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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Engineer In Training... Almost :]

I passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam!  Whoooooooooooo!  I was so nervous when I received that e-mail from NCEES, I didn't even want to look at the results.  To my surprise, I passed the FE exam that I took back in April!

So what does this mean?  Well, right now, nothing.  When I graduate, I can apply to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers to become a certified Engineer-In-Training.  It's one of the very important steps in becoming a Professional Engineer.

Here are the rules for becoming a licensed PE in the state of Texas (after attending an ABET accredited university):

Type of Education: Accredited engineering degree (usually bachelor's)

Experience Required: 4 Years

Examination Requirement: Must pass FE, PE and ethics exams; may be eligible for waiver of FE exam with additional experience.

Reference Requirement: Three (3) references are required, all must be currently licensed P.E.'s.  If requesting exam waiver, then five (5) references are required from currently licensed P.E.'s. The P.E. references not licensed in Texas must provide a copy of their current pocket card to verify licensure.

What good is a PE?

This description comes directly from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers website:
"Under the Texas Engineering Practice Act, only duly licensed persons may legally perform, or offer to perform engineering services for the public. Furthermore, public works must be designed and constructed under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer. The terms "engineer" or "professional engineer" can only be used by persons who are currently licensed. Anyone who violates these parameters is subject to legal penalties."
This list of reasons for setting the goal of earning a PE come from The Talley Group:
Somewhere near the end of your engineering degree program, you’ll have to decide whether to get your Professional Engineer (PE) license. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to put in the time: studying for and taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam; putting in roughly 4 years as an   Engineer-in-Training (EIT) ; then studying for and taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam
It takes a lot of time and effort to get  a PE license. Is it worth it? Read the following 6 facts and see if they help you make up your mind:
1. Your PE License Sets You Apart
The PE license demonstrates that you have the equivalent of a 4-year engineering degree, four or more years of progressive experience and a multidisciplinary understanding of physical and engineering principles. It shows that you have met all the standards required of the profession. For fields where the PE is preferred but usually not required, it gives you another opportunity to stand out.
2. Your PE License Generally Means a Higher Salary
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers’ 2010 Engineering Income & Salary Survey, the median salary of engineers without a PE license was $94,000, whereas the median salary of engineers with a PE license was $99,000 — a difference of about 5 percent.
3. A PE License Can Make a Difference in the Hiring Process
If a company has to choose between two qualified applicants, one with a PE license (or an EIT working toward his license) and one without, which one do you think it will choose? Companies typically hire based upon which candidate they believe will bring the most benefit to the company.
4. A PE License Gives You the Ability to Sign and Seal Plans and Drawings
Only a licensed engineer can submit plans and drawings, and be in charge of work in the private sector. These requirements lead to more responsibility for the licensed PE, and thus greater career potential.
5. You Can Only Officially Call Yourself an Engineer If You Have a PE License
If you don’t have a PE license, you—or your company—can’t officially call yourself an engineer in official documents, such as business cards, letterheads and resumes.
6. Having a PE License Means You Can Work Anywhere in the Country
Since the FE and PE exams are standardized nationally, you can work as a professional engineer if you transfer to another state. You would need to register with the board of engineering in your new state, and your new state may have additional requirements, but you can use your PE license throughout the US.  And with the engineering profession now operating in an international environment, licensing may be required to work in, or for, other countries.  You’ll be prepared if your career moves in this direction.
The website of the National Society of Professional Engineers might best summarize the situation: “Licensure is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.”
So, what do you think is the wise choice?

I've been told to begin the PE process either your senior year of college, or VERY soon after you graduate.  It's so easy to forget the material you took those first (maybe fuzzy) semesters.
The FE exam is an 8-hour (no, there's no typo there) exam offered in April and October, broken into a 4-hour morning and a 4-hour afternoon session (separated by a MUCH needed hour lunch).  The morning session is the same for everyone, regardless of discipline.  It covers the following topics:
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering Probability and Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Computers
  • Ethics and Business Practices
  • Engineering Economics
  • Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics)
  • Strength of Materials
  • Material Properties
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Thermodynamics
  • Biology

The afternoon session was categorized by discipline:
I took the "Other Disciplines" exam, which was structured similarly to the morning exam, but the questions were more in-depth.

If you are interested in earning your PE for ANY reason, please research the licensing process and register for the FE/EIT Exam!  Even if you are unsure, take the first exam.  You'll never know when you may need (or want!) your PE later in life :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Smoke-Free is the Way to Be!

I got the BEST e-mail from UNT yesterday...

Looks like University of North Texas will be smoke-free beginning January, 2013!  Apparently, over 700 colleges and universities across the nation are following the smoke-free program.

As an asthmatic, this is the best news I have heard in a long time!  I have been hoping that it would be made illegal for a very long time.  I know that cigarettes may never be taken off the shelf in my lifetime, but I can see that the thought is in the works.

