Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Pursuing Surveying as a Career: Why Become a Professional Surveyor

When evaluating job security and career prospects in the engineering and architectural fields, surveying continually proves to be a strong career choice. Generally, surveyors are responsible for precisely measuring property boundaries as well as determining and delivering data specifying the contour of the Earth’s surface for various construction projects. 

The demand for surveyors is expected to drastically increase within the next decade. Below are career statistics for surveyors per the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

· Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 11 percent by 2026 
· Currently, there are 44,800 surveyor jobs in the U.S. 
· The median salary for surveyors is $29.40 per hour, or $61,140 annually 
· California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania have the highest surveyor employment level 

To become a professional licensed surveyor, an individual must acquire a bachelor’s degree from an ABET accredited university and pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) and Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exams. 

Due to the increasing demand for surveyors, School of PE has recently launched exam review courses for NCEES’ FS and PS exams to assist those in becoming professional surveyors. These two courses combined provide a total of 132 hours of comprehensive lectures and practice sessions. School of PE has strategically designed the two courses to align with NCEES’ exam specifications to fully prepare students for the exams. 

Pursuing surveying as a career has many advantages for working professionals. If you are interested in becoming a professional licensed surveyor, check out School of PE’s FS and PS exam review courses.

Monday, 14 May 2018

How Tutoring Increases Chances of Passing Engineering Exams

Various academic studies have been performed to evaluate the effects of online tutoring. Tutoring has been shown to not only increase exam scores but also has been proven to help students grasp difficult topics at a faster rate compared to students who were not tutored on a specific subject, increase confidence while taking an exam, and improve overall studying skills. 

It has been proven that online instruction has immensely helped the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) exam applicants prepare for their engineering exams. For example, the national pass rate for the October 2017 PE Civil exam was 66 percent for first-time takers while School of PE’s pass rate was 90 percent. 

To provide further exam review assistance to its students, School of PE has launched a new tutoring program for its FE Civil and PE Civil students. 

Studies have shown that tutoring, in addition to other routine exam prep methods, has had a significant and positive impact on overall performance. The American Education Research Journal compared findings from various tutor-related studies and concluded that students who were tutored significantly outperformed students who did not participate in tutoring. Nearly 90 percent of the compared studies found that tutoring positively impacted overall exam performance.i 

Preparing for an NCEES exam can be overwhelming to many examinees, as many exam applicants attempt to manage working full time and preparing for the exam. Past examinees report spending 200 to 300 hours preparing for NCEES exams, which includes attending exam review courses, reading supplemental material, and taking practice exams. Tutoring has been shown to reduce the average time needed to complete a learning objective by up to 30 percent.ii Learning objectives are completely learner-based but could include understanding a specific concept or being able to solve a problem in a specific amount of time. 

Typically when adults place themselves in a learning environment, they tend to lack confidence, experience anxiety, and encounter other barriers that would have detrimental effects on their overall exam preparation approach.iii Tutoring is often believed to be a tool for building confidence and self esteem during studying and test-taking.iv Therefore, tutoring can significantly help adults prepare for NCEES exams and increase their chances of passing. 

Tutoring is often viewed as a tool to help students understand and grasp difficult concepts. A well-rounded tutoring program offers more than instructional teaching; it also includes initial diagnostics, study/learning plans, and guidance for strong study habits.v A study performed by the American Society for Engineering Education showed those subjects who participated in a tutoring program rated tutoring 4.17 out of 5 when asked how effective the tutoring was in improving overall knowledge of a subject and 3.56 out of 5 when asked how effective the tutoring was in aiding study skills such as time management and study habits.vi 

School of PE has recently launched a new tutoring feature for its FE Civil and PE Civil students in order to provide them with as much guidance and support in exam preparation as possible. Tutoring sessions will be one hour each and will be led by School of PE’s instructors. Sessions will revolve directly around a student’s exam preparation needs, and the tutor will create a structured, individualized study plan for each student. 

Check out our FE Civil tutoring or PE Civil tutoring pages to further learn how School of PE’s review courses and tutoring sessions can help you pass an NCEES exam. 


i. VanLehn, K. (2011, Oct 17). The relative effectiveness of human tutoring, intelligent tutoring systems, and other tutoring systems.” Educational Psychologist. 
ii. Kuhne, G. Dr. 10 Characteristics of Adults as Learners. 
iii. The Power of Tutoring Infographic. Retrieved from https://elearninginfographics.com/power-of-tutoring-infographic/ 
iv. Lincoln Land Community College. (2014, Oct). Online Tutor Training Module. 
v. Cohen, P., Kulik, J., & Lulik, C. Educational Outcomes of Tutoring: A Meta-analysis of Findings. 
vi. Paljug, B., DR, & Lampe, L. (2017, Aug.). Assessing usage, satisfaction, effectiveness, and learning outcomes for an engineering peer tutoring program.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Basic Characteristics of Wastewater


Wastewater is defined as any water that has been negatively affected in quality by humans. Wastewater is comprised of liquid and solid waste that is discharged from domestic residences, commercial properties, industrial plants, and agriculture facilities or land. Wastewater contains a wide range of contaminants at various concentrations. 

