12 Lifelong Learning

Chapter Table of Contents

To practice as a physician in the United States, a person must earn an undergraduate degree, earn a graduate medical degree, pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, and be approved by the state licensing board where the physician will practice. In most states and for most specialties, physicians are required to complete a minimum number of credits in continuing medical education each year to maintain a license. To practice as an attorney in the United States, a person must earn an undergraduate degree, earn a graduate law degree, pass a bar exam, and be licensed by the jurisdiction in which the lawyer will practice. In most states, attorneys are required to complete a minimum number of credits in continuing legal education each year to maintain a license.

Engineering, like medicine and the law, is considered a profession, but to practice as an engineer in the United States a person needs only to earn an undergraduate degree and need not be licensed. However, to be a principal in an engineering firm (for example, if you want to open your own firm as an engineer) or to approve engineering plans and drawings, you must be a licensed professional engineer (PE). Among all the types of engineering, licensure is most important for civil engineers, and probably least important for industrial engineers. As with physicians and attorneys, becoming licensed requires passing exams and being licensed by a state. Thirty states, including Texas, require continuing engineering education to remain licensed. If you become a licensed PE in one state, most other states will have a process by which you can also be licensed in that state.

In Texas, the Texas Board of  Professional Engineers controls the licensure of engineers. In Texas, the steps to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer are:

  1. While a senior in an ABET accredited engineering program (the BSIE program and UTA is ABET accredited), pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. You are then an Engineer in Training (EIT).
  2. Graduate from an ABET accredited engineering program.
  3. Have 4 years of “active practice in engineering work.”
  4. Pass the Principles and Practice exam and the Ethics exam.

The FE, PE, and Ethics exams are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

The FE Exam

The FE is a computer-based exam that is administered year-round in testing windows at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers.  It contains 110 multiple-choice questions. The exam appointment time is 6 hours long, which includes a nondisclosure agreement, tutorial (8 minutes), the exam (5 hours and 20 minutes), and a scheduled break (25 minutes).

The Industrial Engineering exam covers the following topics:

  1. Mathematics   6–9 questions
    A. Analytic geometry
    B. Calculus
    C. Matrix operations
    D. Vector analysis
    E. Linear algebra
  2. Engineering Sciences    5–8 questions
    A. Work, energy, and power
    B. Material properties and selection
    C. Charge, energy, current, voltage, and power
  3. Ethics and Professional Practice   5–8 questions
    A. Codes of ethics and licensure
    B. Agreements and contracts
    C. Professional, ethical, and legal responsibility
    D. Public protection and regulatory issues
  4. Engineering Economics   10–15 questions
    A. Discounted cash flows (PW, EAC, FW, IRR, amortization)
    B. Types and breakdown of costs (e.g., fixed, variable, direct and indirect labor)
    C. Cost analyses (e.g., benefit-cost, breakeven, minimum cost, overhead)
    D. Accounting (financial statements and overhead cost allocation)
    E. Cost estimation
    F. Depreciation and taxes
    G. Capital budgeting
  5. Probability and Statistics   10–15 questions
    A. Combinatorics (e.g., combinations, permutations)
    B. Probability distributions (e.g., normal, binomial, empirical)
    C. Conditional probabilities
    D. Sampling distributions, sample sizes, and statistics (e.g., central tendency, dispersion)
    E. Estimation (e.g., point, confidence intervals)
    F. Hypothesis testing
    G. Regression (linear, multiple)
    H. System reliability (e.g., single components, parallel and series systems)
    I. Design of experiments (e.g., ANOVA, factorial designs)
  6. Modeling and Computations   8–12 questions
    A. Algorithm and logic development (e.g., flow charts, pseudocode)
    B. Databases (e.g., types, information content, relational)
    C. Decision theory (e.g., uncertainty, risk, utility, decision trees)
    D. Optimization modeling (e.g., decision variables, objective functions, and constraints)
    E. Linear programming (e.g., formulation, primal, dual, graphical solutions)
    F. Mathematical programming (e.g., network, integer, dynamic, transportation, assignment)
    G. Stochastic models (e.g., queuing, Markov, reliability)
    H. Simulation
  7. Industrial Management   8–12 questions
    A. Principles (e.g., planning, organizing, motivational theory)
    B. Tools of management (e.g., MBO, reengineering, organizational structure)
    C. Project management (e.g., scheduling, PERT, CPM)
    D. Productivity measures
  8. Manufacturing, Production, and Service Systems   8–12 questions
    A. Manufacturing processes
    B. Manufacturing systems (e.g., cellular, group technology, flexible)
    C. Process design (e.g., resources, equipment selection, line balancing)
    D. Inventory analysis (e.g., EOQ, safety stock)
    E. Forecasting
    F. Scheduling (e.g., sequencing, cycle time, material control)
    G. Aggregate planning
    H. Production planning (e.g., JIT, MRP, ERP)
    I. Lean enterprises
    J. Automation concepts (e.g., robotics, CIM)
    K. Sustainable manufacturing (e.g., energy efficiency, waste reduction)
    L. Value engineering
  9. Facilities and Logistics   8–12 questions
    A. Flow measurements and analysis (e.g., from/to charts, flow planning)
    B. Layouts (e.g., types, distance metrics, planning, evaluation)
    C. Location analysis (e.g., single- and multiple-facility location, warehouses)
    D. Process capacity analysis (e.g., number of machines and people, trade-offs)
    E. Material handling capacity analysis
    F. Supply chain management and design
  10. Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Safety   8–12 questions
    A. Hazard identification and risk assessment
    B. Environmental stress assessment (e.g., noise, vibrations, heat)
    C. Industrial hygiene
    D. Design for usability (e.g., tasks, tools, displays, controls, user interfaces)
    E. Anthropometry
    F. Biomechanics
    G. Cumulative trauma disorders (e.g., low back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome)
    H. Systems safety
    I. Cognitive engineering (e.g., information processing, situation awareness, human error, mental models)
  11. Work Design   8–12 questions
    A. Methods analysis (e.g., charting, workstation design, motion economy)
    B. Time study (e.g., time standards, allowances)
    C. Predetermined time standard systems (e.g., MOST, MTM)
    D. Work sampling
    E. Learning curves
  12. Quality   8–12 questions
    A. Six sigma
    B. Management and planning tools (e.g., fishbone, Pareto, QFD, TQM)
    C. Control charts
    D. Process capability and specifications
    E. Sampling plans
    F. Design of experiments for quality improvement
    G. Reliability engineering
  13. Systems Engineering   8–12 questions
    A. Requirements analysis
    B. System design
    C. Human systems integration
    D. Functional analysis and allocation
    E. Configuration management
    F. Risk management
    G. Verification and assurance
    H. System life-cycle engineering

