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Re: Unreinforced foundation walls and PE/SE debate (CA EXAM)

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Hello Scot:

Thank you for your detailed answer.  However a small clarification on the CA
SE exam.  The California SE exam is now (from October 2004) very similar to
the WA SE III exam.  You take the NCEES SEII on the first day and then the
CA SE-II on the second day.  I guess this was done so that it could help the
people from other states to qualify and take just 1 exam.  Good part is that
you can pass this exam in parts but the bad part is the codes.  CA is still
using the pre-historic UBC.

I took the exam and passed the NCEES SEII which i found quite easy.  I dont
mean to gloat, but compared to the CA SE exam this was much simple.  This
year 50% passed the NCEES SE II while only 36% passed the CA SE II.

So technically I can apply at another state and get my SE but I cannot place
it on my card since the address on the card is California.  So in my humble
opinion, your business card state and the license need to match.

- Aswin
Aswin Rangswamy, P.E.
Los Angeles, California
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Scott Maxwell" <smaxwell(--nospam--at)>
To: "Don" <dbryant61(--nospam--at)>
Cc: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 11:58 AM
Subject: Re: Unreinforced foundation walls and PE/SE debate

> Don:
> With regard to your question about structural licenses exams...
> There are 4 structural test out there at the moment (I believe that it is
> still currently 4).  There is the NCEES Struct I, the NCEES Struct II, the
> Washington Struct III, and the California SE exam (aka the Western States
> Exam).
> The NCEES Struct I exam is equivalent to the Civil PE exam.  It is a 80
> question (I believe) multiple guess exam.  The only really difference
> between it and the Civil PE exam is that it is _ALL_ structural
> engineering questions.  It is rather easy (in my opinion), much like the
> Civil PE exam is rather easy.  If nothing else, it is certainly the
> easiest of the structural exams.  It is an 8 hour exam.  It is used as the
> "first" step/exam of many of the SE licenses and is also used by many
> states as the PE license exam as an alternate choice to the Civil PE exam
> (i.e. for those that only wish to do structural work).  FWIW, this exam,
> like the Civil PE exam, used to be 4 hours of "short answer" (i.e. write
> out your solution and get partial credit) in the morning and 4 hours of 40
> multiple guess in the afternoon but was changed to the 80 multiple guess
> format a several years ago.
> The NCEES Struct II exam is generally the "second" step/exam (not counting
> the EIT) toward getting a SE license in many states that offer such a
> license.  It is an 8 hour "essay" exam.  That is you solve problems and
> write out solutions much like you do in day to day work...i.e. you get
> partial credit.  It is currently a 4 question exam (you get to pick from
> at least a building or bridge set of questions).  It used to be two 4 hour
> questions that you could pass seperately (i.e. when I took it, you could
> pass the afternoon question but fail the morning question and only have to
> retake the morning part), but I believe that it is now pass or fail it
> all.  It is a reasonable hard exam.  The questions are very similar in
> nature to what you will do in the "real" world, except you have serious
> time limitations (you can still get it done in the time allotted, but
> think of it as working on a project with a real tight deadline).
> Basically, if you know the codes rather well (i.e. were to find stuff and
> how to use/apply the code provisions) then you will likely do well.  It is
> DEFINITELY much tougher than the Struct I or Civil PE exams.  In the past,
> the afternoon problem would DEFINITLY have seismic design on it.  I am not
> sure how it is done now that they have gone to the 4 question format.
> The Washington Struct III exam is the last part of getting a SE license in
> Washington.  At this point Washington is the only state that uses it that
> I am aware of.  It is a 8 hour exam with 4 "essay" questions on it.  There
> are 2 mandatory questions and then for the final 2 questions you get to
> pick between a bridge question and building question.  It is rather like
> the Struct II exam in over all format (i.e. "essay" problems that you
> write out your solution/calculations and get partical credit), except it
> is even harder.  Most, if not all, the questions have seismic on them.
> FWIW, I believe the passing rate is typically around 5% to 20% (varies
> from year to year).
> The California SE exam (aka The Western States exam) is only used in
> California and supposedly is on its way out there as well.  Supposedly,
> the California Legislature is pushing to have a "nationally created and
> recognized" exam used.  So, they may end up using Washington's "system" or
> something much like it.  The exam is a 16 hour "essay" problem exam (i.e.
> write out solutions/calculations and get partial credit)...I believe
> (haven't take it, unlike the others).  From everything I have heard it is
> extrememly difficult, but since I have never taken it, I really cannot
> compare with the others.  If nothing else the 16 hours (two day) is
> daunting.
> For most states with a SE license, they require the EIT, the Struct I and
> the Struct II.  I know this is true of Illinois, but I also believe it is
> true of the other states with SE licenses with the exception of Washington
> and California.
> Washington requires the Struct II and Struct III.  Since I was not an
> "original candidate" in Washington (i.e. it was not my first license and
> for me it was by least partially), I am not sure if you
> take the Struct I as part of the SE license process or if you take the
> Struct I to get your PE license.  Since I had already taken the Civil PE
> (for Michigan), the Struct I (for Illinois) and the Struct II (for
> Illinois), I only needed to take and pass the WA Struct III exam to get my
> SE license there (PE license was by pure reciprosity...i.e. fillout the
> paperwork and pay the fee).
> California requires the Western States exam (at the moment) to get your SE
> license.  In addition, you must have three California SEs who will act as
> references for you...and you must have at least 3 years (I believe) of
> "structural" experience beyond your PE license (don't know if they will
> consider 3 years beyond your initial PE license or if it must be 3 years
> beyond getting your California PE otherwords, if I got my PE
> license in California this year, would I have to wait 3 years to apply for
> the SE license or could I do it right away since I have had more than 3
> years of experience since I got my PE license in Michigan? Dunno, but will
> likely find out in the future).  And you must have your PE license in
> order to get your SE license (this is true in Washington as well).  FWIW,
> getting your PE license in California is not just a straight forward
> reciprosity...they have two "extra" exams that civils must pass to get
> their PE license...a surveying exam and a seismic exam (both are about 2
> to 2.5 hours long if I recall correctly).
> HTH,
> Scott Maxwell, PE, SE
> Adrian, MI

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