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Policy Statement 432 - Licensure Examinations

 
Approved by the Committee on Licensure on September 25, 2018
Approved by the Committee on Advancing the Profession on February 22, 2019
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on March 12, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports licensing examinations to ensure candidates possess the minimum level of competency in technical and professional practice areas necessary to protect and enhance the health, safety and welfare of the public, consistent with the civil engineering Body of Knowledge. The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam should measure the individual's academic preparedness to continue in the licensure process, and also serve as an important role in outcomes assessment and continuous improvement for engineering education programs. The purpose of the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Examination is to assess an individual's ability to apply engineering principles in the professional practice of civil engineering. It is ASCE's position that significant progressive engineering experience should be a necessary prerequisite to pass the PE exam. The PE exam should be structured to test knowledge gained through education and experience.

Issue 

The professional practice of civil engineering requires comprehensive knowledge, experience, and judgment in all related elements of practice. The licensure process requires civil engineers to demonstrate competency in their chosen area of practice. Examinations assess the depth and breadth of that competency.

Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination demonstrates an acceptable level of knowledge in math, science, engineering science, ethics and engineering topics. The FE examination also provides an important outcomes assessment tool for engineering education programs. There is variation among licensing jurisdictions in the number of years of experience required before candidates are permitted to attempt the PE exam. The current Civil PE and Environmental PE examinations, as presently structured, do not appear to sufficiently differentiate among candidates with varying levels of experience.

The practice of engineering requires evaluation of the significance and relevance of available data. Experience provides the knowledge required to make that evaluation.  Changes to the PE exam format and question structure have diminished the requirement for candidates to exercise judgment, including selection of relevant data based upon knowledge gained through experience. These changes have decreased the need for progressive experience as a prerequisite for passing the PE exam.

As the PE exams move to computer-based testing, there are opportunities to change and enhance the structure and content of the exam questions to better assess knowledge gained through progressive engineering experience.

Rationale 

ASCE advocates that all candidates for licensure as professional engineers should demonstrate their competency by passing both the FE and PE examinations. Together, these examinations should provide candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate their competency gained through both education and experience and cover a reasonable range of problems from sub-disciplines of civil engineering.

The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge and accepted criteria for accredited civil engineering programs identify the knowledge, outcome and progressive experience required for competence in professional practice. The breadth of licensure examinations is based on the traditional concept of civil engineering, which is the integrated practice of civil engineering as envisioned in the Body of Knowledge.  

The professional licensure process exists to ensure engineers have met minimum established standards. The PE exam needs to assess the knowledge and skills gained through both education and progressive engineering experience to a minimum level required to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

ASCE Policy Statement 432 
First Approved in 1994 


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