NCEES unveils new Agricultural PE exam specifications

NCEES has introduced new specifications for its Agricultural PE exam, effective with the October 2010 exam administration.

Exam specifications indicate knowledge areas to be tested and their relative weights of emphasis. As the developer of the exams used for engineering licensure in the United States, NCEES periodically conducts surveys of licensed engineers working in industry, government, private practice, and academia to gather information about the knowledge and skills required of professionals in a particular discipline. NCEES uses the results to update its exam specifications.

“Our licensing exams need to reflect current professional practice, and these surveys help us determine what an engineer intern with four years of experience should be expected to know to protect the public,” said Tim Miller, P.E, the director of exam services at NCEES.

The new specifications are available. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which partners with NCEES in developing the exam, is planning to publish updated exam study materials in 2010.

Contact: Tim Miller, P.E., Director of Exam Services

Licensure Exchange October 2009

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

Licensure Exchange October 2009 (PDF)

  • The President’s Message: Computer-based testing, faculty licensure among agenda items for 2009–10
  • NCEES Engineering Award winner recognized
  • Headquarters Update: NCEES enjoys strong financial position, reputation
  • Highlights from the 2009 Annual Meeting
  • Enforcement Beat: Training, technical expertise essential to successful enforcement programs
  • Nominations open for NCEES service award
  • Member Board News
  • NCEES Board of Directors approves new PE exam in software engineering

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NCEES approves new PE exam in software engineering

The NCEES Board of Directors has approved the development of a new PE exam for software engineers. The decision came during the board’s August 11 meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, in conjunction with the organization’s annual business meeting.

In accordance with existing exam development policies, 10 member licensing boards of NCEES presented letters supporting the proposed PE Software exam.

“The next step in the process is the PAKS, and if that goes as planned we plan to offer the exam in two-and-a half to three years,” said Tim Miller, P.E., director of Exam Services at NCEES.

The PAKS, or professional activities and knowledge study, is the initial step of the exam development process. The PAKS will include a survey of a diverse sample of software engineering professionals to gather information about the relative importance of various areas of knowledge within the discipline as they relate to the protection of the public welfare. This information will be used to determine the topics covered in the exam. After the survey is complete, exam items will be written for the initial exam administration. After that, the exam will be administered yearly.

Partnering with NCEES as co-sponsor of the exam is IEEE-USA, which will be assisted by the IEEE Computer Society, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.

Groups representing software engineers have long maintained that software engineering should be licensed because it is increasingly practiced in areas that reach into the everyday lives of the general public, such as traffic control systems and the electrical grid. An IEEE Computer Society survey of software engineers indicated that two-thirds of those employed in the industry support a licensure exam for their profession.

In Texas, the licensing board for professional engineers began offering licensure to software engineers in 1999 without a standardized exam covering software engineering in place. In 2006, the board changed its rules to require all applicants for licensure to pass a PE exam. This change effectively cut off the path to licensure for software engineers in the state.

“The Texas board believes that software engineering is a critical component of many engineering projects and that it’s important to recognize the impact that software engineering has on the public’s health, safety, and welfare,” said Lance Kinney, Deputy Executive Director of the Texas board. “We’re very encouraged by the support shown by IEEE, NSPE, and NCEES in the development of this exam.”

Prior to the approval of the software exam, the most recent PE exam to be added to the NCEES exam offerings is the architectural engineering exam, first administered in 2002.

IEEE announces new software engineering licensure exam

Contact: Tim Miller, P.E., Director of Exam Services

At annual meeting, NCEES continues to address additional education requirements

At its 2009 Annual Meeting in Louisville, NCEES delegates continued to address issues related to the additional education requirement for engineering licensure that, upon adoption by any specific state-level jurisdiction, could go into effect as early as 2020.

The additional education requirement now calls for an engineering licensure candidate to obtain a master’s degree or its equivalent prior to attempting the PE exam, which is typically the final hurdle in the engineering licensure process. The first such language was approved for addition to the Model Law by Council vote in 2006. Over the past three years, several additions and modifications to the language were approved to adjust and clarify the requirement. Before 2006, NCEES Model Law required only an engineering bachelor’s degree from an EAC/ABET-accredited program.

