FE Exam Resource Center

Taking the NCEES FE exam is the first step toward becoming a licensed engineer. After you pass the FE exam, you are considered an “Engineer-in-Training." This resource center is a good place to reference during your journey to get your license.

Showing all 0 FE Exam Articles

Should I Take the FE Exam?

What is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is a 110-question, multiple-choice test developed by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). This computer-based exam is offered year-round at Pearson Vue testing centers and covers topics studied in undergraduate engineering courses. It’s the first of two engineering exams you must pass to become a licensed professional engineer (PE) in the United States. After passing the FE exam, also referred to as the Engineering-in-Training (EIT) exam, you earn an EIT certification and are considered either an engineer-in-training or an engineer intern, depending on your state. 

Who should take the FE exam?

The FE exam is designed for engineering students and graduates who want to take the first step toward becoming a PE. Most engineers take the FE exam during or immediately after their final semester as an undergrad so that exam knowledge is fresh in their minds. Taking the FE exam is not a degree requirement to graduate, nor is it an entrance exam for further education, like the GMAT. It is, however, an important career step for ambitious engineers who want to earn their license. Civil Engineers are often required to take the Civil FE exam at the beginning of their careers as they often won’t qualify for promotions until holding EIT certification. 

What are the benefits of taking the FE exam?

There are multiple benefits of taking the FE exam, especially if you’re looking to advance your career and earn a competitive salary. Below we discuss some of the advantages of taking the FE exam and earning EIT certification.

  • Taking the FE exam is the first step toward PE licensure. This is the most important benefit of taking the FE exam, as it will set you up for a long and rewarding career. Once you pass the FE exam, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam and earn professional licensure after gaining approximately four years of experience as an engineer (depending on your state). Earning a PE license is a huge accomplishment and conveys to employers, the state, and the public that you meet the standards of professional competency, follow the rules for professional conduct, and protect the interest of the public. A PE license also gives you the authority to sign and seal plans and drawings. 

  • Taking the FE exam offers you more career opportunities. Successfully passing the FE exam shows potential employers that you are committed to developing as an engineer and are serious about your career. Furthermore, some employers require you to pass the FE exam and earn EIT certification for certain jobs and promotions. Civil engineers, for example, are often required to earn EIT certification at the beginning of their careers. 

  • Taking the FE exam differentiates you from your peers. Engineering jobs can be highly competitive, and if you’re looking to give yourself an edge in the job market, holding an EIT certificate can give you a leg up on the competition. Passing the FE exam proves you have mastered the fundamentals of engineering and are working towards professional licensure – something employers like to see on a resume. 

Will I get paid more if I pass the FE?

There is no guarantee that you will get paid more once you pass the FE exam. Salary raises are more likely once you’ve reached PE status later in your career. However, passing the FE exam is required to become eligible to take the PE exam. You are highly likely to earn a higher salary after passing the PE exam and earning your license. According to a salary survey by ASME, mechanical engineers who passed the FE and PE exams and earned licensure make $16,000 more per year than their unlicensed counterparts.

Whether or not you get paid more after passing the FE exam ultimately depends on your employer. Some employers will pay more for engineers who have passed the FE exam and earned their EIT certification. In fact, 40% of job seekers on Indeed said that earning their EIT Certificate helped them make more money. Civil engineers, for example, are often required to pass the FE exam early in their careers and are not eligible for promotions until they do. Once a civil engineer earns licensure by passing both the FE and PE exams, it is standard practice for that engineer to immediately get a raise.

What can I do with my EIT certification?

Passing the FE exam and earning EIT certification is necessary to become a licensed professional engineer. It demonstrates your mastery of fundamental engineering concepts and indicates you have completed the first requirement of becoming a PE. As an EIT, you can perform engineering work under the supervision of a professional engineer. 

The EIT certification itself does not grant you any privileges. In order to stamp and seal engineering documents, you have to reach PE status. Depending on your employer, holding EIT certification can make you eligible for certain promotions (and salary increases). Passing the FE exam and earning EIT certification is a major career milestone and a pivotal step on your way to becoming a professional engineer. 

Why You Should Take The FE Exam As Soon As Possible

We recommend you take the FE exam as soon as possible – either in the last year of your undergraduate engineering program or immediately after graduation. The FE exam tests your knowledge of engineering concepts you’ll have studied in school, so it’s ideal to take the exam while those concepts are still top of mind. Even if you aren’t sure about your career goals at this stage, taking the FE exam and earning EIT certification will help your career growth and enhance your resume. Taking the FE exam early in your career also gives you plenty of time to gain relevant work experience if you do decide to take the PE exam down the road.

Which FE exam should I take?

The FE exam is offered in seven disciplines. It’s up to you to choose which FE exam to take, depending on your career goals. When deciding between the exams, consider the specialty you are most interested in as well as the pass rates for each exam. If you don’t know which specialty to pursue, you can take the FE Other (General) exam, which combines topics from all the disciplines. Below is a list of all the FE exams as well as their pass rates as of January 2022, according to data from NCEES. 

  1. FE Chemical - 73% pass rate

  2. FE Civil - 62% pass rate

  3. FE Electrical and Computer - 73% pass rate 

  4. FE Environmental - 70% pass rate

  5. FE Industrial - 62% pass rate

  6. FE Mechanical - 71% pass rate

  7. FE Other Disciplines - 65% pass rate 

What happens after you pass the FE exam?

Passing the FE exam is a significant achievement in your engineering career. Now that you’ve passed the exam, you may be wondering what happens next if your ultimate goal is to become a PE. Below is a step-by-step process of what you should do after passing the FE exam.

  1. Send your transcript to your state board to get an EIT certificate.

  2. Start studying for the PE exam.

  3. Gain experience working as an engineer.

  4. Take the PE exam.

  5. Become a professional engineer after passing the PE exam!

It’s important to note that requirements for PE licensure vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your state’s licensing board on their current list of requirements.

How do I prepare for the FE exam?

The FE exam is known to be a challenging exam, and effective prep is critical to passing on your first try. When creating your study plan for the FE exam, you’ll want to incorporate our six steps for successful FE exam prep. This includes taking practice tests, purchasing a copy of the NCEES FE Reference handbook to use alongside your FE Review Manual, and more. The best way to study for the FE exam is to start early and stay organized. Take the FE exam as soon as possible, and utilize all the resources available to you as you work through your FE exam prep. 

How do I sign up for the FE exam?

The FE exam is offered each year during four testing windows: January - February, April - May, July - August, and October - November. You can take the exam up to three times in one year. All FE exam disciplines are administered year-round at Pearson VUE Test Centers. Once you’ve chosen your exam date and discipline, you may be wondering how to sign up for the FE exam. The fastest way is to register via the NCEES website for the most up-to-date exam schedules based on your state. A fee of $175 will need to be made payable to NCEES. Some state licensing boards may require you to file a separate application and pay an application fee as part of the approval process to sit for an NCEES exam. 

How long should I study for the FE exam?

How long you should study for the FE exam depends on you as an individual. In general, we recommend 12 to 14 weeks of serious study for a minimum of three hours per day. However, FE exam prep time varies depending on which FE exam you plan to take. Each exam has different questions and a different number of test-takers. For example, the FE Civil exam is the most popular FE exam, and engineering licensure is very common in the civil engineering industry. Because of this, many civil engineering college programs offer FE exam prep review to help their students prepare for the FE exam, which means they need less time to prepare for the FE exam on their own. 

It’s also important to review FE exam pass rates to determine how long you should be studying. Yet another factor is how long you’ve been out of school. We recommend engineers take the FE exam during their last year of undergrad or shortly after so that the skills they learn are fresh in their minds. The longer you’ve been out of school, the longer you may need to study for the FE exam. 

What FE exam prep courses should I take? 

We offer industry-leading FE exam prep courses to help you maximize your test prep and succeed on the FE exam. Our courses cover every topic on the exam and provide you with NCEES-approved materials. No matter your exam date, learning style, or availability, we have an FE exam prep course that will fit your needs. 

To supplement your exam prep, we also offer free tools and resources for every type of engineer. Check out our FE Exam Resource Center for more information about the FE exam and earning PE licensure, download our exclusive free eBook on Preparing for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, and get answers to frequently asked questions about the FE exam straight from our experts. 

We’re here to help you at every stage of your engineering career, so don’t wait - start your FE exam prep with PPI today!

Read Article
Posted by PPI - April 12, 2022
should I take FE exam

What is an Engineer-In-Training (EIT) License and Certification?

The EIT License and Certification is a professional designation you receive after passing the NCEES FE exam (Fundamentals of Engineering exam) and completing a degree from an ABET-accredited school. “EIT” is an acronym that stands for Engineer-in-Training. This designation is often referred to as “EIT certification,” but it can be used interchangeably with “EIT license” or “EIT FE certification.”

The EIT certification authority is each individual state’s engineering board. While an EIT certification doesn’t give you license to practice as a PE (professional engineer), holding this certificate signifies that you have successfully completed the FE exam. This is the first exam you’ll need to pass in order to become a PE.

What's the difference between the EIT and EI designations?

There is no difference between the EIT and EI (Engineering Intern) designations regarding engineers’ level of expertise. NCEES recognizes both EIT and EI certifications. The two designations are used to describe engineers who have passed the FE exam but have not earned professional licensure. The nomenclature varies depending on your state.

Benefits of earning your EIT certification

Earning an EIT certification has multiple benefits for engineers.

  • An EIT certification showcases your industry knowledge. Passing the FE exam and earning an EIT certificate are huge milestones in your career and demonstrate your competence with fundamental engineering concepts that every graduate should know.

  • An EIT certification improves your job prospects. Having EIT certification on your resume can set you apart from other candidates when you apply for jobs. It shows employers that you are committed to learning and are working toward professional licensure. 

  • An EIT certification advances your career. Getting an EIT certificate is one of the most important things you can do for your career in engineering. It demonstrates that you have mastered the fundamentals and are on the road to earning your PE license and a higher salary. 

Is becoming an EIT worth it?

Becoming an EIT is worth it for most engineers, but it’s essential for those planning to take the NCEES PE exam (Principles and Practice of Engineering exam) and become fully licensed professional engineers. You are not eligible to take the PE Exam without first passing the FE exam and thereby earning EIT status. Furthermore, having EIT certification can be required for even some entry-level engineering positions. The certification can also help set you apart from other candidates in a competitive job market.

Does having an EIT license increase your salary?

Earning an EIT license or certification may increase your salary, depending on your employer and industry. 

Civil engineers are required to pass the FE exam at the beginning of their careers. Most employers will not promote civil engineers until they have passed the FE exam and earned an EIT certificate, so if you’re eyeing a promotion with a higher salary, earning EIT status is crucial. 

For other engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, or chemical, passing the FE exam is not required prior to employment. In fact, some employers may value an EIT certificate more than others. However, earning an EIT certificate demonstrates your mastery of engineering fundamentals and your motivation to advance in your career, which may help you earn a promotion or higher salary.

Ultimately, passing the FE exam and earning EIT certification is necessary to become a licensed professional engineer. Once you’ve completed those steps and passed the PE exam, you will earn a higher salary as a fully licensed professional engineer. An increase in annual salary can be anywhere from $2,000 to more than $10,000 once you’ve achieved PE status. 

Studying for the FE Exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook. 

How to Get an EIT Certification

Wondering how to get EIT certification? See below for the step-by-step process to register for the NCEES FE exam and receive EIT Certification. 

  1. Review state or local requirements. Requirements for EIT certification vary slightly depending on where you live. Be sure to check state or local requirements as you begin the process.

  2. Register with NCEES. Visit the NCEES website to create a MyNCEES account and register for the FE exam. The FE exam is computer-based and can be taken anytime during the year at a Pearson VUE test center.

  3. Study for the FE Exam. Most engineers take between 3-6 months to study for the FE exam. It is recommended that you take the exam during or just after your senior year so concepts are fresh in your mind.

  1. Pass the FE Exam. FE exam results are available 7-10 days after you take the exam. You can review current FE exam pass rates on the NCEES website. If you fail the FE exam, you can retake the test in the following 3-month time window, up to three times per year. NCEES will also provide you with a diagnostic report letting you know which study areas to focus on for next time.

  1. Apply to your state board for EIT Certification. Once you’ve passed the FE exam, contact your state board to officially receive EIT certification. You’ll have to submit an application and pay the required fee. Exact requirements will vary by state. 

How long does it take to get my EIT certification?

How long it takes for you to get EIT certification depends on the amount of time it takes you to complete an ABET-accredited engineering program and pass the 6-hour FE exam. If you pass the FE exam shortly after graduating from college, the process will take just over four years. However, if you choose to delay taking the FE exam after completing your engineering degree, the process will take longer. It is highly recommended that you take the FE exam during or just after the last year in your degree program while concepts are fresh in your mind.

How to List EIT Certification on Your Resume

Earning EIT certification is a huge accomplishment that you’ll want to list on your resume, LinkedIn, email signature, and more. Here’s how to showcase your EIT certification on your resume:

  • Add EIT after your name in the header on your resume. 

    • Example: John Smith, EIT

  • Create a “Certifications” section on your resume and list your EIT certification, including your certification number (if applicable), the state where you got your certification, and the date you received it.

    • Example: Engineer-In-Training certified #123456, New York, January 2022

  • List EIT on your job title.

