PDA

View Full Version : The FE Exam: Why, oh why did I agree to take this fucking thing??


headshok
10-26-2001, 06:25 PM
I knew I was going to be busy this semester. Interview preparation, a monster senior design project that I'm doing solo, a couple of other classes I need for my minor, and I recently transferred to a new, more stressful position at work that has me busting my ass all day and working tons of overtime. I could have just left it at that, graduated, got a decent job, and been happy, right?

Oh NOOOOOOOO, I had to be a fucking hero and sign up for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. I had to pay 50 bucks to take an eight-hour exam tomorrow, on stuff that I didn't want to take the first time and can barely remember now. Thermodynamics? Fluid Mechanics? Chemistry?? I'm going to be an electrical engineer; I haven't cracked open a chemistry book since... well, since two semesters ago, but it's still a long time ago, dammit! And if that wasn't enough, I'm going to miss the fucking Oklahoma/Nebraska game tomorrow while I'm busy failing this damn test! Damn you and your lack of concern for college football, NCEES!

Oh, well. Not much of a rant, but I needed to vent a little. I'm off to cram now. Or get drunk. I'm not sure which would be more useful at this point.

Alatariel
10-26-2001, 06:28 PM
*pats headshok*

I understand. I have 2 sets of comps incoming, for stuff I studied 2 years ago. The only reasonable thing to do now is panic. Studying will only waste time.

Luck on the test :)

Rysdad
10-26-2001, 09:31 PM
Fundamentals of Engineering...how hard can that be?

1) Start the train.

2) Keep it on the tracks.

3) When you get to where you're going, stop.

Seriously, I wish you well on your test. I know what it's like to have to dredge up old knowledge. I just started back to college, and I have to remember stuff from my last Chemistry class--which I took in 1983.

Una Persson
10-26-2001, 11:24 PM
I remember my FE exam. I studied all of 8 hours for it, and got an 85%.

You want real stress though? Think of the PE. When you have to work full-time and study, you're 4-6 years out of school, and your career depends on you passing the test, and your co-workers will openly mock you if you fail, and historically the test has only a 20-40% passing rate...

Una, P.E.

...and I still got a 95% on it. :p

ScoobyTX
10-27-2001, 01:53 PM
I agree with Anthracite.

I took the FE exam in my second to the last semester of college, with all of the stress of work, design projects, classes, etc. I paid $150 for a review class (which was so elementary and useless that I only went to the first one... no refund).

I ended up only having time to get familiar with the reference book that would be handed out with the test (I could do this on the bus, while eating lunch, etc.). I ended up with a 95%.


Now, on the other hand, I took the P&P test yesterday (for mechanical engineering PE license). Now I have the stress of work (now 40-50 hours per week instead of 20-25 as in college). I haven't cracked a textbook for 7 1/2 years (unless there was something specific I needed to look up).

I bought a review/reference book to study, and made it about half way through the first chapter (mathematics). There are things in the math review that I haven't done for at least 8 years (even some of the basic algebra stuff, not to mention partial differential equations). In the real world, there are computer programs to do all the math for you. Your experience helps you to recognize results that are not realistic (and there are some people that do all of their design work based on time-tested rules of thumb).

Anyway, I also bought a sample exam from NCEES. I took that and recognized that I didn't need to study diff. eq., or anything else. I just needed attention in a few areas that I don't encounter in my job (mechanics of materials was the big one). I think I did a good job on the test (at least 80-85%).

BTW, Anthracite, how did you get your actual score? I thought they only reported an actual score if you failed (otherwise they tell you only that you passed). Congrats on the 95%!

headshok
10-27-2001, 05:45 PM
Well, I'm back from the exam. I think I did OK. I don't think I hit 85-95%, but 75% sounds reasonable. My biggest worry was that many of the questions were in subjects that I had never even taken before (like fluid mechanics and strength of materials), but overall it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, now you guys have me worried about the PE exam! That's a few years in the future, though.

