NCEES seeks structural engineering volunteers

NCEES is currently seeking structural engineers specializing in building design to participate in a standard-setting study for the new SE exam. Selected volunteers will review the 16-hour SE exam, which was first administered in April 2011, and rate the difficulty of each item on the exam.

Those selected for the study will not only help NCEES determine the passing score for the SE exam for the April administration but will also assist in setting a baseline for passing scores for the next several years. The standard-setting study will take place June 17–18, 2011, at NCEES headquarters in Clemson, South Carolina. Travel and lodging expenses will be paid by NCEES.

Volunteers selected for the study must meet the following requirements:

  • Licensed to practice structural engineering within their jurisdiction of licensure
  • Specializes in building design rather than bridge design
  • Has passed one of the following three exams within the past five years: the NCEES Structural II exam, the Washington State Structural III exam, or the California Structural Engineering Seismic exam


To participate in this study, contact Bruce Martin, P.E., at or 864-624-5475 by Friday, May 20.

Exam security tip line

With the exam administrations having taken place on April 13 and 14, NCEES is reminding examinees and proctors about its exam security tip line for reporting instances of security breaches or irregularities related to the FE, FS, PE, PS, and SE exams.

Alerting NCEES to potential breaches or irregularities helps protect the licensure process. While NCEES takes significant measures to prevent such instances, examinees and others involved with the exams represent an important line of defense.

Licensure Exchange April 2011

Read the latest issue of Licensure Exchange, the NCEES publication dedicated to opinions and ideas regarding the licensure of engineers and surveyors.

Download the April 2011 issue (PDF)

  • From the President: NCEES addresses licensure exemptions, professional ethics
  • New NCEES Speakers Kits now available
  • NCEES maintains strong financial position in 2010–11
  • Board sets replacement cost for SE exam items
  • Headquarters Update: NCEES moving forward with computer-based testing
  • Enforcement Beat: Engineering in energy savings performance contracting and building commissioning
  • Committee Focus: ACCA evaluates licensing exemptions’ impact on public welfare
  • Member board news and upcoming events
  • NCEES reaccredited as ANSI standards developer

Browse the Licensure Exchange archives.

NCEES celebrates National Surveyors Week

National Surveyors Week, which is taking place March 20–26, is designed to raise awareness of the surveying profession. NCEES encourages professional surveyors to promote their profession to students; its Surveying Speaker’s Kit to make it easy to explain the licensure process for surveyors. Learn more about obtaining a Surveying Speaker’s Kit or becoming a speaker.

In addition, the National Society of Professional Surveyors has a website, (now defunct), with information geared toward middle- and high-school students. This site shows what surveyors do and provides resources for persons interested in learning more about the profession.

Thousands of candidates seeking professional surveying licensure take the FS exam and PS exam each year. Learn more about these exams. For general information about the licensing process for professional surveyors, visit the Licensure page.

NCEES introduces new Speaker’s Kits

NCEES has released a new Speaker’s Kit, with separate versions for engineers and surveyors, to help promote the benefits of becoming licensed. Both versions are available for download on the NCEES Educational Resources page.

The Speaker’s Kit has played a central role in NCEES outreach activities since its introduction in 2003. Licensing board members and other professional engineers and surveyors across the United States have used the multimedia presentation to explain the licensure process as well as the benefits and responsibilities of licensure to engineering and surveying students and young professionals.

“The best way to learn about licensure and its importance is from someone who knows firsthand,” said Davy McDowell, P.E., NCEES associate executive director. “The Speaker’s Kit is designed to make it easy for professional engineers and surveyors to speak—and to get them in front of students to tell their stories.”

The new Speaker’s Kit for Engineers addresses key concerns of today’s students: how to find a competitive edge in today’s job market and how licensure can prepare them for the unknown. In addition to explaining the licensure system and the steps to becoming a professional engineer, the presentation focuses on personal benefits:

  • A P.E. is a member of a profession.
  • A P.E. license opens career doors.
  • A P.E. license commands a higher salary on average.