    • Example: Civil Engineer-in-Training

How to Find EIT certification number

Looking for your EIT certification number? The first thing to note is that not all states issue an EIT certification number. This does not mean you have not obtained EIT status, just that your state does not issue a number along with the certification. States that do issue one may list the number somewhere on your EIT certificate. If you have misplaced your certificate, you can check your state engineering board’s website or call the phone number listed on their website to retrieve your EIT certification number.

What is the FE/EIT Exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is sometimes referred to as the EIT exam, or Engineer-in-Training exam. Colloquially, the FE exam and EIT exam are used interchangeably. Officially, the exam is referred to as the NCEES FE Exam and the certification you receive after passing the exam is called EIT (or EI, depending on your state). 

The FE exam is a 6-hour, 110-question exam. It is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) year-round at Pearson VUE Testing Centers. The computer-based exam tests your understanding of fundamental engineering concepts and is offered in seven disciplines:

  1. FE Chemical 

  2. FE Civil 

  3. FE Electrical and Computer 

  4. FE Environmental 

  5. FE Industrial

  6. FE Mechanical 

  7. FE Other Disciplines

Preparing for the FE Exam

Taking the FE exam can be intimidating, but with proper preparation, you can set yourself up for success. The perfect place to begin is the FE Learning Hub, which offers full online practice exams, a study plan to keep you on track for your exam date, and more. You can also visit PPI’s FE Exam Resource Center for more information and insights from industry experts. 

We know your time is valuable, so be sure to get the most out of your exam prep by following our six steps for successful NCEES FE exam prep. Preparing for the FE Exam is no small feat, but passing the exam elevates your career status and gets you one step closer to professional licensure.

What happens after I pass the FE exam?

Once you’ve passed the FE exam, you are officially considered either an Engineering Intern (EI) or an Engineer-in-Training (EIT). Congratulations! You may now be wondering what happens after you pass the NCEES FE Exam, including what your next steps should be. To receive an EIT certificate in the mail, you’ll need to send your transcript to the state board where you want certification. You’ll also want to gain work experience, network with colleagues, and study for the PE exam. 

Now that you’ve passed the FE Exam and earned EIT certification, you’re well on your way to becoming a fully licensed professional engineer.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - February 22, 2022
What is an Engineer-In-Training (EIT) License and Certification

What Happens After You Pass the NCEES FE Exam?

If you have just passed your NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, congratulations! You’re now considered an Engineer in Training (EIT) or Engineering Intern (EI). While you’ll probably want to go celebrate, remember—there’s still work to be done before you’re a professional engineer.

If your FE exam date is coming up, we wish you good luck! Be sure to check out our FE Exam eBook and other resources in the FE Learning Hub.

Steps to Take after Passing the FE Exam

Whether taking the FE exam is behind you, or right around the corner, let’s discuss what happens after your pass the NCEES FE exam. Here are those steps, in brief:

  1. Send your transcript to the state board where you want certification

  2. You’ll receive your EIT certificate in the mail

  3. Start studying for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam 

  4. Network and make connections with other engineers 

  5. Gain engineering work experience

Do engineers need a PE license to practice?

While many have opted to pass on the opportunity to obtain a Professional Engineer license due to lack of time or willingness, it’s important to remember that a PE license separates you from the crowd. It often means you can earn more money and might be the deciding factor for an employer debating between two qualified candidates. You can call yourself whatever you’d like, but you’re not considered an engineer until you’ve received your PE license.

How soon can I take the PE Exam after passing the FE Exam?

The simple answer is; it varies by state. For the most part, EITs can take the PE exam once they’ve successfully passed the FE and have acquired four years of approved engineering experience. We’ll explore gaining relative experience in the sections below. But, it’s worth noting that some states allow EITs to take the PE exam before accruing their four years of experience. The experience is still required, but it’s not a prerequisite for the exam in some states.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE CivilPE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

Engineering Work Experience

You see, even though you’ve passed that FE exam, which is a wonderful accomplishment, the PE exam requires that you have knowledge gained in engineering practice—four years of engineering practice to be exact (in most states).

Once you’ve agreed that a PE license is something you want to attain, you’ll want to get an entry-level engineering job. Because you’re an EIT, you’ll be required to work under the supervision of a registered professional engineer.

Building an Entry-Level Engineer Resume

Gaining the required engineering experience means you’ll need to put together a resume. You’re just starting out, so if you don't have a great deal of relevant work experience when applying, be sure to emphasize the skills that you’ve used in other non-technical positions, such as management skills or public speaking experience. Also, be sure to include courses related to your field or intended career.

Here are some good sections to incorporate into your entry-level engineer resume:

  • Contact information: Your full name, phone number, email address, and links to your professional website or networking sites.

  • Objective statement: Share your skills, and goals to give employers more information on your background and qualifications.

  • Skills: Highlight your skills relevant to engineering - problem-solving, equipment/software knowledge, math skills, etc.

  • Education: List your engineering education, including the coursework, extracurricular activities, and the name of each school.

  • Experience: Remember to add volunteer work, internships, and work experience, including the duties and responsibilities of those positions.

  • Certifications: List your engineering certifications as well as the name of the certifying institution.

Searching for Engineering Jobs

Strategies for finding engineering job opportunities include:

  • Networking on job searching websites

  • Working with your school advisor

  • Searching on company websites in their “careers” section

  • Exploring engineering-focused forums or job search websites

Before you graduate, check in with your school advisers to see if they can guide you in finding an opportunity in your area. Otherwise, you can search the internet’s many job websites - including Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn. You can also simply send out resumes to companies for which you’d like to work. According to Payscale.com, some of the most popular employers for those with an EIT certification include major engineering players like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. 

Even if you’re not sure about the specific job you want, the above strategies can help you discover your interests and narrow down your search. Maybe you’re interested in jobs with a specific title, or within a certain company, or an area of expertise within an industry.

As you learn more about your preferences and the entry-level engineering job market, it’s time to begin applying for those jobs. Explore ways to tailor your resume and cover letter to each of the positions individually. This may seem like an extra (read: unnecessary) step, but incorporating keywords from the job listing and company website into your resume and cover letter can help you stand out from the other applicants.

Preparing for, and Passing, the PE Exam

Once you’ve gained all of the necessary experience, you’ll want to start preparing for the PE exam. Be sure to contact your state engineering licensure board, because most states require that applications be submitted well in advance.

Remember, the format and subject matter of each discipline’s test varies. For example, the PE Environmental exam is an 8-hour, open-book exam that consists of 50 multiple-choice questions in the morning session and 50 multiple-choice questions in the afternoon. It covers engineering areas such as water, solid waste, air, and environmental health and safety. 

On the other hand, the Civil Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam is an exam of breadth consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. It is also open-book, but contains questions from civil engineering areas such as transportation, geotechnical, construction, and structural.

Just like for the FE exam, PPI offers a series of test prep materials for the PE exam. Be sure to browse PPI's offerings and select the exam in the area that pertains to you. Congratulations and best of luck in the next steps of your engineering career!

Read Article
Posted by PPI - November 4, 2021
After You Pass the NCEES FE Exam

What to Bring to the NCEES FE Exam

Having a greater understanding of the NCEES FE exam will give better insight as to what you should bring on test day, and set proper expectations for what’s to come while taking the exam.

How Long is the NCEES FE Exam?

Knowing how long you’re going to be at the testing center will help you decide what you’ll need to bring. As a whole, you’ll be given six hours to answer 110 computer-based questions. The session begins with an eight-minute tutorial in which you’ll be instructed on what you can and cannot do before starting the FE exam, followed by a reading of the nondisclosure agreement (two minutes). During the exam, you’ll be given a 25-minute break where you can access your personal items in your locker, have a snack, or simply stretch your legs.

Bring Proper Identification to the NCEES FE Exam

When you arrive at the test center for your FE Exam, you will need to provide one of the following photo IDs:

  • ID issued by a government entity in the country in which you are testing

  • International travel passport in roman characters from your country of citizenship

  • U.S. military ID

Your ID must be current and contain a signature. This is typically a driver’s license or passport. A student ID card is not acceptable for admittance. The first and last name on the photo ID must match the name on your appointment confirmation letter.

Bring Your NCEES Appointment Confirmation Letter to the FE Exam

NCEES recommends that you bring a copy of your appointment confirmation letter in order to speed up the check-in process. In most cases, Pearson VUE will email this to you, or you can download it from your MyNCEES account 2–3 weeks prior to the exam date.

Is the NCEES FE Exam Open Book?

Because the exam is administered via computer, you are not permitted to bring any books to the testing center. However, you will be provided with the NCEES FE Reference Handbook to search through during the exam. The Reference Handbook is updated on a regular basis, so make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version when you’re preparing for the FE exam.

Materials the Pearson VUE Test-Center Will Provide

The NCEES-approved Pearson Vue Test Center can provide you with a few items to bring into the exam if needed. These items include:

  • Earplugs

  • Noise-canceling headphones

  • Tissues

  • A reusable booklet and marker

Do You Need to Bring Writing Materials to the NCEES FE Exam?

Writing materials will be provided to you by the NCEES. They will give you a laminated notebook with a marker to take notes or to use as scratch paper during your exam. Try out the marker before the exam begins to ensure it’s functioning properly. If you need more space to write in your notebook, do not spend time erasing what you’ve already written. Instead, raise your hand and the administrator will provide you with another notebook.

What Items Can I Bring into the NCEES FE Exam Room?

Separate from the items provided to you by the NCEES, below is a list of personal items you may bring to the FE exam room.

  • Your ID (same one used for admittance to the exam)

  • Key to your test center locker

  • One NCEES-approved calculator without a case

  • Anything included on the Comfort Aid List, including bandages, braces, casts, unwrapped cough drops, inhalers, eye drops, and more

  • Eyeglasses (without cases)

  • Light sweaters or jackets

NCEES-Approved Calculators

The NCEES has guidelines for the kind of calculator you’re permitted to use during the FE exam. Those approved calculators include:

  • Casio FX-115 and FX-991

  • Hewlett Packard HP-33 and HP-35

  • Texas Instrument TI-30X and TI-36X

What Items Should You Leave in the Locker During the NCEES FE Exam?

Typically, the test center will have lockers where you can keep your personal items that aren’t permitted during the test. Since you’ll be there for a little more than six hours, it’s wise to bring snacks and refreshments so you can refuel during the 25-minute break.

Depending on your situation, any of the following items may prove useful but should be left in your test center locker or your car.

  • Cell phone

  • Wallets

  • Purses

  • Hats

  • Watches 

  • Calculator batteries

  • Contact lens wetting solution

  • Spare calculator

  • Spare reading glasses

  • Loose shoes or slippers

  • Eyeglass repair kit, including a small screwdriver for fixing glasses (or removing batteries from your calculator)

You may wear a watch during the test if you’re able to turn off any beeping functions. Similarly, it’s important to silence your cell phone and any other electronic devices stored in the testing locker. For more information on rules and recommendations for your exam day, check out the Pearson VUE Professional Examination Rules PDF. As your NCEES FE exam date approaches, make sure you’re taking advantage of the many resources in the PPI FE Learning Hub.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download our 'Preparing for the FE Exam' eBook to learn more.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - October 29, 2021
what to bring ncees fe exam

Six Steps for Successful NCEES FE Exam Prep

Deciding to take the NCEES FE exam is a big step. Your time is valuable, so get the most out of your prep time with these six steps.


1. Purchase the NCEES FE Reference Handbook

Get a copy of the NCEES Handbook. Use it alongside your FE Review Manual. You will want to know the sequence of the sections, what data is included, and the approximate locations of important figures and tables in the NCEES Handbook. You should also know the terminology (words and phrases) used in the NCEES Handbook to describe equations or subjects, because those are the terms you will have to look up during the exam. The NCEES Handbook is available both in printed and PDF format. The PDF version includes search functionality that is similar to what you’ll have available when taking the computer-based exam.

PPI Pro Tip:  In order to find something using the NCEES Handbook PDF search function, your search term will have to match the content exactly (including punctuation).

2. Determine Which Knowledge Areas You Need More Help With

Use the diagnostic exams in your FE review manual to determine how much you should study in the various knowledge areas. 

PPI Pro Tip:  You can use diagnostic exams in two ways: before you begin studying to determine which subjects you should emphasize, or after you finish studying to determine if you are ready to move on.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

3. Make a Schedule Before You Start Reviewing

In order to complete your review of all examination subjects, you must develop and adhere to a review schedule.  

PPI Pro Tip:  Near the exam date, give yourself a week to take a realistic practice exam.

4. Work Through Everything

The NCEES has reduced the number of subjects you are expected to know and has made nothing optional. Keep in mind during your FE exam review that skipping your weakest subjects is no longer a viable preparation strategy. You should study all examination knowledge areas, not just your specialty areas, and that means you study every chapter of your review book.

PPI Pro Tip:  Skip nothing. 

5. Be Thorough

Being thorough means really doing the work. During your FE exam review, be sure to solve each numerical example using your calculator, read through the solution, and refer back to the equations, figures, and tables it references. Reading the instructional text is a “high value” activity. There isn’t much text to read in the first place, so the value per word is high.

PPI Pro Tip:  Everything your review book shows in blue is in the NCEES Handbook, so it has a high probability of showing up on the exam.

6. Complete as Many Practice Problems as Possible

You have less than an average of three minutes to answer each question on the exam. You must be able to recall solution procedures, formulas, and important data instinctively. The best way to develop fast recall is to work as many practice problems as you can find; solve every example in your review book and every problem in the companion practice book. For example, if you’re taking the FE Civil exam, we recommend getting the FE Civil review bundle, which includes FE Civil Practice, as well as the review book, two practice exams, and more. Don’t skip any of them. All of the problems were written to illustrate key points.

