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Jason Kilgore wrote:
"Something to be VERY aware of is the format for the SE II is changing
in = the near future.  I believe as soon as next spring's test.

Instead of two long and involved problems (one morning, one afternoon),
= you get 4 not-quite-as long and involved problems (two morning, two =

The object was to be more fair to engineers who specialize in one =
particular material.  For example, if a steel specialist got one
concrete and one = wood problem on the old SE II, he was screwed.

Now he'll get at least one steel related problem.

The NCEES web site should have more information, and I know they'll be
publishing a "sample problem" booklet as a study guide.  As I understand
= it, the problems will be similar, just shorter."

I have a couple opinions to vent:

I took the SE2 a couple weeks ago.  Last spring, the pass rate in
Minnesota was 17 percent.  I don't know how that compares to the
national rate.

Perhaps because of the obvious concern this raises over flooding the
market with well-qualified structural (and civil, mechanical, and
electrical) engineers, the Minnesota board decided to jump the gun on
NCEES and outlaw nearly every programmable calculator made in the last
20 years (including my HP-41, purchased in 1981) based on concerns over
text editing and communication capability.  I doubt the test was
modified to reflect this disadvantage over past test-takers, but that's
only a guess.  The really frustrating part was that they never published
anything like a comprehensive list of acceptable calculators, they never
outlined the drastic threat to security they were saving us from, and
their reasons for rejecting many calculators were poorly researched,
ieffective, and simply wrong.  They were both cavalier and not
particularly competent.  OK, so that's many frustrating parts.

I bought the NCEES Sample Problem booklet and was thoroughly
disappointed to find that it referenced the 1994 UBC, while the test was
based on the 1997 version (among other codes).  I also was dismayed to
find that its problem solutions were in some cases based on pretty
arbitrary assumptions; I hope the test graders feel the same way.

I have not yet had reason to think of the NCEES as cavalier, but the
fact that they sold me a Sample Problem book based on an obsolete code
without telling me makes me, to at least some extent, question their

I think the 4 problem test is a better idea than 2 questions.  A test
with so few questions is far too limited to use to judge a structural
engineer's adequacy.

Mike Hemstad, P.E.
St. Paul, Minnesota

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