Sunday, May 23, 2010

4 Years of Engineering

As of yesterday, I've worked as an engineer for 4 years. I graduated on a Saturday, got a job offer Monday, started the Monday after that.

I'm now eligible to take the P.E. Exam. Most states require 5 years of experience before you can take the Principles and Practice in Engineering Exam. Louisiana only requires 4 (and up until this year, you could take it with 3 years, 9 months experience and the time that lapsed between applying and taking the exam an getting the results would take care of the 4 years experience).

The application is due on June 1st and I have everything done. I was just waiting for the official 4 year mark to appear on my experience record, that way there could be no hiccups. You're given an extra month to finalize the application in case of an error or an incomplete application.

I'll take the exam in late October. I've been studying for November and there are times where I'd just prefer to go to the bar and watch baseball. I've gotten pretty frustrated sometimes because, at least for the mechanical exam, there is SO MUCH MATERIAL on the exam.

I've been pretty fortunate in that I've been switched around and gotten lots of experience in different areas; I haven't been pigeonholed doing just one thing. Despite this, I've had nowhere near enough exposure to everything on the exam. The three main areas on the exam are Machine Design, Thermofluids, and HVAC. I've never done any HVAC work and have been teaching that to myself.

The only thing that I've personally worked on enough where I feel like I could take the exam without studying is pumps and piping. Everything else, I have to study. I wonder how hard mechanical engineering is compared to some of the hyper-specific exams like nuclear or petroleum. It's not enough just to know the subject, but you also have to be able to work the problems quickly and efficiently without a computer. So far, I've worked out HVAC problems so quickly that, despite the fact that I've never done that for my job, I'm leaning towards taking that as the "in-depth" portion of the exam.

I'll be making lots of trips to Rue this summer to study...


Anonymous said...

Control systems PE here, though my degree is in mechanical. Good luck.

Tim said...

I have no doubt you will pass. The Fundamentals test is much harder. Study, yes. But don't sweat it.



Ryan Waldron said...

I'm shaking in my boots for when my time comes. (Of which I'm not entirely sure how much time I have. does my half a year experience while working on my masters count if it was before I took the FE? If so my day is in April 2012, otherwise, its in October 2012).

At least the different disciplines in MechE are a bit more inter-related. I don't know squat about structures of transportation engineering. I've got Water Resources Down, I'm decent with Environmental and Geotech, I was told not to even worry about construction, but Structures scares me to death.