PPI Pro Tip:  Develop fast recall by working through as many practice problems as you can find. 
Read Article
Posted by PPI - May 3, 2021
Woman sitting at desk in a classroom taking a test image

What to Expect on NCEES FE Exam Day

Want to know more about how your exam day will go? Understanding the structure of your NCEES FE exam, as well as the question formats you will see, is another way to prepare for exam day.  

The Structure of the FE Exam

The NCEES FE exam is a computer-based test that contains 110 multiple-choice questions given over two consecutive sessions (sections, parts, etc.). Each session contains approximately 55 multiple-choice questions that are grouped together by knowledge area (subject, topic, etc.). The subjects are not explicitly labeled, and the beginning and ending of the subjects are not noted. No subject spans the two exam sessions. That is, if a subject appears in the first session of the exam, it will not appear in the second. Each question has four possible answer choices, labeled (A), (B), (C), and (D). Only one question and its answer choices are given onscreen at a time.

The exam is not adaptive (i.e., your response to one question has no bearing on the next question you are given). Even if you answer the first five mathematics questions correctly, you’ll still have to answer the sixth question. In essence, the FE exam is two separate, partial exams given in sequence. During either session, you cannot view or respond to questions in the other session. Your exam will include a limited (unknown) number of questions (known as “pretest items”) that will not be scored and will not have an impact on your results. NCEES does this to determine the viability of new questions for future exams.

FE Exam Duration

The exam is 6 hours long and includes an 8-minute tutorial, a 25-minute break, and a brief survey at the conclusion of the exam. The total time you’ll have to actually answer the exam questions is 5 hours and 20 minutes. The problem-solving pace works out to slightly less than 3 minutes per question, and you may work through the questions (in that session) in any sequence. If you want to go back and check your answers before you submit a session for grading, you may. However, once you submit a section you are not able to go back and review it.

What is FE protocol for how much time you should spend on each section? You can divide your time between the two sessions any way you’d like. That is, if you want to spend 4 hours on the first section, and 1 hour and 20 minutes on the second section, you could do so. Between sessions, you can take a 25-minute break. You can take less time if you would like, but you cannot work through the break, and the break time cannot be added to the time permitted for either session.

Once each session begins, you can leave your seat for personal reasons, but the “clock” does not stop for your absence. Unanswered questions are scored the same as questions answered incorrectly, so you should use the last few minutes of each session to guess at all unanswered questions.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Your FE Exam is Unique

The exam that you take will not be the exam taken by the person sitting next to you. Differences between exams go beyond mere sequencing differences. NCEES says that the CBT system will randomly select different, but equivalent, questions from its database for each examinee using a linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) algorithm. Each examinee will have a unique exam of equivalent difficulty, so looking at your neighbor’s monitor would be a waste of time.

About Alternative Item Types (AITs) on the FE Exam

Though exam formats have changed question types to include more than multiple-choice questions, PPI review materials continue to be current to exam specs. AIT questions provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through paper-based testing, however, question format is irrelevant if you know the material. AIT questions have approximately the same degree of difficulty as multiple-choice questions. Please note there is also no pre-determined or fixed number of AIT exam questions nor of the percentage of any one type of AIT question on an exam.

Multiple Choice

  • Select one correct answer from four given options.
  • If you are unsure of what the correct answer is, you should make an educated assumption. You will not be penalized for a wrong answer.

Multiple Choice (Check-All-That-Apply)

  • Select all the correct choices from the list by clicking on each one.
  • All of the correct answers (and only all of the correct answers) must be selected; there is no partial credit.
  • If you change your mind, click on a choice to de-select it.

Point-and-Click (Hot Spot, or Mark Location)

  • Click on a single target, or hot spot icon, to place on the base image in the correct location or general area.
  • If you change your mind, click again on your choice to unselect, or click on the new preferred answer.

  • These questions may ask you to sort, rank, place, or label items. Confirm whether all items need to be chosen or moved, then be sure to sort, rank, place, or label each one.
  • After you have decided the proper sorting, ranking, placing, or labeling, click and drag an object to the target spot.
  • If you change your answer, you can move an object to a different open spot in the target area, or you can move it back to the starting area.

  • Read the answer specification carefully; it should state the number of decimal places for your numeric answer.
  • Compute your answer, then round if needed to the required number of decimal places (0-4, round down; 5-9, round up).
  • Do not enter the units for your answer.
  • Do not spell out a number, like “four”.
  • If you change your mind, blank out the entire field before you enter another answer.
Case Study

  • May be multiple-choice, check-all-that-apply, hot spot, drag-and-place, or fill-in-the-blank.
  • You are able to click on browser-like tabs on top of the computer screen to go back and forth between the case study scenario and resource documents provided.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - April 29, 2021
Woman sitting at desk working on a laptop with large plants behind her image

About the NCEES FE Exam

The NCEES FE exam (Fundamentals of Engineering exam) is the first exam you will need to pass in order to become a professional licensed engineer (PE). You can take the FE exam as early as your last year in an undergraduate engineering degree program. Many exam candidates take the FE exam right after graduation.

We recommend taking the FE exam as soon as possible. That way you have ample time to gain relevant work experience if you decide to take your PE exam down the road.

How important is the FE exam?

Many engineering students find themselves wondering what path they should take after graduation. Internships, postgraduate education, or a full time job are all possibilities. Regardless of what you decide, taking your NCEES FE exam shows potential employers or universities the breadth of your engineering knowledge, your seriousness and dedication to the field, and sets you apart from other applicants.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook. 

If you are unsure if you will pursue your PE license later, taking the FE exam leaves the door open for you. Many past examinees are grateful that they took their FE exam as soon as possible even if they were initially unsure of the path their career would take in the future. Taking the FE exam only benefits you and your career.

What are the benefits of taking the FE exam?

There are many benefits of taking the FE exam, including better pay, more career opportunities, and showing potential employers that you have a high level of competency and drive. Passing your FE exam sets you apart from other engineering grads when applying for jobs or graduate programs. Taking the exam sets you up for future success and is a great place to start when thinking about your options after graduation.

Who administers the FE exam?

The FE exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). This national nonprofit organization requires all potential examinees to read the NCEES Examinee Guide, which can be found here, before registering for the exam. To register for the exam, start by creating a MyNCEES account. As of January 2016, FE exams are administered year-round.

The exam is discipline-specific and split into two sessions, each with approximately 55 questions (totaling 110). Keep in mind during any simulated tests throughout your FE exam review that the scheduled six hours of exam time includes a nondisclosure agreement, tutorial (eight minutes), the exam (five hours and 20 minutes), a scheduled break (25 minutes), and a brief survey. The exam computer screens are 24 inches wide so there is enough room to display the exam questions and the NCEES Handbook side-by-side. 

What is the required passing score for the FE exam?

FE exam scores are based on the total number of questions answered correctly, with no deductions made for questions answered incorrectly. Raw scores may be adjusted slightly, and the adjusted scores are then scaled. In the past, NCEES has rarely announced a minimum required passing score for the FE exam, ostensibly because the average score changed slightly with each administration of the exam. However, inside information reports that the raw percentage of questions that must be answered correctly was low—hovering around 50%.

What are the current FE exam pass rates?

The current FE exam pass rates as of July 2020 are:

What reference material can I bring to the FE exam?

The NCEES FE exam is a “limited-reference exam.” So keep in mind during exam preparation that nothing except what is supplied by NCEES may be used during the exam. NCEES provides its own searchable, electronic version of the NCEES Handbook for use during the exam. Computer screens are 24 inches wide so there is enough room to display the exam questions and the NCEES Handbook side-by-side.

Will the NCEES Handbook contain everything I need to reference during the exam?

For all practical purposes, the NCEES Handbook will have everything that you need to reference during the exam. For example, if the NCEES Handbook covers only rectangular concrete columns, you won’t be asked to design a round concrete column. If the NCEES Handbook covers only the Rankine earth pressure theory, you won’t be expected to know the Coulomb earth pressure theory. If you take your preparation seriously, the NCEES Handbook is pretty much a guarantee that you won’t waste any time learning subjects that are not on the FE exam.

Does the NCEES Handbook contain everything I need to study for the FE exam?

The NCEES Handbook was never intended to be something you study or learn from, so it is most definitely inadequate for that purpose. Background, preliminary and supporting material, explanations, extensions to the theory, and application rules are all missing from the NCEES Handbook. Many subtopics (e.g., contract law) listed in the exam specifications are not represented in the NCEES Handbook. To see everything you need to prepare for the FE exam, take a look at review options here.

What is the requirement for looking up values in tables during the FE exam?

For some questions, you might have to look up a value, but in those cases, you must use the value in the NCEES Handbook. For example, you might know that the modulus of elasticity of steel is approximately 29 106 psi for soft steel and approximately 30 106 psi for hard steel. If you needed the modulus of elasticity for an elongation calculation, you would find the official NCEES Handbook value is “29 Mpsi.” Unless the question is specifically determining whether you can read a table or figure, all relevant values needed to solve the question are often included in the question statement. NCEES does not want the consequences of using correct methods with ambiguous data.

What calculators am I permitted to use during the FE exam?

To prevent unauthorized transcription and distribution of the exam questions, calculators with communicating and text editing capabilities have been banned by NCEES. You may love the reverse Polish notation of your HP 48GX, but you’ll have to get used to one of the calculators NCEES has approved. If you start using one of these approved calculators at the beginning of your review, you should be familiar enough with it by the time of the exam. NCEES approved calculators are listed here.

What units are used on the FE exam?

While preparing for the FE Civil exam or any other discipline, you will need to learn the SI system if you are not already familiar with it. Contrary to engineering practice in the United States, the FE exam primarily uses SI units. Customary U.S. units are used for code-based structural topics, but for little else. The NCEES Handbook generally presents only dimensionally consistent equations. Although pound-based data is provided parallel to the SI data in most tables, many equations cannot use the pound-based data without including the gravitational constant.

Is the FE exam hard or tricky?

We believe to have the best FE exam prep, examinees should take advantage of all the review materials they can. That being said, the exam does not overtly try to get you to fail. The questions are difficult in their own right. NCEES does not need to provide you misleading or vague statements. 

Commonly made mistakes are routinely incorporated into the available answer choices. Thus, the alternative answers (known as distractors) will seem logical to many examinees. For example, if you forget to convert the pipe diameter from millimeters to meters, you’ll find an answer option that is off by a factor of 1000. In order to avoid the complications of being too practical, the ideal or perfect case is often explicitly called for in the question statement (e.g., “Assume an ideal gas.”; “Disregard the effects of air friction.”; or “The steam expansion is isentropic.”). For all disciplines, you won’t have to draw on any experiential knowledge or make reasonable assumptions. If a motor efficiency is required, it will be given to you. You won’t have to assume a reasonable value.

When do I find out if I passed the FE exam?

You will receive an email notification that your exam results are ready for viewing through your MyNCEES account 7-10 days after the exam. That email will also include instructions that you can use to proceed with your state licensing board. If you fail, you will be shown your percentage performance in each knowledge area. 

The diagnostic report may help you figure out what to study before taking the exam again. If you don’t pass the exam, you may take it again. NCEES’s policy is that examinees may take the exam once per testing window, up to three times per 12-month period. However, you should check with your state board to see whether it imposes any restrictions on the number and frequency of retakes.

What if I need to reschedule my FE exam?

If you need to cancel or reschedule your FE exam appointment, you can do this through your MyNCEES account. Depending on the date that you cancel or reschedule the exam, you may be entitled to a refund.

Wondering where to start?

If you’re ready to start preparing for your FE exam, start with PPI Learning Hub. PPI Learning Hub offers you four different review options based on your skill level and FE exam prep needs. Another great way to ensure you have the best chance of passing your exam is to enroll in a PPI prep course. PPI prep courses guide your review with personalized instruction and a structured study plan to help you take on exam day with confidence.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - April 28, 2021
Woman sitting at a desk working on a laptop image

The Best Time, Tips, and Tools for Preparing for the NCEES FE Civil Exam

Taking the Civil Engineering FE exam can seem like an impossible task, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not! The NCEES FE exam has gone through changes over the years, but some things never change in your preparation for this exam. By better understanding the best time you should take it, the leading tools that are offered to you, and how to motivate yourself, you’ll be set up for success.

Some of you are required to take the FE exam while you are still attending school. For others who are well out of school, the thought of studying again seems impossible. Either case presents its own challenges, but getting the FE under your belt is the necessary first stepping stone to becoming a professional civil engineer—what every engineer should strive to be.

The Best Time To Take the FE Civil Exam

The absolute best time to take the FE exam is while you are still in school. Now that we’ve established that, the next question is when? The FE exam is offered year-round, and with the cost being $175 (as of 2018) we all understand that it is helpful to pass the first time.  

I believe the best time to take the FE exam is during the beginning stages of your senior year in college. By the time you are a college senior, you will hopefully have touched on each subject found in the NCEES specifications, and by taking it in the beginning of the year, you have time to retake it should you happen not to succeed the first time. You can take it up to three times in a 12-month period, which also gives you time to pass to graduate. Some like to take it the later part of their junior year, but by being a senior, you’ll have more material covered while you're still in school.

So what if you’re out of school?  

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” If you are out of school, then the best time to prepare is now. When I took the exam, I could only take it semi-annually. Today you can take it any time!