At this year’s meeting, delegates passed a resolution calling for the Engineering Education Task Force to study alternatives to the master’s or equivalent requirement, including an alternative to “reform the bachelor’s degree program” to incorporate into undergraduate engineering degrees “the appropriate education requirements to practice at a professional level.”

Later in the business session, the Council approved a motion presented by the Engineering Education Task Force to move forward with developing a clearinghouse for evaluating candidates’ education qualifications. The clearinghouse would be used when a candidate does not have a master’s degree but presents additional education for consideration as being equivalent to a master’s degree. In explaining the rationale for proposing such a clearinghouse, task force chair Michael Conzett, P.E., of Nebraska said the clearinghouse would allow for consistency across NCEES member licensing boards in interpreting the “or equivalent” clause of the master’s or equivalent requirement. The Council also formally incorporated into the Model Law language that further clarifies the master’s or equivalent requirement.

“Judging from its actions at the Annual Meeting, the Council expressed its will to continue with the effort to strengthen the educational qualification for licensure but also to continue the dialogue with all concerned parties,” said Executive Director Jerry Carter. “It is clear that the Council members want to ensure that other feasible alternatives are investigated. I look forward to seeing how this process unfolds as NCEES works to build consensus on this important issue.”

Contact: Jerry T. Carter, Executive Director

Licensure Exchange August 2009

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

Licensure Exchange August 2009 (PDF)

  • Headquarters Update: NCEES reintroduces itself with branding campaign
  • From the President: Board takes action to limit out-of-state proctoring
  • Enforcement Beat: Review of NCEES Enforcement Exchange
  • Court awards damages to NCEES in exam theft case
  • Q&A: Board nominees and incoming zone VPs
  • Exam Update: Pass rates for April 2009
  • NCEES begins developing two new ANSI standards
  • Member Board news
  • NCEES dedicates funding to new National Museum of Surveying

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Court awards damages to NCEES in exam theft case

The U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico has ruled in favor of NCEES in a civil suit involving damages exceeding $1 million. The judgment resulted from the case of a civil engineering licensure candidate who was found with recording and transmitting equipment during the October 2006 administration of the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam in the city of Mayaguez.

The candidate, Bethzaida Cameron Ortiz, was discovered during the afternoon session of the administration after a proctor noticed her unusual behavior. The chief proctor at the exam site confronted Cameron, 44, and discovered that the defendant was concealing a host of recording and transmitting devices within her jacket and handbag, including a wireless audio/video transmitter, a small video camera, a receiver, a pocket video recorder, a device used to connect video cameras to a television or computer, and battery packs.

Working with materials provided by law enforcement, NCEES determined that Cameron had recorded the Civil PE exam and established that Cameron had performed a similar operation with the FE exam, which records show she attempted in October 2005 at the same location. As a result of these exam breaches, NCEES had to remove all compromised material from its exam item banks, resulting in the damages awarded in the civil suit. In estimating damages, NCEES takes into account the time, travel, and work hours required of NCEES staff, psychometric consultants, and subject-matter experts who are involved with the development and review of exam content.

“Like any organization that develops standardized tests, NCEES’s most valuable asset is its intellectual property. When someone steals exam content, the effects are the same for us as they would be for a retail store that has its assets stolen,” said NCEES Executive Director Jerry T. Carter.

NCEES develops and enforces stringent policies to protect exam content, including limiting the materials candidates are allowed to bring to the exam site. Before attempting an NCEES exam, each candidate is required to sign a statement affirming that he or she will not copy or reveal any exam material.

Prior to the judgment in the civil suit, Cameron had been convicted of fraud in criminal court as a result of the incident. She is prohibited from attempting any NCEES exam in the future.

