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Engineering subjects FE/PE/Licensure questions

  1. Mar 15, 2016 #1
    I'm considering enrolling in an EAC-ABET accredited Software Engineering program. However, the program was first accredited by ABET in 2012, and it is up for renewal this year. Is it usually a given that a program's accreditation will be renewed once it is first granted, or is it common for programs to lose accreditation by ABET, especially when first getting started?

    I also wanted to ask about the FE and PE exams. If I do a software engineering degree (EAC-ABET), will I be eligible to take any and all of the FE and PE exam subjects, or will I only be allowed to take the FE Software and PE Software exams (after getting the right experience)? I have a background in physics so I'm relatively confident I can pass the FE exam with some studying, I just need to actually qualify to take it.

    In other words, can I get an ABET Software Engineering BS, and pass the FE exam and get a job as, for example an entry level electrical engineer, work 4 years and then take the PE in Electrical Engineering? Or will I only be eligible to take the FE and PE in Software Engineering due to my BS in Software Engineering?

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2016 #2


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    Well the FE (and PE) in software is a fairly recent accreditation. If your school is ABET accredited in Software engineering it is probably ABET accredited in other disciplines as well and you can probably take an FE exam in other disciplines too (I am not 100% sure on this statement). Your physics background will certainly allow you a higher probability to pass an FE exam in something other than Software engineering if you decide to do so. However, your best opportunity to pass an FE exam is generally in your area of study.
    While a physics major certainly can handle the other disciplines, often times an engineering student learns less rigorous methods to solve the same problems ie shortcuts that can really help them finish these exams in their allotted time. Physics students don't get taught these little tricks of the trade with their education, but that may be just my experience with the two disciplines.
    You don't explicitly state that you have a degree in physics, but if you do and have done some work ie a year or so in engineering, and you know a few PEs that can attest to this experience, you might be able to sit for an FE exam without returning to school. Taking an FE usually requires that you have equal to a senior standing in an ABET accredited school. ie you have enough coursework and that course work measures up to an ABET accredited program. This is much easier said than to actually get done, but it is possible (I know this to be true as I had my BA reviewed by the state board and was given permission to take the FE exam, admittedly 14 years ago).
  4. Mar 16, 2016 #3


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    On one other note: It is beneficial to have a degree from an ABET accredited school when you apply for your PE. If you are a graduate from an ABET accredited program you only have to wait 4 years until you are allowed to take the PE exam. If you are NOT a graduate of an ABET accredited program you usually have to wait 8 or sometime more years before you will be allowed to sit for the PE.
    Again, there are exceptions to this rule. I only waited two, but as I was a working professional, I was allowed to take the PE exam based upon my previous experience plus education which shortened my waiting period considerably.
  5. Mar 16, 2016 #4
    Hi, thank you for your reply. Yes, my undergraduate university was not ABET accredited at the time I was there, but since then they have merged with another school and they now have ABET programs. That's why I'm considering going back there, because I have all my credits from undergrad that will directly apply, and I can just take a few extra major classes and get the BS degree much more quickly than having to work 4-8 years (not even considering the fact that it's really hard to find an engineering job as a non engineering major). Everyone tells me I should do a master's instead of a BS, but a master's will not qualify you for the FE exam because very few of them are ABET.

    I want to do software because I know I can get a job with that, but I would like to try to take the electrical exam too since I have a physics MS.
  6. Mar 16, 2016 #5
    Professional Engineering registration as a software engineer may not be available in every state (or province if you live in Canada). Check with your state/province licensing board.

    Generally, I find that a Master's degree is sought more in professions like Civil or Chemical, or Environmental Engineering than it is for Mechanical, Electrical, or Software Engineering. Make up whatever reasons you'd like as to why this is. It just is.
  7. Mar 16, 2016 #6
    You may not have to wait 4 years to take the PE. As of October my home state will be allowing those that have passed the FE exam to take the PE exam immediately after. They will not be licensed immediately, of course.

    If you qualify to sit for the FE then you may take whichever subject you wish. At least this was the case when I took the exam 2.5 years ago.

    You should read the bylaws of your particular state to make sure as there is variation.
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