I would personally make this a New Year's resolution and start studying in January for an exam in April. This would allow me to get the holiday craze out of the way and FOCUS on what I need to do—which is studying problems! And that leads us to our next tip.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

The Best Resources for the FE Civil Exam

There are many resources out there for you to use, but none compare to the quality and quantity of PPI. PPI has a wealth of FE exam resources at your disposal. Let’s look at a few that I think will help you get the results you want.

The FE Civil Print Bundle has everything you need if you want to study on your own. Not only do you receive an FE Civil review manual, but you get over 460 practice problems, an official NCEES FE Practice Exam, a calculator, and more. If you merely need the reference manual or the practice problems book, you can get them individually as well, but anyway you cut it it’s a great all-around package to purchase.

Motivation to Take the FE Civil Exam

Now that we have the tools to take the FE, we need the motivation to do it. The motivation to take this exam will come depending on where you are in life. Most schools require you pass the FE to graduate, so if you're still in school, there's your motivation.  

But what if you are out of school? What drives you then?

The biggest drive for you to take this exam is because you know you can do hard things. By taking this exam, your self-confidence will build as you put in the effort. It’s also the first step to becoming a professional engineer, and that should be a great motivator. By taking the FE exam, you’ll be conditioned and have the confidence to take the NCEES PE exam when you are ready.

Becoming a professional engineer will allow you to not only seal and stamp drawings but it will boost your credibility, and you’ll receive more pay for doing it. Every civil engineer should become a professional one and taking and passing the FE is the required first step. If you need additional support, then find a FE community and make sure to get your family on board of this huge milestone in your life!  

Wrapping It Up

Passing the FE exam is a must, and I know you can do it! Don’t let this exam intimidate you. If you are in school, then make it part of your course work and get it done somewhere near your senior year. If you are out of school, then make it a goal to complete and make the sacrifices necessary to get it. You can’t fail if you find your motivation. Browse PPI's FE exam prep and get the support you need to see it through.

You’ve got this!
Read Article
Posted by Isaac Oakeson, PE - April 26, 2021
Woman working on a laptop in her home image

Engineering Career Advice From TLC Engineering Solutions

We asked TLC Engineering Solutions to answer these commonly asked questions from engineering students. Read on for answers to your questions about hiring processes, engineering internships, engineering resumes, and more.
Q: How do you recruit potential hires?

A: We attend 8 college campuses every year, visiting a mix of Architectural Engineering programs and Engineering programs across the country. We receive over 400 applicants for our entry level openings so we’re really focused on looking for candidates that are hungry, motivated, and looking to excel in their field. Unemployment in engineering is about 2% so our goal is to find the best candidates for the positions we have available.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Q: What do you look for on a recent grad’s resume?

A: We look for experience outside of their education. We also look to see if a candidate has taken the NCEES FE exam. It’s not a requirement, but it brings someone to the top of our list if they have passed the exam in their discipline.

Q: Do you recommend that students take the FE exam?

A: Absolutely, I tell everyone to take the FE as early as possible. When they start their career, it’s likely they’ll work some overtime. At that point, it will be hard to make time to study for the exam. If they wait to take it, they are less likely to remember the material they learned in school making it will be more difficult to pass, so taking the FE exam before they graduate can be really valuable.

Q: When is the best time to take the FE exam?

A: Students should be looking to take the exam before they graduate. A few college campuses we visit have built passing the FE exam into their graduation requirements. If you’re school doesn’t require this, students should consider taking the exam before finals their senior year or right around graduation time.

Q: What advice would you give students who are about to enter the workforce?

A: Take the FE exam as soon as possible, make sure you are actively looking at internships your sophomore year and have internship hours before you graduate. If you’re thinking about taking the PE exam, communicate this to your hiring manager and look for companies that have PEs and will support you and encourage mentorship at their company.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 28, 2020
Woman looking over another woman's shoulder at a laptop screen image

Engineering Career Advice from TOTH & Associates

We asked TOTH & Associates President Adam Toth to share some of the company’s recruiting preferences, as well as advice for recent engineering graduates.

About TOTH & Associates: TOTH & Associates has been recognized by the Springfield Business Journal for seven consecutive years as the largest consulting engineering firm in the Springfield, Missouri-area.

Established in December 2003, TOTH & Associates is a multidisciplinary firm featuring electrical, structural, and civil engineers, land surveyors, grant writers, GIS professionals, and other professional staff. These professionals work together to serve a wide range of clients, including architects, educational institutions, municipalities, and public and private utilities across the country.

Engineering Career FAQs Answered by TOTH & Associates

Q: Do you offer internships? If so, how many?

A: Yes. Five to seven during the summer, and a few of those interns who attend a local college also work part-time during the school year.

Q: What specific qualities and experience do you look for in an intern candidate?

A: We value GPA very highly, so we try to hire students with the top GPAs. We also try to find students that have ties to our area and try to gauge in the interview if someone is a hard worker.

Q: Do you recommend students take the FE exam?

A: Absolutely. One of the requirements of the job for our engineers is that they take the FE exam. When we hire an engineer, it’s expected they take and pass the FE exam. We have a nearly 100 percent first-time pass rate for our employees taking the FE exam. We also tell our employees they’ll want to take the FE exam because they get a bonus and raise when they pass.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Q: What advice would you give recent graduates about to enter the workforce?

A: Try to judge jobs based on what your job responsibility will be, not what the final product of the company is. Try to gauge what you would actually be doing at the job and consider whether you will enjoy what your actual job responsibilities will be. Also, be prepared to perform a lot of detail work early in your career. It can take several years to learn enough about your job responsibility to be able to oversee a project. Performing those detail tasks in your first few years of employment will better prepare you to manage projects later.

Q: What is a common mistake recent graduates make while applying to your firm?

A: In the interview, some applicants respond that they want a management position from day one or want to be in management shortly after hire. In a medium-sized firm with few managers, a new hire should focus on working hard and doing a good job. Good employees are noticed and will naturally progress in their career.

Q: What do you find recent engineering graduates are most surprised by when they enter the workforce?

A: How what they do is very different than what they learned in school. They may be surprised by the amount of onsite training. Your curriculum only teaches you the basics, and you learn a lot on the job. Lots of students come out thinking they know everything, but they have a lot of on-the-job training they need to do.

Q: What do you think will be the major changes in the engineering field in the next five years?

A: 1) There are some fields of engineering where a large percentage of that engineering base is retiring, and those fields will have a lot of need for engineers and a lot of need for people to gain knowledge from those retiring engineers.

2) There will be a continual push toward automation, so engineers with the ability to work in automation will have a lot of job opportunities.

Q: How would you suggest recent graduates maximize their time with their mentors?

A: For me, I like our young engineers to try and get as much face time as they possibly can. That means they sit in on phone calls to learn how to talk to people, watch day-to-day work, ask questions, and do anything they can to try and gain as much knowledge. I also suggest people be appreciative of their mentor because then your mentor will be more likely to help you.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 28, 2020
Man wearing headphones and sitting in front of an open laptop image

Achieve Your Engineering Career Goals with the Time You Have Now

This is a time of uncertainty, but one thing is for sure—it’s a great time to start the studies that will lead you to your goal of becoming a licensed engineer.

Wherever you currently are in your exam studies, here are a few ways you can use the time you have now to work towards your future goals.

How to Prepare for Engineering Licensure Now

Gather your study materials.

First off, if you have not already gathered your study materials, now is a good time.

If money is tight, you can make do with the textbooks from school or materials you have already collected over the years. An alternative to buying a new set of materials from PPI would be to borrow materials from a co-worker. If the materials are an older edition than the current one, please be aware code references might not be up-to-date like the latest editions available, and there may be changes in the format or content of the materials.

No matter what exam you are preparing to take, there are free resources online which explain the concepts on the exam. If you need help finding some of those resources, do a quick Google search, or reach out to me, and I can help direct you.

Familiarize yourself with the study materials.

Once you have purchased your materials, it is time to start getting familiar with them. This includes tabbing and highlighting.

The more time you spend navigating your materials now, the more time you will be able to save during the exam. The exam you are taking is a test of your time management and ability to answer questions in the time given. You are smart enough to answer the questions that are presented, but if you run out of time, then you cannot get any points. I always tell my students that any time you spend tabbing and highlighting is time well spent. Think about it. If you can save 1 minute, 30 seconds, or even 15 seconds per question, how much time do you save yourself over the entire exam?

Put together a study plan.

Before you get too far in your quest to familiarize yourself with your materials, you could benefit from putting together a study plan.

Schedule some time to review, tab, highlight, work through practice problems, and go through a practice exam. If you want to put your own study plan together, there is nothing stopping you, and better yet, it is free. You can type something out on the computer or write something using a pen and paper. This study plan can help you understand how many days or hours you have available to study and how many topics to cover during that time. By putting a study plan in place, you can be focused on your efforts and stay on schedule.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Work through practice problems.

The most important portion of your study time will be the time you spend working through practice problems.

The more exposure you have to different types of problems, the more equipped you will be for that same type of problem or concept when it shows up on the exam. The practice problems you can use will come from the materials you collected at the beginning or the free resources you can find online. These books of practice problems will help you hone your knowledge.

PPI has you covered with practice problems, but do not neglect the semi-free practice problems that are present as “example problems” in your reference manual or school textbooks. These can help those who are on a budget, as well as give you more exposure to difficult topics. This is not guaranteeing you will understand every single problem on the exam, but it does help you to prepare you for concepts you do not know and quickly address problems with concepts you do know.

Take a practice exam.

After taking enough time to go through enough practice problems, there will be a need to evaluate your progress before the exam. You can evaluate yourself by taking a practice exam in a realistic environment and timeframe.

By taking a practice exam, either an official practice exam for your specific exam or a PPI practice exam, you will see what areas you need to improve. Taking it within the same time constraints and the environment as the real exam might help you realize the area you need to improve is time management. In that case, refer to my previous comments about getting to know your materials. If the areas you need to improve are concepts, then use the materials you have to practice and brush up on the topic.

You Can Do This

The last thing to remember is that you can do this!

The licensure exam is not something to joke about. It is tough, but you are tougher. The exam is hard, but you are smart, and you can do hard things. For some, it may take a few times. For others, it takes a single time. I failed one of my own exams to become licensed, but I dusted myself off after my failure and returned to crush my exam with a new sense of vigor.

Regardless of your path, at the end of the day, you are achieving your goal and that is all that matters. You can do this! Now is the time to start your journey!

If you have any questions specifically about the FE Civil, PE Civil, or SE exams, please reach out to me (josh@thehipsterengineer.com). For a list of exam prep materials for the FE, PE, or SE exams. I personally recommend from PPI—check out this webpage.

Keep on keepin’ on. Life’s a garden…dig it!

—Josh Ogle, PE, SE


Read Article
Posted by Josh Ogle, PE, SE - September 28, 2020

How to Get an Engineering Job

So you're about to earn your degree, you had a great internship, and you are preparing for your first "real" job. Where do you start? Here are four tips to help you find an engineering job you'll be proud to have on your resume.

Step 1: Take the Fundamentals of Engineering FE Exam

Students in their final year of a bachelor's program, as well as those who have already graduated from college, can take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. There are seven discipline-specific versions of the FE exam: FE Chemical, FE Civil, FE Electrical and Computer, FE Environmental, FE Industrial, FE Mechanical, and FE Other Disciplines. Passing the test shows potential employers that you are qualified to be an engineer and that you are serious about your career. It is the first step toward becoming a licensed engineer. After passing the FE exam, you are considered an “engineer-in-training.” Among the many candidates you’ll be competing against, this is a great way to differentiate yourself.

Step 2: Network with Peers and Executives

Remember those adjunct professors you loved? They were adjuncts because they had a job in engineering and taught (generally) at night because they wanted to share their real-world knowledge. Look them up, and see if there are job openings where they work. At the very least, ask them for a recommendation. Remember, a vast majority—in the 80 percent range according to some estimates—of jobs are not advertised. So it's up to you to network. Don't forget upperclassmen that are now out in the workforce; they may know of an opening either at their employer or potentially at a competitor or partner firm. Networking also helps you practice interpersonal skills, including talking to strangers. That's handy when you're selected for an interview and when starting a new job.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Step 3: Join Professional Organizations

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) offers a list of NSPE State Societies located nationwide. Once you identify your local group, attend meetings and introduce yourself to the head of that chapter. Many associations are looking for young engineers and are willing to help those looking for a job. Most people genuinely want to help others get their career started. In addition, joining these types of groups will help build your skill set. That's important when first starting out, as well as many years down the road. Engineers must always be aware of and conversant in new developments in their chosen fields.

Step 4: Research Potential Employers

When applying for a job, your cover letter should reflect that you have some knowledge of the company. Once you are called for an interview, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you've done your homework. Some things to know (and not ask the interviewer): How many employees do they have? Is the company international? Who are their closest competitors? Have there been any major management or staff changes recently? What major innovations, if any, is the company responsible for? What is the company's reputation, and who makes up the target market? It's unlikely you'll be "quizzed" on such information during an interview; however, by working some of those pieces of knowledge into your conversation, you'll project a positive first impression.

Looking for a job, whether your first or your fifth, can be very stressful. Reduce that stress by being more prepared than others who are vying for the same position. Solid preparation will make you more confident in your ability to project your best self...and offer potential employers the best engineer their money can buy.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 28, 2020
Woman in blouse with polka dots working on laptop image

What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, and maintain construction projects and systems. These include roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water-sewage systems. As cities continue to grow, civil engineers need to assist in the development of new and improved water systems, as well as renewable energy projects. Civil engineers play a pivotal role in acquiring permits for project launches and often oversee the construction of wind and solar farms.

