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Re: Advice

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Hi Bill! How are you? I pretty much agree with your advice. Especially the
part about going to a job site to talk to the guys that have to try and build
your creation. Just because an eng went to college and a framer may not have,
he can still teach you a few things about how things actually get built. I am
up for the SE exam in a few months, and although I must agree with you
regarding the lack of real monetary benefit, money shouldn't be the reason
you want to be a SE. Here are my reasons to get it:

1. So you can call yourself a "Structural Engineer". My license to practice
is in "Civil Engineering" as are my BS and MS. I couldn't civil engineer my
way out of a paper bag! What is "Civil Engineering" anyway? I don't do civil
engineering, I do structural engineering! But I can't call myself that until
I pass this exam.

2. When I was in my MS program, obviously I took all the structures classes.
One particular friend of mine who I took several classes with (in his late
40's with gobs of civil experience) told me something that really shocked me.
He took the SE exam every year, hoping to "get lucky". He had failed it at
least 8 times, he told me. His practice was kinda jack of all trades, and he
did a few simple structures a year. He felt the SE would look good on his
resume. The passing rate on the SE runs 15% to 20%. This is how it should be.
That means about 4 out of 5 DON"T PASS. The SE would not be worth much if
anyone could pass it. But everyone can't. So when you have the authority to
use the title of "Structural Engineer" , it (should) mean you know your shit.
No questions asked. 

3. While I obviously understand that what you know is independent of any
specific test you may take, I have known more than a few CE's (working in a
structural office) who I think the only reason they passed the PE was because
there aren't many structural problems on it! They have no intentions to try
the SE exam. (Wonder why?) But I have honestly NEVER met an SE who did not
seem to grasp structural design and behavior on a pretty deep level. This
includes you Bill. Remember when you taught me CMU design? Anyway, IMHO, if
you can pass the SE exam, you are more qualified than most (all?) CE's. I
have never found the need to ask a SE what his experience is, how much
structural work has he done, does he understand dynamic analysis, etc.

Well having said the above, I think the right answer is for CE's to only be
able to stamp "simple, low rise buildings". B4 all the CE's start shooting at
me ( I'm one too!), I mean if a structure is multi story, irregular,
complicated, etc it makes SENSE for the "expert" to design it. It seems to me
if a Civil Engineer wants to design complicated structures and he is able to
do so, he should be able to pass the test. OR if he takes the test every year
hoping to get lucky, and wants the title because it "looks good to have" and
wouldn't design a complicated structure anyway(or so he told me), he dosen't
deserve to be able to call himself a "Structural Engineer" (even if he does
"get lucky").

Anyway, thanks Bill for telling us what you think and shaking things up! Good

                                               Monte Griffiths, RCE