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Opposition To Mandatory Use Of Pe/Fe Exams As Assessment Tools

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.433.1 - 3.433.12

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Paper Authors

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Robert K. Tener

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Vincent Drnevich

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2515

Opposition to Mandatory Use of PE/FE Exams as Assessment Tools

Vincent P. Drnevich, P.E. and Robert K. Tener, P.E. Purdue University, School of Civil Engineering

Abstract: The authors oppose the required use of PE/FE Exams as assessment tools. To consider the PE exam has no merit, since it is taken by only a fraction of engineering graduates and exam performance is strongly influenced by many factors independent of the BSCE education. This paper then focuses on the issues involved in the proposition for mandatory use of the FE exam as an assessment tool. Opposition to such required use is fundamental. The makeup and philosophy of the exam is contrary to the philosophy of education of professionals as expressed in numerous recent studies. Further, the FE exam intent and content is inconsistent with the principles of Criteria 2000 of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Educators should have the option of using results from the FE exam as one means for assessing outcomes of certain program objectives. Mandatory imposition of the FE exam would, in general, both violate the independence of program design which ABET intends in Criteria 2000 and warp the curriculum and pedagogy development which the department must have freedom to carry out in the interests of fundamental principles of engineering education.


The authors are opposed to the required use of the Professional Engineering (PE) exam or the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as assessment tools. In this paper are presented the rationale for this opposition and strong evidence supporting the rationale. There is increased impetus from many sectors for accountability and assessment on the part of civil engineering educators. There also is increased awareness that the education of engineers, to address the problems of the future, must encompass much more than introductory topics in math, science, economics, engineering sciences, and engineering design. Educators are pressed to find and use assessment tools to comply with assessment requirements. The FE /PE Exams, because of their availability and widespread use, appear to be the "quick answers" to our need. We will show that use of the PE Exam is totally inappropriate and that nature of the FE Exam is inconsistent with the principles of engineering education as put forth in the new accreditation policies of ABET, Criteria 2000.

Objectives of Engineering Education

The objectives of an engineering education today transcend fundamental knowledge of technical material. According to "Engineering Education for a Changing World", a joint project report by the Engineering Deans Council and Corporate Roundtable of the American Society for 1 Engineering Education ,

Today, engineering colleges must not only provide their graduates with intellectual development and superb technical capabilities, but following industry’s lead, those colleges must educate their

Tener, R. K., & Drnevich, V. (1998, June), Opposition To Mandatory Use Of Pe/Fe Exams As Assessment Tools Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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