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 (201611)

P.S. Stands for Professional Licensed Surveyor: Let’s Talk about Surveying Licensure, Part-I



First, to make some of our readers smile, let me start my note with good news on exam charges for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Fundamentals of Surveying (FS). Yes, it is official; beginning January 2018 the price for the (FE) and (FS) exams will be just $175 instead of current $225.

In this issue of Dr Z’s Corner, we will be answering some of our readers’ questions regarding the requirements for becoming a Professional Licensed Surveyor (PS). When it comes to buying or selling property, making exact measurements and determining property boundaries, providing data relevant to the shape, contour, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features on or near the earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, mining, land evaluation, construction, and other purposes, like driving down a highway or walking a public trail, Professional Surveyors (PS) are charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

In the United States every state and territory requires those who perform the tasks defined as the “Practice of Surveying” to hold a professional surveying license and surveyors are licensed at the state level by professional licensing boards. Surveying boards confer the PS license when licensure candidates meet a combination of requirements in education, experience, and exams; sometimes referred to as EEE requirements.


Complete the appropriate level of education in your state. Check the requirements of your state licensing board. Some require only a high school diploma, while many others require a degree from an accredited four-year surveying program.


Licensure candidates typically must pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam, the Principals and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam, and a state-specific exam.


Most states require four years of acceptable, progressive, and verifiable work experience under the supervision of a licensed surveyor.

Before registering for an upcoming NCEES’ (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) surveying exam, a candidate for PS should review and understand his/her state’s approval and registration process. This can easily be done by referring to NCEES site and selecting the state or territory of interest from the map with a drop-down list.

According to NCEES, the FS and PS exams are administered via computer-based testing and the registration is open year-round. In order to register for your FS and PS exams, it is necessary to contact your state licensing board directly for information about state-specific surveying exams.

Similar to FE and PE exams, NCEES develops and scores the FS and PS exams for surveying licensure as well. The FS exam is generally your first step in the process to becoming a professional licensed surveyor (P.S.). It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate surveying degree from an EAC/ABET accredited program. The PS exam tests your ability to practice the surveying profession competently. It is designed for surveyors who have gained at least four years of professional experience.

Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) Exam Specifications for Computer Based Test (CBT)

The FS exam is a computer-based test (CBT). It is closed book with an electronic reference. Examinees have 6 hours to complete the FS exam, which contains 110 multiple-choice questions. It is important to know that the FS exam uses only the US Customary System (USCS) of units.

Topics & Number of Questions:

1. Mathematics: (about 13–20 questions) Topics include: Algebra, trigonometry, basic geometry, spherical trigonometry, linear algebra and matrix theory, analytic geometry and calculus.

2. Basic Sciences: (about 5–8 questions) Topics include: Geology, dendrology, cartography and environmental sciences,

3. Spatial Data Acquisition and Reduction (about 6–9 questions) Topics include: Vertical measurement, distance measurement, angle measurement, unit conversions, redundancy, knowledge and utilization of instruments and methods, and understanding of historical methods & instruments.

4. Survey Computations and Computer Applications (about 19–29 questions) Topics include: Coordinate geometry, traverse closure and adjustment, area, volume, horizontal curves, vertical curves, spirals and spreadsheets

5. Statistics and Adjustments (about 6–9 questions) Topics include: Mean, median, mode, variance, standard deviation, Error analysis, least squares adjustment, measurement and positional tolerance, relative, network, and positional accuracy.

6. Geodesy (about 5–8 questions) Topics include: Basic theory, satellite positioning, gravity, coordinate systems, datums, and map projections

There are seven more categories – total 13 categories – and we’ll continue in the next month’s issue, January 2016.

And finally, I would also like to include a statistic from NCEES. During January through June of 2016, total 363 examinees took the FS test and 47% passed the test on their first try.

I shall close with a final thought as usual: During the FS and PS exams, the more time you spend on a difficult question, the more time you risk second guessing yourself. Trust your intuition. You have worked hard, don’t doubt yourself. Come back to that difficult question when you might have a clearer mind (and visit some difficult questions in this month’s problem set).

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 (201610)

Why Do You Need a PE License?




Quite often we get questions from our readers about the importance of the PE license. For engineers, the PE license is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by all employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.

For consulting engineers and private practitioners, licensure is a virtual necessity. In fact, it is a legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work, be they principals or employees. The PE license is also very important for other institutions. For example, government agencies, educational institutions and private industries are increasingly requiring that they hire and contract only with licensed professional engineers. This is a trend that is almost certain to continue in the future.

According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, an engineer needs a license for various reasons including prestige, career development, authority, flexibility, and of course money:

Prestige: PEs are respected by the public and are seen in the same light as licensed professionals in other fields. PEs are also held in high esteem by their peers within the engineering community, who see the PE as part of an elite group.

Career Development: Employers are impressed with engineers who have their PE license. Licensure not only enhances your stature, it shows commitment to the profession and demonstrates heightened leadership and management skills. Licensure is also a necessity for rising to increased levels of authority and responsibility.

Authority: Only PEs can sign and seal engineering drawings; and only PEs can be in responsible charge of a firm in private practice or serve as a fully qualified expert witness. Also, many government agencies and educational institutions are emphasizing licensure among their engineers as well.

Flexibility: Having a PE license opens up your career options. You can become a specialist, or establish your own business. It also protects you during industry downsizing or outsourcing. The PE license allows you to go as far as your initiative and talent will take you.

Money: Studies have shown that most PEs earn higher pay throughout their business careers. Having your PE allows expanded opportunities beyond a company structure – as an independent consultant for example.

The Latest NCEES-FE Reference Handbook (Version 9.4)

Last month we promised our readers to talk about the latest FE Reference Handbook (Version 9.4) that is available from The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

As before, the new FE Reference Handbook (version 9.4) is supplied electronically to FE examinees during the exam and displayed on their exam computer monitors as a searchable PDF file. All examinees will use a 24-inch monitor while testing to allow sufficient space to display both the exam question and the reference handbook. It is very important to become familiar with the latest version of the FE Reference Handbook prior to taking the computer-based test (CBT). I also recommend my students to own a hard copy of the handbook. When studying, remembering the page numbers of some important formulas may also help.

To pass the exam, you need to get about 77 questions right or 70% of the whole test. To achieve that, you have to get to the proper formulas, relationships and tables as fast as you can without wasting time. For example, just to give you an idea, if you need the Modulus of Elasticity of Aluminum (Ealum) for a problem on the test, the answer will be on page 84 of the reference manual and you have to go to that page in less than ten seconds. If you need the dimensions and properties of W-Shapes you need to turn to page 159. I’ll never forget when, during one of my pro-bono Saturday classes at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC, we needed the properties of a W 12 x 50 shape and a student in the class spent more than five minutes to get to the right page instead of a few seconds.

Finally, the FE is a fast-paced exam and you will have little time to look up information. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your reference material and you always begin with the subject areas you know best. This will give you more time and build your confidence. Remember, it is always a good idea to consider reverse engineering the problems by substituting the answers and seeing which one works (try your hand at this month’s practice problems!).

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

Until next time,

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

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