I wish I'd seen the Oklahoma/Nebraska game, though. Damn.

Una Persson
10-27-2001, 07:33 PM
Originally posted by TXLonghorn
BTW, Anthracite, how did you get your actual score? I thought they only reported an actual score if you failed (otherwise they tell you only that you passed). Congrats on the 95%!
Everyone told me the same, TXLonghorn, that you do not get a score unless you fail. And yet, on the forms that came bundled with my license, there was an additional form that had something in the first paragraph to the extent of:

PASSING: 70%
SCORE: 95%

I wasn't expecting to see it, but you can bet I was dancing around the house for a few hours. :)

On another note - after the test results from this April came back, there was a junior engineer at my firm who is an extremely smart guy, and a 110% perfect worker without fault in any way, who failed it.

And the...Jesus, I don't know what to call it - pity? Wonderment? Shunning? Is palpable. When I was out with some of his co-workers at lunch last week, the topic was "Man, I thought he had it all together. What do you think his problem was?" I shut them down hard by explaining the facts of life, that is it is a very hard test, and if you screw up one thing or (most importantly) loose your cool you can get fucked very quickly. But the next day people were still on the topic...

So, as a result this man will miss a promotion, several career opportunities, and has all of his co-workers, who once held him in the highest respect, giving him the "look" until he passes.

And if he doesn't pass the next time, his career will be doomed. However, I see from my latest PE newsletter that the passing rate for second-time takers in the Mechanical portion is something like 18%...bon chance...

ScoobyTX
10-28-2001, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by Anthracite
So, as a result this man will miss a promotion, several career opportunities, and has all of his co-workers, who once held him in the highest respect, giving him the "look" until he passes.

Have any of his co-workers that are giving him the "look" taken and passed the PE test? Most of the PE's I have worked with (all but one or two) never took the exam (they didn't have too to get their Texas PE license). Now they are all but unable to get a license anywhere else (bad when you work for a consulting firm that does business in several states), because they are 15-25 years out of school and would have no idea how to begin to study for the PE exam.

Originally posted by Anthracite
And if he doesn't pass the next time, his career will be doomed. However, I see from my latest PE newsletter that the passing rate for second-time takers in the Mechanical portion is something like 18%...bon chance...

From the NCEES web site, I see that the Mech. PE exam has the worst passing rate for first time examinees (34%) and only 15% pass on repeat exams. On the FE, mechanical engineers have the second to the highest pass rate. My hypothesis is that these two results are caused by the same thing: mechanical engineering is the broadest discipline (we study everything that is on the FE exam for at least one semester), but we get quite specialized out in the real world. 80% of the questions in the morning session (breadth of knowledge) covered things I haven't seen in at least 7 1/2 years. About 75% of the questions in the afternoon session (depth- I took the HVAC/Refrigeration test) covered things I do all of the time in my job, and the rest covered things I never do in the real world, but were pretty simple thermodynamics (steam turbine problems, refrigeration cycle problems).

Una Persson
10-28-2001, 11:54 AM
Originally posted by TXLonghorn
Have any of his co-workers that are giving him the "look" taken and passed the PE test?
Well...this makes things look bad, but over the last 9 years in my area, with nearly 50 people having taken that test, only 5 people ever failed it. Two of those five eventually gave up engineering because they were never going to pass the test, one passed after taking the test on a re-take, one passed on the 4th retake, but left the area because no one wanted him to work on their projects anymore, and the last one is the current person I mentioned. It's a brutal system. Oh well, at least I'm 33 years old with an actual career...

Originally posted by TXLonghorn
On the FE, mechanical engineers have the second to the highest pass rate. My hypothesis is that these two results are caused by the same thing: mechanical engineering is the broadest discipline (we study everything that is on the FE exam for at least one semester), but we get quite specialized out in the real world.
I agree 100% with you.