Civil Engineering History

To give you a better idea of what all of these civil engineers actually do, let’s take a look at a few famous civil engineers from history. Benjamin Wright was declared the Father of American Civil Engineering by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Wright was the chief engineer during the construction of the Erie Canal. Squire Whipple is another important civil engineer in history, credited with designing and building a weight lock scale that possessed a 300-ton capacity and was used to weigh boats on the Erie Canal.

Civil engineers have also played major roles in improving our world, including assisting Haiti in its recovery after the 2010 disaster, constructing the Panama Canal, and designing the Burj Khalifa, the world’s second-tallest building.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Civil Engineering Job Duties

Civil engineers help shape our cities by designing transportation systems, creating school buildings, and figuring out how to turn natural resources into power for our homes. Their typical roles include managing teams, creating CAD models, and designing structures that meet particular clients’ needs. Other civil engineering tasks include:

  • Analyzing survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, and aerial photography in order to plan projects efficiently
  • Computing load and grade requirements, water flow rates, and materials’ stress factors for design specifications.
  • Inspecting project sites and monitoring progress
  • Estimating quantities and material costs (to determine project feasibility)
  • Compiling public reports (bid proposals, environmental impact statements, and property descriptions)
  • Testing soils and materials to determine their strength in different conditions for use in large projects
If you’re in the market for a “people-serving” profession, and you want to play a major role in constructing the world around you, civil engineering might be the right profession for you. Get started by preparing to take the FE Civil exam.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 28, 2020
Man in denim shirt working on a laptop in front of a window image

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Curious, creative engineers often gravitate toward mechanical engineering because they want to apply their math skills to solving problems and figuring out how things work. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test various devices. To do their jobs well, they must possess an innate curiosity about what makes a process or machinery work.

In addition, they must also be creative in order to determine the best solution for an engineering problem or the most suitable concept for a design. A mechanical engineering degree along with advanced licensure will prepare a student for several different engineering jobs; it is one of the broadest engineering disciplines.

Mechanical Engineering Job Opportunities

Aerospace Industry
Mechanical engineers can work on parts of—or wholly on—engine design. They may be assessing the capabilities of existing designs or coming up with concepts from their drawing boards. In addition, mechanical engineers might be tasked with optimizing the components for cost or weight or for determining the best manufacturing process to use in production.

Defense Industry
Mechanical engineers working as defense contractors design instruments, controls, and robots, as well as engines, machines, and heat transfer systems that can be used in the defense of the United States. But such firms also take on aeronautical projects, such as the Hubble space telescope and the Mars Rover.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Military Industry
Within the armed forces, mechanical engineers manage the teams that repair and maintain military hardware, vehicles, and aircraft. Mechanical engineers service helicopters, tanks, trucks, and armored personnel carriers, as well as radios, radar, artillery guns, and missile systems. Working locations can vary from an army barracks to a mobile field unit.

Power Generation Industry
Power plant engineers are frequently mechanical engineers by training. They work to ensure that the power is produced without interruption as required. They oversee operations, as well as maintenance of power plants. Thermal, hydraulic, and nuclear power plants all require power plant engineers. Engineers in this discipline work on power-producing machines, including electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. Examples of mechanical systems in a nuclear plant include reactor coolant or recirculation, steam generators, chemical and volume control or reactor water cleanup, circulating water, feedwater, turbine-generator, and spent fuel storage cooling.

Steel Industry
Although metallurgical engineers work with the metals and ores that comprise steel in order to change or improve its properties or to find new applications for it, mechanical engineers are often found in supervisory or management jobs within the steel industry, searching for answers to mechanical problems on the production line.

Oil and Gas Industry
Mechanical engineers in this area are responsible for many different aspects of the oil mining and refinement process, which includes designing and installing equipment, planning and managing large projects, and researching and developing new technologies. Far-reaching projects, such as pipeline design and construction, require understanding and training in engineering basics, including thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and kinematics, as well as fundamental leadership and management principles. Familiarity with the big-picture science of oil helps engineers advance to bigger roles in project management, but it's also necessary for them to clearly communicate with their teams.

Chemical Industry
These companies hire mechanical engineers to work on chemical processing. Mechanical engineers help determine what materials are appropriate for use, as well as provide input for designing the mechanical equipment and other related processes.

As you can see, there are a lot of career paths you can take with a mechanical engineering degree. Across all industries, mechanical engineers design and implement cost-effective equipment modifications to improve safety and reliability. In addition, they are responsible for developing project specifications with their team members, which often requires working with those from other engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers create, test, and evaluate theoretical designs, test hypotheses, and work to provide efficient engineering solutions.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Man sitting at a desk in front of a computer monitor in an office image

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?

Electrical engineers are problem solvers, using their knowledge of circuitry and electronics, as well as their passion, to create and build systems and solution and to make everyday life a little more efficient. Electrical engineers don't just understand and work with electricity. They also know about electromagnetism, electronics, telecommunications, and signal processing.

Electrical engineers solve electrical or electronic problems. The first step entails identifying the challenge or identifying what problem the new electrical device is attempting to solve.

Once the solution is identified, the circuitry and other parts can be designed. Finally, a prototype can be created. The prototype identifies open issues, flaws, and areas for improvement. The prototype serves as a validation of the original idea. It can also function as a test to determine whether the initial idea will result in a product that can be designed for manufacturability.

Electrical engineers are responsible for working on products and systems from inception to ultimate manufacture and maintenance. They focus on safety, sustainability, and budgetary value.

Motor control, power and energy transmission, signal processing, and microelectronics are all possible career paths for electrical engineers. Possible industry choices vary as well, including everything from computers, robotics, and mobile devices to transportation, construction, and more.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Skills of Successful Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers usually have a four-year college degree in electrical (or electronics) engineering or in physics, mathematics, or computing and have passed their licensure exams. However, those working as an electrical engineer know that, in addition to having stellar technical knowledge from a college or university, they must also be up-to-date with their practical industry skills.

Electrical engineers should have excellent communication skills. They often work and communicate with specialists from a wide variety of areas, including architects and customer support.

Electrical engineers can apply their talents in a variety of areas:

  • Communications systems: Engineers hone in on basic television, radio, and telephone technology, as well as the more complicated wireless and laser transmission technologies.
  • Computers: Digital systems, microprocessors, and computer hardware design and manufacturing are highlighted.
  • Integrated circuits and solid-state devices: Focus here is on new products for the gaming industry, home appliances, and navigation systems.
  • Robotics: Concentration is on artificial intelligence, designing robotic arms, and ways to handle dangerous substances.
  • Power systems: Attention is on designing power grids and maintaining generators, as well as making energy more efficient.
A career in electrical engineering can also involve travel and site visits for meetings and performing inspections. An electrical engineer might play a role in inspections to ensure that electrical systems are in compliance with standards, or they may direct ongoing maintenance.

Those who enjoy disassembling and reassembling electrical devices to see how they work—and even improve them—are often drawn to this field. While many "techies" are involved in electrical engineering, it is important to be able to effectively communicate with others as well. Teams of engineers often work together to design products. Therefore, engaging team members and thoroughly explaining concepts, as well as having a thorough knowledge of the relevant technology, is critical to success in this important field.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Man with quizzical expression with hand on his chin image

Is Electrical Engineering a Good Career for Me?

Electrical engineering is a desirable career pursuit if you value job diversity, security, and a decent salary. Armed with an undergraduate degree, followed by professional certification, you can be a pivotal player in such sectors as power generation, transportation, biomedical, robotics, and communications—nearly every industry in any geographic region is in need of electrical engineers.

Electrical Engineering Job Outlook and Growth

Electrical engineering job opportunities remain steady in the United States. Future job growth will occur largely in engineering services firms because more companies are expected to cut costs by contracting their engineering services rather than directly employing engineers. These engineers will also be in demand to develop sophisticated consumer electronics.

There are also career opportunities in Europe for electrical engineers. The Association of German Engineers (VDI) maintains that, in comparison with other EU nations, Germany has the largest share of older engineers within its engineering workforce and will thus be affected by demographic issues in the near term. Despite a rising number of graduates, the country is still reliant on migration of skilled workers to fill these gaps.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Electrical Engineering Job Opportunities

Now, let’s talk about career diversity. A partial listing of areas-of-focus for electrical engineers includes circuits engineer, design engineer, electrical controls engineer, electrical design engineer, electrical engineer, electrical project engineer, instrumentation and electrical reliability engineer, power systems engineer, project engineer, and test engineer.

Electrical engineers work on electrical products and systems in offices, labs, or industrial plants in such diverse fields as transportation, information technology, manufacturing, power, construction, defense, and telecommunications, just to name a few.

Finally, there is an endless list of projects an electrical engineer can work on, including computers, robots, cell phones, radars, navigation systems, medical devices, or wiring and lighting in buildings.

Electrical engineers are problem solvers and often have the ability to:

  • Operate computer systems
  • Create electrical schematics
  • Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans
  • Discuss designs or plans with clients
  • Design electrical equipment or systems
Long hours may be required in order to meet deadlines, and a sharply-focused mindset is necessary to complete complex tasks. However, the challenges, opportunities, and variety of work are more than enough compensation for those eager to pioneer the next new technology.

If this sounds like a good career fit for you, consider taking the electrical engineering FE exam. This will allow you to become an engineer in training (EIT) and gain some valuable experience in the electrical engineering field before becoming a licensed engineer.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Man wearing earbuds working on a laptop in a coffee shop image

Four Fast-Growing Environmental Engineering Jobs

Environmental engineers take the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry and apply them to create solutions to environmental problems. They look at how to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, as well as water and air pollution control. Within the environmental engineering sector, there are areas that are particularly fast growing.

Environmental Engineering Degree Jobs

Sustainable Engineering
Sustainable engineering considers the entire product and process lifecycle during the design phase. Engineers look at the interactions among technical, ecological, social, and economic systems. Sustainable systems use energy and resources at a rate that does not compromise the natural environment or the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Concepts such as life cycle thinking, industrial ecology, and sustainable systems engineering are important characteristics of sustainable engineers. They identify potential trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic objectives with a goal of minimizing environmental impacts while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Transport Engineering
Transport engineers plan, design, and operate large public and private infrastructure systems, including highways, airports, trains, seaports, and bridges. They analyze data, identify problems, and solve them with an engineered solution. Some of the information that is gathered and evaluated includes traffic flow, accidents, costs, and other statistics. Transport engineers may need to work with utility companies and government departments to complete projects and adhere to local regulations.

Transport engineers design infrastructure networks that must meet travel and freight demands, ensure safety, mitigate congestion, and be budget-friendly. Transport engineering is evolving from its core mathematical, engineering, and computational principles into a multidisciplinary field that can include economics, politics, and sociology.

Water Engineering
Water engineers study how water interacts with all aspects of the built and natural environments. Water engineering looks at how natural systems such as rivers, estuaries, and the coasts behave, and engineers contemplate how to design infrastructure to store and direct water.

In addition, a water engineer handles the provision of clean water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, and the prevention of flood damage. They design water management systems, as well as repair, preserve, and oversee construction of structures that control water resources, including dams, pumping stations, and réservoirs.

Hazardous Waste Test Engineer
Hazardous waste test engineers collect and analyze soil or water samples that may be contaminated. They also provide information to those who need to know if their health or the public’s safety is in danger. Sometimes, hazardous waste is improperly disposed of, causing the public to be at risk.

Other times, municipalities may simply need confirmation of whether there is potential hazardous waste contamination. Although hazardous material comprises a small portion of the overall waste produced, it is crucial to handle it properly to avoid undue risk to the population, as well as the environment.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Woman in her living room working on a laptop in front of a window image

What Does an Environmental Engineer Do?

Environmental engineers focus on protecting people and the environment from adverse impacts, such as pollution and improper waste disposal. Some study ways to mitigate the effects of acid rain, climate change, car emissions, and ozone depletion. Overall, their focus is generally on improving environmental quality by reducing air, water, or soil pollution. 

Environmental engineers are involved in creating solutions to problems as varied as lessening the impact of climate change on the world's food supply to learning how methamphetamine may be absorbed into building materials.

Climate change, pollution, and resource depletion are all serious environmental issues. Increasingly, engineers are working to protect ecologically sensitive land, as well as the earth's valuable natural resources. Conservationists interested in improving processes related to recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control may be interested in specializing as environmental engineers.

Environmental engineers are frequently called in at the beginning of a project that potentially could affect, or even harm, the world in which we live. They are generally tasked with preparing, reviewing, and updating environmental impact reports. They often design projects that have to do with protecting or preserving the environment, such as water reclamation, desalination, air quality control, or resource recovery plants.

Environmental engineers must obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures. They must document what needs to happen, what actually does occur, and what happens in the aftermath, all the while monitoring progress, analyzing scientific data, and performing inspections to ensure regulatory compliance.

Some environmental engineers are involved in toxic clean-ups. They advise corporations that may have purchased, or are responsible for producing, contaminated sites. Others work with government agencies regarding procedures for cleaning up polluted sites.

The work can be hazardous because environmental engineers assist in cleaning highly contaminated areas. Therefore, it is possible they could be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials. However, they are protected by following specific protocol and wearing special equipment, such as hazmat suits and respirators. For example, when environmental engineers work in wet areas, they wear heavy rubber boots to keep the lower body dry and protected from toxic materials.

