Civil engineering is definitely among those industries that have been impacted the most by COVID-19. What’s worse, not only licensed engineers have been hit by the side effects of COVID, but also those who were preparing for the PE exam. Exams got canceled, people started losing hope and motivation, refunds were requested, there was worry about the safety of test centers in future exams, etc. Complete chaos? Not at all. On today’s show, we hear directly from within the NCEES organization about how they are navigating our current situation and the measures they are taking in order to provide exams for everyone who wants to take them.
Today, Isaac talks to Timothy Miller, PE, the Chief Officer of Examinations at the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). He oversees the development and scoring of all engineering and surveying examinations used for professional licensure in the United States and its territories. Miller also oversees the production of NCEES examinations, study guides, and exam administration publications, as well as compliance and security.
Miller is a licensed professional engineer in the State of South Carolina, getting his degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, who had worked for more than 20 years as an engineering consultant and project manager before joining the organization.
They touch on a variety of interesting topics, including questions that most examinees are really interested in, such as how the exams are made, and why there are more questions for certain disciplines than others. They also discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and adaptations of the computer-based test (CBT), when the NCEES plans on completing the transition from the old “pencil and paper” model to CBT, as well as the role the organization plays in preventing the threats to licensure.
NCEES – https://ncees.org
NCEES Records Program – https://ncees.org/records
NCEES Squared – https://ncees.org/about/publications/past-annual-reports-squared
NCEES State Requirements – https://ncees.org/state-links
National Society of Professional Engineers – https://www.nspe.org
American Society of Civil Engineers – https://www.asce.org
Pearson Vue – https://home.pearsonvue.com
Built To Last, by Jim Collins – Here
Virginia Polytechnic Institute – https://vt.edu
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Transcript of Show
You can download our show notes summary here or get our transcript of the show below!
Isaac Oakeson: Hey, what's going on, everybody? Isaac here with civil engineering Academy. I'm excited today. I've got a really special guest today. I've got Tim Miller, who's with the NCEES organization. So, he is actually the chief officer of exams at the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Wow, that's big! And they shorten that to NCEES. So, Tim is awesome. He actually helps developall the scoring and the exams for people that are becoming professional engineers. He also helps to develop all the practice problems, the study guides and all their publications to help engineers earn in their license. So it's kind of a big deal there at the end NCEES organization. It's going to be a really fun show to ask him lots of questions about the PE exam in general. But in his own life, he was a project manager, an engineering consultant for 20 years. And he graduated from Virginia Polytech Institute and State University, and he is licensed in the state of South Carolina. Anyway, we are excited to have him on the show. Can't wait to share this one with you and it's going to be coming right up.
Isaac Oakeson: Hey, what's going on, everybody? I'm excited today. I've got a special guest here. I got Tim Miller with us from the NCEES. How's it going, Tim?
Tim Miller: Going well, thank you.
Isaac Oakeson: Great. I think we'll just dive right into this. I want to be respectful of your time. I know you're busy guy right now dealing with a lot of stuff. Somaybe, just as a background, I have read that you've got a civil engineering background, but hohow did you find yourself into the NCEES organization?
Tim Miller: It's been an interesting journey. Yes, I have a civil engineering degree. Went to Virginia tech worked for Bechtle right out of college in their nuclearside of things and worked at a couple of different nuclear plantsAnd then found myself in South Carolina working for consulting firms. Mostly site development, that kind of thing. So, I was not a specialist. I was more of a generalist. So I've donesewer lift station, design road design, railroad design, a lot of gradingstorm water detention, that kind of thing. Andas I moved forward in my career, I was in project management, did a lot of industrial projects, and so it was very rewarding doing that. And then I started my own business as a kind of an owner's rep kind of thing, where I would work with owners and I worked with banks and did work that they needed, where they needed some engineering guidance. And so I did that and I happened to see that NCEES was looking for an engineer and I had to be, at the time it was located in Clemson, South Carolina, and I had to be down there doing something for a bank. So, I contacted them to see, "Hey, is there something I can help you with and all that?". And, "Well, we're not looking for, you know, a consultant, but you sound like somebody who might work well here. Why don't you stop and see us?". So I did. So I started off working responsible for several examsfacilitating the development of those, and then was asked, after a couple years, to move into this position where I'm actually over the development of all the exams. And so I've been here for 15 years.
