Overview of the Mechanical P.E. Exam

by Justin Kauwale, P.E.

What is the PE exam? What does the exam entail? What to expect?

Most important step in an engineer's career

The professional engineering license is one of the most important steps in an engineers career. It allows the individual to legally practice engineering in the state of license. This credential can also help the engineer to obtain higher compensation and provide the first step in developing a credible reputation.

Must meet requirements to become licensed.

But in order to obtain this license, the engineer must first meet the qualifications as required by the state of wanted license, including working a minimum amount of years under a registered professional engineer. These engineers must serve as references on the application. The state licensing board for the exact amount of years and references required should be contacted. The engineer must also have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Finally, the engineer must pass the Professional Engineering or PE Exam in his or her discipline.

  • Obtain certification as an Engineer in Training (EIT)
  • Meet minimum work experience [2 to 4 years depending on state of license]
  • Register for exam with NCEES at http://www.ncees.org/
  • Complete State application
  • Last step, PASS P.E. EXAM

Exams offered in April and October Link: NCEES Exam Schedule

8 Hour Exam, Morning (4 hours) and Afternoon (4 hours) Sessions

The exam consists of two 4-hour sessions, a morning and an afternoon session. The morning session and afternoon sessions cover the same material but the material is from the following topics. The amount from each topic is given by the estimated number of problems out of 80 as shown in the outline below.

Principles (32/80 Problems)

  • Basic Engineering Practice (6 Problems)
  • Fluid Mechanics (6 Problems)
  • Heat Transfer (6 Problems)
  • Mass Balance (4 Problems)
  • Thermodynamics (6 Problems)
  • Supportive Knowledge (4 Problems)

Applications (48/80 Problems)

  • Hydraulic and Fluid Equipment (15 Problems)
  • Distribution Systems (9 Problems)
  • Energy/Power Equipment (8 Problems)
  • Cooling/Heating (6 Problems)
  • Energy Recovery (5 Problems)
  • Combined Cycles (5 Problems)
Link: NCEES Thermal and Fluids Exam Topics

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