I was lucky to get my 95%. A total of 5 questions I worked were either combustion or turbine questions - I can do those in my sleep (2 of them were coal combustion questions :p ) Two were HVAC questions that could be solved with a good psych chart, and the last one was a pump problem that was 100% exactly the same as a sample problem I had worked.

To put things in perspective - I took the test as early as I was eligible (a very good way to do it, IMO, to try and take it before you get too specialized), and met 4 classmates there I hadn't seen for 5 years. All 4 of them told me that they "hadn't even studied one hour", and that they were taking the test cold "just to see what it was like". Jesus - I can think of better uses for $100 and a day of your time...

Zanshin
10-29-2001, 10:20 AM
headshok, good luck -- I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

I took my FE back in 1994, in my senior year of college. I think my particular major helped me out a lot more than a lot of folks who took the exam. I was a general-engineering major (specializing in environmental), and as a generalist, had taken courses on almost all of the subject matter. I think the only section I had no clue on was materials science. I felt bad for some of my friends who were taking it -- for example, I knew two chem-E's who took it, and they were almost guaranteed to fail, as they'd never had classes in statics, dynamics, materials science, engineering economics, et cetera. I think that mechanical, general and civil engineers are the most prepared groups, simply because of the types of classes they've taken.

That being said, I'm definitely not looking forward to my PE -- I think I'll put that off for a while until I've had a chance to brush up on fluid mechanics and thermo (two subjects I haven't touched since undergrad). :)

robby
10-29-2001, 07:53 PM
My B.S. is in ChemE (1991). As soon as I graduated, I took a commission in the Navy, for which the FE is irrelevant--so I never took it. (Yes, this was stupid.) Now 10 years later, I'm getting out of the Navy and finishing a master's in Environmental Engineering.

I was planning on taking the October FE exam, but chickened out. I didn't see how I was going to have any hope of finishing my master's thesis, and do my job, and study for the FE. So I'm now signed up for the April exam.

Unfortunately, I'm getting out of the Navy in March. Any advice on getting an engineering job with the FE still pending?

(More background: I've been teaching chemistry and physics for the last few years for the Navy. I'm thinking this will help for the FE, but I still need to sit down and go through one of those review manuals.)

Una Persson
10-29-2001, 11:58 PM
Originally posted by robby
Unfortunately, I'm getting out of the Navy in March. Any advice on getting an engineering job with the FE still pending?
This has been the subject of many rants of mine in the past on this Board...but yes, don't worry, you can find metric buttloads of good engineering jobs and never have to take the FE, and you can call yourself an "engineer" under the corporate or industrial exemptions. You just can't be an independent consultant, or approve engineering designs or reports. Shit, you can have a degree in Underwater Basket Weaving and call yourself an "engineer", my profession is so degraded and denigrated in society.

ScoobyTX
10-30-2001, 12:38 AM
For the ChemE majors:

I said earlier that MechE majors had the second highest pass rate (85%) for the FE (probably due to the general curriculum). ChemE majors have the highest pass rate (89%).

For robby in particular:
Since you have been teaching chemistry & physics, your math skills have probably not wasted away too much. If you plan to take the FE (and eventually the P&P), I would advise hitting the review books (or taking a class, depending on your learning style) and get INTIMATELY familiar with the reference book that is handed out with the FE exam (it is available here (ncees.org) under the "study materials link). Every formula you need is in the book, you just need to know what to apply where.

n9e9o9
10-30-2001, 12:51 AM
From reading all these posts, I kinda "interested" in what yall do.

Im still in high school but I have aspirations to become some type of engineer (chemistry in particular).

Do any of yall got any advice for what I should do?

Una Persson
10-30-2001, 01:16 AM
Originally posted by n9e9o9
From reading all these posts, I kinda "interested" in what yall do.

Im still in high school but I have aspirations to become some type of engineer (chemistry in particular).