Isaac Oakeson: Wow. That's awesome. I guess, for people that don't know what the NCEES -- Like explain just real quickly what it is, and maybe just touch on the history.
Tim Miller: Sure. Well, very, very quickly. If you want to be licensed in the United States as a professional engineer, you have to be licensed by your state licensing board. That's at the state level. And back in the day, and we're actually celebrating our hundredth year anniversary, every state developed their own exams, did their own licensing, and then as engineers moved around, they were having to go take the exams in the other States if they wanted to be licensed there and do work. And the States got together and formed this council, and we're the national counciland so that they could recognize each other's credentials. And they did that for a number of years. And so they didn't have to take the exams in the other States. And then, as things moved on, then in the sixties, they decided "Why don't we develop one exam for the entire country to use, so then we know that we're all testing the same things?". And so that's how kind of the council -- So we're the national council of examiners for engineering and surveying. Obviously, an engineer and not a marketing person came up with that. And so We work for the state licensing boards and we help them. I can't license anybody. I get accused all the time of holding up people's licenses and that I'm supposed to have all this authority and power. But I don't license anybody. We are responsible for the exams. That part of the licensure, what we call the three-legged stool, education, experience and exams, that you need to have in order to be licensed in individual States. And we do other things that all further what the licensing boards are trying to do. So, in a nutshell, that's what the council does. But there are definitely times where you need to talk to your licensing board and not us, but there are times thatexam-related questions will come to us. And then we have other services that we provide. A records program, where, if you want to be licensed to multiple States, even when there was an exam, a common exam, you still had to go fill out all the paperwork in each state, provide a transcript, provide all your references. And the boards asked us to come up with a way to, for us, to house all that information and make it easier, from a mobility standpoint, for engineers to go from one state to another.
Isaac Oakeson: Yeah, that's very helpful.
Tim Miller: Yeah. If you develop a record with us that we hold, you only have to send your transcript to us once, and then we hold your exam results and your references. And that has to be updated. And it's free to develop this record. The only charge is if you transmit it. So, if I have a record and I'm in South Carolina and I want to be licensed in Georgia, I would contact NCEES and say, "Please, send my record to Georgia". There's very little paperwork that has to be done in that way.
Isaac Oakeson: That's awesome. I've also noticed, just on my NCEES account, that you offer, other things. Like, you track PDHs, you can upload your certificates there, and things of that nature. So, it seems like the NCEES is very in touch with what engineers are needing, and what the States are wanting, and trying to provide like a service to capture those things.
Tim Miller: Exactly. And that's free for any engineer that wants tohave all -- And we have all the CDC requirements, the continuing competency requirements for each state. And so, yeah. It's been very successful and it just made sense.
Isaac Oakeson: Yeah. I agree. I've enjoyed that feature myself.
Tim Miller: Good.
Isaac Oakeson: That's great. Let's dive into some good questions about the PE. We'll talk about COVID coming up too. But I kind of pooled some of our audience members in Civil Engineering Academy, and I know right now things are a little nuts with COVID-19 and things of that nature. But maybe I'll start at the beginning. And some people just want to know in general how the PE exam is developed. So, I know that's probably a two-hour lecture, but maybe just some highlights.
