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Re: CA SE / SE2

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> First, the notion that a "steel specialist" won't be screwed under the new
> test format is rather naive.  Now, such a person could in theory be
> "assured" of get about 25% correct rather than nothing right (assuming
> that there was no steel problem or part on the old two problem
> test...which there was on test BOTH times I took it).  Either way, you


I guess steel was a bad material as an example.  I believe you were almost
guaranteed to get at least one steel or concrete problem on any one test
because a majority of engineers work in one of those two materials.
Instead, imagine a engineer who specializes in residential level structures
(apartments, large houses, etc.) and works almost exclusively in wood.  The
new format doesn't guarantee passing, just gives a better chance.  The
testee still has to bone up on steel, concrete and CMU design.  Now,
assuming the testee is an SE II worthy engineer in wood, he'll get 20-25%
easy instead of 0%.  Now he just has to get an additional 25-40% on the
other parts to get a passing grade instead of an additional 50-75% (I don't
know what the "passing" percentage is).

When I took the SE II, the morning problem involved a reinforced concrete
multi-story shear wall and the afternoon question involved steel.  I had
never designed a concrete shear wall over 1 story in my life.  But I had
quite a bit of simple concrete (footings, isolated beams and columns, etc.)
and multi-story wood shear wall design experience.  That in combination with
studying, preparation, and probably a little luck helped me to pass.

As far as calculators, I had a HP-48GX programmable, expandable, graphing,
communicating (via IR port) calculator with me for the SE I, but only a
standard scientific calculator for the SE II.  I really didn't notice much
of a difference.  Other than some basic macros I wrote (feet-inch-fraction
to decimal feet, hypotenuse of a triangle, etc.) and the equation solving
ability, I never used any of the advanced functions of the HP-48.  Any
advanced programming would be wasted, both taking the test and in every day
designing, because of the requirement of showing your work.

As far as I'm concerned, the craziest part of the rules was the fact that I
couldn't use my own pencil because NCEES was afraid that I would sneak in a
pencil-sized one-line scanner and "steal" the test.

Finally, I have seen one of the example problems published in the NCEES SE
II study guide, as well as the original (long) problem it was derived from.
It has been shortened considerably.  Whether it has been shortened to *half*
its original length is questionable.

Jason Kilgore
Leigh & O'Kane, L.L.C.

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