Qualities of a Successful Environmental Engineer

  • Good communication skills. Environmental engineers need to bring a team together, motivate them, and explain any issues coherently.
  • Not afraid to get dirty. Many environmental engineers must be willing to get a little dirty when they confront situations and issues out in the field.
  • Critical thinker. Common in most engineering jobs, critical thinking is the ability to articulate problems, identify C
  • Collaborative. The best environmental engineers are open to hearing all sides of an issue in order to create the most effective, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly solutions. They work with planners, hazardous waste technicians, and other engineers, as well as with specialists in law and business, to address environmental problems and environmental sustainability.
If you think this career might be a good fit, you will first need to complete your bachelor’s degree, and then pass the FE exam for environmental engineering. Once you have passed the FE exam, you can obtain a position as an engineer in training (EIT) or engineering intern. This will allow you to get some experience while you prepare to become a licensed environmental engineer. 
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Woman working on a laptop in open office area image

What Does an Engineer Do?

Maybe you’re on the fence about becoming a licensed engineer. Maybe you’re just looking for some career inspiration. Or perhaps you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into now that you’ve acquired your engineering degree. Engineering provides candidates with a plethora of job possibilities and an opportunity to touch people’s lives in more ways than you may have previously imagined. So, what does an engineer do on a daily basis?

If you performed a simple Google search to discover what an engineer actually does, you’ll come up with a vague and easy-to-regurgitate response like this one: “Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems.” While that may be true, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of what engineers do, and we couldn’t possibly sum up every amazing engineering feat in one definition.

First of all, what an engineer does depends on what kind of engineer the person is. The main branches of engineering (mechanical, civil, chemical, and electrical) are further broken down into sub-branches and sub-categories, leaving you with literally thousands of possibilities. Here are a few common examples.

Popular Engineering Careers

1. Electrical engineering
Electrical engineers can find jobs in a wide range of engineering industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics. For example, electrical engineers design the interfaces that transfer electricity from an engine to an aircraft.

2. Mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineers, on the other hand, perform tasks like designing infrastructure, manufacturing personal hygiene products, or developing railways.

3. Chemical engineering
Chemical engineers carry out their careers inventing pharmaceuticals, running food processing operations, or even creating new electronic and advanced materials and polymers for future technologies.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

4. Civil engineering
Civil engineers tend to acquire jobs designing, building, and supervising both public and private construction projects, such as airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply systems. There’s also a new rising branch in the engineering world referred to as geotechnical engineering, in which engineers deal with the science of soils and rocks. So these kinds of engineers are busy analyzing and designing foundations, slopes, roadways, and anything else that’s made of soil and rock.

Now you’re probably wondering, “But what do engineers do that will get me excited about a career in engineering?” Here are some interesting examples of how our daily lives are touched by the hands of an engineer.

The shoes on your feet have actually been designed with the help of engineers. Companies like Nike have recruited teams of shoe engineers (yes, shoe engineers) to design shoes that meet certain biomechanical requirements, while still maintaining comfort and protection.

Amusement park lovers will be interested to know that engineers have their hands full when it comes to theme parks, too. Developing rollercoasters, thrill rides, and controlling other aspects of the park itself, like lighting and crowd flow, are all left to engineers. The next time you go to a water park, you can thank a civil engineer for the slippery part of the water slide you’re gliding down. And, on a side note, the first Ferris Wheel, created in 1893 and containing 140-foot steel beams and a 45-foot axle, was also created by an engineer (George W. Ferris).

We’ve certainly all indulged in some good movies in our lifetime. Well, have you ever seen Jurassic Park, Star Wars, or Avatar? Computer engineers play a monumental role in the development of special effects for films like these.

If you’re a space enthusiast, take a moment and think about NASA’s manned Mars mission, scheduled to take place within the next decade. Aerospace engineers are working feverishly to develop the software, spacecraft, robotics systems, food, medical supplies, and other life-sustaining technology to support this mission. These engineers are at the forefront of making it possible for humans to survive on other planets.

Drones, cars, cellphones, computers, aircraft, robots—any device or gadget you can possibly think of—has been imagined, designed, created, or overseen by an engineer. We can’t possibly list every amazing thing engineers do, but if you have the desire and drive to do something amazing yourself, engineering certainly gives you plenty of room to find your niche.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Woman seated on a sofa working on a laptop image

What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?

An engineering degree can take you in many different directions. To assist you in your decision-making process, let’s take a look at a few things a mechanical engineer does. 

James Watt, the man known for inventing the first modern steam engine, was a mechanical engineer. Nikola Tesla, the man known for developing alternating current electrical systems, was a mechanical engineer. Even Bill Nye, the man better known as the “Science Guy,” is a mechanical engineer.

The discipline is so broad that it covers a variety of jobs in thousands of companies worldwide, in industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy, electronics, chemical, computers, government, construction, robotics, and even entertainment.

These engineers carry out tasks such as designing, developing, building, and testing mechanical and thermal sensors, as well as devices like tools, engines, and machines. Pretty much any machine or process you can think of has been touched by a mechanical engineer at some point.

Maybe you’d like to come up with solutions to current development processes. As a mechanical engineer, you have the potential to work on all stages of product development, from design and manufacturing to installation and final commissioning. Think about how many industries out there rely on mechanical systems—these are all potential job opportunities. While one mechanical engineer can be tasked with creating bio-medical devices, like mechanical hearts, another may be working in a large oil refinery.

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

Generally speaking, mechanical engineers typically carry out tasks such as:

  • Designing cost-effective equipment
  • Testing and evaluating theoretical designs
  • Solving complex manufacturing problems with suppliers and customers
  • Developing, testing, and evaluating theoretical designs
  • Ensuring reliable product production 
  • Managing projects
  • Planning new production processes
  • Dealing with issues such as cost, safety, and time constraints
Mechanical engineers often find themselves working on power-generating machines, such as internal combustion engines and steam and gas turbines. They might venture into working with power-consuming technology like refrigerators and air conditioners, machine tools, material-handling systems, elevators, industrial production equipment, or manufacturing robots.

Other mechanical engineers focus on designing tools that help other engineers do their jobs. And still others opt for a more administrative role or creep into technical sales. 

The work day of a mechanical engineer could include tasks such as coming up with efficient ways for machines and engineers to interact, rerouting conveyer belts and reorganizing production steps, maintaining the equipment technicians use to interface with manufacturing equipment, or overseeing one particular part of the manufacturing process. In large organizations, a mechanical engineer might even oversee several production facilities.

But that’s not all. Mechanical engineers can also maintain aircraft, cars, infrastructure, electronic components, military equipment, and railways. For example, if you’re a mechanical engineer who develops complex mechanical systems using 3-D modeling and analysis tools for the defense industry, you could also become involved with mechanical systems like overhead power lines (even though they’re electrical, they still require the help of a mechanical engineer).

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Work On?

Below is a list of things that mechanical engineers play a major role in developing:

  • Automotive: car chassis, engines, transmissions, sensors
  • Aerospace: airplanes, aircraft engines, control systems for airplanes and spacecraft
  • Bio-technology: implants, prosthetic devices, fluidic systems for pharmaceutical industries
  • Computers and electronics: disk drives, printers, cooling systems, semiconductor tools
  • MEMS: sensors, actuators, micro-power generation
  • Energy: gas turbines, wind turbines, solar energy, fuel cells
  • Environmental: HVAC, air-conditioning, refrigeration, compressors
  • Automation: robots
  • Manufacturing: machining, machine tools, prototyping, microfabrication
So, what exactly does a mechanical engineer do? It all depends on the type of mechanical engineer you’d like to be. The one definitive thing we can say about mechanical engineering is…you’ll have plenty of great options within this diverse discipline.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Woman working on a laptop with a bookcase behind her image

Where Do Mechanical Engineers Work?

Many engineering fields are creative in nature; engineers are presented a problem and are tasked with finding ways to solve it. Often, those solutions are unique and other times they involve taking an existing idea and improving on it.

A mechanical engineer specifically develops new equipment and products to optimize production or improve work processes. Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, including electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. In addition, they design power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers also design machines that function inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. Virtually every company has a need for a mechanical engineer. Companies as diverse as aircraft manufacturer Boeing, software giant Microsoft, and the US Department of Energy, all employ mechanical engineers. Automotive, aerospace, and electronics are just a few examples of industries frequently hiring mechanical engineers.

What Jobs are Available for Mechanical Engineers?

Automotive Industry
With Tesla, GM, Toyota, and Nissan all offering electric vehicles, there are many opportunities to work in futuristic technology. The world's transportation is gradually seeing an increase in the use of electric or hybrid cars.

In addition, car part suppliers are often tasked with designing the most innovative systems within an automobile—the manufacturer itself is often more concerned with integrating the technology. For example, a company that applies industrial coatings to auto parts also designs and builds the robots that apply the coating.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Aerospace Industry
Mechanical engineers design, test, and manufacture within the aerospace industry. Design of structure includes fuselage, wing, empennage, power plant, and landing gear. The design of systems is more centered on the integration of parts.

For instance, a mechanical engineer could work on one or more of the components required to create a Rolls-Royce aero engine. A typical course of study includes machine design, mechanics, internal combustion engines, and fluid mechanics, which are all critical principles of the aerospace industry.

Chemical Industry
The great outdoors is also home to many mechanical engineers, particularly in the chemical segment, which includes the oil industry. Oil companies need mechanical engineers to ensure the rigs are always producing optimally. When equipment breaks, the engineers provide failure analysis and redesigns.

Mechanical engineers working for companies that do exploration and production would perform integrity engineering on pipelines, while those at service companies doing field work would design different tools or methods to optimize and secure the manufacturing process.


Mechanical engineers are sought after because their skills are generally adaptable to most disciplines. Employers like to see creativity, because engineering is a field based on innovation. In addition, strong communication skills are necessary to ensure the needs of clients and other stakeholders are being met. Finally, problem-solving skills are crucial—no matter the field of discipline. In combination with math skills and analytical abilities, problem-solving is a passport to success as a mechanical engineer.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Two colleagues sitting side by side looking at a laptop screen together image

What Do Industrial Engineers Do?

Industrial engineers are responsible for optimizing complex systems and eliminating waste from those systems. As a result, they play an important role in streamlining the use of time, materials, machinery, and employees to generate the most value for their companies. As businesses and governments work to cut costs and become more efficient, industrial engineers are increasingly in need. 

Being an industrial engineer is the ideal role for an engineer who thrives on taking an established idea or procedure and improving it. They enjoy figuring out how to make machinery and processes more efficient. Although the majority of industrial engineering jobs are within manufacturing, they work in virtually every sector, from retail to healthcare.

Industrial engineers need to have a working understanding of the industry they are in and must quickly become experts in that segment's manufacturing and production processes. Furthermore, they need to be in sync with the specific culture, problems, and challenges the company faces.

Industrial Engineering Education Requirements

Most industrial engineering positions require a four-year degree. Bachelor's degree programs in industrial engineering cover topics in general engineering, physics, economics, production design, and manufacturing. However, many industrial engineers have degrees in mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering.

In addition, industrial engineering candidates will need to pass the FE exam for industrial engineering. Once they pass the NCEES FE exam, they can obtain a position as an engineer in training (EIT) or an engineering intern. This will allow them to gain valuable experience while they prepare to become a licensed industrial engineer.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

What Do Industrial Engineers Do?

The job of industrial engineer combines the roles of analyst and detective. The analyst wants to learn what the end result is currently, while the detective wants to determine if there's a case for improvement. Those observations are then shared with company executives. While some of the top brass may have given industrial engineers the marching orders to begin with, many of them are nevertheless emotionally invested in their traditional way of doing business.

Few people really enjoy and embrace change, even if they know it's necessary for the business to succeed. So, in addition to being analytical and curious, industrial engineers must also be tactful and confident. The best industrial engineers stand by their recommendations even when they are unpopular with management.

The future of industrial engineering is tied to the future of American manufacturing. As manufacturing jobs grow, so will the need for industrial engineers. They can help design facilities with an eye toward complex system integration, and they are keenly aware that every company's bottom line is tied to its operational efficiency.

Therefore, industrial engineers focus on making improvements using a number of methods, including statistical analysis, interpersonal communication, design, planning, management, and quality control.

Typically, industrial engineers are responsible for:

  • Scheduling and production. An industrial engineer reviews when production is slated, as well as the process flow. By being familiar with the manufacturing method, the industrial engineer can make informed suggestions on how to better utilize time and people assets.
  • Cost containment. An industrial engineer with a financial background can develop management control systems that will streamline financial planning and cost analysis.
  • Quality control. Production problems are costly. Not only do industrial engineers enact quality control measures, but they also design those systems to coordinate manufacturing activities and ensure products meet quality standards.
  • Standardization. Sometimes, companies make or buy 20 different widgets for 20 different products when one universal widget could easily be created. An industrial engineer with deep knowledge of the manufacturing and design process can determine how to create standard parts that provide cost savings and assembly line efficiencies.
Overall, industrial engineers streamline the many processes that comprise the production or manufacture of a service or product. This often leads to improved working conditions and increased efficiency of employees. To put it simply, the ultimate goal of industrial engineering is to lower expenses and increase productivity.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Man holding a pencil looking at an open laptop image

Five Famous Industrial Engineers in American History

Industrial engineers are an important part of society and have made huge contributions throughout American history. What do industrial engineers do? They aim to reduce the waste of time, money, materials, man-hours, machine time, energy, and other resources that do not generate value. Industrial engineers streamline the use of time, materials, machinery, and employees. In addition, some industrial engineers make such valuable improvements that their solutions forge innovative pathways for other companies and even industries to follow. They have made a name for themselves by simply "doing their jobs." Check out these five industrial engineers who have made a lasting impact in their field.