Tim Miller: Well, and like most, probably, the people that are listening to this, I had no clue of how the exams were developed. I always assumed there were some, a group of professors somewhere locked up in an ivory tower and they just wrote questions and everybody. But that couldn't be further from the truth. It's a very detailed process. And yes, you're right. It would take several hours to go through it, but there are -- I'll skip over and hit some of the highlights. So, one question we always get is, "Well, how do you decide what topics are tested and why are there so many questions in one topic and not another?" Well, we don't decide that. We go through a process that's called PAKS, Professional Activities and Knowledge Study. And what we do is, we put together a group of people, they're licensed engineers, and they come up with a list of knowledges and things that someone entering the licensure field. So, someone with four years experience and a college degree, what is important, what do they think is important for them to know in order to protect health, safety, and welfare, and be able to do work. And so, we compile this list, and we use a testing consultant. You'll hear me say psychometrician. That's the consulting groups. That's what they do. They're testing consultants. They lead us through this process. And we develop a survey instrument that we then send out to as many licensed engineers as we can in that discipline and say, "How important is this for somebody with four years experience and an engineering degree that they be minimally competent in this in order to protect health, safety, and welfare?". So we get all these responses back and the things they rate them on a zero-to-five scale, zero being not important, five being very important, and things that are above a certain level. "Okay, Those are topics that we'll test". Those that are below a certain level, "All right, these aren't important. We won't test those". Some are in the middle and we discuss those as a group. This committee will discuss those, and if there's a rationale for including those, they will be. And then all that is approved. I have many bosses. I have an oversight committeeover the engineering exams and one for the surveying exams. And that's made up of members from different state licensure boards. That's one of my oversight committees. They have to approve them. We come up with this specification, "here are the topics", and, when we send out that survey, we are getting input on how many questions, or how to determine how many questions are needed. So, it's not us determining that it's coming from the engineering field. It's coming from the community who have licensed engineers. So don't blame me if you think there's too many transportation or too many structural questions. Blame the licensed people who you work with thatfill out the survey.
Isaac Oakeson: So, it's kind of like they're getting a pulse for, I guess, what is needed in society. I mean, is that a fair statement?
Tim Miller: It is, because it's protect health, safety, and welfare. So, it's very important that -- And this is something we do every six to eight years for every exam that we have. We have over 30 different exams. We have five civil PE exams, the seven fundamentals exams. We have a lot of -- And so we do this every six to eight years to make sure we're keeping up with technology to make sure that we are keeping up with what's going on in that discipline's community, and what's important, obviously. You know, things change in the environment. And so, it's important for us to continue to do that. So, once we have that specification, then obviously we have to write items to do that. And we have volunteers, subject matter experts, that come in from all over the country. Normally. We are now doing that virtually right now, and I'll talk about that later. But they come in and they help us write questions. And so, again, even when I was responsible for several of the examsit was not my job to be the technical expert. I was just a facilitator. So, for instance, I had the metallurgical and materials exam. I couldn't even understand what the question was asking, let alone how to answer it, but I have subject matter experts that do. And my job was to lead them through the process.
Isaac Oakeson: I was just thinking. You touched upon technology and I know a lot of exams have switched over to CBT, which is computer-based testing, and it sounds like, even with COVID, that's accelerated some of those exams. Where does the civil exam fall in line with that? Is it sticking with the data, I believe of 2023? AndI guess, what do you see are the benefits of the CBT or are there even any drawbacks that you've seen?
Tim Miller: Well, those of you that have taken the exam and been to one of our pencil and paper exams, you have seen, you know, it's in a very large room, a lot of people, might be a lot of people, a lot of references. Iit's a terribly large process to go through all that. Yes, it is. And e're only able to do that -- We do that twice a year. So, in moving to computer-based testing, the advantages to that are, especially for the large volume exams, like civil and all our fundamentals exams, we're able to use a process called Linear On The Fly testing. We use a lot of acronyms. That's LOFT. And what that does is that allows us -- So, if you and I go to a testing center to take the same exam, what's your specialty in civil?
Isaac Oakeson: I did Geo-tech.
Tim Miller: Okay. So let's say we both went and took the geo-tech exam at the same time, and we sat next to each other. We would both be tested, there would be 80 questions on the test, and they would all be over the same topics. But we're able to use this linear on the fly testing. Your questions will be different than mine, even though the forms, each of our exams will be unique. From a difficulty standpoint, they are the same, and they are written around the same. You have to have the same ability level or the same score. And so, that allows us to be able to test all year round which, when things get canceled or if there are issues, that gets us a lot more flexibility and it gives the examinees have a lot more flexibility that they can go take the exam when they want, where they want. And, by where, it doesn't even have to be in the same state. So if I'm trying to apply to the South Carolina board, but I'm on a temporary assignment in North Dakota, one of the oil fields or something like that, I can take the exam at a Pearson Vue test center in North Dakota. And so there's a tremendous flexibility level with that. Also, on the pencil and paper standpoint, it's a little different process and how the exams are. -- It's still the same level of psychometric or testingprocess that we go through, but we have to do everything after the fact. And that's why it takes five to six weeks or longer to get the results out. With the computer-based testing, since we already know what the passing score is, we're able to build the forms around that passing score, we can get the results out in a week. So, if you take the exam this week, you'll find out next week.
