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 California State University, Fullerton

Uksun Kim, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Areas of Research

Collaborators: David Cheng (EE @ CSUF); Othoniel Rodriguez-Jimenez (EE @ Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico); Ning Fang (ME @ Utah State University)

Main Objective
This research topic was developed during the RREE (Rigorous Research in Engineering Education) workshop funded by NSF (National Science Foundation). This research is focused on this fundamental and critical step.  The research results can impact all engineering disciplines where students take the FE/EIT exam and can assist students in passing the exam, thereby improving the students’ employment prospects.

What is the FE/EIT Examination?
The FE exam is one of the essential steps for acquiring a professional engineer (P.E.) license.  The FE exam was first offered in the 1965 by NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying).
The FE exam is comprised of a 4-hour morning session (120 questions) and a 4-hour afternoon session (60 questions).  For the morning session, the general exam is offered for all engineering disciplines.  For the afternoon session, examinees can choose the general exam or a discipline-specific exam such as chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, or mechanical respectively.  There are 12 topics in the morning session: Mathematics; Engineering Probability and Statistics; Chemistry; Computers; Ethics and Business Practices; Engineering Economics; Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics); Strength of Materials; Material Properties; Fluid Mechanics; Electricity and Magnetism; Thermodynamics

Importance of the FE/EIT Exam in the Field of Engineering Education
There are several important benefits for receiving a P.E. license as follows:


Only a license holder can prepare, design, and submit documents with drawings to public authority with signature and seal.  Seal engineering work for public or private clients can only be officially performed by a P.E. license holder.


Most employers are looking for licensed engineers.


A P.E. license holder can be considered as a professional in one’s own engineering field.


Licensure is an indicator of the level of competence, dedication, potential, and integrity.


A P.E. license holder may get some confidence and authority (officially) from the public.

It is obvious that passing the FE exam can be one of goals for the undergraduate engineering program.  Most states provide no waiver for the FE exam as a qualification of PE exam.  Thus, anyone who wants to get a P.E. license must pass the FE exam. 

A total of 232 students (CEE, EE, and ME) participated in this survey.  This survey was completely anonymous.  From this study, the following conclusions can be obtained:


From the survey, uncomfortable topics related to each engineering discipline can be found.  Uncomfortable topics are “Thermodynamics” for EE and CEE students and “Electric Circuits” for CEE and ME students.  Review sessions should be adjusted for each engineering discipline or additional review sessions related to specific topics should be provided.


Only 20% of exam takers participate in the FE exam review course.  Further investigations should be performed to figure out the main reasons why 80% of FE exam takers did not attend the exam review course.  However, it is obvious that there are urgent needs to develop a new FE exam review course which can provide effective help for passing the FE exam.

These research results will be applied to a new FE review course to be offered at CSUF in the near future.

Other Collaborative Research Activities
Other collaborative research activities are “Application of High Strength Steel in Building Structures” (with South Korea-base Research Institute) and “A New Hybrid Structural System using RC Flat-Plates and Steel Columns” (with UNLV and UT at Austin).