This message is also important for the other key audience of the Speaker’s Kit: working, unlicensed engineers. “For those engineering disciplines that have a lower percentage of P.E.s, we want to show how, even though they may not be required to hold a license, there are very real benefits to doing so,” McDowell explained.

The new Speaker’s Kit for Surveyors, likewise, focuses on promoting licensure. Aimed at college students and young professionals, the presentation describes licensure in general, explains how to become a professional surveyor, and describes the exams used for surveying licensure. The kit does not replace the National Society of Professional Surveyors Speaker’s Kit, which was developed with support from NCEES to promote surveying as a career to middle- and high-school students. Rather, NCEES created the new kit to provide outreach materials that focused specifically on licensure.

NCEES designed the new Speaker’s Kit with greater flexibility in mind. Speakers can add or remove content more easily. Slides can be customized for specific groups, such as chemical or mechanical engineering students, or for a state’s specific licensure requirements.

As part of its outreach efforts, NCEES also organizes Speakers Link, a network of licensed engineers and surveyors who are available to talk to students and young professionals about the licensure process—and how licensure has benefited their careers. When NCEES receives a request for a speaker, it looks for a local Speakers Link volunteer who can give the presentation.

“Our goal is to get new speakers, increase speaking opportunities, and ultimately build greater awareness of the benefits and responsibilities of licensure,” McDowell said.

To download the NCEES Speakers Kit, request a speaker, or volunteer to be a part of Speakers Link, go to the NCEES Educational Resources page.

NCEES seeks volunteers for Surveying exam PAKS

NCEES is currently seeking professionals working in surveying to participate in a Professional Activities and Knowledge Study, or PAKS, for the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. The results of this study will be used to update the test specifications for the exam.

Participants will complete an online survey about the professional activities and knowledge/skills required of a licensed surveyor with four to six years of experience who practices in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The survey can be completed in 35–45 minutes.

“These studies help NCEES ensure its licensing exams remain relevant to current professional practice,” explained Director of Exam Development Tim Miller, P.E. “The value of this PAKS depends on the number of people who participate, so NCEES is eager to get input from as many licensed surveyors as possible.”

Survey responses must be received no later than March 24, 2011 (8:00 p.m. EST). If you have any questions, please contact Prometric at 609-895-5234 and leave a voicemail message, or e-mail


Charles Rutland, P.E.
NCEES Exam Development Engineer
(864) 654-6824

St. Patrick’s of Pasco, Wa. wins surveying award at Future City finals

St. Patrick’s of Pasco, Wa., the winning team for Best Surveying Practices, with judge Gary Thompson, P.L.S.

At this year’s Future City Competition finals, held February 18–22 in Washington, D.C., the team from St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Pasco, Washington, won the Best Land Surveying Practices Award, sponsored by NCEES. The team from Pasco competed against more than 33,000 students from middle schools across the country. Thirty-five regional winners were represented at the finals.

As a longtime sponsor of the competition, NCEES was represented at the event’s finals by Martin Pedersen, L.S., a past president, and Gary Thompson, P.L.S., North Carolina board member and chair of the Committee on Examinations for Professional Surveyors. Pedersen and Thompson were judges for the Best Land Surveying Practices Award.

For Pedersen and Thompson, the Future City Competition was a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of surveying while introducing the idea of surveying as a career to some of the nation’s brightest students.

“Surveying plays a big part in developing a city, so we’re happy to share what we do with these students,” said Thompson. “They come away from this knowing what a professional surveyor does, and the teachers and mentors can share that with students in future competitions.”

Since it began 19 years ago, the Future City Competition has been one of the highlights of National Engineers Week. Aimed at students in grades 6–8, the program is designed to spark interest in math, science, and engineering.

Teams feature students working with teachers and volunteer engineer mentors to design models-using both computer software and physical materials-of their vision of a future city based on a given theme. This year’s theme was “Provide a reliable and effective health care product or system that improves a sick, injured, or disabled patient’s quality of life and comfort.” The overall winner of the Future City Competition was the team from Our Lady Help of Christians School in Abington, Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Future City Competition, visit

NCEES chooses Pearson VUE for FE, FS exam delivery

NCEES has selected electronic testing company Pearson VUE for computer-based delivery of the Fundamentals of Engineering and Fundamentals of Surveying exams. The NCEES Board of Directors voted to approve the electronic testing company at its February 18–19 meeting.