Do any of yall got any advice for what I should do?
First off, resign yourself to the fact that you are going to have to learn an assload of math. Most likely, a full year of AG-Calculus, a numerical methods class, Calculus-based statistics, and at least one Differential Equations class. These classes are often used as "weed-out" classes, and are one of the prime recruiters for the Business Colleges on campus. ;)

Second - you're going to have to learn an assload of chemistry. And go through a lot of mass memorization of organic compounds.

Third - you're going to have to learn an assload of physics, and take several hard-ass classes that you will likely never use again the rest of your career (as a Chem E) - like Statics, Dynamics, Materials Science, Electrical circuits, and maybe (shudder) analytical mechanics. Oh yeah, you'll also be taking thermodynamics (at least two classes), fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and possibly a dynamics of feedback systems class.

You will find that while your friends in Journalism and English only need about 32-40 hours in their major to get a degree, you need about 80-90 hours. 80-90 hours of hard-ass, ball-busting classes that would turn most people's hair white. And don't forget the weed-out ones! The Diff EQ class at my college has only a 50% pass rate - and if you don't pass it, you don't go into engineering. Plain and simple.

When graduation time comes, you will find that most likely (unless you are a complete loser) you have several jobs to pick and choose from, and will start between $45k to $60k per year with lots of benefits, depending on location. And if you are not a loser, you can progress quickly up the salary scale - I make about 2.5 times what I stared at.

If you think you may someday be an independent consultant offering engineering services to the public, or in a position to approve designs, or in management, you should take the FE exam in your last semester of school. Hell, take it anyway, if you pass it, it never expires. Then, after 4 years of experience working under a PE/PE's, you can take the PE exam. Then you can call yourself "Me, P.E.", and then watch as everyone else calls themselves an engineer too - like the "Union of Pipefitting Engineers" bumper stickers I keep seeing around town here. Or the "Sheetmetal Engineer" whose business card I saw (he did Bondo work on cars). Or the Subway Sandwich Engineers...but hey, you know you're a real engineer deep inside - right?

Anyhow. If you really want to ask a question about what engineers actually do IRL, I suggest doing so in GQ, as many engineers on the Board don't come over here in the Pit - they aren't mean and nasty like myself.

ScoobyTX
10-30-2001, 11:24 AM
Originally posted by Anthracite
The Diff EQ class at my college has only a 50% pass rate - and if you don't pass it, you don't go into engineering. Plain and simple.

Yeah... I liked that class so much I took it three times. When I finally got a class that had both a professor and a TA that were fluent in spoken English, I decided I had had enough, and passed the class.

Of course, this was after taking and passing 6 or 7 classes that had diff eq as a prerequisite or corequisite.

robby
03-14-2017, 04:56 PM
My B.S. is in ChemE (1991). As soon as I graduated, I took a commission in the Navy, for which the FE is irrelevant--so I never took it. (Yes, this was stupid.) Now 10 years later, I'm getting out of the Navy and finishing a master's in Environmental Engineering.

I was planning on taking the October FE exam, but chickened out. I didn't see how I was going to have any hope of finishing my master's thesis, and do my job, and study for the FE. So I'm now signed up for the April exam.

Unfortunately, I'm getting out of the Navy in March. Any advice on getting an engineering job with the FE still pending?

(More background: I've been teaching chemistry and physics for the last few years for the Navy. I'm thinking this will help for the FE, but I still need to sit down and go through one of those review manuals.)
So this thread just came up in a Google search that I did while discussing the FE exam with my son, who is now a sophomore Civil Engineering student. (He was 4 years old when this thread was started.)

Anyway, I did get an engineering job right away after I got out of the Navy, and the FE exam never came up. (The only thing that seemed to matter was whether you had your PE license or not.)

I subsequently kept postponing the FE exam until I finally got around to taking it in April 2003...and passed it the first time! ;) I took the PE exam four years later in 2007, and passed it the first time as well.

For both exams, I studied the same way: I took the week off work prior to the exam, and studied every day for the whole week for 12-14 hours/day.