Funny story... my first couple of months in Texas, I went out to Applebees with some friends.  My hound-dog nose skills sniffed out smoke while I was looking over the menu.  I looked around, very annoyed, until I spotted the perpetrator - the guy at the table right behind me.  I turned to him, glared into his eyes, and said, "Um, exCUse me... you can't SMOKE in here!"  All of my friends, obviously mortified, told me that yes, in fact, he could smoke inside the restaurant.  I can hardly remember a time in Oregon when we were greeted at the hostess podium with the option: smoking or non-smoking.  Smoking was banned in restaurants, bars, parks, and a couple of years ago, tobacco (cigarettes and chewing tobacco) was starting to be banned at the workplace.

It's great to see that Texas is starting to make those changes.  I love the billboards around town giving the number of cities that are smoke-free.  I also think the billboards showing the picture of the baby and the waitress and the slogan "Not everyone can avoid smoke" are pretty powerful.  I am still so baffled as to why my generation smokes - we know that it's deadly, not only for the smokers, but for the people around, inhaling the second-hand smoke.

I've been in numerous situations where I was around smokers and couldn't get away - in the car on a 3 hour each way road trip, in a home, sitting in my car at a red light, and walking across campus.  Each time, I have an asthma attack and have to use my inhaler.  On the days I forget my inhaler, or it runs out, I feel like I am going to die.  I can't wait for that feeling to go away.  I am so excited that UNT is taking the initiative to make the campus greener, safer and healthier.  Thank you, President Rawlins.

**Sorry if this post offended anyone.  Smoking is a VERY sore subject for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Zero Energy Research Laboratory

On April 20th, I had the privilege of attending the grand opening / ribbon cutting ceremony for UNT's newest building - the Zero Energy Research Laboratory, or Z0e Lab.  Let me tell you, this is one of the coolest buildings I've ever seen.  I was in charge of giving the VIP guests a tour of the new facility, so I spent the entire week before learning about all of the different features.

This picture doesn't show all of the features and awesomeness that the lab has to offer.

This house/lab is off the grid and off the chain.  Doesn't it look cool?  Let's go through some of the features.

1.  The V-shape of the roof allows for rain collection and transportation to a holding tank which is used to flush the toilet and will eventually be used for irrigation.

2.  On the front side of the roof is a collection of solar thermal collectors.  These panels are not to be confused with solar panels.  Unlike solar panels, solar thermal collectors collect heat by absorbing sunlight.  The heat is then used to heat up the water for the facility.

3.  On the back side of the roof are the more familiar solar panels.  These assemblies of photovoltaic cells collect solar energy from the sun and turn it into electricity through the photovoltaic effect.  Don't know what that is?  Neither do I... check this out:

4.  Behind the house is a small wind turbine.  The turbine transforms kinetic energy (the turbine spinning) into mechanical energy that we can use inside the house.

5.  Also behind the house are six geothermal heat pumps.  These heat pumps use the mechanics of the Rankine Cycle to push water 250 feet down in the ground where it collects heat from the Barnett Shale, then pumps it up to the earth's surface where the heat is extracted and used to heat the house.

6.  Radiant flooring is used to heat the house.  Unlike traditional air vents, radiant flooring sends the heat through the floor where it is dispersed throughout the house.  This option is healthier for people who have allergies as the dust and mold is not being blown around the house.

7.  There are gadgets galore!  Thirty thermocouples are placed throughout the house to take measurements of the temperature and humidity inside the house.  The two rooms are equipped with daylight sensors - these things can tell when it's bright out and will dim/brighten the LEDs accordingly.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Busy Bee

OK, so I JUST finished that awesome blog about the driverless cars, and before I go eat my delicious steak, I will take the time to let you guys know what I have been up to...

1)   Definitely still in school :[  But, graduation is coming up!  I'll walk  that sweet, sweet walk in December.  On that glorious day, I will have earned my B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Minors in Mathematics and Spanish.  Then, I'm going to Disney World or Hawaii.  Or both.  Because I earned it.

2)  I'm still interning at Stryker (yay!!).  I've been there for almost a year, and I love it!  It's such a great company to work for - they've made it on Fortune's Top 100 Companies to Work For the last couple of years.  I'm working on a pretty impressive project for them where I have built a custom test fixture to perform tests on their video boards.

3)  I was recently inducted into the IEEE honor society, Eta Kappa Nu, and I have been elected Vice President!  I have so many great ideas for how to peak interest in the organization and fundraisers.  I'll tell you about those as they come up.

4)  I took the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) Exam on April 14th.  For the afternoon session, I took the "Other Disciplines" portion because I heard it was easier.  If you guys are planning on taking the exam, I strongly recommend this book:
       FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
              Michael R. Lindeburg, PE
              ISBN: 978-1-59126-333-3
Such a GREAT study tool for preparing for the exam.

5)  I've started taking Zumba classes, and oh my gosh are they awesome!  Did you guys know I took dance lessons for about 12 years?  Ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop... then I went to cheer-leading.  I was unable to take dance classes at UNT because you have to be a dance major to take the classes, and it bummed me out.  I miss dance.  Zumba has been my fix!  It's so fun, and it really makes you sweat!

