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Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience
8

Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

(OP)
Hello everyone, after reading some of the other posts here I'll go ahead and start playing the worlds smallest violin for myself.

I'm a mid 30s Product/Development "Engineer" working for a tier 2/3 aerospace company making plenty of money for my role and enjoying a great work/life balance. The problem is one of my life goals is to obtain my PE and in my current field/job I'm not tripping over licensed engineers to attempt and obtain qualified experience under "Direct Supervision". I've been in this field for about 10 years now and for half of that I've had my EIT.

If I can't shake this desire, is my only option really abandoning my current role/job and searching for a PE mentor? I've attempted to ask the state board for information to petition without the experience requirements as I understand there are some instances where they will allow you to sit for the exam in "underserved industries" but I can't ever get any correspondence back, I believe I even hand wrote a letter some time back, no response. This is in Georgia.

Suggestions? Thank you in advance for the replies.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

I can't really relate to the desire for a piece of paper just to have it. Seems like you've got a great set up as it stands.

I know some states let you take the test after varying years of work depending on background (4 yrs for BS degree, 6 or 8 yrs for Technology degree, 10+ years for unrelated degree?) but I think they all still require experience verification. If your state says no dice, just enjoy your situation and not having to take an 8 hr test?

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

PWB -

Why do you want to get a PE??? In 40+ years in the aerospace industry I have never ever seen the need for a PE or requirement to stamp/seal anything.

Now technically (and the Civil Eng types are going to have all sorts of fits and conniptions over what I am going to say), if you want to be an independent consultant in the aerospace industry you need to have a PE; which I actually did for a while just to keep the state bureaucrats happy should they ever find out what I as doing; however it was a big pain in the ***, and none of my clients cared one iota, and in hindsight I would have never bothered with it. I was fortunate enough to have one colleague with a PE that I could use as a reference on my application, and all of my other references did not have a PE, and that was ok.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

I submitted to the Georgia board with both work under a PE and work under unlicensed engineers in industry. I had no issue with the Board at all and was not questioned or asked to submit any verification of the experience of my supervisors. As long as you have three PEs to sign off on the applications (they can be just character references), you should be fine.

However, Florida asks for diplomas from the unlicensed engineers that are serving as your supervisor when evaluating years of experience. Alabama makes a determination on the experience of the supervisors. The Alabama board must be able to determine that they would license the supervisor if they applied.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

(OP)
Thanks for the replies. Yes, I know it seems a little silly.

While in my case not an explicit requirement clearly all I can say is it's a goal of mine and I do think it would make me a better engineer in the long run. I also fancy possibly doing something on my own one day and I had thought it would aid in that as well. Old me would punch me in the face for saying this now but hindsight I did enjoy the challenge of the FE exam as I took it years out of school and had to prep quite a bit.

I believe taking the FE made me better and I'm assuming the PE would do the same. I'm going to keep trying to finangle something.

SWC- Surely having your PE helped you along the way? I mean even if your customers didn't care, I bet it was a confidence booster after have being through it. It's just paper but it does have fancy words on it.

Anyhoo I'm still going to try and finangle something, seems my best bet is to keep trying to get permission from the board.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

(OP)
Thanks for the info AgMech, sorry I was drafting that novel when you replied I suppose, just now seeing.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

The wheels for bureaucracy turn slowly. How long has it been since you wrote to the GA board asking for clarification?

Your best course might be to submit a test application with whatever references you can get. That should force some sort of reply because they have to process test applications.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

PWB - lol, no, it was a complete PITA. I'm more or less a stress analyst / material engineer - there is no PE exam anywhere close to my field. Took the FE 20 years after graduation (after studying a bunch of stuff I hadn't used in those 20 years), passed that, then took the Mechanical PE 6 months later (after a bunch more studying stuff I have never used), was pretty sure I passed that so I deleted from my brain all that useless stuff I had learned for the exams not more than 5 minutes after walking out. Was a complete waste of time. Grrr. And no, at that point in my career I didn't need any confidence boosting.

It somewhat depends on your specific "aerospace" field. What PE exam are you thinking of taking?

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Granted, my degree is Civil, along with my PE's. I had many classmates that had no interest in getting their PE, and their employers did not care. They had enough PE's on staff to supervise all the non-PE's doing all the heavy lifting.

Personally, and again this is coming from the Civil perspective, I can't wrap my head around why anybody would go through the experience of earning their degree in engineering and then not get the PE.

If you really want this to happen, start networking in any group/society you can and make connections. You should be able to meet enough PE's to start building your reference base fairly quickly.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

(OP)
Wow thanks everyone for the awesome comments; Mint that is a great idea.

SWC, yes I concede I have not really had the need to calculate forces on an inclined plane since the test haha. I was anticipating claiming competence in Machine Design. I'm pretty comfortable with my role, but I really want to lean in deeper and not just be a glorified project manager. When someone starts talking about Tsai-Wu I don't want to be the guy who thinks it's a city in Taiwan.