Isaac Oakeson: That's way better.
Tim Miller: That's a lot better. Now, as far as the civil exam, obviously we have already transitioned all our fundamentals exams. We started on the PE exams and have done the majority of those. Civil is obviously our largest one and we wanted to wait and make sure the biggest difficulty is with the references, because in a test center, you can't bring in your rolling book cart of references or your child's red wagon. These are all things I have seen in the past. Yes, rolling book cart that they unfolded. So, that's just not feasible in the testing center. So, we have to make sure that we develop electronic references that contain anything that an examinee would need to know in order to answer questions that we wouldn't expect them to know automatically. And so, that is a very detailed process that we have to work through with our volunteers, our subject matter experts. And we are actually pulling in the transition of the civil exam to CBT. It was going to be April of 2023. It will now be April of 2022. So, we have pulled it in a year. Yes. Wow.
Isaac Oakeson: You got a lot of work to do.
Tim Miller: We do have a lot of work to do. And we're looking at ways to see if we can pull it in even sooner, because obviously with COVID-19 and everything that's going on, we had to cancel the Aprilexam, which affected some 16,000 examineesm, and a majority of which were civilsThat's our largest pencil and paper exam. And so we're trying to pull in. One thing we did for Octoberthe electrical power exam is one that was going to be transitioned next April. And we actually pulled that in and we will start offering that in December. At the beginning of December. So, what we did was we basically canceled all of the electrical power people from October and gave them back their money and said, "We're going to take you out of this pool so that we can offer more pencil and paper seats to other people who don't have this option in another month or so". So, we've pulled that in. You know, we didn't make these decisions lightly because it's a big deal going from -- These people were studying and preparing to bring in all their own references. And now they have a supplied reference that we will provide them. So they're having to change how they do that. But I know we have over 800 people have already scheduled their appointments in December. So, many of them have already got their appointments scheduled, and we're glad that that was able to work. Our computer-based testing partner is Pearson Vue, and they had issues as well when COVID, when everything happened in March or so. And they actually had to close down their test centers for the month of April, and that affected some 7,000 CBT takers that had to get rescheduled. And when they opened back up in may, they opened up at half capacity so that they could have every other seat. And so that has affected, obviously, being able to get appointments for everybody. So, yeah. It's been a lot going on.
Isaac Oakeson: I guess, before we leave the CBT stuff -- I mean, you've already hit a lot of positives. I guess, do you think the only drawback to going CBT is that you're not able to bring in all your references? You're not able to bring in the suitcase anymore?
Tim Miller: I think so. But most of our feedback has been positive. The mechanical engineers we converted theirexamins and their appointments started in -- Well, would have started in April. It ended up starting in may. And we've gotten a lot of good feedback from them because they had to go through the same process where they, in the past, it was bringing your own references, and now we have a supplied reference. And even with them, because they use, and not to be confused with psychometrics, but their psychometric charts, the refrigerant charts and all that, we had to come up with an electronic way for them to be able to draw all the lines they need to on these charts in order to answer questions. So, we have been able to do that as well. We've gotten positive feedback. But yet certainly that's a concern that we're aware of is that people cannot bring in their own references. But for the most part, it's been positive,
Isaac Oakeson: But you will be providing a resource for people to use. They're going to have a reference manual of some sort.
Tim Miller: Yes. There will be reference manual for all of the civil examinees and then there will also be tabs forthe appropriate codes and standards that we test on. So, those will be provided, like something from ACIYou know, we won't provide it for you electronically to study by, but we will tell you "Here are are the things that will be available to you". Soespecially a lot for the structural folks have a good bit. If you look at our specifications, you see at the end, there's a list of codes and standards, and those will all be provided electronically.