Characteristics of Wastewater 
The three main characteristics of wastewater are classified below. 

1. Physical Characteristics 
· Turbidity 
· Color 
· Odor 
· Total solids 
· Temperature 

2. Chemical Characteristics due to Chemical Impurities 
· Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) 
· Total Organic Carbon (TOC) 
· Nitrogen 
· Phosphorus 
· Chlorides 
· Sulfates 
· Alkalinity 
· pH 
· Heavy Metals 
· Trace Elements 
· Priority Pollutants 

3. Biological Characteristics due to Contaminants 
· Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) 
· Oxygen required for nitrification 
· Microbial population 

Wastewater characteristics, as well as water treatment processes, are important for environmental engineers to understand. Our FE Environmental exam review course thoroughly reviews the characteristics of wastewater. 

Physical Characteristics of Wastewater 
· Color - Fresh sewage is normally brown and yellowish in color but over time becomes black in color. 
· Odor – Wastewater that includes sewage typically develops a strong odor. 
· Temperature - Due to more biological activity, wastewater will have a higher temperature. 
· Turbidity - Due to suspended solids in wastewater, wastewater will have a higher turbidity, or cloudiness. 

Chemical Characteristics of Wastewater 
Wastewater contains different chemicals in various forms as mentioned below. 
· Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) - COD is a measure of organic materials in wastewater in terms of the oxygen required to oxidize the organic materials. 
· Total Organic Carbon (TOC) - TOC is a measure of carbon within organic materials. 
· Nitrogen - Organic nitrogen is the amount of nitrogen present in organic compounds. 
· Phosphorous - Organic phosphorous (in protein) and inorganic phosphorous (phosphates, PO4- ) 
· Chlorides (Cl-) 
· Sulfates (SO4-2) 
· Heavy metals 
  1. Mercury (Hg) 
  2. Arsenic (As) 
  3. Lead (Pb) 
  4. Zinc (Zn) 
  5. Cadmium (Cd) 
  6. Copper (Cu) 
  7. Nickel (Ni) 
  8. Chromium (Cr) 
  9. Silver (Ag) 

Analyzing the physical and chemical characteristics of wastewater plays a critical role in the wastewater treatment process. Our FE Environmental review course greatly emphasizes wastewater treatment methods based on the physical and chemical characteristics of the water. 

Biological Characteristics of Wastewater 
· Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) - BOD is the amount of oxygen needed to stabilize organic matter using microorganisms. 
· Nitrogenous Oxygen Demand (NOD) - NOD is the amount of oxygen needed to convert organic and ammonia nitrogen into nitrates by nitrifying bacteria. 
· Microbial life in wastewater - Wastewater contains the following microbes: 
  1.  Bacteria 
  2.  Protozoa 
  3.  Fungi 
  4.  Viruses 
  5.  Algae 
  6.  Rotifers 
  7. Nematodes 
· Oil and Grease - Oil and grease originate from food waste and petroleum products. The amount of oil and grease in raw wastewater varies from 10 to 109 mg/L. 

It is important that those who are striving to obtain their FE certification fully understand how to regulate the biological characteristics of wastewater through appropriate treatment methods.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Diesel Engine Components and Their Functional Applications


In general, engines convert heat energy into mechanical energy by exploiting gas onto the piston and crankshaft assembly. The amount of energy depends on the rotational speed of crank shafts as per specifications. An internal combustion engine (ICE) is more efficient than a steam engine because an ICE is simple to start and disengage. An ICE is widely used in the field of transportation. Important components of internal combustion engines include:

1)Fuel systems
2)Lubrication systems
3)Air intake systems
4)Exhaust systems
5)Cooling systems
6)Electrical systems

Diesel Engine Components

Fuel System

In an engine, fuel reaches the cylinder bore through the following path:

Fuel tank → Water separator → Feed pump → Filter → Injection pump → Injector nozzle → Cylinder 

· The fuel tank is for storing fuel. Generally, it is made of sheet metal. Most fuel tanks have a fuel gauge to check the fuel level and a drain plug to drain fuel.

· The water separator is used for separating dirt and water from the fuel. 

· The feed pump is used to feed fuel to the filter and injection pump.

· The fuel system must pressurize the fuel to open the nozzle. The pressure required to inject fuel into the combustion chamber to offset the pressure of compression is typically 350 to 450 psi. This work is mainly done by the injection pump.