“The fact that we are a nonprofit that assists licensing boards means that this event in some way has affected everyone in the engineering and surveying professions and, ultimately, the public,” said Carter. “We are pleased that this judgment was reached and we are confident this will serve as a deterrent for anyone who might consider stealing exam content in the future.”

Contact: Bob Whorton, P.E., Manager of Compliance and Security

NCEES sees growth in engineering licensure exam candidates

The number of candidates attempting NCEES exams has risen in recent years, with a particularly sharp increase in candidates sitting for the Principles and Practice of Engineering examinations this year.

According to NCEES records, 26,193 candidates attempted the PE exam during the October 2008 and April 2009 exam administrations. This is more than a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s numbers and is the largest one-year increase in PE candidate numbers since the 1998–99 exam administrations.

While candidate numbers for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam did not show a similar one-year upswing, they continued a steady climb that has contributed to a 20 percent increase in candidate numbers over the past four years. More than 49,000 candidates attempted the FE exam in 2008–09. This coincides with NCEES efforts to promote awareness of the career benefits of engineering licensure among college students majoring in engineering. The awareness efforts highlight the higher salaries, professional prestige, and career versatility enjoyed by licensed professional engineers.

“The higher candidate numbers are probably due to several factors, including the economic downturn,” said NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter. “In a tight job market, a professional title such as the P.E. can help set a candidate apart even in a crowded field of high achievers. The P.E. also opens the door for an engineer to pursue consulting or firm ownership.”

The FE exam is often the first step toward attaining the P.E. license. After passing the FE in college, the typical PE candidate then completes a four-year internship period before attempting the PE exam that corresponds to the candidate’s career discipline.

Contact: Jerry T. Carter, Executive Director

NCEES inks funding arrangement with National Museum of Surveying

The NCEES Board of Directors has agreed to provide funding for the National Museum of Surveying, which is planning to open this year in a new location in downtown Springfield, Illinois.

The $75,000 donation will be used to construct a 45-seat theater and to develop educational materials for students in grades K–12. The theater will feature a 60-inch high-definition display that will be used to highlight the history and evolution of surveying and mapping in the United States. The education materials, which will be segmented by education level, will be developed in conjunction with a series of teacher workshops to be held at the museum. For its contribution, NCEES will be awarded the naming rights for the theater.

“As a leader of the engineering and surveying professions, NCEES looks for opportunities to advance the public’s understanding of these professions,” said NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter. “We feel that the National Surveying Museum has some exciting plans that will get many young minds interested in pursuing a career as a licensed surveyor, so we are happy to help them with funding.”

The National Museum of Surveying, which first opened in 1989, will reopen this year in a 10,000-square-foot space in Springfield. The museum will feature the new “Science on a Sphere” exhibit, which uses a high-tech video system to project satellite images of the Earth’s surface on a suspended sphere. It also will include exhibits about famous Americans who practiced surveying, including Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark. The museum’s new location is just blocks away from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Contact: Jerry T. Carter, Executive Director

Licensure Exchange June 2009

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

Licensure Exchange June 2009 (PDF)

  • PE pass rates demonstrate importance of experience
  • The President’s Message: Zone meetings set the stage for successful Annual Meeting
  • Headquarters Update: NCEES prepares new look, services
  • Treasurer’s Report: Council’s fiscal outlook remains positive
  • ADA Amendments Act expands eligibility for accommodations
  • Revised architectural engineering exam specs introduced
  • Committee/Task Force Update
  • MBAs wrap up productive year

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Licensure Exchange April 2009

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

Licensure Exchange April 2009 (PDF)

  • NCEES, ABET strengthen ties between education and licensure
  • ELSES restructured as division of NCEES
  • The President’s Message: Inaugural NCEES Engineering Award raises campus exposure for licensure
  • Licensure exemptions limit boards’ ability to protect public
  • NCEES revising structural exam
  • Q&A: Sustainable Building Design Task Force
  • Education task force releases response to 2008 resolution
  • Committee/Task Force Update
  • Bologna Accord promotes uniformity in European higher education

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