Isaac Oakeson: Oh, wow. I forgot to ask that, but you definitely reminded me that there are quite a few standards, which is typically why people bring in a suitcase full of books.
Tim Miller: And we're actually in the process of working on aSome people have already found on our CBT page of our website, that the date has changed from 2023 to 2022. And so we've got questions on that. We were trying to get other things done before we made that announcement, but we're working on a press release now. So that'll be announced probably early next week.
Isaac Oakeson: So, you've already touched a lot on COVID-19 and how it's affected you. I mean, how have you guys been able to stay on top of this? It just seems like there's so many changes happening all the time.
Tim Miller: There are, and it has beenAnd just like almost everybody that's probably listening or watching this, we had the same issue in March. We basically had to send all our staff home and work from home. And so that has been a challenge and an extra challenge for us in this pandemic. We were in the process of moving our headquarters, from building we do from Clemson, South Carolina, to Greenville, South Carolina, which is about 50 miles. I'm actually in our new buildingright now. And it's a beautiful building. I think on our website there's actually a video tour that explains it. But it's a 75,000 square foot. Actually, CH2M Hill. It used to be their office. And, when they were bought out by Jacobs engineering, they all moved toa large Jacobsoffice here in Greenville. And so we were fortunate enough to be able to get the building and we've been renovating it, and we had to renovate it during this pandemic. And so, fortunately, our contractor was able to keep going. Andso that's been difficult. But we're now starting to bring some staff back in, and hopefully we'll have staff back in after the first of the year. That's the plan. But yes, it has been a challenge because, as I mentioned earlier, we have over 800 volunteers that we work with. And they come in normally and help us write items and work on the exams. And we've been having to move those meetings to virtual meetings. So that's a new experience for us as well. But we have been able to you know, overcome that and we're able to keep up with everything that we need to do.
Isaac Oakeson: What advice do you have for somebody that's registered, i guess? We're in 2020. So, October is coming up for the next exam. I've seen announcements where they have kind of caps on how many people can go to a conference center or whatever, and you've had to open up other places. So, has there been other areas that have had to deal with that? It looks like California was one,
Tim Miller: California was one. Just backing up to April, when we canceled April, we were expecting a good many, obviously more people in October. So, what we did was, we actually came up with a way to do the exams over two days, using the sametest centers and obviously the testing locations that will obviously be cleaned overnight. But we have three of the civil exams are being given on Thursday, the 22nd. And two of them are being given on Friday. So, we're trying to split so that we can social distance and do everything that we need to do to meet all the guidelines. And soeveryone -- As far as I know, don't hold me to this, but I believe everybody should have their own table. And obviously, they will be socially distanced. But they will be required to wear a mask and our proctors will be required to wear a mask. And so, we were able to do that for October and yes, we have to meet whatever's going on in the state guidelines. So, we had to put caps in certain places. California, we were basically given five locations in California, and for those we were unable togive. So, Pomona and San Diego, the Southern part of California, we had to scramble in the last month, and basically we found a place in Las Vegas where we could go ahead -- And yes, it's a casinowhere the restrictions aren't as tight as they are in California. And we're able to still social distance and all that. And so we gave that opportunity to all those. We basically moved everyone, but if they wanted to cancel, that was fine. We obviously gave them their money back. Northern California, San Francisco and Sacramento they're going to Reno. Same thing. And then there have been some other test centers in other States we've had to move people, but that was obviously our largest one. Oregon, we actually have an issue with Oregon that we're working on now, and it's because of the fires. It has nothing to do with COVID, but the test center that we planned on using in Oregon is been made into an evacuation center. So, we're having to having to move that around.
Isaac Oakeson: Welcome to 2020.