The first CBT exams will likely be released in mid-2013 and delivered through Pearson VUE’s owned-and-operated network of Pearson Professional Centers and other select locations as determined by NCEES.

The FE and FS exams are the first step in the process of becoming a licensed professional engineer or professional surveyor. More than 50,000 examinees currently take these exams each year.

The state licensing boards that compose NCEES voted in August 2010 to begin administering the two exams via computer-based testing at the earliest feasible date. The decision followed a prolonged study by a special task force convened to research the issue.

“We’ve been interested in CBT for a long time but knew that to transition such a large program successfully, we had to choose the right partner,” said Jerry Carter, executive director of NCEES. “Pearson VUE has taken a very collaborative approach to the process—asking questions to make sure they are addressing our unique needs and guiding us through the process so we can maximize the security, test development, and candidate service benefits that will be possible as a result of this transition.

“There is much work to be done, but we’re both committed to an end product that will not only add new layers of security to protect the licensure process and the public it serves, but will also offer greater candidate convenience and provide more uniformity in testing conditions,” Carter added.

Pearson VUE is a global leader in computer-based testing, with the world’s most comprehensive and secure network of testing centers across 165 countries. It provides testing services for academic, government, and professional testing programs, including licensure exams for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, as well as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Pearson VUE is part of Pearson plc, the largest commercial testing company and education publisher in the world.

“In engineering and surveying, precision is key. NCEES exam candidates value accuracy and efficiency, so we’re honored that NCEES has placed its trust in Pearson VUE to deliver on that expectation,” said Robert Whelan, president and CEO of Pearson VUE. “We’re committed to exceeding their requirements and validating that they made the right decision in choosing Pearson VUE for CBT.”

For more information, contact NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter or Associate Executive Director Davy McDowell, P.E., at 864-654-6824.

National Engineers Week celebrates 60th anniversary

National Engineers Week, which is taking place February 20–26, is designed to introduce elementary, middle, and high school students to careers in engineering and applied science while promoting math and science literacy in U.S. schools. NCEES is a longtime sponsor of the EWeek foundation. EWeek events include the Future City Competition, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, and Discover Engineering Family Day. Find out more at

Georgia now requires NCEES Record for comity licensure

In an effort to improve its licensure process, the Georgia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors recently began requiring an NCEES Record for professional engineers seeking licensure by comity.

The state joins four other jurisdictions that have set this requirement: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico require engineering comity licensure applicants to have an NCEES Record. Kentucky requires a record for both engineering and surveying comity licensure applicants.

An NCEES Record contains the documentation needed for comity licensure, the process by which someone licensed in one state applies for licensure in another jurisdiction. This includes college transcripts, exam and employment verifications, and professional references. NCEES collects and stores this information and then submits it to a state licensing board on the individual’s behalf when he or she is applying for comity licensure.

Darren Mickler, executive director of the Georgia board, explained the reasons for the move, which took effect January 1, 2011: “We’re going paperless where possible, and electronic submission is a big saving on manpower and storage space. Using an NCEES Record also ensures we get a complete application. NCEES has done the verifications for us, so we’re several steps ahead when we get our hands on it.”

The Georgia board did not just consider the advantages for itself. “Now, licensees know their application is complete before it comes to us. Plus, having a record in place gives them added mobility—and we encourage that,” Mickler explained. “If an applicant already holds an NCEES Record, there’s just a short online application. And for those who do have to set up a record, they’re sending NCEES the same things we required before. But now at the end of it, they have their record.”

Leigh Fricks, manager of the Records department at NCEES, said she is encouraged that licensees are finding that record valuable: “Ninety percent of record holders are now renewing their record each year; that’s up from 80 percent four to five years ago. Some people may establish a record because a board requires it, but the high renewal rate suggests they find real value in keeping it.”