TigerG, solid point networking would help me, may could even find a good informal mentor possibly.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Quote:

I was anticipating claiming competence in Machine Design. I'm pretty comfortable with my role, but I really want to lean in deeper and not just be a glorified project manager. When someone starts talking about Tsai-Wu I don't want to be the guy who thinks it's a city in Taiwan.

I see lots of issues here
> Prepping for an ME PE does not confer competence in machine design. You're being tested on a broad range of ME topics, so there's nothing there that pushes that button
> Given zero actual work content in machine design, you'll forget 95% of everything you crammed for to pass the test.
> If you don't want to be a glorified project manager, then you're in the wrong role to start with, and getting a PE isn't really going to help. I once had a coworker with an EE PE license, because the company thought it might be worth some brownie points on proposals, but his PE was never mentioned, and he never used his license for anything
> If you want to be competent in machine design, then you need to be doing machine design, perhaps requiring you to take a step downward in rank and pay grade to make that happen. I've known lots of of people ditching managerial roles to get back to "real" engineering winky smile

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

I can't wrap my head around why anybody would go through the experience of earning their degree in engineering and then not get the PE.

Because in some engineering fields, including aerospace, they is no need for a PE. None. Nothing gets stamped. No employer cares if you have a PE. And there isn’t a PE test that covers what we do anyway. When I took the Mech PE exam there was not one single thing that related to what I’ve done for 40+ years.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

I'm retired, so at the other end, and I've never needed a PE license, nor would have been able to even get one for the systems engineering that I did for the last 29 years. I was EE prior to that, but never needed a license either.

At the end of the day, I've accomplished the financial goal I set up for myself, so what would the license have gotten me?

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

I assume that boards have the ability to waive "requirements" listed on their website as I have lived in two states where they did so to accept non-PE supervisors as references.

Agreed with SWC's assessment above. IME a PE is just padding for the resume in highly-regulated industries, its akin to an advanced degree.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

My company only wanted its engineers to have a P.E. as a sales tool. Only our CE's really needed to have a P.E. Most of my fellow P.E.'s were "grandfathered" in and while I could have so been, I took the exam. I used my seal only once in 17 years and this was a metallurgical issue involving a law suit against the company.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

2

Quote (PropWashBucket)

I do think it would make me a better engineer in the long run.

So I'm a structural engineer and I believe that our engineering license system is important though certainly not perfect. Having said that, I will break with my fellow civil types and say that having a PE does nothing to make you a better engineer. The PE exam (at least for civil/structural) is a bit of a joke. I realize there are those who struggle with tests who will disagree, but the content is quite easy. If you can get a degree, you can pass the test. There really isn't any need for professional development in order to get through the exam that I took. The SE is supposed to be different, though with the shift to computer based testing I'm skeptical of how well it'll stand up in the coming years. I wasn't required to take it, so I didn't. It's a goal of mine, much like your PE is for you. Sure, it would be nice to affix SE at the end of my signature. But at the end of the day, my clients don't care, and if I ever close my shop and get a job, they'll care more about my experience and my PE rather than my SE (unless, of course, they want me to run projects in Georgia, Illinois, California, etc.). So long as you have the experience and knowledge that would qualify you for your PE, the piece of paper on the wall and extra letters in your signature will do nothing for you if your employer isn't looking for them.

Getting your PE is a laudable goal, but not a necessary one. Don't sacrifice a great position for a goal that will net you nothing in the long run but being able to pat yourself on the back. Goals are good to have and you shouldn't give up on them. BUT...you should also reconsider them occasionally. A goal that makes a lot of sense in one season of life may be nothing but a ball and chain in the next.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

PropWashBucket,

I totally get it. After 20 years in the aerospace industry, I decided to get my PE license. No one ever asked me to get it, never needed to stamp or sign anything as a PE. But it was something I wanted to do.
I am glad I went thru the studying, testing waiting.

Go for it!

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

(OP)
You all are a bunch of swell folks!

Sincerely though, I appreciate the varying viewpoints and wisdom from "been there, done that" knowledge.

Thank you all for taking the time to respond, I'm going to do some mulling over the holiday season with all your inputs.

I hope you all have a great holiday.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Propwash I'm kind of with you on the wanting to get the piece of paper. I already have my PE, but the piece of paper I want is a masters in structural. I'm an ME by schooling, but I spent my entire 30 year career doing industrial and infrastructure projects (pipe bridges, catwalks, containment, sea walls, etc.). Nobody else cares about it except me, but I'm applying to UAB, UCF, and Michigan Tech this winter to get my masters. And I already have a BSME, MSME. My state doesn't even recognize the SE, or have a PE designation for the field, which makes me even crazier. I just want to have it. Kids are all grown and out of the house, I have the money and the time to do it. Yes, it has little meaning for me now as a consultant nearing retirement, but I want it.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Quote (TigerGuy)

Personally, and again this is coming from the Civil perspective, I can't wrap my head around why anybody would go through the experience of earning their degree in engineering and then not get the PE.