Tim Miller: Welcome to 2020. So one thing we did try to do to help mitigate some of thisand especially for the civil engineers, was we added an additional administration between October and April in January. And we had to get special permission from our board of directors to do that. It will be a regional administration. We can't offer -- It's just not enough time to find testing sites in every state. So they are regional, and you can find that on our website. I believe there's 13 places where we'll be administering the exam. And, only for this administration, will examinees be able to cross boundaries. Typically in the pencil and paper world, if -- You're in Utah, right? So, if you were applying to Utah, you had to take the exam in Utah, and now we have permission for people to go to different test centers. And so that will be January the 26th, I believe. And so that'll be in 13 or 14, I think, different places. And then in April, again, we're making it a two-day examination administration. So to, again, make sure we're able to social distance and all that. So, yes.
Isaac Oakeson: Just crazy with how fast you have to adapt to this and make changes on the fly. I mean, do you -- In the future, I mean, do you see more challenges? Do you feel like you've got a handle on the COVID situation and how you're doing it? Do you think it'll be smoother?
Tim Miller: Moving forward, I think, with the test centers and using Pearson Vue, those are much smaller facilities. So there are only 15 seats or so in each one. But they are all over the country and we work with them. They have a group that is totally dedicated to capacity. That's their job. And so, we are working with them to say, "Hey, we've got, you know, 20-some thousand civil examinees a year. When we're ready to start appointments, you've got to be able to be able to handle that. And so they are working with that. And, if there are issues being able to give it -- You know, year round makes it much more flexible. You see what happens when we have a pencil and paper twice a year, when we have to cancel one, it makes it a big challenge.
Isaac Oakeson: Are the students that are registered for either October or that January one, if you failed in October, you can't take the January one, right? You're kind of grouped in that same quarter or whatever you want to call that time frame.
Tim Miller: Actually, the registration for January hasn't opened yet. And so, it may not open before -- Well, it may close, actually, before everyone gets their results for October. So yeah. Honestly, it's for the people who couldn't find a place or decided they'd rather not take the exam in October. It's really to try and serve all of those folks that were not able to take the exam in October.
Isaac Oakeson: I guess, before I leave COVID, is there anything else you want to mention or announce or anything on your mind?
Tim Miller: Oh, gosh. Well, at the Pearson Vue test centers, you are also required to wear a mask and they doobviously, they wipe down all of the equipment and they're following all the same guidelines. Some States are starting to relax their requirements a little bit. SoPearson Vue has been able to add capacity at other sites. I think is everybody just hanging in there, you know? This is unprecedented andthe testing industry isresponding to this as well. One quick thing that I know people will probably say, "What about remote testing, where I can take it at my house and I've got somebody watching me take the exam?". Our exams are not set up for that at this time, because they're eight-hour exams for the PE exams. And you know, for home internet and things like that, our exam program is not really set up for that at this point, but that's something we'll be looking at in the future as we get everything transitioned. "Is That something we want to try and add into the mix?" So, while we currently can't do that, we are looking at it in the future.
Isaac Oakeson: Wow. That's interesting. Thanks for sharing that. I guess just to switch gears, kind of want to ask you some other questions that other people have brought upMaybe you could give some insight on them. We've seen on testing results that, as a repeat taker, the pass rate really drops as a repeat taker. What are your thoughts on that?
Tim Miller: Well people may not like my answer to this, butwhen you look athe first-time takers, when you look at that pool of people who were taking the exam for the first time, and that's that when you see the pass rate for first time takers, that's this group, within that group who are taking it for the first time, you're going to have some high-performing people, some middle-performing people and some low-performing people. And, when they take the exam, what happens? Well, almost all of the high-performing people will probably pass, most of the middle-performing people will pass, and probably the lower-performing people will not pass. So, the next time we give the exam and you have this repeat taker pool, who all is in that pool. Well, it's mostly the low-performing people and maybe some middle-performing people who maybe had a bad day or whatever. So, when they take the exam the next time who's going to pass? Well, probably the middle-performing people, maybe, that had a bad day the first time and people who were low performers on the first exam, if they change their study habits and how they prepared for the exam, then they will probably pass as well. But, in general, if you don't change what you're doing, the old Einstein thing, you know, you do the same thing and expect different results. The chances are they may fail again. So, that's why that pass rate is low. It really has to do with the who's in that pool. The one thing in common is that they've all failed the exam previously. S,O unless they change how they do things. Yeah.
