Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's been a month...

Vi is 10 weeks old, so that would be 2 months, BUT it's been a month since I took the dreaded PE exam. PE: Professional Engineer, or Painful Exam. Anyway, it's actually been 7 months since I first took it; you see, there are three parts to this exam. On Friday (it's always on a Friday,) there is what's called the 8 hour general exam. An 8 hour test. Uh-hu. Now in most of the US, passing this is enough to receive your license. But not in California. California has those things called earthquakes, and even though I'm never going to design a building, wouldn't it be nice to know that the streets aren't going get flooded after an earthquake because the person who designed the sewer/stormwater system designed it for earthquakes too?
So, then on Saturday there is the seismic exam in the morning (2.5 hours) and a survey test in the afternoon (another 2.5 hours). Yes, for some reason thousands of people volunteer (and pay lots of money!) to take this test. And here are the passing rates:
It's amazing! We torture ourselves and the passing rate FOR EACH TEST is one out of three. (or one out of two if we're lucky.) The general exam has a lot of general questions, like stuff we haven't seen since college. Then the seismic and survey tests are on structures and geometry, respectively. And for those of us engineers who practice water engineering, both of those tests are pretty difficult. The saying goes that the survey test is the easiest followed by the 8-hour and the seismic.
The main problem with these test is that they are multiple choice. It is EXTREMELY unlikely for someone to pass out of shear luck, but it does happen. For the rest of us we wrestle with the phrase: choose the best answer. That's right, don't choose the right answer, or the correct answer, just "the best". It's a math/science test that's subjective. It's so incredibly difficult, hence the low passing rates mentioned above.
I found out in January that I pass both the seismic and the 8 hour, so I only had to take the survey test last month. Unfortunately, I still had to pay the entire test fee. (*2*7*5*DOLLARS!!!)
I'll find out in July if I can start putting the letters "PE" after my name. After all, I will have the license to do so.

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