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Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

I am a recent EE graduate who passed the FE exam (took the Electrical afternoon exam) in October 2011. I am debating between the Electrical and Electronics PE exam and the Control Systems PE exam.

It looks like a lot of my work will be in the I&C area, so I am leaning pretty heavily towards the Control Systems PE exam. During undergrad however, I did not take a formal Control Systems/Control Theory class, though I did take an Instrumentation course (great course!) which had some elements of a Controls course (sampling criterion, types of sensors, etc). Aside from that, I took a standard array of EE courses (signal processing, circuit analysis, logic design, electronics, etc.) and have some experience with microcontrollers.

I looked at the following pages for advice on the controls exam:



I also saw this book for sale and am considering purchasing it:


As well as some of the stuff that ISA has posted:


I am thinking of self-teaching myself the material from a controls class using a textbook (suggestions welcome) and/or Schaum's outlines. Has anyone taken the ISA review course or used their review materials? Any additional advice?


RE: Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

The controls exam is geared toward instrumentation and process control. Most undergraduate programs in EE do not adequately prepare someone to pass this test. Texts on controls written for EE/ME courses and Schaum's outlines will not help, and process controls texts written for ChemE courses will not usually help much - the theory section is only 7% of the exam. This is a test written to be passed by people with a significant amount of process control experience. I doubt that even four years of I&C practice required by most states prior to taking the exam will expose someone to enough different material to allow them to pass.

The reference texts you mentioned may help you prepare, but they'll be limited in the amount of material they can present. A significant amount of work as a process I&C engineer on a wide variety of projects will be the best preparation.

"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
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RE: Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

I have used the material provided by www.ppi2pass.com and it was top notch. I am also an EE, and I took the EE PE exam. Controls was just being offered at the time I took my PE exam. I chose the EE path because I thought that it was more general and broader in application. I work for a systems integrator and 100% of my work is in controls and instrumentation.

RE: Recent EE graduate considering Controls PE exam

I looked at ISAs material in the 90's and wasn't impressed. I haven't looked at it since.

I did the EE PE because it was broader and you never know what you'll be doing down the road. You can easily have a systems problem on the EE exam. I did in the form of a Darlington pair. The only reason I could work that problem was the presentation in block diagram in the frequency domain. I had a controls course at the undergrad level and studied controls on my own, which kept me in the S-domain with block diagrams.

I have not regretted the route taken because it has opened doors and has potential the CS will not.

My undergrad text:
Automatic Control Engineering, Francis H. Raven

Grad school texts:
Chemical Process Control, An Introduction to Theory and Practice, George Stephanopoulos
Feedback Control of Dynamic Systems, Franklin, Powell, Emami-Naeini
Linear System Theory and Design, Chi-Tsong Chen
Digital Control Systems, Theory, Hardware, Software, Houpis, Lamont
Neural Networks, Simon Haykin

Books picked up in industry/ISA:
Process Control Systems, F.G. Shinskey
Understanding Distributed Processor Systems for Control, Samuel M. Herb
Tuning and Control Loop Performance, Gregory K. McMillan
Béla G. Liptak Series on I&C from CRC Press available through ISA

I have some other ISA books I've used occasionally. Industry/ISA books I found to be more practical and time domain based. The time domain is where people I've worked with are most comfortable. I was most comfortable working in the S-domain then going back to the time domain for the rest of the information. The industry books will have practical examples from industry, which will help you now. They did me.

If you've not taken a course in fluid dynamics, I would highly recommend it. My undergrad fluids book is: Fluid Mechanics, Streeter, Wylie. A couple of industry books on fluids and flow metering are: Principles and Practice of Flow Meter Engineering, L.K. Spinks and Flow Measurement Engineering Handbook by Richard W. Miller. I have used my undergrad fluids book most.

I would recommend learning data communications and networking, too. My grad school text is: Understanding Data Communications and Networks, William A. Shay.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

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