to their board exams, they've been tested in the same way, on the same material, multiple times.  This is the opinion of one medical student, so take this with a grain of salt. The nursing pass rates are intermediate between PE and Bar exams and the physician licensing exam.  From the little I know about nursing programs, they are, like medical schools, very focused on preparing graduates for registration.

      All of this leads me not to the conclusion that there is something gravely wrong the FE and PE exams, nor that there is something gravely wrong with academic and professional preparation of engineers.  My conclusion is that test preparation is key determiner in passing rates.  While many engineering programs provide FE exam review classes, test preparation is not embedded into the curriculum in the same fashion as it is in medical school or nursing programs.  You yourself noted how important test preparation courses were to your performance on the PE exam.  I have almost always availed myself of test preparation programs when taking registration exams.  In the end, one's score on a test is simply that--a score on a test.  It is affect not only on one's grasp of the material, but also on one's test taking skills, and on one's resourced devoted to preparation.

      Finally, I'd like to emphasize the point you have made about the inequity in preparation resources across the engineering community.  It's not a level playing field.  Some employers subsidize test prep cost and exam fees.  Others do not provide active support.  Some actually provide negative support! Yes some employers interfere with professional registration of their employees--I've experienced this first hand.  To quote on of favorite lines from Princess Bride, "Who told you life was supposed to be fair?"

    ------------------------------
    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX
    ------------------------------



  • 30.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations

    Posted 01-01-2020 20:52
    William, I'm curious if there's any emerging insight on the impact of decoupling the PE Exam from the experience requirement - such as done in Texas - on passing rates? My experience taking the PE Exam is long in the past - and my memory faded - but I think this option would have been of benefit.

    ------------------------------
    Mitchell Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------



  • 31.  RE: Unlicensed engineers working for licensure exemption organizations