5 Famous Industrial Engineers

Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the automotive company bearing his name, is possibly the most famous industrial engineer of all time. Ford exemplifies the definition of an industrial engineer. He is best known perhaps as the entrepreneur who installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. His innovation cut the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes. But there are other industrial engineers who have made their marks as well.

Before Ford, there was Eli Whitney (1765-1825). Whitney invented the cotton gin, considered one of the most important contributions to the Industrial Revolution. In addition, the engineer was a proponent of interchangeable parts for machinery. Both solutions helped increase efficiency for their respective industries. The cotton gin revolutionized the way cotton was harvested in the US southern states and strengthened the economic argument for slavery. However, in the North, the growing popularity of using interchangeable parts gave the manufacturing industry new life and was a contributing factor to the North winning the Civil War.

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972) is considered the "mother of modern management." She pioneered industrial management techniques still used today. Working with her husband, Frank, who focused on the technical aspects of worker efficiency, Lillian aimed to discern the human aspects of time management. As a result of the couple's work, job standardization, incentive wage plans, and job simplification became familiar within the workplace. In addition, she was among the first to identify how fatigue and stress negatively impacted time management. Later, she became a consultant to many industrial firms, including General Electric, where her work improved the design of kitchens and household appliances. Some of her innovative techniques were designed to specifically help disabled women complete common household tasks.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Alphonse Chapanis (1917-2002) was a pioneer in the field of ergonomics. He authored the first ergonomics textbook, Applied Experimental Psychology: Human Factors in Engineering Design. In addition, he created and implemented safety improvements in aircraft cockpits, which are still used today. His research also contributed to the design of the standard telephone touchtone keypad.

Tim Cook is the definition of the successful industrial engineer in modern times—one who optimizes complex systems and eliminates waste from those systems. A career at IBM and Compaq allowed him to develop an expertise in handling supply lines. Cook then moved to Apple, where he reduced the number of the OEM's key suppliers from 100 to 24. He negotiated better deals with partners and convinced many to locate next to Apple's plants. Further, Cook closed 10 of 19 Apple warehouses, cut inventory from one month to six days, and eventually brought that number down to two days’ worth of inventory. As a result, the time it took to build an Apple computer was eventually cut from four months to just two months.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 25, 2020
Man seated in a warehouse working on a laptop image

When Should I Take the NCEES FE Exam?

One of the best investments engineering students can make in their future is taking the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The FE exam is a necessary part of becoming a professional engineer (PE). The test is available to anyone already holding an engineering degree, but some students may be wondering, "When should I take the fundamentals of engineering exam?" Many professors advise sitting for it as a graduating senior.

Why shouldn't engineering students wait until after graduation, when they have a year or two of experience? Although that path is completely acceptable, it may make it more difficult for the candidate to pass the exam. Once in the workforce, engineers are often focused on a particular industry or on a certain aspect of engineering and tend to forget much of the basic material taught at the university level. Therefore, many advisors recommend taking the FE exam the last semester of senior year—when information relevant to the test is fresh in a student's mind.

Additionally, many engineers find that when they do wait, life tends to get in the way. The longer one waits to take the FE exam, the harder it will be to pass, and as a result, the longer it will take to obtain professional licensure by passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

Taking the FE exam comes at a price—$175 to be exact. However, only registered professional engineers can perform engineering consulting work, and that requires passing the six-hour, 110-question computer-based test. In addition, the FE exam is the first step toward eligibility to take the professional engineer licensing exam.

It's true that an engineer can work for a company designing and manufacturing products without being registered, but that's because product liability laws protect the public. But when a company provides engineering services, whoever is responsible for that work must be a registered engineer. PEs approve plans and drawings with the official seal issued to them. Engineers who are not registered must work under the supervision of someone who is, even if the unlicensed engineer owns the business.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Why Should I Take the Exam Now?

The FE exam is open to anyone who has a degree in engineering or a related field, or is currently enrolled in the last year of an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited engineering degree program. Some state licensure boards let students take it prior to their final year, although it is likely that the junior-year engineering student has not yet been exposed to all the subject matter that is on the test. Several states let those who have not attended an approved program take the exam if they have a certain number of years of engineering work experience.

By taking the exam in the last semester of engineering school, the candidate is most likely to have learned about the various topics covered, which include, but are not limited to: engineering economics, electricity and magnetism, chemistry, ethics, engineering statistics, fluid mechanics, strength of materials, and thermodynamics. Research from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying indicates that taking the exam while still in school offers the greatest likelihood of passing. Some schools even expect you to pass the FE exam to graduate.

Every state has their own licensing requirements for engineers. It's a long, difficult process that rewards those who meet the challenge...and it all starts with the FE exam. The best time to take the FE exam depends on personal circumstances. In general, the best chance for success is to take the FE exam during the senior year of college, or shortly thereafter, when the material is still easy to recall.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 24, 2020
Woman seated in front of a sofa and working on a laptop image

Five Reasons Why You Should Become a Civil Engineer

Bridges, roads, dams, canals—each of these is a landmark in its own way, and each is built through the efforts of a civil engineer. Civil engineers have a unique opportunity to build structures that allow them to leave their mark on the world. If you're wondering how to become a civil engineer, get more information on earning your FE license here. Still not decided? Read on for five reasons to become a civil engineer.

1. Industry Flexibility

Like many engineering professions, civil engineers can find opportunities in varied fields, including energy (designing oil rigs or wind farms), bridges, geotechnical (developing plans for soil testing), and environmental (creating pollution remediation systems). Many civil engineers spend time outdoors at construction sites in order to monitor operations onsite. Civil engineers are often seen as jacks-of-all-trades because they need to possess a wide variety of engineering knowledge. They are on the ground floor of projects as diverse as skyscrapers, railways, and stadiums. Because even the most straightforward project requires thousands of decisions that can have hundreds of unknown implications, a civil engineer must have the background to certify that the project will be sound, operational, and resilient. Both the public and private sectors have opportunities for civil engineers.

2. Civil Engineering Job Stability

As the infrastructure of the United States and other developed countries continues to age, civil engineers are vital for managing projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, upgrade levees and dams, and maintain airports and other buildings. State and local government work regarding water availability and quality will likely lead to future civil engineering projects concerned with making water use more efficient. For developing nations, civil engineers play a critical role in meeting demands for energy, transportation, waste disposal, earth moving, environmental cleanup, telecommunication, and infrastructure.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

3. Civil Engineering Salary

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earn median annual pay of above $85,000. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is generally required, and many civil engineers obtain graduate degrees and licensure for promotion to senior positions.

4. Community Service

Civil engineers are instrumental during emergencies such as droughts or natural disasters. They have the skill set and talents necessary to rebuild the community infrastructure. Civil engineers have the ability to pay exceptional attention to details, while at the same time understanding “the big picture.” However, they must also strike a balance in order to be sensitive to local and environmental challenges, as well as to the requirements of different construction project participants.

5. Creativity

Civil engineers encounter projects with unique challenges and requirements. They may need to incorporate materials in new ways, improve workflows to gain greater efficiencies, or adapt to increasing demands from technological advancements, population growth, or the environment. They need to address these issues with creative problem-solving skills. As part of their strategic portfolio of "tools," civil engineers use gadgets and software that the general public may have never heard of or used. For example, civil engineers employ advanced analytical engineering models that use the latest technological advances to enable networking and collaborative engineering design.

Civil engineering appeals to engineers who want to work on projects with high visibility in the community. They enjoy working as part of a group and often work closely with developers, local jurisdictions, and a team of engineers. While reaching consensus and respecting other's work styles is a big part of this job, there is a one-on-one component when working directly with communities to reach development goals. For many, the feeling of helping a neighborhood become a better place to live is one of the biggest rewards of being a civil engineer.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 24, 2020
Man seated in a warehouse working on a laptop image

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineers create, enhance, and protect the environment in which we live. They propose, design, and orchestrate the construction and maintenance of structures and facilities. This includes the roads we drive on, the railways we ride, and the airports we frequent. In addition, civil engineers design plans for bridges, harbors, dams, parking lots, irrigation projects, power plants, and water and sewage systems. It's no wonder that one day is not the same as the next—but there are similar threads throughout different assignments.

A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer

What is a typical day in the life of a civil engineer? In what is arguably the oldest engineering profession, there is truly no "typical" day. A day in the life of a civil engineer involves making use of one’s design and construction skills and applying them to a physically built or natural environment.

1. Planning

Any day in the life of a civil engineer (CE) begins with a plan or strategy on how to accomplish the myriad of tasks at hand. For a civil engineer, this is particularly important. The plan lays the foundation for the day, and every day is a step toward completing a substantial project. Missing a deadline because of poor planning can cost the CE's company thousands of dollars. Planning often begins with a feasibility study, which answers the question of whether the proposed project idea should be pursued.

2. Contract writing

This is the paperwork part of the project that lists specifically what is included. Deadlines and due dates are often included, as well as cost projections. Some civil engineers oversee specific mandates and ensure that all parties involved fulfill obligations to which they agreed.

3. Understanding government regulations

Civil engineers have access to databases that provide many pages of guidelines and restrictions relating to building and infrastructure projects. A CE must make sense of the legalese in order to properly plan and fulfill state and local projects. In addition, a CE may have to attend and prepare for public hearings. Being familiar with the applicable local laws is necessary to represent the project accurately. If necessary, the CE develops procedures to clean up contaminated sites.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

4. Project management

Project management involves leading a team of designers and engineers tasked with working on and designing a particular undertaking. During project management, the civil engineer directs the creation of a set of plans that will ultimately show how a project should be built. In this function, a CE’s engineering education plays a large role in ensuring that all facets of the design will function as required.

5. Construction management

While similar to project management, construction management focuses on the actual work of building and creation. Managing construction requires strict adherence to the budget to avoid cost overruns. In addition, every deadline along the way must be met, leading up to the final high-quality deliverable.

6. Creating proposals

A strong proposal is persuasive, outlining exactly what the engineering firm is planning. It presents a well-organized plan of attack. A strong proposal has technical details, because technical depth is needed to "sell" a project. It also includes a budget for the client's project.

7. Meeting with clients

In-person, on-site client calls are critical to any project. Not only does this ensure that the CE understands the client's needs, but it also solidifies their relationship. Of course, regular phone calls are also part of the job to keep clients up-to-date. However, nothing beats the results that meaningful face-to-face interaction can provide. Together, the parties involved can hammer out the details for a quality, cost-effective project that meets the client's needs.


The civil engineer's day is varied and full of challenges. They are consistently faced with problems that require many different tools to solve in an economic and efficient fashion. Civil engineers often interact with other disciplines to ensure they are meeting requirements and exceeding their clients' expectations.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 24, 2020
Woman seated at her desk in a home office working on a laptop image

How to Study For—and Pass—the NCEES FE Exam

So you’ve graduated from an accredited engineering program and would like to start making money to pay back those student loans, right?

You’ll need to pass that long-awaited (and possibly dreaded) NCEES FE exam. Becoming a licensed engineer is a prestigious feat in the eyes of your future employers, so if you want to make sure you have what it takes to not only study for, but also pass your FE exam, here’s some advice.

First, have confidence in yourself. You have made it this far, which means you’ve been prepped in more than just math and science variations like physics and chemistry. You’ve probably been taught about problem solving, manufacturing, lab processes, maximizing productivity, minimizing costs, production and distribution systems, and maybe even how to optimize interactions in a technological environment.

Unfortunately, a simple education won’t be enough if you want to pass the FE, though. You’ll want to get your hands on the right review materials geared toward your specific engineering discipline and practice both with books and digital study tools.

Why do I even have to take the FE exam?

Just like medical doctors and lawyers, engineers need to obtain a license before they can offer their services to the public. Each state has its own set of laws and standards, but basically it’s illegal to tell the public that you’re an independent engineer and can provide specific services for them without this license.

Though an engineer can work for a company, designing and manufacturing products, without being registered, due to certain product liability laws that protect the public, the person responsible for the work still has to be registered. Therefore, being a licensed engineer is a big deal if you want to climb the ladder in your profession.

The first Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam was administered in 1965, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) decided to offer it in six discipline-specific modules: Chemical, Civil, Industrial, Electrical, Mechanical, and General Engineering. So at least now you only have to focus on the area you’ll need to know about most. The organization made it even easier for you just two years ago when it decided that FE exams would be administered via computer-based testing for the first time and transformed the test into seven freestanding, discipline-specific exams.

Ok, I get it. Now how do I pass the FE exam?

Exam prep providers have several options for you, and each one focuses on the current exam topics you’ll need to prep for. For example, if you’re going to take the FE exam with a focus on mechanical engineering, you’ll be prepping for an exam that will cover topics such as dynamics, kinematics and vibrations, probability and statistics, mechanics of materials, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics.

We recommend you prepare with a combination of books and digital study tools so there are no surprises on exam day. In addition to increasing your knowledge, this is also an effective way to reduce the anxiety associated with unpreparedness. Taking a FE Exam prep course is also a good way to ensure that you are completely prepared while leaving your study plan up to the experts.

