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 (201604)

Let's Talk about Engineering Ethics: NCEES Rules of Professional Conduct - Part I




Starting with this issue, we will talk about “Engineering Ethics.” Most of you know that ethics is a recent introduction to the FE exams and some may ask why NCEES has decided to include ethics in the exams. The answer is simple: there have been a number of so called “engineering disasters” like Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure (1940), Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway collapse (1981), Chernobyl disaster (1986) and Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003) to name a few and these unfortunate events have increased the public awareness about the importance of engineering in the society.

The ethical principles governing the engineering profession are embodied in codes of ethics and have been adopted by state boards of registration and professional engineering societies such as ASCE, ASME, IEEE, and NSPE. The Rules of Professional Conduct is also included in NCEES Reference Handbook. According to NCEES, the expertise possessed by engineers is vitally important to societal welfare. In order to serve society effectively, engineers must maintain a high level of technical competence. However, a high level of technical expertise without adherence to ethical guidelines is as much a threat to public welfare as is professional incompetence.

As engineers, we are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. 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. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.

An example of one such code is the NCEES Rules of Professional Conduct, Section 240 of the Model Rules. In practice, an engineer is responsible for knowing and abiding by these Model Rules as part of her/his responsibility to the public. The Model Rules consist of the following three major sections:

I. Licensee’s Obligation to the Public,

II. Licensee’s Obligation to Employers and Clients, and

III. Licensee’s Obligation to Other Licensees.

According to the NCEES, the three principles listed above are important guidelines for professional engineers. In many situations, the application of these codes of ethics is straightforward. However, there may be situations in which applying the code may raise issues that are more difficult. Due to the space limitations, today we will discuss the first item only and we will continue in next two issues:

I. Licensee’s Obligation to the Public

1. Licensees shall be cognizant that their first and foremost responsibility is to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public when performing services for clients and employers.

2. Licensees shall sign and seal only those plans, surveys, and other documents that conform to accepted engineering and surveying standards and that safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

3. Licensees shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate when their professional judgment is overruled under circumstances in which the health, safety, or welfare of the public is endangered.

4. Licensees shall, to the best of their knowledge, include all relevant and pertinent information in an objective and truthful manner within all professional documents, statements, and testimony.

5. Licensees shall express a professional opinion publicly only when it is founded upon an adequate knowledge of the facts and a competent evaluation of the subject matter.

6. Licensees shall issue no statements, criticisms, or arguments on engineering and surveying matters that are inspired or paid for by interested parties, unless they explicitly identify the interested parties on whose behalf they are speaking and reveal any interest they have in the matters.

7. Licensees shall not partner, practice, or offer to practice with any person or firm that they know is engaged in fraudulent or dishonest business or professional practices.

8. Licensees who have knowledge or reason to believe that any person or firm has violated any rules or laws applying to the practice of engineering or surveying shall report it to the board, may report it to appropriate legal authorities, and shall cooperate with the board and those authorities as may be requested.

9. Licensees shall not knowingly provide false or incomplete information regarding an applicant in obtaining licensure.

10. Licensees shall comply with the licensing laws and rules governing their professional practice in each of the jurisdictions in which they practice.

As always, we conclude our remarks with important reminder: in both the FE and PE exams, timing and knowledge of the topics listed in the NCEES – Reference Handbook is everything. To conquer these exams, speed is crucial, speed can only be attained through practice, and more practice (visit this month’s problem set). Please remember to send us your feedback about this column and our pro-bono Saturday classes.

Until next time,

Ahmet Zeytinci, PE

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Dr. Z’s Corner (201603)

You Finally Are Ready To Take the Exam:
Now What Do You Do?




To answer many of our new readers’ questions, today we would like to review all the basics for the first time FE exam takers and tell you step-by-step what to do before the exam and during the exam day morning.

As you may know, The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) develops and scores the FE, PE, and SE exams for engineering licensure. The FE Exam is the first step in the arduous process leading to obtaining a Professional Engineering (PE) license and it is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing their undergraduate degrees.

How do you register for the FE exam?

If you are ready to take the FE exam first time, do the following to register:

  • Visit the NCEES website at www.ncees.org
  • Click on the exam tab in the menu,
  • Select your state or foreign entity from the drop-down list,
  • Follow all the instructions to get approval to sit for the exam,
  • Create an account with NCEES and register before the deadline,
  • Pay the exam fee required in your state or territory,

Once you complete all the above, then wait for the confirmation email.

What do you do on the morning of the exam?

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. FE tests are computer based tests and offered in testing windows throughout the year during January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November.

When approaching the FE Exam for the first time, it is natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. The best way to build your confidence is to prepare for the test (visit this month’s problem set) and to know the ins and outs of the test.

Once you register and know your exam date, we suggest you 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 (Computer Based Test) rules for your review.
  • After reviewing, provide your digital signature to confirm that you have read the rules and agreed to abide by them.
  • You will need to provide a current government issued identification (such as a driver’s license).
  • Once the representative confirmed your identification and the exam that you are taking, you will be asked to provide palm vein scan and have your photo taken.

Prior to being admitted into the testing room, a representative will confirm that the only NCEES-allowed items with you in the testing room. These include your ID, an NCEES-approved calculator and eyeglasses. 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 (e.g., wallet and bag).

Once you complete the check in process, report to an exam proctor who will confirm your ID through a palm vein scan. The proctor will then provide with you with a reusable booklet and marker for scratch work, review the exam rules, and escort you to the exam room and assigned workstation, and launch the exam.

Before starting your exam, all examinees are 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.

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, be aware that the clock will not stop during an unscheduled break.

After completing the exam and a brief survey, you should raise your hands and proctor will verify that you had properly exited from exam, escort you from testing room, and 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.

Remember during the FE exam, timing is everything and that is why you must have a game plan and a wristwatch. All the best!

Until next time,

Ahmet Zeytinci, PE

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Dr. Z is our March 2016 NCS Centennial Engineer of the Month! Read his interview in the newsletter.



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