· The injector nozzle injects fuel into the combustion chamber. The injector nozzle atomizes fuel, which is the breaking up of fuel into small particles. The fuel must be atomized when it enters the combustion chamber. Atomization occurs at a pressure between 1,500 to 4,000 psi.

Lubrication System

Various purposes of lubrication include: 

1) Reduces the wear and prevents seizure of rubbing surfaces
2) Reduces the power needed to overcome frictional resistance
3) Removes heat from the piston and other parts
4) Separates piston rings and cylinders
5) Removes foreign material from the engine

In this system, the engine parts are lubricated under pressure feed. The oil is stored in the oil sump, from where an oil pump takes the oil through a strainer and delivers it through a filter to the main gallery. From the main gallery, the oil flows to the main bearings. After lubricating the main bearings, some of the oil falls back to the sump, some is splashed to the cylinder walls, and the remaining oil goes through a hole to the crankpin. From the crankpin, the oil travels to the piston pin through a hole in the connecting rod web where it lubricates the piston rings. For lubricating camshaft and timing gears, the oil is led through the separate oil line from the oil gallery. The valve tappets are lubricated by connecting the main oil gallery to the tappet guide surfaces through drilled holes. Our FE mechanical exam review course thoroughly explains the fundamental concepts and functional applications of mechanical engineering equipment parts.

Oil Cooler

An oil cooler is used for cooling lubricating oil. Higher temperatures will reduce the viscosity of oil, which causes a harmful oil film to form between moving parts. To eliminate this, an engine oil cooler is used. 

Intake System

Air flows into the cylinder bore through the following path:

Air cleaner → Turbo charger → Intake manifold → Inlet port → Inlet valve → Cylinder bore

· The air cleaner is a filter that prevents dust from entering the cylinder bore. Filters generally have pores on the surface, which are measured by microns. The lowest micron value typically has better filtration. A filter set contains outer and safety filters in heavy diesel engines for better filtration.

· The tuber charger is a very important part in an engine that compresses air from the air filter. Turbo chargers have two impellers fixed on the same shaft. These impellers are driven by exhaust air. Generally, the air sucked in by the air filter is compressed before entering the cylinder bore, which results in high efficiency. The shaft will rotate at the speed of approximately 100,000 rpm to result in a longer engine life.

· The intake manifold is a pipe that transports air from the turbo charger to the inlet port.

· The inlet valve is a valve that allows air into the cylinder bore. The opening and closing of the valve is controlled by a camshaft.

Exhaust System

Exhaust gases flow through the following path in an engine:

Cylinder bore → Exhaust valve → Exhaust port → Exhaust manifold → Turbocharger → Muffler

· To reduce engine noise, the exhaust is passed through the muffler. The exhaust gases have a higher pressure than atmosphere; if these gases were to be released directly to the atmosphere, a loud, unpleasant noise would sound, similar to the sound of firing a gun. The muffler is used to cool the exhaust gases.

Cooling System

There are many purposes of cooling an engine, including: 

1) To maintain an optimal temperature for efficient work in all conditions.
2) To avoid excess heat and to protect engine components including cylinders, cylinder head, pistons, and valves.
3) To maintain the lubricating property of the oil. 

There are two types of cooling:

1) Air cooling 
2) Water cooling

Every cylinder in an engine is surrounded by water jackets. The water in the jackets absorb heat from the cylinders. The heated water conducted through the radiator helps cool the water.

There are three types of water cooling methods:

1) Direct or non-direct method 
2) Thermosiphon method
3) Forced circulation method

Mechanical engineers preparing for the FE exam are strongly encouraged to review heating and cooling systems prior to taking the FE Mechanical exam.

Electrical System

The electrical system of an engine is comprised of the following parts: 

1)Starter Motor

· The starter motor is used for rotating the flywheel. A starter motor receives its power supply from the battery. The pinion of the starter motor engages with the teeth of a flywheel ring and rotates, which then rotates the crankshaft. This rotation of crankshaft leads to the movement of pistons in the cylinders. The piston will suck air and fuel into the combustion chamber, which causes the engine to start. After reaching a specific rpm, the starter motor withdraws its pinion from the flywheel.

· The alternator is fixed on the engine and includes a pulley. The belt is used to drive the shaft of the alternator. The main job of the alternator is to charge the batteries.

· In general, two batteries, each with a 12 volt capacity, are used.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Basic Types of Residential Drainage Systems


Drainage is the method of removing surface or sub-surface water from a given area. Drainage systems include all of the piping within a private or public property that conveys sewage, rainwater, and other liquid waste to a point of disposal. The main objective of a drainage system is to collect and remove waste matter systematically to maintain healthy conditions in a building. Drainage systems are designed to dispose of wastewater as quickly as possible and should prevent gases from sewers and septic tanks from entering residential areas.

