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Re: Advice

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To properly respond, a little background info. I have a BSCE and a MSCE,
PE, SE. I worked for other people for ten years at four different firms.
Two large firms, one medium firm and one small firm. The next ten years I
have worked for myself. I have designed just about everything from second
story additions to single family residences to railroad bridges.

I can only represent my opinion from the experience I have in California.
Business climate and regulations in other states may vary and I am not that
familar with these variances. Also keep in mind these are my opinions and
you need to formulate your own based on your own experiences and
discussions with others. Some may think I am cynical.

That said, from a financial point of view, there are little tangable
benefits to taking and passing the SE exam in California. Whether your
interviewing for
a job or soliciting clients on your own, this criteria will certainly not
be the deciding factor. If you have been following this list for any amount
of time, you probably have discovered that there are several highly
qualified CEs out there who can do the job as well or better than most SEs.
Since, for structures other than schools and hospitals, there is no
requirement for the SE in California, you can compete for any position and
any project without the SE. If you want to become a really good engineer,
IMHO, you should do the following three things:

1. Go to jobsites at least one a week whether you have to or not. Take the
time to talk to framers, foundation guys, steel workers, etc. to find out
what it takes to actually implement what is on a set of plans. Ask them
which way is easier to build. Find out from them what would make a better
set of plans.
2. When doing your engineered design, consider the deflected structure and
performance. There are often times when a structural element will calc out,
but the deflections are unreasonable (a long span beam that satisfies
L/240, but the deflection is 1.5"!!). I know school is teaching USD and
LRFD, but don't forget WSD and ASD. You may need to know something about
stress distribution within the elastic range for, I dunno, stupid things
like cracking and fatigue.
3. Don't try to pretend you are the smartest guy on the project team. Even
if you are, you would better serve the project if you had an open mind and
were in constant search of the most practical solution. There are always
many ways to skin a cat.

That said, if you want to take the SE, go ahead but do it for personal
reasons. I enjoy the fact that I took and passed an exam that many people
didn't/couldn't. Just don't assume that it will separate you financially
from CEs.

Bill Allen
> From: L. Owen <sagan(--nospam--at)>
> To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: Advice 
> Date: Tuesday, August 05, 1997 7:52 PM
> On Tue, 5 Aug 1997, Bill Allen, S.E. wrote:
> > Anyone following this list service for any amount of time should come
> > to the conclusion that there is NO benefit to passing the SE exam in
> > California, a state where there has been significant structural damage
> > due to earthquakes. Therefore, I cannot believe there would be any
> > significance to passing a similar exam in other states that allow PEs
> > to practice structural engineering.
> I'm working toward my MSCE and my PE right at the moment, but the goal
> always been to get a SE, so for those of us still learning, please
> enlighten us as to why "there is NO benefit to passing the SE exam..."