Instructor Spotlight: Vincent T. Favale, PEAug 18, 2023
At School of PE, we employ multiple instructors to teach the material in their areas of expertise-this sets us apart from our competitors. We have received a great deal of positive feedback from our students, and we believe that learning from experts in their respective areas provides the most comprehensive learning experience.
Our Instructor Spotlight series gives you a peek behind the scenes with some of School of PE's highly acclaimed instructors. Read on to find out more about our very own Vincent T. Favale, PE.
Mr. Favale is the Senior Fire Protection Engineer for Burns & McDonnell, based in New York City with more than 10 years' experience in the fire protection field. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Manhattan College and a master's degree in fire protection engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His professional experience covers a broad range of commercial facilities and includes Plumbing, Fire Protection, Fire Alarm, and Life Safety designs for large-scale projects. Mr. Favale specializes in special hazards and special projects-most notably in alternate energy applications such as offshore wind farms, energy storage systems (Li-ion batteries), and solar systems. He has earned several industry certifications, including a PE in Mechanical Thermal Fluids design and a PE in Fire Protection, along with a Certification in Plumbing Design (CPD), a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS), and a Level II Water-Based Fire Protection Systems Layout from National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).
Mr. Favale has been an adjunct instructor at New York University School of Professional Studies since 2019 and an instructor with School of PE for Fire Protection since 2022, teaching Egress & Occupant Movement-Means of Egress, Egress & Occupant Movement-Human Behavior, and Active & Passive Systems: Smoke Control Systems.
Did you always want to be an engineer?
Yes. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to understand how things work. I've always had a passion for designing, building, and repairing things.
What has been your favorite engineering project?
Experience-wise, my favorite engineering project would have to be the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. I was there for about 6 years doing renovations to the arena, and the staff there are top notch.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an engineer?
I think the most rewarding thing is seeing projects built and completed. Second would be breaking down complex systems into simple to explain and understand systems.
What is one thing people might be surprised to know about you?
I started in engineering as a plumbing and fire protection engineer and while working on a lot of special projects, I got more exposure to different sides of fire protection beyond sprinkler design. I found it so interesting that I then went back to school for my master's degree in fire protection while working. Going back to school gave me a whole host of new skills, from fire alarm design to code consulting to hazardous materials protection that I now use daily, and showed me a whole new side of fire protection.
What is the best way to prepare for the PE Fire Protection exam?
It's helpful to take a review class that spans all the different topics for the exam. It is also helpful to work through example problems in that class that are similar to what will be asked on the PE exam.
What are the biggest challenges with obtaining PE licensure?
Setting up the time to study is the biggest issue I dealt with and what I've also heard from others. From having a busy life trying to take care of responsibilities at home, to seeing family and friends, finding time to relax and have a mental break is not always easy. Trying to balance work with studying and having the energy to come home after working all day or giving up weekends and doing more work in studying and learning, and other things life likes to throw at you is a challenge.
What advice do you have for someone who is undecided regarding their specific area of expertise?
For younger college-level students, I suggest trying out as many areas as possible. Get internships in different fields. As you grow, you can always try new things. Personally, I started out as a plumbing engineer. Getting involved with different projects led to my getting involved with fire protection. I got my master's degree and moved into a fire protection role, which then led me into a special hazards and projects role.
What is your approach to teaching exam prep?
I think it is important to provide not just how to answer the exam questions but also what they mean, why are they important, the science behind them, and understanding their overall impact.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone who didn't pass the PE Fire Protection exam on their first try?
Try again! Take the score matrix they provide and work on your worst-scoring subjects first. Take some practice exams in those topics. Read over those items in the reference books and ask coworkers/mentors in the field to explain different subjects. Consider taking an exam review class in those areas and don't hesitate to ask the instructor about anything about which you are unsure or unclear.
Why would you recommend taking an exam review course to prepare for a PE exam?
First, an exam review course will help set you up on a schedule to study and will make it harder to push off until later. Second, it will provide the opportunity to learn or relearn subjects with which you may not be very involved in your day-to-day work. Finally, get real example questions to work on and don't be afraid to ask question on parts you get stuck on.