Most Mechanical design engineers don't work in a role where a PE is required or rewarded. Those who have a passing demand for PE stamped submittals can often outsource them. This has been said already, but I'll add some specifics.

Where I work, 18 years now, we had a PE on staff for the first 15 years. I have the FE in my pocket and considered doing the full PE, but 1) the company took advantage of our PE when he would stamp work for the company and 2) My desk was 200 feet away from him in an adjacent design team and he would not have signed on my PE application unless I did all of the details for his personal work for 5 uninterrupted years. My job role and my sanity were not structured to permit that. The point of the story is that even though my company and industry 'needed' PE's once in a while, it was easy enough to outsource when it came up and the company had zero incentive to create a situation where I could build 5 years of PE experience. I can say that what I learned during any 5 year periods *not* working under that PE was 100x more valuable and useful than learning to do what he did, his way. It would have cost my career dearly to have pursued the PE working under him. So yeah, the non-PE industries can work in a way that discourages creating more PEs.

There are times when I've considered changing my career path and having a PE could have opened some doors. But I don't think I miss it yet.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Civil/structural/buildings guy here.

I have my PE (multiple countries). be lucky you work in an industry where you dont need it (sounds like a good industry).

The reason civil/structural types need it, is for bureaucracy needs. There are too many cavemen trying to build dangerous things out of sticks and stones. The government needs to regulate it. An easy way is to have the city works clerk require a form from an "appropriately licensed" engineer for building permit applications, in order to approve it. (And these days you need a permit for what seems like anything more extensive than a coat of paint to your wall.)

Most of my customers don't use me because they want the service. They use me because they are legally required to. And they find using me, to tick a particular box, the most prudent balance between cost and difficulty i give them, compared to my competitors.

If you have an industry and clients where your expertise and knowledge are sought out, regardless of license, that sounds dreamy. If you could open your own consulting office in that business without a license and still receive work, that sounds even dreamier. If i was in that situation, i would not seek out a pointless license.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Quote (SWComposites)

Because in some engineering fields, including aerospace, they is no need for a PE. None. Nothing gets stamped. No employer cares if you have a PE. And there isn’t a PE test that covers what we do anyway.

True, but aren't you ignoring something pretty important?

While I think you're right that you don't need the PE to be a DER, or administer an ODA, to claim that nobody needs to stamp anything (or more accurately, sign and mark your registration number) is an exaggeration. In civil aerospace, data isn't approved until a DER or the FAA signs it. There's even a standard form for that. And most of the time the DER's business comes to them because they can provide this signature. Actually, I thought you were a DER yourself SWC!

Of course, if an aero engineer doesn't want to be a DER (there are lots of them) that's fine too. Be a specialist or a manager within a corporation. But I believe that without the DER credit, the door to independent practice is shut. That may be part of the OP's underlying goals.

PWB
Since you are based in the USA like SWComposites, perhaps they can inform you a bit more knowledgeably than I can (I'm a foreigner to both of you) about the federal delegation system. There seems to be a blind spot in the preceding discussion that the non-aerospace people can't see.

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Sparweb - what I meant was no one puts a PE stamp on anything. Of course we in aerospace sign all sorts of documents, and certification documents get submitted to the FAA (in the USA) by a DER/ODA either approving the document/data or recommending approval. And DERs / ODA members certainly need to have certain qualifications and experience and have to be approved by the FAA or ODA system. BUT, that is all completely unrelated to the state administered PE system.

I and many colleague have been independent industry technical consultants for many years, and most don't have DER authorization, and we have have had (maybe fortunately) lots of work over the years. Yes, there are some tasks where having a DER authorization is required. But the interesting thing is that most of those "DER tasks" which involve approving documents/repairs/etc. don't pay very well.

And for those interested, it is almost impossible to get approved as an independent DER without previously being a company DER / ODA member (I tried and the "hoops" the FAA want me to do - which would have involved many unpaid hours - were ridiculous; and this even with certain people in the FAA recommending me for DER authorization).

RE: Difficulty obtaining qualifying PE experience

Thanks for clarifying SWC,
Given the discussions I've had over the years, with non-aerospace PE's and non-registered engineers, plus many engineers in aerospace but research or military specialties, the system that you and I know so well is not well known at all.

I didn't want it to go unmentioned, given what the OP has asked about. It might have been an underlying assumption of his/hers. Left unsaid, they could have left us with lot explained but a major fact missed.

We would get side-tracked, so I won't comment on the "hoops", though I know what you mean.

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