The exam is hard because a great deal of material is covered and you have a limited time to answer a lot of questions. If you can answer more than half the questions correctly, you have a good chance of passing, so use your time wisely to focus first on the questions you know you can answer and then on the ones that you think you can answer; if you have extra time, then try the questions you don’t think you can answer. The exam is closed book, but you are allowed to use the Supplied Reference Handbook. You should become familiar with this Handbook before the exam because you may be able to answer quite a few questions by knowing where to find the necessary formulas in the Handbook. In fact, the Handbook is a good summary for you to use while you take many engineering courses. A searchable online version of the Handbook is available while you take the test. You are allowed to bring into the room and use only a calculator from a limited list of calculators.

Some BSIE graduates obtain jobs because they were able to list “Engineer in Training” on their resumes. Many employers respect the accomplishment represented by that label and want to hire people with the knowledge, drive, and concentration required to pass the FE.

Professional Societies

Joining and participating in professional organizations can help you stay current in industrial engineering. You can join these organizations as a student at a much reduced rate. For IEs, the following organizations may be the most helpful.  All dues were correct at the time of creation of this document.  Please check the organizations’ websites for the most up-to-date information.

The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE). The dues are $37 for a student, $77 for your first year after graduation, and then $154 per year. You will receive the monthly ISE Magazine.  The IMSE department at UTA has a very active student chapter of IISE.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Student membership is $20 per year and includes the monthly magazine Manufacturing Engineering. Professional membership is $138 per year.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ). Student membership is $29 per year and includes online access to the monthly magazine Quality Progress. Full membership is $159.

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The free student membership is available to any full-time student in an ABET accredited program and includes eligibility to apply for scholarships. Professional membership dues are $220 per year.

While the organizations listed above are open and helpful to students, our students and graduates often join and participate in the following organizations, which are open to all students and are very oriented to students.  UTA has active student chapters of each of these organizations.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) was founded in 1975 “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)  has mission to “change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.”

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) seeks to “Stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, [and] demonstrate the value of diversity.”

Each of the organizations in these two lists has a useful web site, publishes a magazine or other publications, holds an annual conference, and has groups, based on interest or geography, where you can interact with other members.


Look at the list of topics covered on the IE version of the FE exam. Compare those to course descriptions of the required courses in your IE curriculum. Make note of class numbers where you think exam topics may be covered. Also highlight exam topics that you do not see covered in required curriculum classes. Bring your analysis with you to class on the day the reading is due.


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Introduction to Industrial Engineering Copyright © 2020 by Bonnie Boardman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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