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

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Thanks for the clarification.  I knew that California was moving in this
direction, but did not realize that they had actually "gotten there".

Adrian, MI

On Tue, 1 Feb 2005, Aswin Rangaswamy wrote:

> 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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