FE Exam Prep, Civil FE Exam

Are your undergraduate studies preparing you for the FE exam?

Why take the FE exam? Passing the FE exam is becoming a necessity if you are trying to develop a career within the engineering industry or an engineering firm. Many engineering firms will judge your job application based on whether you have taken and passed the FE exam. Sometimes, a firm will hire you and expect you to pass the FE exam receiving an “Engineer in Training Designation (EIT)” within a specified time period. If the job you are applying for does not require the FE exam, having passed the FE exam and acquiring an “EIT” designation will look good on your resume since it shows you have not forgotten the basic engineering knowledge you learned as an undergraduate student AND it shows that you can successfully take very long exams. On top of that, a lot of these industries are likely to expect you to take and pass third-party certification exams that may be as difficult as the FE exam.

Is your university preparing you to apply for entry-level engineering positions?

If we assume that YOU (as an undergraduate engineering student) invest a significant amount of money (usually going into debt) to pursue an engineering degree expecting to receive some of these long term rewards:
  1. the necessary engineering knowledge to become an entry-level engineer (EIT).
  2. the necessary engineering knowledge to become a professional engineer (PE).
  3. the development of engineering problem solving that is likely to motivate you to take on a certain work-related/career path.
  4. the in-class training/social interactions/ group simulation required to solve engineering-related problems as a team.
  5. the personal habits needed to learn about and solve problems.
  6. the interpersonal skills needed to connect with fellow human beings (co-workers, the public, etc.)
Only a few universities or colleges meet the expectations listed above, but we think, AT MINIMUM, you should expect your undergraduate studies to give you:

1. the necessary engineering knowledge to become an entry-level engineer 

You might ask why do I need the necessary engineering knowledge to become an entry-level engineer? Well, it depends on your personal goals. But for the most part, the majority of engineering graduates make it a goal to get an engineering job they want so bad. Many of these jobs will fall under the category as an “entry-level engineer”.  And many of the jobs you will apply for will require an “EIT” certification showing that you have passed the NCEES FE exam.

Is your university preparing you for the FE exam?

If we expect that our undergraduate studies will help us acquire the necessary engineering knowledge to become an entry-level engineer, what you learn as an undergraduate student should help you prepare to take and pass the FE exam. Most universities do not meet this expectation.
  • Many universities do not push students to take their FE exam before they graduate even though the best time to take the FE exam is either the last year of your engineering degree or immediately after graduating. After years, the passing rate drops since the basic knowledge you learned while getting your engineering degree begins to fade (“you lose it if you don’t use it”).
  • Many universities do not provide courses or prep material for the FE exam. The FE exam is a timed exam that’s 5 hours long with 110 questions. Many students are not trained to take such a long exam. Therefore, your studies should at least mentally prepare for an exam of this sort by providing an engineering curriculum designed with a goal of preparing students for the FE by providing test-taking strategies and tips and FE-type questions that reference the NCEES Reference Handbook 10.0.1.   From a quick Google search, we only a few that actually do this!
  • Many universities do not provide an incentive for a student to take and pass the FE exam. In fact, one university has the following statement on its website:

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first step in the process leading to a Professional Engineering (PE) license. To prepare students for this goal, all biological, civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering majors are required to pass the FE exam to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.”

So based on this statement you are required to pass the FE exam to graduate but they do not provide prep lessons, courses, or at the very least provide an incentive to take the exam? Sounds shitty.

Those universities that do provide a monetary incentive for passing the FE exam as an undergraduate as listed below.

Conclusion

Passing the FE exam is almost always required for engineering graduates trying to land an entry-level job at an engineering firm. Therefore, all undergraduate engineering students SHOULD expect their University or College to prepare them for the NCEES FE exam. If you are currently an undergraduate engineering student thinking about taking the FE exam you should reach out to your engineering department staff, dean, or whoever necessary to inquire about prep lessons, courses, training, and at the very least a reimbursement for passing the FE exam.

References

Texas A&M; University of Rhode Island, University of Arizona, Utah State University, BYU Idaho, Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, North Dakota State University, University of Colorado – Boulder, Purdue University – Fort Wayne, Rowan University, Kansas State University, Clemson, University of Nevada, Reno, Boston University, Maryland Department of Labor, University of Georgia, The University of Utah, University of Florida, South Dakota State University, Oklahoma State University, Carrol College ***, University Heights, Newark, New Jersey ***, Montana State University, University of Connecticut, Penn State ***, Cornell Engineering, Rutgers, Duke University, Mississippi State University, Portland State University, University of Oklahoma ***

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