Isaac Oakeson: Good advice. I like to tell people too, that even though you're a repeat taker, doesn't mean, like, you're a horrible engineer. Many people repeat these exams. It just means you need to put in more effort and change your study habits. You know, there's something that you haven't done that's not clicking there. So
Tim Miller: And there are some people who will take the exam maybe before they're ready, but they want to go ahead and take it to see what it's all about. There's also a thing called decouplingwhich you may have heard of, which many States now allow you totake the PE exam without four years of experience. Once you pass the FE exam, you can go ahead and take the PE exam. And the PE exam is a Principles and Practice exam. And if you look, we have a publication on our website called Squared. If you go look for that, there's a chart on there and it shows that the people with the highest pass rate of first time takers are typically people with four to five years experience. And, honestly, that's who we're writing the exam around, is testing those people. So, if you don't have as much experience, or if you have a lot of experience, but maybe have moved out of the technical arena and more into management, your pass rate is not as high. So that's another reason, sometimes repeat takers might be people who don't have the experience, and so they end up failing and are back in the repeat pool. But when they study or get more experiencedd, they pass.
Isaac Oakeson: That makes sense. I've had a lot of people that I've interacted with that are from other countries. How has the NCEES organizationworked with that? How are they growing outside of the US? How do people take an exam outside of the US?
Tim Miller: Well, typically -- You know, our role is licensure in the United States. That's our role now. We have worked with some countries. We currently don't actively go out and try to promote, or look for different places to take the exam. However, if a countryis interested in working with us, typically we'll work with someone who is alike their equivalent NSPE or somebody like that, and we will come up with an agreement with some government or a governmental entity that, "Hey, they would like us to offer our exams in their country". And then we go through this process to do that, so they can go ahead and take the exam in that country. But if they want to be licensed here, they still have to meet all of the requirements for licensure. They have to apply to a licensing board, but they would already have the exam out of the way. So, that makes a little more convenient forpeople who might be moving toor doing work over hereto be licensed. So, we offer the exams and it's all on our website in Japan and Korea, in Saudi andQatar, depending on how you like to say it, we offer it. And many of them, we're not adding any new countries. We haven't any new requests until we get everything converted to CBT, because, obviously, if they have a Pearson Vue test site, that makes things much easier rather than shipping exams back and forth, finding proctors and all that.
Isaac Oakeson: I had a previous guest on the show and he was trying to help latinos that came from Mexico that had engineering degrees to become licensed professionals here in the United States. And I know everyone has to meet the same requirements when registering to take the exams, but is it difficult when you go to another school in another country to try to get qualified to take the exam here in the States?
Tim Miller: It can beAgain, each state has their ownqualifications and requirements, and some of them are more strict than others. As far as what is required some States don't have any requirements or have less requirements to take the exam, but obviously you have to meet all the requirements to become licensed. So, while they may allow you to go ahead and take the exam without even dealing with the licensing board, basically just saying, "I'd like to take this for your board". And they say, "Okay, that's fine. Go take the exam and come see us after you pass".
Isaac Oakeson: Okay.
Tim Miller: And, unfortunately, they're all different. But on our website, if you go look at each state, you can see what their requirements are. That's all available on there.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay, good. I want to ask you this question. What threats do you see to licensure within States? I know that could be a long discussion, but in general, like, what do you see from your angle?
Tim Miller: Well, there have been concerns, obviously, in the last couple yearswith licensure and many state legislatures, andthere are several entities who are looking at -- You know, are we overregulating professions? And unfortunately they are grouping all professions together. So NSPE is very involved in this. We are very involved in this. There's a group again, acronyms, It's ARPL and it's a group of other professions besides us. I believe the architects are in that group. NSPE, ASCE. I think some of the technical societies are in there. I'm not positive. But you can Google that and they look to how they can help in other States. And the biggest thing we're trying to do there is educate the public on, you know, licensure for engineers. I mean, there are some States that would do away with licensure, if they could, and buyer beware. It's up to the buyer to determine if somebody is qualified to do their work or not. And, you know, that they might -- You know, are we going to have to have signs on bridges? This bridge was not designed by a licensed professional. Think about that before you cross it. So, yeah. There are a lot of threats and, honestly Isaac, that's one of the concerns we have from an examination standpoint. If we're not able to give exams and we're not able to examine people that's part of the licensing process, somebody may say, "Well, gosh. Do we even need to have this licensure holding us up? So, that's one of the reasons we're trying to be very proactive and coming up with these additional ways of taking the exams and trying to pull in the CBT transition on others.
