To be a professional engineer, you must pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering Examination administered by NCEES. There are five majors on which you can take the exam: PE Structural, PE Geotechnical, PE Construction, PE Transportation, and PE Water Resources.
A brief of project management skills would be required for all of them. But especially if you take PE Construction, you must have good knowledge of civil engineering project management to pass the exam. Therefore, a brief knowledge of project management would not help you pass the PE Construction exam, rather than acquire detailed information on project management and economics.
What should you study?
PE examinees know there are two sections. Breadth and depth section while you take PE Exam. To pass the PE construction exam, you should know what you need to study (as per NCEES)
- Project Planning
- Construction Means and Methods
- Soil Mechanics
- Structural Mechanics
- Hydraulics and Hydrology
- Site Development
- Earthquake Construction and Layout
- Estimating Quantities and Costs
- Construction Operation and Methods
- Material Quality Control and Production
- Health and Safety
If you want to be a professional engineer on the first try, you need to know the topics mentioned above as per NCESS PE Construction examination specifications.
Project Management Experience that Helps
Learn from Your Project Experience
If you are on task to manage your project, you can learn many things while gathering 4 to 6 years of practical experience. That will make it easy to pass the exam.
For example, suppose you are in charge of scheduling the project timeframe. In that case, you can study how to schedule different parts of a construction project, determine the time required for each activity, learn how to use the critical path method (CPM), and handle available resources. In addition, by implementing the processes and tools on your project, you will use them and practice them for the PE construction exam.
Learn from your Mentors
If you are working or taking any review courses, your working boss may have PE licensure. A simple knock on the topics you have dilemma or confusion about, make it clear from him. Tell him to help you out with some specific problems. Similarly, if you take PE exam review courses, ask your course mentor questions and solve specific questions. This should help a lot to pass the PE Construction exam on the first try.
If you check the specifications prepared by the NCESS, you will see that many portions have similar items. For example, in the breadth section, project planning, estimating quantities, and costs are similar in the depth section. You will be able to answer four breadth questions and six depth questions if you study them well. You can identify more of these items and study them hard to pass the PE Construction exam on the first try.
Learn Health and Safety Measures from Real Project
As I guess you are working on real projects, the project must be implementing health and safety rules. Study them throughout to have an idea of how they work. You can study the OSHA referencing guides to know in detail and implement them in the field. Remember my words, a real-life experience is much more fruitful rather than memorizing from a book.
Learning from real projects and implementing them on the real PE Construction exam is easy and long-lasting. The knowledge that lasts would benefit society in the long run. So, my advice, earn experience from projects and be a professional engineer.
Khaled Syfullah is a Civil Engineer by profession. He is currently doing M. Phil in Civil Engineering from Yokohama National University, Japan. He is involved in many construction projects across Japan and Bangladesh.