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 (201709)

Please Welcome Our New Contributors: Dr. Bryan Higgs & Dr. Lei Wang



I am very excited to welcome our readers to the beginning of a new school year. Quite often we get emails from our readers, students, educators and engineers about Dr. Z’s Corner and learn what they think about our articles and problems. We are pleased to report that our readers are benefitting from our work and it feels great to make a difference.

(Photo: From Left: Dr Lei Wang, Dr Z, Dr Bryan Higgs)

I would also like to remind our readers that Dr. Z’s Corner is a public service and everything we do is pro-bono! We are proud to be part of ASCE-NCS and to provide free help to the engineering community not only in the Washington metro area, but also around the nation and the globe.

Again I would like to take this opportunity to thank my great editor James Palmer, President Jordan Pitt and board of directors of the ASCE-NCS for their dedication to the engineering community. We appreciate all their hard work.

For us, September 1st is a new start with the opportunity to focus, refresh, and rethink the priorities and work hard to get ready for licensure. And remember, standards matter, character counts, and now more than ever, your PE can be the competitive edge you need.

Let me remind our readers one more time: to conquer the FE and PE exams, you definitely need good time management skills that can make all the difference in keeping track and staying on top of things. You may be ambitious, but being realistic will definitely help you achieve your goals and allow you to be not only successful but also happy, and less stressed out about your achievements.

I consider myself very fortunate to have great team members that are extremely passionate, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise.

For the last three years, my colleague and good friend Dr Vagelis Plevris from Oslo, Norway, has been tirelessly helping me on everything, including preparing and solving problems using his software BEAM-2D. And now are we ready for the big announcement: I’m delighted to announce that effective September 2017; Dr. Z’s Corner will have two new world-class engineers and contributors joining our team and helping us in the Transportation and Geotechnical areas. Please join me to welcome Dr. Lei Wang from Clemson University and Dr. Bryan Higgs from Virginia Tech. Currently both of them are full-time faculty members at UDC Civil Engineering Department. Please review their problems and here are their brief bios:

Dr Bryan Higgs

Dr Bryan Higgs recently moved to Washington, DC area to join UDC. All his degrees are from Virginia Tech, including his PhD in Transportation Engineering. Prior to this position, he was an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Memphis.

Bryan’s research and teaching interests range from network design to human factors in transportation including: multi-level multi-objective game theory, network vulnerability, network optimization, psychophysiological driver behavior, driving simulators, road rage, aggressive driving behavior, and traffic flow theory.

Dr. Higgs has published in top-tier journals, and is a member of several national professional organizations. In addition to his national and international service, he enjoys participating in outreach activities for fostering interest in transportation in middle and high school students.

Please read Dr. Higg’s “Career Highlights” and solve his transportation problems in this month’s Dr. Z’s Corner, problems section (Editor’s Note: All Dr Z’s Corner Problem sets are available on the ASCE-NCS Website: Dr Z’s Corner).

Dr Lei Wang, PE

Dr Wang has recently moved to Washington, DC area to join UDC. He received his PhD degree in Civil Engineering with a geotechnical emphasis from Clemson University in 2013. His BS degree is also in Civil Engineering from China University of Geosciences conferred in 2008 and his MS degree in Geotechnical Engineering from Tongji University completed in 2010. Prior to his current position, he worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Clemson University as a Geotechnical Engineer at Geotechnical and Tunneling Technical Excellence Center of WSP/ Parsons Brinckerhoff and as an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Montana Tech of the University of Montana.

Dr Wang has an extensive research and practical experience in geotechnical engineering, including underground excavation and tunneling, soil/rockstructure interaction, numerical and centrifuge modeling, earth dams and levees, foundation engineering, and geotechnical earthquake engineering. He has published over 40 refereed journal and conference papers with a Google Scholar Citation of over 400. He was a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Best Paper Award by Taiwan Geotechnical Society (2013) and the Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award at Clemson University (2013). He is a Professional Engineer registered in California.

Finally we have to remind our readers that FE and PE are very fast-paced exams and you will have little time to look up information. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your reference material and begin with the subject areas you know best. This will give you more time and build your confidence.

And most importantly, 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, P.E.
Dr. Z. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Dr. Z’s Corner (201705)

Alternative Item Types: A New Testing Component for FE, FS and PS Practice Exams


Are You Ready for AITs?

Over the years, I have observed that taking the multiple-choice Fundamental of Engineering (FE) tests comes more easily for some examinees than for others. Even some students enjoy taking these tests and exhibiting their knowledge while others dread the process and suffer from test anxiety. Knowing what format the test will have can help you develop your own learning and preparation process and focus on the strategies needed to do well. As we promised last month, today we are going to talk about some new exam formats including the new AITs.

Starting July 1, 2017, all computer-based NCEES exams will introduce a new testing component called Alternative Item Types (AITs). Alternative item types will be incorporated into the FE, FS, and PS practice exams. Alternative item types provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through paper-and-pencil based testing.

AITs are questions other than traditional multiple-choice questions. According to NCEES, all computer-based exams will incorporate commonly used alternative item types that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Traditional Multiple Choice Questions – A multiple-choice question consisting of the text of the question and four options provided after the question
  • Multiple Correct Options – Allows multiple choices to be correct
  • Point and Click – Requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer
  • Drag and Drop – Requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
  • Fill in the Blank – Provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question

Let’s explain these formats starting with the traditional Multiple-Choice questions that feature four-answer options from which to choose, one of which is the correct answer. This format has been used for years and all students are familiar with this format.

Multiple-Choice questions with multiple correct options feature more than four answer options from which to choose and allow for multiple answer options to be selected.

Point & Click questions require you to select one or more predetermined clickable areas that become visible when you move your cursor over the graphic or picture. Point & Click questions may also ask you to select an unidentified spot or spots on the graphic. In other words, Point & Click questions contain a picture or some other form of media with one or more areas designated by NCEES. The test taker, when answering a Point & Click question, cannot see the area(s). The examinee must select a point on the graphic/picture. Credit is given if the examinee selects a point within the designated area(s).

Drag & Drop questions require you click and drag your answer options to sort, rank, match or label a provided graphic. This question type allows examinees to drag answer to a question. These type of questions are great for sorting information especially information that is visual or process-oriented. To give an idea, let’s say that a question has four levels of information and the exam developer would like to evaluate each student’s knowledge by having her/him match each level to its title. To do this all steps are displayed on the left-hand side of the screen. Then the right-hand side of the screen would include the name of each level. This question type is similar to matching in that the user must match answers to questions.

Fill in the Blank questions are familiar and they require examinee to enter the response instead of choosing it from a list of answer options.

Now a few words for the PE exam takers as well: As always, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with your state licensing board’s registration procedures before registering for a PE exam. The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam is designed by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) for engineers who have gained a minimum of four years post-college work experience in their chosen engineering discipline. According to our students who have conquered the PE exams, the best strategies are; studying the reference material from NCEES regularly for at least two hours a day, solving as many practice problems as possible, reviewing the PE exam specifications and design standards, and, of course, organizing your test material in well-indexed three-ring binders. Most importantly, remember not to “cram” because you are being tested on knowledge that you have accumulated over several years. Studying at the last minute will only stress you out. Before the exam day, you may go to a movie or hang out with a friend – anything to get your mind off of the test!

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

Good Luck,

Dr Z
Ahmet Zeytinci, PE
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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