A Professor at the University of Minnesota, and a Fellow of the Institute, Dr Shri Ramaswamy, contacted me regarding my ChE PE course he saw mentioned in the AIChE blog. He expressed interest in letting his students know.
My name is Bob Katin. I am a ChE PE in CA, a Fellow of the Institute, and have over 40 years of industrial experience. I have seen opportunities for ChEs diminishing and industry move off shore. To stay employed, I have changed industries from nuclear to chemical to petroleum to environmental. Finally, I started my own small engineering firm, specializing in training.
How did I keep landing on my feet? I think having my PE helped. In my opinion, every engineering school should require their students to get their EIT, now known as FE, in order to graduate from college. Just like the GRE, take the EIT/FE, just in case in the future, you may want to get your PE.
I believe that most ChEs will get their first job from a small company, possibly a mom and pop shop, possibly a start-up. Why should they hire you? Because you have one credential that the other candidates do not, an EIT/FE/PE.
I believe that the day of joining a chemical company or a refinery or an engineering firm for life are long past. I expect the average ChE will change jobs every few years to stay employed. How are you going to find your next job? Because you have one credential that the other candidates do not, an EIT/FE/PE.
I believe that when you reach a magic age, perhaps forty, major firms believe they can hire two new ChE graduates for the price they are paying you. Yeah, it may be true that you have more experience than the two new graduates, but the day of major firms being run by a ChE have passed. Now major firms are run by lawyers or bean counters. How are you going to find your next job, because you have one credential that the other candidates do not, an EIT/FE/PE.
If you land a job with an environmental firm, for them to win jobs, they do it by credentials, telling prospective clients they have X staff members that have a PE. To get ahead, they expect you will have a PE.
If you land a job with an engineering firm, for them to win jobs, they do it by credentials, telling prospective clients they have X staff members that have a PE. To get ahead, they expect you will have a PE.
When you reach an age where your company for a bazillion years laid you off, and you do not feel ready to retire, what will you do? Many ChEs decide to consult. To do so requires you have your PE.
You asked about taking the EIT/FE after being away from school for so many years. In California, Board Rule 438(a)(3) says if you graduated with a BS in ChE from an ABET accredited school, after 15 years of experience, you may request a waiver and not take the EIT/FE.
Finally, as Dr Ramaswamy wrote to me in his e-mail, the AIChE blog does mention that I offer a class to help ChEs pass the EIT/FE/PE. A brochure regarding my class may be found at http://www.katinengineering.com/IS%20YOUR%20CAREER%20STUCK%20IN%20A%20RUT.pdf. Please look at the testimonials http://www.katinengineering.com/testimonial.pdf from ChEs who have taken my class. For more information regarding my class, please call me at (925) 755-1150, or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . I have made PowerPoint presentations to AIChE Student Chapters regarding why students should get their EIT/FE/PE, should you be interested in a Student Chapter dinner meeting topic/speaker.
Hi Diane, my experience varies from yours. I started my career in the oil patch in Calgary, Alberta. There, everyone who wants to work as an engineer must be a licensed PE, called a P.Eng. So, I wrote the exams after my stint as an EIT and became a P.Eng. My lucrative oil patch career allowed me to travel extensively and 20 years ago I met my future wife in south-central PA, moved there and settled down.Like you, I joined a consulting firm, where PE's were valued. I managed to get a PE from Delaware by reciprocity with Alberta, however in PA that is not possible. PA does not recognize the exams I wrote in Alberta. Staying married has allowed me no prospect of relocation. Job prospects for ChE's in south-central PA are slim at best, and ~25% of the postings require a PE in PA. I find myself 34 years out of school trying to decide if I should pursue a PE in PA.
I had the good fortune of being encouraged by my employer to become a PE in 1974 and have never regretted the decision. Later, the PE has gotten me two jobs
(CH2M Hill and Irwin Engineers). Great decision.
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Like Diane, I did not become a PE until years after I was out of school. I took the tough route and why I tell the kids at the Annual Student Conference to 'di as I say and not as I did'. But I am so glad I did get my license that I would still recommend it to others who have waited many years (I was 48).
Mr. Collins,I just read your reply to Ms. Spencer. It appeared that you were recommending AGAINST taking the PE because a person holding a PE may be sued.
I concur, that might happen, however, I feel that is a low probability of occurrence.
Due to downsizing and company buyouts, I have not only changed jobs, but I have changed careers. I have operated nuclear power plants, chemical plants, and refinery units; been project manager; been Chief Engineer for environmental firms; and have been General Manager for an Instrument and Electric Contractor. I believe industry is downsizing and moving offshore. The day of working for one manufacturer or one engineering firm for life is long past. I believe the bulk of graduating ChEs will find work in start-ups and Mom & Pop shops. I believe I have landed on my feet and was re-hired because I held one credential that the others did not; I had a PE.
I have had my PE since 1982. I have never been sued. People sue Deep Pockets. I am not familiar with a lawsuit against a Fortune 500 Company that also listed an individual that held a PE.
You mention that California is litigious. If a lawsuit is made against an individual, I think an individual with a PE is just as likely to be sued as an individual without a PE. I live in California. The worse engineering disaster I have known in my lifetime was the 1989 earthquake that caused the collapse of the Bay Bridge, killing 42 people. Guess what happened to the Civil Engineering PE who designed that bridge? NOTHING. His name was not even listed in the paper.
If you want to get hired and stay employed, I recommend you get your PE.