Monday, October 27, 2008


As anyone who reads Alison’s blog already knows, I took the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam on Saturday. Many universities require a passing score on the exam in order for students to graduate (mainly in the mechanical, civil or industrial engineering disciplines). The only time that an electrical engineer (like me) would ever take the exam is if they ever wanted to become a principal engineer and be able to stamp and sign drawings. I estimate that less than 5% of all EEs work in this field. If I had taken virtually any other job as an electrical engineer, then I would not have needed to take it. The test was held in a big room at the Salt Palace and I was surprised by how many people were there taking the test. There had to be around 350 people. I was assigned to sit in the front row, seat #7. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t in seat #6 (my lucky number), but I tried not to let it distract me from the matter at hand.

I was pretty stressed about having to take the exam, but not stressed enough to start studying for the test really early. I purchased some study material a couple of months ago (with the best intentions) but I really didn’t start hitting the books hard until about the week before the exam. What made studying difficult was that my boss was out of town all week and all questions and e-mails on his projects were coming to me. In addition, we had a huge addendum due Friday on the Utah Museum of Natural History project. I came to work each day around 7:00 AM and left between 10:30 and 11:00 PM. I tried to start studying each evening at around 6:00 PM. It was difficult to only see Ada I bed for a few minutes each day but, I feel lucky that the test was scheduled during the Utes bye week. Another testament as to the divinity of the Utes…

The test is split into two sections. The morning section is 4 hours long and is a general test for all examinees. The morning test consists of 120 questions taken from the following topics:
  • Mathematics (including calculus, differential equations, vector analysis, etc.)
  • Engineering Probability and Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Computers
  • Ethics and Business Practices
  • Engineering Economics
  • Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics)
  • Strength of Materials
  • Material Properties
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Thermodynamics
I needed the full four-hours to get through the morning questions. While I couldn’t answer all of the questions, the majority of them were easier than I expected. There were a couple of questions that I just started laughing at after I had read them. I couldn’t believe that they would ask something so simple. By the time I was done with the morning exam, I was looking forward to the afternoon section because everything had gone so well. They are pretty strict about what you could take into the exam. There is a list of 6 calculators and aside from that you can only bring drinks or snacks. They wouldn’t let you in with anything other than a zip-lock bag and they took away any unauthorized writing utensils as well.

The afternoon session was 4 hours long as well but only had 60 questions. Examinees could choose from General, Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, Chemical, Environmental or Industrial tests. I took the electrical section and found it to be more difficult that the morning section, but not too bad as well. The topics on the afternoon exam were:
  • Circuits
  • Power
  • Electromagnetics
  • Control Systems
  • Communications
  • Signal Processing
  • Electronics
  • Digital Systems
  • Computer Systems
The afternoon exam was slated to go to 5:35 but I finished my part by 4:00. It was nice to leave early and to be free of the stresses that these tests cause. There were still plenty of questions that I didn’t know the answer to, but I guessed on them and knew that any additional time spent trying to figure them out wouldn’t benefit me. Alison met me downtown and we used a coupon for a free meal at Tucano’s Brazilian Grill in the Gateway. Is there a better ending to a day full of testing than a gut full of meat?

I think not.


Chalen said...

Fun test. Nate had to take that for his undergrad. He didn't study at all and passed. I'm sure you did great, but taking tests like that are always so stressful. Glad it's behind you.

JTENMAN said...

What a pain. Doesn't sound like much fun at all. However, Anna and I got the same coupon and we were planning on using it in a couple of weeks. Did you guys use it for dinner (I would assume)? Just wondering what to expect. I saw that your wife thought Rodizio's was better, but I guess that isn't too big a surprise.

Sandy said...

you crack me up: "Another testament as to the divinity of the Utes…"

Rachelle said...

Thank goodness that it is done. How soon will you know the results? I loved your costumes on Friday...I didnt get any pictures of you though, so if you have some then pass them along!