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RE: NO TRIP TO LINCOLN or WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "WESTERN STATES EXAM"?

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Being out of State (Washington), and being of a slightly different era as Mr. Fratessa, I'll decline to comment on these allegations.  Again, from outsider's observation, things are definitely done differently in California, however, I'm somewhat skeptical that Mr. Fratessa should bear the brunt of this criticism.

However, I find your allegations of "insider knowledge" on the SE exam offensive.  I know a lot of very talented SE from California, and I don't appreciate you besmirching there well deserved reputation and title.  Perhaps there are a few bad apples in the barrel, I find it hard to believe that a significant percent of CA SE's received this title with anything more than their knowledge of structural engineering.

Tom Skaggs
Tacoma, WA


-----Original Message-----
From: Whistle Blower [mailto:whisblow(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2003 20:22
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: NO TRIP TO LINCOLN or WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "WESTERN STATES EXAM"?



WHISTLE BLOWER'S ANNOTATIONS to "SICK PROFESSION or EPILOGUE TO GOOD RIDDANCE":  
 
Yes, indeed, it is a sick profession. But why? There is only whining about it on this server, no reasons, no solutions. The reasons are twofold: Code Confusion & Gatekeeping. A handful of structural engineers are responsible, Fratessa being one of them. There is no reason why one building code does not exist in CA, without conflicts in it, a code with parts and embodied references that can be interpreted the same by any engineer, any building department, or any lawyer, not just a code for those engineers who profess to know it all and have the power to make decisions when it suits them for some particular [self-serving] purpose. Just
 look at how silly it all is; UBC, CBC, IBC and now, guess what: NFPA 5000. Fratessa could have used his tenure with the California Seismic Safety Commission [1986-1995] and the various opportunities afterwards to bring some coherence to the code, but instead he made it worse. Ever tried to explain to a client how some design came about and why they have to pay, change, argue with building departments and contractors, and pay, pay, pay? No wonder we are a joke profession.
 
And the SE exam [in California]. Not only was Fratessa a part of the hoax [when he took the exam he was employed by the office that wrote it, lucky for him], he perpetuated the situation with the excuse that if a CE is not in the employ [or was, and has paid the necessary homage] of one or more of the offices that write, check, and grade our [CA] home-grown exam each year he/she does not deserve the
 ticket. Less than 100 civil engineers in California of a population of 30,000,000 are "qualified" each year? Don't think so. What does that say for training [education and experience] is it that bad? Can't be. The hidden or denied secret is: inside trading, just like the stock market. The temptation to allow at least an advance look at the test for favored employees [like, hmmm....those with plenty of family money to invest in the firm to become partners], family, and friends is insurmountable. Other events occur besides intentional leaks; for instance, a few years ago a copy of the exam was left in a copy machine in San Diego [John Shipp said Sacto tried to figure it out but there was no way to tell how many passed due to that event], but the consideration [due to Gatekeeping], should have been, how many did not rightfully get the ticket? Of the 25% limit of those who take the test not much room is left for non-insiders. Known history includes other events: a desk was broken into in
 northern CA, a briefcase was lost in Sacto, there were rumors of inside information traded by a SE board member for sexual favors and so on, but those must be only a part of reported events and a fraction of unreported events which certainly do not cover all the non-intentional leaking. Even without leaks, test problems taken from some office design problem may be more familiar to some applicant than others. The fact of the matter is that all fairness goes out the window when anyone has inside information. There are those apologists for the sorry state of affairs who deny there are any "leaks", but does anyone actually believe that among all those involved that nothing gets out? Those who do are just plain stupid.
 
The CA test used to be called the "Western States" exam. Ever wonder what happened to the other states? Before an October some years ago Idaho signed up
 with CA until the results from that October came in. Not one Idaho CE passed, the reason being no office in Idaho participated in the making of the test. The Idaho Board quietly dropped their subscription. Hardly anyone from Oregon passed in the following years so Oregon switched to giving their applicants the option to take the NCEES Struct I and II exams or a proctored "Western States" exam [for reciprocity, and because their contract with CA had not expired]. With the option Oregon stopped participating in the making of the test. Thereafter, nobody from Oregon passed the "Western States" exam and the Oregon State Board let their subscription expire, as did Hawaii. Then, Washington found that the only applicants from WA that passed the exam were those who worked in the offices designated by SEAOW to participate in the writing of the test [and, not all of them were CE's because WA does not require an applicant to be a CE to sit]. Olympia then dropped the "Western States" [CA] test,
 went to NCEES Struct I and Struct II, and added their own Struct III for seismic. They will have the same problem with leaks in their Struct III unless NCEES does it as NCEES exams are secure [the test is assembled away from the applicants using problems taken from a large pool]. Imagine the improbability of an innocent applicant passing when others have inside information. Even a hint, such as "look for a concrete joint problem", or "think EBF", will hurt those not getting the hint. Imagine the advantage for those with one or more complete problems in advance of the test. After all, the test is competition, code tricks and speed, so advance knowledge is much more powerful than knowledge.
 
When Fratessa was confronted with the facts and asked what he would recommend, his solution was to add an oral exam to the 2 days of testing to "weed out" the "undesirables". Knowing
 Fratessa's proclivities, that suggestion said it all. Those in the Club must be laughing at the young exam applicants and their eager e-mails, especially those from states that use an exam that is not available to insiders (and therefore infinitely better in gauging competence, the intended purpose of the exam), as we have in California. A cancer with no resolution other than go to a national exam, which the Club members will never allow. Unfortunately, as they die off, they are replaced by new members.
 
FRATESSA was at best a mediocre engineer who grandstanded to compensate for personal problems his soreness of being refused admission to what he derisively called the "larger" colleges. Subservient engineers did the engineering that bears his name, much of which he never saw.
 
Whistle Blower: Anonymous Passive Club Member [Actives are Ruthless]





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