Really Not All That Bright
03-14-2017, 05:09 PM
One hopes the OP has either passed or picked a new field by now.

BubbaDog
03-15-2017, 09:23 AM
One hopes the OP has either passed or picked a new field by now.

It doesn't matter. This thread has already dredged up those unpleasant days in my life when I took Those tests.

Bubbadog
PE-EE

GargoyleWB
03-15-2017, 10:39 AM
Good luck! I took it directly after college (as an EE). I panicked for weeks about all of the fluid/stress/material stuff that I'd never had a class in and felt I was sure to fail. I passed the test, you MEs can stuff your loaded girders up your elastic limits!

Snarky_Kong
03-15-2017, 10:57 AM
I found the FE more difficult than the PE. I actually came out of the PE feeling like it was a very low bar for licensure. People that barely pass that test now can design things that will kill people if they fail. Should be difficult, right?

octopus
03-15-2017, 12:31 PM
I found the FE easy. I've never worked under a PE so I've not been qualified to take that.

Wednesday Evening
03-15-2017, 01:13 PM
Funny that this thread came up while you were discussing the F.E. with your son! As you and your son probably have found out by now, Civil Engineering is one of the fields where having a P.E. is typically quite important.

If you are lucky enough to be in California like I am, not only do you get to take the regular Civil Engineering P.E. exam, but you get to take two bonus exams: Surveying and Seismic. Surveying is the only professional exam I ever failed the first time. :(

~Wednesday
P.E. (Civil), P.E. (Structural)

HookerChemical
03-15-2017, 02:11 PM
I found the FE easy. I've never worked under a PE so I've not been qualified to take that.

Not all states require that you work under a PE. I've never worked directly under a PE, but my work experience counts. To find a PE above me in the corporate structure, I'd have to go to the CEO, but I work with PEs and my supervisors are technically competent to qualify on my engineering qualifications in California.

Oredigger77
03-15-2017, 03:15 PM
Taking the PE is on my list of things to do this year, of course it has been for the last 5 years too. This time I've got the application filled out I'm just working on tracking people down to verify my experience.

The FE was one of the easiest test I've taken and there is no reason to stress over it, if you can read. Seriously they give you all of the equations and what symbols the numbers in the problem correlate to. So say your doing electrical engineering section and they say the circuit voltage (v) is 20 volts and the Current (I) is 0.5 amp what is the resistance (R) you just look in the electrical section of the equations until you find one that has VI & R and plug in what they gave you and solve for what you're looking for you literally don't have to know anything to pass.

Snarky_Kong
03-15-2017, 03:52 PM
Taking the PE is on my list of things to do this year, of course it has been for the last 5 years too. This time I've got the application filled out I'm just working on tracking people down to verify my experience.

The FE was one of the easiest test I've taken and there is no reason to stress over it, if you can read. Seriously they give you all of the equations and what symbols the numbers in the problem correlate to. So say your doing electrical engineering section and they say the circuit voltage (v) is 20 volts and the Current (I) is 0.5 amp what is the resistance (R) you just look in the electrical section of the equations until you find one that has VI & R and plug in what they gave you and solve for what you're looking for you literally don't have to know anything to pass.

You might think that, but given the passing rates for it and the PE I wouldn't be so cavalier in giving that impression. Better to study and finish the thing in 4 hours than not and be overwhelmed.

robby
03-16-2017, 07:12 AM
Funny that this thread came up while you were discussing the F.E. with your son! As you and your son probably have found out by now, Civil Engineering is one of the fields where having a P.E. is typically quite important.Exactly! What started the whole discussion was me telling my son that he should take the FE exam before he graduates instead of waiting more than a decade like I did.

I saw a chart years ago that showed the FE exam passing rate vs. years since graduation, and it dropped off at a rate of about 10% per year. I was trying to find a similar chart to emphasize that point to my son, and came across this old thread instead.

