Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer, author and mentor living in Washington, D.C. Since joining academia, "Dr. Z", as he is known by his students and colleagues, has distinguished himself on campus and beyond. He is passionate about engineering, gifted in teaching, and is a true champion for professional licensure. Dr. Z. has extraordinarily high standards; has produced award-winning designs; is prolific in professional service; and infects others with these same values. He is the recipient of numerous local, regional and national awards, including recent national awards from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly articles for “Dr.Z’s Corner “ and offering hundreds of engineering problems, for free, every month for students, engineers and engineering educators worldwide. Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the greater Washington metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch! Starbucks coffee is always a must have for Dr. Z.

Dr. Z's Corner

Dr. Z’s Corner (201911)

F.E. Stands for Fundamentals of Engineering:
FE-Exam Day Experience

In this month’s article we would like to answer many of our readers’ questions regarding the Fundamentals of Engineering (F.E) exam and what you are expected to do that day.

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is generally your first step in the process to becoming a professional licensed engineer (P.E.). It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree from an EAC/ABET-accredited program. FE exam is a computer-based test (CBT) administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

When approaching the FE Exam for the first time, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. The best way to build your confidence is to prepare for the test and familiarize yourself with the FE Ref. Handbook 9.5, the only official reference material for the computer-based FE exams. Review the latest version of the handbook (currently v.9.5) prior to exam day. Most importantly, familiarize yourself with the charts, formulas, tables, and other reference information provided. An electronic version will be available onscreen during the actual exam. Printed copies will not be allowed in the exam room.

Once your registration is approved, you will receive an email notification that you have been authorized to take the exam and are eligible to schedule your exam appointment. NCEES computer-based tests (CBT) are offered in testing windows throughout the year during the following months: January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November.

With Civil Engineering Students at George Mason University (CEIE-404)

Exam day experience

Once you register and know your exam date, NCEES recommends the following: First, you should plan to arrive at the testing center 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. Upon arrival, a representative will provide you with a copy of NCEES-CBT exam rules for your review.

After doing so, you will be asked to provide your digital signature to confirm that you have read the rules and agreed to abide by them. Also, you will be asked to provide a current government issued form of ID such as a driver’s license. Once the representative has confirmed your identification and the exam that you are taking, you will be asked to provide a palm vein scan and have your photo taken. Your signature, palm vein scan, and photo will be stored with your exam result. 

Prior to be admitted into the testing room, a representative will insure that you have only the items that NCEES allows in the testing room. These items include your ID, an NCEES approved calculator, and eye glasses. Most test centers have secure storage lockers on site for you to store prohibited items such as cell phones, other electronic devices, and personal belongings such as a watch, wallet, and bag.

Once you complete the check in process, then you report to an exam proctor who will ask you to confirm your ID by providing your palm vein scan again. Then the proctor will give you a reusable booklet and marker for scratch work. The proctor will then review the exam rules, escort you to the exam room and assigned work station, and launches the exam. Before starting your exam, all examinees will be required to read and agree to the NCEES’ non-disclosure agreement and complete a brief tutorial to learn how to ADVANCE to the next item, RETURN to a previous item, and FLAG items for review.

The FE exam includes 110-questions. The exam appointment time is 6 hours long. Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes); Tutorial (8 minutes); Actual exam (5 hours and 20 minutes), and scheduled break (25 minutes).

After completing approximately 55 questions, examinees will be prompted on screen with the option to take a 25-minute break. Examinees who wish to take the scheduled break should raise their hands and wait for the prompter tor assistance. Unscheduled breaks may be requested at any time during the exam by following the same procedure. However, examinees should be aware that clock will not stop during an unscheduled break. Examinees are allowed to access their lockers during the scheduled and unscheduled breaks.

After completing the exam and a brief survey, you should raise your hands and the proctor will verify that you had properly exited from exam, escort you from testing room, and will collect your booklet and marker. You will receive an email from NCEES within 7 to 10 days notifying you that your results are available for viewing in your MYNCEES account.

Lastly, stay relaxed and confident. Always keep a good attitude and remind yourself that you are going to do your best!

Until next time,
Ahmet Zeytinci (Dr.Z.)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dr. Z’s Corner (201910)

Teaching Engineering Ethics to Our Engineering Students: The Story of a National Contest

Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. In this month’s Dr. Z’s Corner article, we’ll discuss a real-world case study in ethics and how we use this opportunity as a tool to teach engineering ethics to our engineering students. I still remember the joy of team UDC, with my late colleague and friend Philip Brach (Phil), winning another prestigious national competition. The contest was about ethics, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and titled “2007 Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest.

A civilized society requires acceptable habits and customs if it is to survive anarchy. Historically the prohibitions of unacceptable practices were through the sanction of either law or religion. Less serious offenses were usually dealt with by socially ostracizing the offender. Today our customs are divided into moral or ethical issues. Dan H. Pletta defined morals as the principles or the standards of right or wrong conduct involving voluntary action, and ethics, as the study of human actions regarding right or wrong.

An engineer is a critical player in any modern technological society. His or her values, and how he or she participates in the global economy, is and will be a critical component of the well being of our society. As engineering educators, we have an important role to play in forming the “ethical values” of the engineers of the future and tempering them in the application of ethics regards to their practice of the engineering profession.

Here we’ll focus on that aspect of acceptable human behavior known as ethics: precisely, the ethical behavior expected of engineers in the practice of their profession.

Each year NSPE announces a question of ethics. Engineering students and engineers have the opportunity to answer the question and submit their arguments in support of their answers to the question. There is a $1000 prize to those that submit the best analysis and defense.

As an instructor, we first present the case to the students and explain the facts. Then, the students are assigned the task of determining which sections of code might be relevant to the ethical issue in question. Then collectively, a discussion among the students is held in class to arrive at a consensus of which canons will be used to determine the ethics of the case and to defend their answer to the question.

The following is the summary of a response that was submitted by our engineering students at UDC to the 2007 Milton F. Lunch Annual Ethics Contest. Our students made us proud again and won the 1st Prize.

Ethics Contest Question

A licensed engineer (Engineer A) advertised on his website that he would “seal” drawings for a fixed price. Is this action ethical or unethical?

Our senior class found this ad to be unethical as did the NSPE Committee.

The NSPE Code of Ethics indicates under professional obligations, “Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice of engineering” (III.8a). The question here is, to which state is he going to conform, if his service is designed to meet with every local or state requirement. This is impossible to accomplish as regulations and laws differ from one state to another. Therefore, in this case, Engineer A’s website is an exaggeration of his ability to provide services in areas where he is not licensed.

Not only that, the website’s claim is unethical because Engineer A is charging a nominal fee for sealing any project and this is not right. Because it is impossible to know how much work is required to perform a thorough review of the required documents to assure that they conform to every applicable engineering standard. Engineer A also overlooks the potential for complicated designs in pursuit of attracting customers, which could lead to unsafe consequences. The Code of Ethics states “Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession (III.1.e).

It is important to realize that right or wrong is an essential aspect of behavior, however in our class on ethics our primary goal was to expose the students to a process for arriving at an ethical decision. As with the adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so also is the issue of ethics, a function of culture and background.

As engineering educators, our goal should be to ensure that our students have experienced the process of critically examining their professional behavior in accordance with the established ethical norms.

Until next time,
Ahmet Zeytinci (Dr. Z.)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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