That's about it so far.  I think I want to elaborate on some of these topics a little more in the future.  But right now I'm hungry, and I want my steak.  

Driverless Cars

OK, so I lied.  I promised you guys I would update you on my life weeks ago.  Things got busy... but what else is new?!

Anyway, I got an e-mail from an Outreach Coordinator at requesting that I share a blog about cars that drive themselves!  My first thought - how in the heck would that even work?  I don't have an iPhone, but I hear that Siri is an idiot... if we can't trust a phone to answer our questions about who won the big game, how can we trust a car to drive us around?  Well just read this article... OK, I'm waiting while you read it...

First point -  Google is behind this.  Yep; their autonomous cars have logged more than 140,000 miles.  An engineer for Google, Sebastian Thrun, has devoted his life to this research.  His goal is to prevent young adults from being a statistic.  The number one killer for young adults in automobile accidents is human error.

Please check out these statistics.  These really opened my eyes to the real danger of driving.  You can be the safest, most aware driver on the planet, but that's not going to keep you from getting in an accident.  You always have to worry about the other guy -- the young girl texting her BFF about the new Twilight movie; the man having a hard day and using alcohol to get through it; the absent-minded engineering student trying to remember KVL and KCL for her Electronics 2 exam. You can control how you act behind the wheel, but unfortunately you can't control what the other drivers are doing.

Great stuff, right?  I had never heard of that DARPA competition, but holy cow that is amazing!  
This just makes me want to work for Google THAT much more.  I was checking out Google jobs today, and found that they are NUMBER ONE on Fortune's Best Companies to Work For - 2012.  Definitely my dream job...

But anyway, I hope you guys read the article, LOVED it, and will promise that after seeing those statistics, you'll drive safe.  Pinky promise.  Now.  K Thanks :]

Friday, March 30, 2012

UNT's Very Own - Dr. Akl

Hey viewers!

It's been a while since I've posted a blog, I know!  However, over the past few months, I have received several e-mails from you guys asking for information on a blog, requests, and just to say "Hello."  It made me feel pretty good to know that people actually read the crazy stuff I post.  In that case, I will try my hardest to post more frequently!  I'll write a quick catch-up blog this weekend so y'all can know what's new with me...

For my first post in quite a while, I would like to point some attention at one of the professors at UNT.  An employee of contacted me regarding an online article featuring Dr. Akl.  It's a wonderful article discussing the current status of Software Engineer employment, how to be successful, and the Computer Science program at UNT.  If you're considering Computer Science or Engineering as an undergrad OR graduate major, please please PLEASE check out this article!

Read some of the other stuff that SoftwareEngineerInsider has to offer, too!  Great site :]

Friday, May 13, 2011

I was sitting on the bus yesterday, people-watching, when my eyes started to wander...  Everyone on the bus had earphones in.  I follwed the cords down, and noticed that they were all attached to iPhones.  Never in my life had I felt so alone.  I was sitting there holding my old, broken down Samsung Mythic, wanting desperately to listen to the latest Nelly song, check my e-mail, or try to beat my Bejweled Blitz high score.  Alas, I had to sit there and have a thumb war with myself to keep from becoming bored to tears.

Here we are, about to see the release of the iPhone 5, and I have yet to own an iPhone 1, or any smart phone for that matter.  I am so jealous of all these people and their convenient access to the world.
I don't know if I want an iPhone, though.  I've been comparing phones for about 3 years, but always end up getting the cheap phones that don't do anything but call people (often when I don't want it to).

Last weekend, I was leaving my apartment to go to Grandmommy's house for Easter dinner, when I saw a little black device laying on the ground.  After taking a closer look, I realized that it was a G2 Google phone.  It was love at first sight.  Being the honest person that I am, I attempted to hack into the phone so that I could find out who it belonged to, and return it.  I really should have called Brett, since he works with Android phones, and could have easily hacked the code (SHOUTOUT, BRETT!!).  After numerous failed attempts, I decided to take out the simcard and put it in my phone.  Once I powered up the phone, a message appeared that said something to the effect of: "This is NOT an AT&T simcard.  Please enter a 10-digit code to unlock your phone.  If you get the code wrong, your phone will be locked forever, and you will be SOL."  So, I took the card out right away and decided never to do that again.  Instead, I used my boyfriend's phone.  He has the same carrier as the glorious G2 phone, so we put the card in his.  We were able to call someone from the owner's address book and find out where he lived.  It ended up being his birthday, so it made me feel 1000 times better knowing that I made his birthday a little bit better (though I so deeply wanted to keep that phone).

Since that day, I've been doing some research.  iPhone, or G2?  EVERYONE has an iPhone, but Androids are so much more attractive!  So then I decided, why not ask my readers?   If you've experienced an iPhone, an Android, or both, please, please, PLEASE e-mail me with your thoughts!