The FE was one of the easiest test I've taken and there is no reason to stress over it, if you can read. Seriously they give you all of the equations and what symbols the numbers in the problem correlate to...

You might think that, but given the passing rates for it and the PE I wouldn't be so cavalier in giving that impression. Better to study and finish the thing in 4 hours than not and be overwhelmed.Oredigger77, I might agree with you for the morning-section of the FE exam, but not the afternoon.

Back when I took the FE exam, it was an 8-hour exam taken in two 4-hour blocks. The morning section was on general engineering topics, and the afternoon was discipline-specific, or alternatively, a non-discipline specific "general" afternoon-section with harder questions than the morning. Because of my varied background (and because I ran out of time to actually study my discipline), I took the non-discipline specific afternoon exam.

I clearly recall how different the two sets of questions were. My first few questions on the exam in the morning were chemistry questions. Having just taught college-level chemistry for over 5 years, it took me all of 30 seconds to answer all 8 of these questions. I expected the same in the afternoon. Instead, I read the first problem statement in the afternoon (again on chemistry), and was baffled. Same with the second, and the third. It took me a few minutes to realize that the actual questions being asked were not that difficult, and that most of the presented information in the problems was superfluous. Once I realized that, the exam instantly became much easier. Interestingly, the whole PE exam was also like this.

That said, the FE exam format has apparently changed in recent years. It is now a 6-hour computer-based exam taken in a testing center.

Projammer
03-16-2017, 10:35 AM
I knewOh, well. Not much of a rant, but I needed to vent a little. I'm off to cram now. Or get drunk. I'm not sure which would be more useful at this point.

Not much of a rant? I'm calling stealth brag. :) I know the feeling though, I just had to take the exam for one of my required certifications last week. Nothing like 8 hrs so at least I had that.

Hope you did well! When do you get the results?

Really Not All That Bright
03-16-2017, 11:45 AM
This is a 15-year-old thread, guys.

BubbaDog
03-16-2017, 12:21 PM
This is a 15-year-old thread, guys. A point that was covered as soon as it reopened so your post is a fresh zombie. :p

Jeep's Phoenix
03-16-2017, 06:50 PM
North Carolina's requirements for taking the PE have been tweaked slightly in recent years; the requirement to work under a PE for 4 years has been replaced by a requirement for work experience.

I didn't take the FE until nearly 3 years after I graduated; I passed it on the first try. I'm still terrified of signing up for the PE though, mainly because I'm confident my supervisor would give me a hard time if I failed the thing. On the other hand, the two professional engineers at my workplace (ME and EE) are very encouraging.

Best Topics: cavalry calvary ventilator vs tracheostomy nfl holders jabroni etymology stolen kindle dasani salt alfie scopp free tivo plunger box bamboo splinters animes with catgirls damn your eyes river rice rendered porn doody potato pocket panties leaded gasoline stations moulin pronunciation ecty message board can camels swim tangled phone cords hotel waffle maker what is vixen car blower motor freezer mugs liquid patton slaps silencer illegal triangular bayonet wound scribd legit oe character lesbian beard equivalent pre brushing dental rinse brake pedal slowly goes to floor example of dry humor how to wash duffle bag sign a sympathy card for a coworker warm spot on floor best rock duets of all time tv flickers when light switch is turned on what is the red stuff in thermometers how to make shoguns fried rice cat urine uv light meddle not in the affairs of dragons personal touch razor blade were the huns mongolian how much does it cost to get car out of impound how to fix a dent in drywall can you die from pain alone does home depot make keys why is my wife so stupid kitchenaid dishwasher warranty service dog smells like burnt rubber how to take back off of watch cannot find wireless printer dark hair dark eyes freddie mercury long hair is sudafed good for a runny nose satin trimmed acrylic blanket possession is 9 10 of the law stainless steel smells bad how to keep hair up without gel benefits of rooting fire tv trimps what are gems for walking dead bad acting