Isaac Oakeson: You know, you walk into like a barber shop, you know, every state has -- You get the same license, you know. In Utah, it's a blue little license, you know? You go get your haircut, they have the same license that I have. Exactly the same. Grouping all that in the same pile.
Tim Miller: They're grouping everybody the same. And while certainly many professions require licensure, you know, there are other professions that may not need to be as strict. But that's not for me to say. But I hate to see it painted with a broad brush that licensing professionals is bad. So, there's a definite place for licensure and it's needed.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay. Well, this is fun. I really appreciated your time jumping on. Maybe just like one last question that I have is what advice would you give to somebody preparing for the PE exam?
Tim Miller: Wellcertainly e prepared forwhatever happens from a logistic standpoint. I mean, I would certainly recommend, you know, the day before, that you make sure you scope out where your parking is and make sure, for the pencil and paper exams, that you, you scope out, you know, are you going to be able to go out for lunch and come back? Beause we do have very strict rules, and then I know they're strict, but they need to be, and they need to be consistent. And so if people don't follow the rules, that's always a problem.
Isaac Oakeson: Leave that cell phone in your car;
Tim Miller: Yeah. Leave that cell phone in your car and make sure your calculators are on the approved list. And unfortunately we have to have those rules because you know, somebody has tried to do that. Like on the airplane, it says, "Don't open this door during flight". Well, somebody's tried that before and now we have to have a sign on it. So, we have to have rules because people have tried to circumvent the rules.
Isaac Oakeson: Well, is there a resource or a book that you've recently read that would help engineers? I mean, I'm not talking about PE resources because I think everybody knows where to find those things, but is there been an interesting book that's helped you or might help other engineers?
Tim Miller: Yeah, I read a bookOh, it's been several years, many years ago. But I do pull it out occasionally and look at it. It was a book calledBuilt To Last. And it's really more about, especially if you're ever looking at wanting to build your own business, and it was a book onvisionary companies like, what made them different than their competitors. So, they did like some in-depth looks at like Disney and Ford and,you know, some of the different technology ompanies. And I just found it fascinating. There were a lot of things that came out of there. I actually have a thing -- I pinned over here, not the book itself, but there was bunch of things that were the points that I got out of it that I've typed up and printed on here, you know, of how to make your company a visionary company. "Don't Tell time. Build a clock" kind of thing, you know? So that's one. Built To Last.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. We'll recommend that to people. That's great. Is there any last piece of wisdom, advice, anything that we feel like we want to get out the people?
Tim Miller: Oh gosh. Well, everybody be safe and be patient, be respectful. I know nobody wants to wear a mask while they take the exam. I wouldn't either. But we've gotta be able to do that and be truthful if -- You know, you're going to be asked if you had any symptoms or anything like that. And, you know, please be truthful. We'll do everything we can to make other opportunities available. And then we'll pull all get through this together. If people want to get in touch with us, or if you have questions, if they go to their MY NCEES page and the very top right hand corner by where their name is, there's a question mark up there. And, if you click on that, there will be a lot of FAQ kind of things and all that. But there's also an ask spot where, if you have a question, you know, whether it's technical about the exams or about your exam site just anything that you're going through that you need an answer, that's the best place to ask that question and that way that gets into our help system and it gets routed to the appropriate people.
Isaac Oakeson: Well, I appreciate that. Thanks for coming on today, Tim. I really do appreciate it. I think you've shared a lot of value and just a lot of questions people might have that you've given answers to. I think that was very insightful.
Tim Miller: Well, I appreciate the opportunity and again, if there's any questions or anything, go through our help and if it's something that needs to rise to my level to answer they do. I answer my share as well. But we'll be happy to help however we can.
Isaac Oakeson: Perfect. Thank you, Tim. We'll see you later.
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