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RE: Off-subject(?): Indiana PE exam(s)

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Could you (or some other California PE) tell a little more about the
Special Seismic and Surveying exams?  I plan to apply for reciprocity in
CA sometime soon, and as I understand it I will have to take those exams.
I am curious as to what type of items are covered on the exams and the
length of the exams.  The surveying exam is probably more or less
self-explanitory, but what does the seismic exam entail?  Is it general
seismology issues or is it structural seismic design or something else?



Scott E. Maxwell, SE, PE
Structural Engineer

SmithGroup Inc.
500 Griswold Street, Suite 200
Detroit, MI  48226

Telephone: (313) 442-8253                              Fax: (313) 983-3636

Email for Business: smaxwell(--nospam--at)
Email for Personal: smaxwell(--nospam--at)

On Thu, 24 Feb 2000, Charles Greenlaw wrote:

>      Re: California SE Exam vs NCEES Struct I and II Exams 
> At 11:40 AM 02/24/2000 -0500, you wrote:
> > The Western
> >Zone SE exam (16 hour) is different from the Structural I and II (16
> >hour) and I know that in CA you can't get reciprocity as an SE unless
> >you've taken the Western Zone SE exam, and also passed the Civil PE and
> >the Special Seismic and Special Surveying exams as well.  The Western
> >Zone SE exam has been previously given in Washington, Oregon, Idaho,
> >California and Hawaii.
> ...................................
>         This is correct on both points. The "Western States", or zone, SE
> Exam is now back to being California-only, the way it started out. The
> others switched over to the NCEES Structural I and II "national" exams. Who
> may do what, as to structural work and use of the SE title, varies from
> state to state even though exams in common are used. 
>         Why did the California SE Exam fall from favor? 
>         I heard two members of the Nevada Board give their reasons to the
> Calif Board, and I read a Washington Board newsletter article that announced
> and explained the switch. The reasons were circumspectly set forth: The
> California SE exam did not serve their purposes as well as the National SE I
> and II exams, etc. My opinion is that the California SE Exam had fallen into
> a lengthy pattern of inept and unfair practices, in recent years accompanied
> by well-founded charges of gross error, cover-ups, indifference in grading
> to following instructions the examinees were bound by, denial of credit for
> correct alternative answers, and leaks of exam info by problem writers.
>         I related to the Calif Board at its Dec 1999 meeting my own
> experience as a member of the by-invitation-only SEAOC committee that wrote
> and graded the 1981 Calif SE Exam. Another committee member had written a
> retaining wall on piles problem; my job was to prove out the problem and
> solution. I found three equally valid solutions, each very different from
> the others, according to which two (of three possible) conditions of static
> equilibrium were used to solve for pile forces. Local sub-committee members
> agreed the problem had to be revised. It was, by others higher up, but not
> in a way that cured any portion of the defect. The problem writer then
> graded everyone to his originally written problem statement and favored
> solution, and marked way down all other valid approaches. My repeated
> protests to the local chairman were not acted upon, and I was not asked back
> the following year. 
>         Various minor revisions in the SE Exam procedure have been
> instituted by the Calif Board since then, but the whole activity is kept so
> undercover, increasingly so in the last 5 years since a vigorous lawsuit hit
> them, that it is very easy for them to continue disreputable practices and
> very hard for outsiders to ferret out misconduct. The wagons are tightly
> circled.
>         A friend who annually writes and grades problems for the NCEES
> Control Systems Engineering Exam tells me that valid solutions that the
> graders had not forseen are cheerfully given all the credit that expected
> solutions are, and that pride in fairness and integrity is uppermost.
> Perhaps such an image helped attract the other "Western States" to the NCEES
> Struct I and II Exams.
> Charles O. Greenlaw SE   Sacramento CA