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 (201904)

Importance of Setting Goals for Engineering Students

In this month’s column, we would like to talk about the importance of setting goals for success. All successful people and achievers in all fields set goals. Setting goals gives students long-term vision and short-term motivation. It helps them to organize their time and their resources so that they can make the most of their life.

Goal setting is fundamental to long-term success as well. After all, it’s difficult to get to a desired destination before you have clearly defined where that destination is. Goals help students to focus upon the journey to a collection set of achievements, meaning they allocate their resources and time more efficiently and can access motivation during times when they may feel like giving up.

From an academic perspective, goals improve performance by ensuring engineering students remain accountable for their own failures and successes, propelling themselves forward through a selection of small achievements designed to break down a larger purpose. What’s more, setting and achieving goals translates to feelings of success and confidence for students, which in turn leads to greater confidence and productivity.

Goals Keep Students Moving Forward

Writing a specific goal into a calendar or journal gives engineering students something to work and plan toward. When written down, these goals form an external representation of inner desires to get a higher grade or pass the FE exam. Written goals are a constant reminder of what a student wants to accomplish. Goal setting even fuels ambition and confidence by encouraging determination through difficult periods and offering a sense of pride when success finally arrives.

Establishing a goal creates a sense of clarity and correlation between the process of working hard and accomplishing something significant. Because of this, many students access the motivational energy that they need to work through periods where focus may begin to wane.

Goals Break Down Insurmountable Mountains

Most young adults have huge dreams that can seem impossible to accomplish at first. It’s easy for students to feel discouraged when they’re staring at a future that seems too large to achieve. However, proper goal setting can break those larger, more intimidating aspirations down into achievable stepping stones. Not only does planning toward smaller goals make it easier to formulate a plan of how one achievement can lead to another, but research suggests that achieving smaller milestones offers greater levels of motivation.

Students can be encouraged to work towards short-term and long-term goals that interconnect, giving them more focus on what they should be spending energy and time toward. Through the pursuit of those smaller goals, students learn more about themselves – their skills, weaknesses, and what they want to accomplish.

Goals Hold Students Accountable

Having goals makes students accountable for their actions, their efforts, and even their time management skills. Setting a goal obligates an individual to take action, regardless of the obstacles that may be in place. As such, it can encourage students to develop critical thinking skills, new problem-solving techniques, and a better understanding of how to overcome challenges.

What’s more, the accountability of goal setting encourages students to look back over their previous successes and failures, evaluating areas they need to improve. As such, it pushes them to tackle challenges head on and work on their weaknesses in order to produce better chances of overall success. It can also help engineering students to realize techniques that may not be working for them so they can seek out alternative routes to achievement.

Goals Make Students Want to Be Better

There are numerous experimental and correlational studies showing that setting goals increases success rates in almost every setting, including education. Part of the reason for this is that setting goals pushes young adults to articulate the things they want out of life, so they live more consciously.

Without goals, students subject themselves to a default or natural set of actions that are there to keep them feeling safe and comfortable, without offering any opportunity for growth. With goals, students can discover more about themselves and work towards becoming the best versions of themselves. In other words, goals allow engineering students to tap into their inner potential by giving them targets to strive toward.

Goals Prepare Students for Professional Life

Through goal setting, students discover a level of respect for the dedication and determination required to achieve further important goals in life. Not only is goal setting important for helping students get more out of their academic experiences, but it also means that they will continue to use the same skills in the future to apply for a high-paying job or achieve a new promotion. Furthermore, setting goals give engineering students an important tool to measure their progress through life by using their leadership skills, critical thinking, and determination.

We would like to thank army and navy academy for the permission to use their resources: (https://armyandnavyacademy.org).

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 (201903)

More Rigorous Structural Design Procedures Create Debate
Structural Engineering (SE) vs. Professional Engineering (PE)

This month, we would like to start our article with good news. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, new jobs for engineers projected for 2016–2026, Civil Engineers placed at the top of the list with 32,200 new jobs with a median annual wage of $83,540. Mechanical Engineers, Industrial Engineers, and Electrical Engineers followed Civil Engineers.

Engineers of all disciplines in the United States are charged with “protecting the safety, health, and welfare of the general public.” Because of this responsibility, all 50 states currently require a PE licensure to practice engineering within their geographic bounds.

In the last decade, there has been a movement across the nation to better the life safety of our structures by requiring a separate licensure for structural engineers. A failure in a structural system, as evidenced by Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway disaster in 1981 that killed 114 people or the I-35 W Minneapolis Bridge Collapse in 2007 that killed 13 people, are just two examples of numerous accidents. Over the years, engineers and code officials have learned from these failures and implemented more rigorous structural design procedures.

Advances in understanding the impact of natural forces on buildings have led to more complicated requirements for structural analysis. The failures of buildings due to earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados have resulted in new approaches on how we design buildings to respond to seismic and wind events. Engineers now incorporate these lessons learned in the design of structures to prevent catastrophic failures under extreme events; some structures such as hospitals, police stations, and fire stations must remain operational even after an event.

Due to the risk involved and the increased complexity of structural design requirements, several states have begun to recognize structural engineers separately from professional engineers and increase their licensing requirements. Because each state has its own licensing board, there is a large variation in the requirements to obtain an SE license and the significance an SE license carries. While an effort is underway to develop a national SE certification, one of the most common questions from some professional engineers (PE) looking to market their expertise across state lines is to know which states recognize the Structural Engineering (SE) license. While licensing clearly protects the public, the specifics of how licensing is carried out are often debated. Nowhere is this clearer than in the debate between NSPE and other structural engineering groups such as the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (SEI-ASCE), the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA), the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) formed the Structural Engineering Licensure Coalition. Since its formation, there has been considerable legislative activity pertaining to whether, or not, there should be a separate license for Structural Engineers.

Brief Overview of NCEES Structural (SE) Exams

Unlike the computer-based Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, the Structural Engineering (SE) exam is still administered in a penciland- paper format and is an open-book test. The SE exam consists of two modules BREADTH and DEPTH and is offered in two 8-hour components on two successive days. It includes integrated design, analysis and detailing questions. No single component of the exam is a sufficient stand-alone exam for any purpose. We recommend our readers to review the NCEES.ORG for exact specifications.

The 16-hour SE exam uses separate vertical and lateral components to test the applicant’s ability to safely design buildings or bridges, especially in areas of high seismicity and high wind. It is important to remember that the exam uses the US Customary System (USCS) of units only.

The 8-hour Vertical Forces (Gravity/ Other) and Incidental Lateral component is offered only on a Friday. It focuses on gravity loads and lateral earth pressures. The 8-hour Lateral Forces (Wind/Earthquake) component is offered only on a Saturday and focuses on wind and earthquake loads.

BREADTH Modules (Morning Sessions)

The BREADTH modules are in the morning sessions. These modules contain questions covering a comprehensive range of structural engineering topics and all questions in the morning are multiple-choice.

DEPTH Modules (Afternoon Sessions)

The DEPTH modules are in the afternoon sessions. These modules focus on a single area of practice in structural engineering. The examinee will choose either buildings or bridges, but must work the same topic area on both components. All questions in the afternoon depth modules are essay-type problems, constructed response.

The examinees are required to obtain acceptable results on both 8-hour components of the SE exam in a single exam administration. It is acceptable to sit for and obtain acceptable results on one component, and then sit for and obtain acceptable results on the second component at a later date. We will continue discussing the current SE exam specifications in our next month's article.

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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