It’s important to note that this exam won’t be like the tests you’ve taken in school. A few years ago, the NCEES moved its testing methods into the 21st century by implementing computer-based exams. Testing in this way is still fairly new and has had to overcome a series of barriers among teachers and students alike, but it has finally become standard. While it’s still novel, it can offer more efficient test-taking for some who do not perform well on standardized tests, as well as faster feedback and scoring. It even opens the doors to innovative ways of asking questions, such as video clips or computer simulations.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Some Additional Tips

1. Get your hands on the NCEES Handbook early and learn where everything is—this is what you’ll be using during the actual exam.
2. Begin studying months in advance. 
3. Work tons of practice exams under timed conditions.
4. Figure out your strong and weak areas so you know which questions to work and which you’ll want to skip.
5. Review simple math.
6. Memorize formulas that are not provided in the NCEES Handbook.
7. Give yourself a day or two before the exam to rest—we recommend not taking any practice exams during this time.
8. During the test, read problems carefully. (Sometimes they can be solved by analyzing the answers or reverse engineering).

And, as redundant as these may sound, they are timeless suggestions:

9.   Get a good night’s sleep.
10. Eat a good meal beforehand.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 24, 2020
Woman working on a tablet device in front of a window image

How to Prepare for FE Exam Day

For some people, taking exams can be stressful, no matter how well prepared they are. Taking steps to understand the exam process can help ease that stress. Here are some tips and suggestions for preparing for exam day.

A Few Days Before the FE Exam

As you are wrap up your  FE exam review, consider familiarizing yourself with the exam center, visit the testing center building, parking areas, examination room, and restrooms.

Prepare two examination kits (See “What to Bring to the Exam”). The first kit includes items that can be left in your assigned locker (e.g., your admittance letter, photo ID, and extra calculator batteries). The second kit includes items that should be left in your car in case you need them (e.g., copy of your application, warm sweater, and extra snacks or beverages).

The Day Before the FE Exam

If possible, take the day before the examination off from work to relax. Do not cram the last night before your FE exam. Remember that at this point, you have done all you possibly could for your FE exam review. A good prior night’s sleep is the best way to start the examination. If you live far from the examination site, consider getting a hotel room in which to spend the night. Make sure your exam kits are packed and ready to go.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

The Day of the FE Exam

You should arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled start time. This will allow time for finding a convenient parking place, bringing your items to the testing center, and checking in.

During the Exam

Once the FE exam has started, observe the following suggestions. As you may have practiced during your FE exam review, do not spend more than four minutes working a problem. (The average time available per problem is slightly less than three minutes.) If you have not finished a question in that time, flag it for later review if you have time, and continue on. Don’t ask your proctors technical questions. Proctors are pure administrators. They don’t know anything about the exam or its subjects.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 23, 2020
Man sitting on a couch and working on a laptop image

Examinee Study Tips for the FE Other Disciplines Exam

We asked Daniel Bridges, who passed the FE Other Disciplines exam, some questions to help you study more efficiently.

About Daniel: Daniel Bridges took and passed the FE Other Disciplines exam in August 2017. He is currently employed as an engineer in the fire protection field and plans to take the PE Fire Protection exam in the future when he is eligible.

Daniel's education was a bit different from most who have taken the FE exam. He graduated in late 2014 with a B.S. in Physical Sciences with most of his classes being engineering courses. He needed to apply through his state in order to be approved to sit for the FE exam since his degree is not an accredited engineering degree.

Q: What do you know now about studying for the exam that you wish you had known when you initially began studying?

A: After taking the exam, I realized that the actual exam questions were quite a bit easier than some of the review material I came across. I also realized I had spent time trying to learn a few subjects for the exam that didn't come up.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your studying experience and how did you work to overcome it?

A: Honestly, the hardest part was committing to the exam and signing up to take it. It took me over two years after graduating to finally stop procrastinating and sign up for the exam. I had a long conversation with my significant other about our future and my career, which was enough to push me to sign up for the exam. Aside from that, it was also difficult to find study time between work, social life, and other priorities. I adjusted my schedule to help fit study time in as best as I could, and would try and do at least a small amount of review every day in the three months leading up to the exam.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Q: What are some tricks you have discovered that have made a difference in your studies?

A: The best way for me to study was to go somewhere away from home such as the library, the mall, or a coffee shop in order to focus. I associate my apartment with relaxing and found it really hard to study there. I would pack up my things and just go somewhere else. It took extra time to do that, but I felt not having the distractions was well worth it.

Q: What study materials were most useful for you?

A: I used the FE Other Disciplines Review Manual by Michael R. Lindeburg as a starting point and then used practice problems from a few different sources.

Q: What advice would you give to an examinee who feels overwhelmed by the studying/testing process?

A: The hardest part for me was just signing up. I think once you commit to the exam it is fairly easy to pass. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to sign up immediately after graduation.

Q: Was there any content on the exam that surprised you?

A: There were definitely questions and subjects on the exam that I never came across during my review time. I took my best guess and moved on. My time was better spent focusing on subjects that I spent time studying for.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the exam?

A: I was unsure how I would handle the length of the exam (six hours) since I haven't really taken a long exam in years. However, once I was in the test room, time flew by because I was so focused on the exam.

Also, I was unable to study the final week leading up to the exam due to being very busy at work. I was a bit worried because I felt I still had some things to review and was a bit shaky on some subjects. However, looking back I am glad I was able to take a break from studying that week. I would have likely been very overwhelmed going into the exam had I tried to study on top of all of the extra work I was already doing that week. In the end, I didn't need that additional study time, and I was not mentally burnt out on exam day.

Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 23, 2020
Woman sitting in front of a white brick wall working on a laptop image

How to Use Your FE Review Manual with the NCEES Handbook

Starting your FE exam prep can be confusing when you don't know how to properly utilize your materials. To start, you should have an FE Review Manual and the NCEES Handbook. Becoming familiar with the features of the NCEES Handbook will help you gain confidence and make studying easier. Your FE Review Manual will help you become familiar with the format, layout, organization, and, at times odd, conventions of the NCEES Handbook.

The manual uses color to differentiate between what is available to you during the exam, and what is supplementary content that makes a topic more interesting or easier to understand. Anything that closely parallels or duplicates the NCEES Handbook is printed in blue. Headings that introduce content related to NCEES Handbook equations are printed in blue. Titles of figures and tables that are essentially the same as in the NCEES Handbook are similarly printed in blue.

PPI Review Manuals are organized into topics that correspond to the knowledge areas listed by NCEES in its exam specifications. However, unlike the NCEES Handbook, your Review Manual arranges subtopics that build logically on one another.

It's important to note that each chapter contains sections organized around NCEES Handbook equations, but the arrangement of those equations is based on logical development to ensure the best FE exam prep. Equations that are presented together in this book may actually be many pages apart in the NCEES Handbook.

Generally, you can expect the presentation of each subtopic or related group of equations to follow this outline:

  • General section title
  • Background and developmental content
  • Equation name (or description) and equation number
  • Equation with NCEES Handbook formatting
  • Any relevant variations of the equation
  • Any values typically associated with the equation
  • Additional explanation and development
  • Worked quantitative example using the NCEES Handbook equation
  • Footnotes
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 23, 2020
Man sitting at a desk looking at a laptop image

Important Engineering Skills for a Successful Career

The word engineering comes from the Latin words ingenium, meaning "cleverness," and ingeniare, meaning "to contrive or devise,” so we know successful engineers are intelligent. There’s more to becoming a successful engineer than one’s intelligence, though.

Qualities of Successful Engineers

According to Monster.com, some of the most common qualities you’ll need to be a successful engineer include good communication, high interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, organization, and technical expertise. While these are helpful qualities to possess, let’s expand on this generic list a bit.

First and foremost, you need a mind that’s geared toward problem-solving. Part of being a good problem-solver includes the ability to remain objective, determine obstacles, identify opportunity, take action, and implement reverse engineering. Fantastic problem solvers also need to be able to delegate responsibility and push their (often large) egos aside.

Successful engineers pay very close attention to detail. So, if you’re one of those people who look through everything with a fine-toothed comb and sometimes aggravate your peers with your precision, you can check that skill off your list. You’ll also need a thirst for knowledge. 

So far, we’ve touched on a series of innate, not-really-related-to-engineering skills that are often associated with your personality. If you do possess most of these qualities, then you may be an engineer at heart. In the meantime, we can revisit technical expertise and cover the engineering skills you’ll need to actually be good at your job.

Let’s break down the skills you’ll need by the five most popular engineering disciplines because at the core of a successful engineering career lies qualifications in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects at the master’s and post-graduate levels.

Civil Engineering Skills

  • Math, science, IT skills
  • Ability to explain design ideas and plans clearly
  • Ability to analyze large amounts of data
  • Project management skills
  • Ability to work within budgets and deadlines
  • Knowledge of relevant legal regulations
  • Experience conducting experiments, designing systems, components, or processes that meet desired needs for economic, environmental, social, health and safety, and sustainability factors

Electrical Engineering Skills

  • College math
  • Computer structure and logic
  • Knowledge of AC-DC electronics, networking, probability, physics, microprocessor systems, power systems, semiconductors, electro-optics, and linear control systems
  • Ability to produce and interpret technical diagrams
  • Understanding of electrical health and safety regulations

Mechanical Engineering Skills

  • IT (software, computer-aided design)
  • Technology design technique skills
  • Knowledge of blueprints and models
  • Budgeting skills
  • Ability to adapt to changing circumstances
  • Ability to work under pressure and deadlines

Industrial Engineering Skills

  • Science (some physics and chemistry), technology, and mathematics
  • Production and processing
  • Design techniques and tools
  • Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software

Environmental Engineering Skills

  • Math (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications)
  • Chemical composition and structure
  • Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, computer hardware and software, design techniques, and tools
  • Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies
  • Relevant laws and legal codes
  • Practical application of engineering principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment
  • Business and management skills
While there are different educational backgrounds and classes that play a more dominant role in certain engineering disciplines, the crux of becoming a successful engineer lies in the skills you can’t always learn in the classroom.

Keep in mind that the most successful engineers have those distinctive qualities we mentioned earlier—an analytical mind, superb communication skills, logical thinking, creativity, and a desire to continue learning.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 21, 2020
Top down view of multiple colleagues working together at a conference table image

5 Entry-Level Engineering Jobs with Great Potential

Earning an engineering degree is hard work. The course load is focused and challenging, and it often takes more than four years in college to complete. It's a very structured undertaking, and students who complete the requirements are generally highly sought-after job candidates.

In addition to formal schooling, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam may be required for some positions. Becoming a Professional Engineer (PE) further distinguishes one's career. Licensure is the mark of a professional and can help an applicant not only get a job offer, but also command a higher salary. 

Entry-Level Engineering Jobs

The following are five excellent entry-level engineering jobs to consider. These choices represent a diverse cross section of engineering opportunities, as well as excellent earning potential. Each offers the potential to learn a role and move on, or to remain in the role and become an expert.

Engineering Analyst

An engineering analyst uses technology, science, and data to assess whether the processes in place are meeting desired goals. Excellent communication abilities are a must, as well as proficient writing and demonstration skills. Job responsibilities often include identifying problems particular to the project, analyzing data, gathering and digesting feedback, and proposing solutions and final designs.

This job is a good fit for: People who enjoy research and designing solutions. 

Field Engineer

This position requires people who want to focus on a particular industry and become experts in their own company. Field engineers must be thoroughly familiar with their particular industry and be able to advocate for their companies. A field engineer has a mobile job, traveling to different locations to assess the status of machinery throughout the company and occasionally at clients' locations. They may also verify prototypes of products, develop test programs and procedures, and inspect products for design flaws.

This job is a good fit for: People who like to travel and those who like to fix things. 

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE exam eBook.

Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer is responsible for developing, designing, and testing new products in the planning stages. This position might create, design, and model complex electro-mechanical systems, sub-assemblies, components, enclosures, molds, and packaging. Much of a mechanical engineer's time is spent providing engineering-level production support to manufacturing. A mechanical engineer provides creative input and communications and/or presentations to management, customers, suppliers, or vendors, as well as other members of the engineering team. A mechanical engineer also provides support for product process and system issues. Job requirements include either a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, a master of science in engineering, or a related degree.

This job is a good fit for: People who enjoy experimentation and solving problems, and can organize engaging presentations regarding their team's solutions. 

Project Engineer

This person is generally the primary point of contact for a project. The project engineer keeps the project on time and on budget, and ensures that the goals are not lost in the shuffle. People-management skills are essential, as well as practical problem solving. Planning, organizing, and controlling all the elements of a project falls to this job function. Additional responsibilities include schedule preparation, pre-planning, and resource forecasting.

This job is a good fit for: People who enjoy working closely with others.

Computer Software Engineer

These engineers are involved in the design and development of software for operating systems and network distribution, as well as for compilers. Software engineers instruct a computer, line by line, how to perform a desired function. Generally, they first research the needs of the user, then create computer software or a system designed to meet those needs. Those interested in licensure can take the software engineering PE exam. 

This job is a good fit for: Problem solvers who naturally question the status quo.


Remember, an engineering degree is an investment in your future. Creative, hardworking, and smart people will always be in demand to build something, whether it’s bridges, software, transportation, and so forth.

Engineers take the knowledge they gained in entry-level positions and successfully apply it to more advanced positions, often moving from one market segment to another. Being an engineer will allow you the unique ability to apply your talents to many different industries…because the world will always need builders.
Read Article
Posted by PPI - September 21, 2020
Woman sitting at a desk in an open office area working on a laptop image

Shop FE Exam Prep

Free FE eBook

Sign-up for a free PPI FE Exam eBook where we surveyed over 800 FE examinees and asked them about their experiences.

Select Your Exam to Shop PPI FE Exam Bundles