Focus on leadership
In 2016–17, the members of the Council continued to determine best practices for the licensure of engineers and surveyors and to promote their adoption in order to protect the public and improve uniformity among the states.
The licensing boards of Wyoming and Nevada took a major step for mobility at the annual meeting. Representatives from the boards signed a memorandum of understanding, which allows a person applying for an engineering license in one state to apply for licensure in the other state at the same time.
Expanding computer-based testing
October 2016 started a new chapter for NCEES and its member boards: the first computer-based professional exam. Examinees began taking the computer-based PS exam at Pearson VUE test centers across the United States on October 3.
The organization worked toward transitioning the first computer-based PE exam, preparing the PE Chemical exam to move to computer-based testing (CBT) in January 2018. Like the PS exam, the PE Chemical exam will use a linear-on-the-fly, or LOFT, format, in which examinees each have a unique set of exam questions that are similar in difficulty. This format is also used for the FE and FS exams, which have been offered via CBT since 2014.
The computer-based PS exam introduced a new testing component—alternative item types (AITs)—to provide new ways to test candidates’ competence. The FE and FS exams followed in 2017, and the PE Chemical exam will include AITs in 2018.
AITs are items other than traditional multiple-choice questions with one correct answer. They include
- Multiple correct—allows examinees to select multiple answers
- Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer
- Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
- Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question
Updating exams for current practice
In addition to focusing on the CBT transition, NCEES continued to develop, administer, and score its pencil-and-paper exams. NCEES conducted professional activities and knowledge studies, or PAKS, for several PE exams to keep them relevant to current professional practice. The studies resulted in updated specifications for the following exams:
- PE Mining and Mineral Processing (introduced in October 2016)
- PE Mechanical—HVAC and Refrigeration, Machine Design and Materials, and Thermal and Fluid Systems modules (introduced in April 2017)
- PE Fire Protection (to be introduced in October 2018)
- PE Control Systems (to be introduced in October 2019)
- PE Industrial and Systems (to be introduced October 2020)
NCEES also introduced new design standards for the SE exam and the structural module of the PE Civil exam in April 2017.