I passed the Mechanical PE Exam (Thermal and Fluid Systems) in October 2018. I was fresh off completing my Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) for grad school (graduated May 2018) and was looking for the next goal. I have always believed the best way to ensure consistent growth and enrichment is to continuously challenge yourself, whether it be an athletic challenge or academic challenge. Ripping yourself from the comfort zone is how you grow and become a more well-rounded individual. Like most states, you only need four (4) years of full-time work experience to become eligible for the PE Exam in Pennsylvania (PA).
After about a month break, I began my application. As you will find in other aspects of life, each round becomes tougher. The FE Exam application was mostly about your educational background and did not require a Work Experience narrative. But since the PE Exam is the next round, there is a higher expectation (e.g., background check, more references, etc.). I have already said that every round gets tougher. However, the application process was another opportunity for me to learn and gain more experience, becoming that more well-rounded individual. My application was due July 1 if I wanted to sit for the October 2018 Exam, so I was able to take good steps forward with the application and meet with my licensed references to gain their input. They each recommended certain reference manuals, practice exams, and review classes. I found the online course with School of PE to be especially beneficial! It truly was the best learning tool to gain a better idea of the difficulty level and types of questions that you should expect to see on the PE Exam.
When it came time to write my Work Experience narrative, I was not sure how to go about it. I knew that you wanted to show increasing both increasing knowledge and responsibility, so that you could act decisively and intelligently when completing engineering tasks for public betterment. My Work Experience turned into a story, starting with my first day as a true full-time employee. I had completed internships while in college and even passed the FE Exam in my senior year, but the EIT designation did not become active until my completion of undergrad (June 2014).
Keep in mind it is not always a bad thing to stay late and do extra work early in your engineering career; this will give you more opportunities to learn which can in turn all be added to your Work Experience narrative. In my second and third years in the utility industry, I was tasked with additional assignments to help carry extra load in my department since one co-worked transferred to another office. It was a little overwhelming at first, but what I realized later was that this all became additional knowledge that I was able to absorb and help me towards gaining approval to sit for and then pass the PE Exam.
I submitted my PE Application before the July 1 deadline and heard a couple weeks later that I was approved to sit for the exam. I had accomplished the first step, but now needed to begin my preparation. I had already started obtaining reference materials and practice exams and was overwhelmed at first. But the School of PE Review Course was helpful and provided me with much better direction and the confidence to succeed. I would also recommend some diversion activities to alleviate any stress and clear your mind. While studying for the PE Exam, I also studied martial arts and practiced yoga to help stay fresh. I even attended a martial arts class on Thursday evening before the Friday exam to ensure I would have that exam mentality in the morning, and it was certainly one of the best decisions that I made!
For me, the PE Exam was about the growth and enrichment. I never saw it as a roadblock; I was able to enjoy other activities while not feeling forced into studying whenever I had spare time. What I realized before taking the PE Exam, that even had I not passed, it was still a success. Not just from studying, but also from going through the application process and writing my Work Experience narrative. Passing the Mechanical PE Exam was simply a product of all that I had learned along the way.