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  • 1.  The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:10 AM

    The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first step in the process of becoming a professional licensed engineer (P.E.). The FE exam is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. I graduated in May 2018, but I have a lot of friends that are still in school and in their process to complete their undergraduate engineering degree. I am currently helping them search for job opportunities as they get closer to their graduation dates. 


    Students have asked me the following question and I want to post it here to see what other professionals think about it. Students have asked me if they should take the FE exam and pass it before they start applying for a job? I asked them why, and the response was that many companies are listing FE or Engineering-in-Training (E.I.T.) as desired or preferred in their applications. 


    Should students take priority in their FE exam before completing their degree and applying for a job? 


    Additionally, if you can share when did you take the FE exam? Before or during your first engineering job? 

    Julian Valencia A.M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    Houston, TX

  • 2.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-25-2020 02:36 PM
    I would recommend taking the EIT/FE while still completing an engineering degree.  I took my EIT prior to my last year pursuing my BSCE.  This was very useful for me, as I was taking (or had just taken) several of the courses needed to pass the exam.  This helped minimize my studying efforts for this exam, while still studying for my classes.

    Waiting until after graduation could lead to difficulties finding the time to focus on studying while also being employed full time.

    Hope this helps,

    James Bittner P.E., T.E.,R.Eng,M.ASCE
    Senior Civil Engineer
    City Of San Jose
    San Jose CA

  • 3.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-26-2020 10:28 AM
    Edited by Donald Hayes 02-26-2020 10:48 AM
    I took the EIT exam (long before the FE!) as a senior during my BSCE program. I strongly recommend that every student do the same. Mr. Bittner's points are salient. It will never be easier and most new graduates are surprised at how difficult it is to set aside quality study/practice time while employed full time. Passing the FE will be a positive for many employers, even if the position does not eventually require a PE because it demonstrates mastery and initiative.

    In my almost 30 years in academia (during which I taught many FE review courses), students' primary concerns about taking the FE were cost and lack of time to prepare. The first is very real for some students who are surviving by the thinnest of margins. I tried, unsuccessfully, to develop a scholarship program to help those. For most students, cost is not a barrier. Lack of study/prep time is an issue for almost all students. Fortunately, the FE is more about proficiency than knowledge. Students find plenty of areas within their knowledge bank to pass the exam; those who do not pass usually spend too much time on some problems (often looking up equations they already know!), don't finish, and end up within just a few problems of passing. Just a bit a coaching and exam strategy significantly increase the likelihood of passing.

    If you don't take or pass the FE while in school, make it a priority to take it at your first opportunity. It becomes more difficult as time passes and you never know when or how passing the exam might help you.

    BTW, Julian, thanks for taking time to mentor these students. It is a great service to your new profession! 


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

  • 4.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-26-2020 10:01 AM
    I agree with Jim Bittner.  I advise students that I know to take the exam as soon as eligible because I am convinced that the exam gets exponentially harder each 6-months one waits after graduation.

    James Justin Mercier, P.E.
    Life Member ASCE
    Sr. Life Member IEEE
    Austin Texas

  • 5.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-26-2020 11:25 AM
    I agree with all the other responses and would add that the study time needed is very little for most students. I studied 18 hours broken into three 6 hour study days over a school break during my last year of school. I took a day off and then took the exam the next day. I was already far enough away from some of my earliest classes that basic information was more difficult to recall than I'd have preferred. I'm thankful I didn't wait any longer.
    As important as what material you study is planning your test taking strategy ahead of time so you don't get stuck and waste test time on the wrong things.

    Heidi Wallace EI, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer Intern
    Tulsa OK

  • 6.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 02-26-2020 11:47 AM
    It does not matter if students take the FE exam before they apply to jobs.  Not all jobs require it, but it does show some degree of commitment if you are applying for positions that lead to a career that would require it.

    Because both the FE and PE tests are very academic, Students should take both exams while in school, or as soon after they finish school that they can.   While you are in school, and thinking academically, studying for the two tests will be part of your normal mental processes.  If you wait a significant time period after you finish school, the tests will be much more difficult to prepare for because you are no longer daily working in an academic environment.

    You forget how to study for an academic test after a few years of not being in school.  The tests in the working environment are much more related to your team work, rather than your individual knowledge.

    Dwayne Culp, Ph.D., Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Culp Engineering, LLC
    Rosenberg TX

  • 7.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 03-02-2020 05:10 PM

    I graduated as a Civil Engineer outside the US and worked as a P.E. overseas for several years. When I came to the US in the early 90's I took my E.I.T in order to obtain my US license and I had to study at night because I was working and had a family. Back then it consisted in 120 problems covering all disciplines, to be solved in 8hs. Studying at night, so many years after college and having kids was somehow complicated.

    I remember it was the first time that you could not bring books or manuals to the exam and instead they sent us a booklet in the mail with math formulas that was full of errors. As I studied for the exam I corrected the errors writing over my booklet, but when I arrived to the test location the proctors took all we had and handed us clean copies of the booklets with all the erros still in them!!!.
    A couple of months after I took and passed the exam, I received in the mail an envelope from the board with a new copy of the booklet including a yellow page of erratas.
    My son took his F.E. exam the same week he graduated as a BSCE and was hired as an engineer the following week. It was a consulting firm that had told him that if he showed up with the exam already passed, they would hire him right away. So I also recommend new graduates to take the exam as much in advance as possible.
    Good Luck.

    Horacio Ibarra P.E. MSc., ME, M.ASCE
    Civil/Highway Engineer
    New Jersey

  • 8.  RE: The Fundamental of Engineering Exam and Graduation

    Posted 03-03-2020 03:25 PM
    I took the F.E. exam 5 months before my B.S.C.E. graduation and I would highly recommend this to all students in their senior year. At career fairs it was an immediate advantage to have on my resume. Many prospective employers shared that if I did not have my E.I.T. certification by graduation, I should attain it as soon as possible at the start of my new job.

    I chose to take the exam during a school break and ordered the practice booklet ahead of time. Since most of the material was still current for me, I didn't need to study very much as I was already spending a lot of time on those topics. It was much easier to prepare given that I was already accustomed to spending all of my evenings in "study-mode". 

    My advice to students is to take the exam as soon as you are eligible to (needs to be within one year of graduating I believe). Time yourself while studying: In the exam you will get an average of 3 minutes to respond to each problem. Make sure to look at the reference booklet, it will make searching for equations much simpler during the test.

    Good luck to anyone preparing for the F.E.!

    Colleen Maluda
    Graduate Structural Engineer
    Saint Paul, MN

    Colleen Maluda EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Graduate Structural Engineer
    Saint Paul MN