NCEES Ends Software Engineering PE Exam

May/June 2018

PE Report
NCEES Ends Software Engineering PE Exam

Illustration - electronicsThe Software Engineering PE exam, which has struggled to reach an audience, will be discontinued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying after the April 2019 administration. The exam has been administered five times, with a total of 81 candidates.

NCEES’s Committee on Examination Policy and Procedures reviews the history of any exam with fewer than 50 total first-time examinees in two consecutive administrations and makes recommendations to the NCEES Board of Directors about the feasibility of continuing the exam.

In 2013, the software exam became the latest addition to the family of PE exams. The exam was developed by NSPE, IEEE-USA, the IEEE Computer Society, and the Texas Board of Professional Engineers—a group known as the Software Engineering Consortium. Partnering with NCEES, the consortium began working in 2007 to spread the word about the importance of software engineering licensure for the public health, safety, and welfare.

This collaboration was preceded by Texas becoming the first state to license software engineers in 1998. The Texas Board of Professional Engineers ended the experience-only path to software engineering licensure in 2006; before the 2013 introduction of the software engineering PE exam, licensure candidates had to take an exam in another discipline.

In January, the Committee on Examination Policy and Procedures reviewed the exam’s history, the low candidate population, and the potential for increasing the number of first-time examinees. After considering these points, the committee recommended ending the exam. The NCEES board accepted the committee’s recommendation in February.

NCEES Director of Exam Services Tim Miller, P.E., says there was a lot of discussion about the exam’s impact, including how many people with software engineering degrees were taking the FE exam. “If they’re not even taking the FE exam, they’re probably not going to take the PE exam,” he says. “In addition, if the boards aren’t regulating the [software engineering profession], it’s tough to get people to take the exam.”

In previous years, the aeronautical, manufacturing, and ceramics exams were discontinued, says Miller.

When comparing the number of first-time takers for the exams administered once a year, there were 15 for software engineering in April 2017, 37 for agricultural and biological, 90 for architectural, 317 for chemical, 65 for industrial and systems, and 55 for naval architecture and marine engineering.

Seventeen candidates were approved for the April 2018 administration of the software exam.