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Residential Drainage Systems

Residential drainage systems remove excess water from residential areas. This system helps whisk water away from walkways, driveways, and roofs to avoid flooding. Residential drainage systems are very important as they prevent rotting, mold, mildew, and structural damage in buildings from a buildup of water. Our SE exam review courses discuss the requirements and recommendations for residential structures regarding drainage systems.

The types of residential drainage systems are:

Surface Drainage Systems

Surface drainage systems contain shallow ditches dug in a parallel pattern, which act as canals for run-off water. Theses ditches lead the water into the main drain to avoid water pooling and flooding.

Subsurface Drainage Systems

A subsurface drainage system is also known as a French drain. Subsurface drains are placed beneath the top layer of soil to remove excess water at the root level. Subsurface drains require the digging of deep ditches and the installation of underground pipes. A large collector drain is installed to collect water from the pipes.

Slope Drainage Systems

Slope drains allow water to flow downward from a structure with the aid of pipes moving down a slope. A pipe is installed and anchored into a small incline, which causes water to flow through the pipe and away from the structure. 

Downspout and Gutter systems

Downspouts collect water from gutters and divert it to the ground. A downspout is typically connected to a gutter system on a building and carries water away from the roof down to the ground. Downspouts empty out the water on a slope so that the water does not pool at the base of the downspout. 

Combined drainage systems use a single drain to convey both water from sanitary usage and rainwater from roofs and other surfaces to a shared sewer. This system is economical to install. Separate drainage systems use separate foul water drains that lead to a sanitary sewer. The rainwater from roofs and other surfaces is conveyed in a separate surface water drain into a surface water sewer. This system is relatively expensive to install. Our SE exam review courses thoroughly review the building and design codes to follow proper drainage system installations.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Applications of Spread Footing and Soil Pressure Distribution


The size and weight of a building as well as the nature of the soil structure it is built on play a critical role in foundation design. Soil pressure distribution must be addressed to ensure a sound structure. Spread footing is a crucial structural component that provides strength for a building's foundation.

Definition of footings

Footing is a structural element that transfers a building’s weight to the soil using columns, walls, and lateral loads from earth-retaining structures. Our PE Civil exam review course discusses footings and their physical characteristics for engineers preparing for the PE Civil exam.

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Importance of Spread Footings

· A spread footing foundation has a wider bottom portion compared to a load-bearing foundation; the wider bottom "spreads" the weight of the structure over a larger area for greater stability. 

· While traditional spot footings only have a single point of contact with the foundation, spread footings extend support continuously across the entire building layout. 

· Spread footings are used to support a foundation or set of piers below a building. 

· To add additional support, spread footings are constructed with concrete and reinforced with steel. Since spread footing transfers the weight of the building over a large area, spread footings have little risk of failure compared to spot footers. 

· Spread footing extends the life of a building by minimizing structural damage. Footings must be designed to carry the column loads and transmit them to the soil safely. 

· Spread footings may be circular, square, or rectangular. 

· Spread footings are common in residential construction.

Mode of Distribution of Soil Pressure in a Spread Footing

Column loads act at the center of the footing, creating a uniform surface for the soil underneath the footing area. The distribution of pressure depends on the composition of the soil and on the degree of flexibility of the footing. 

Types of Spread Footings:

· Isolated Footing
When columns are spaced far apart, isolated footings are used to support single columns. 

· Combined Footing
When two columns are close to each other and their individual footings overlap, a combined footing is required. A combined footing supports two columns so that the load is evenly distributed. A combined footing may be rectangular or trapezoidal.

· Strap Footing (Cantilever)
In strap footing, two isolated footings are connected with a structural strap (rigid beam) or lever. 

· Mat Foundation (Raft)
A mat foundation is a large slab that supports several columns and walls under the entire structure. If several columns overlap each other, then a single footing for all columns is provided. This type of footing is known as mat footing. Mat foundations are used to reduce the differential settlements on non-homogeneous soils. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Basic Principles and Classifications of Pile Foundations


Shallow and deep foundations signify the relative depth of the soil on which buildings are founded. When the depth of a foundation is less than the width of the footing and is less than ten feet deep, it is a shallow foundation. Shallow foundations are used when surface soils are strong enough to support the imposed loads. If the depth of a foundation is more than the width of the building foundation, it is a deep foundation. Deep foundations are often used to transfer building loads deeper into the ground. 

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Conditions where deep foundations are used

· Soil near the surface that has relatively weak bearing capacities (700 pounds per square foot or less)
· Soils near the surface that contain expansive clays (shrink/swell soils) 
· Surface soils that are vulnerable to being removed by erosion or scour

Classification of deep foundations 

Deep foundations are classified into three categories:
· Pile foundations
· Well foundations
· Caisson foundations

Types of foundations and basic mechanisms involved in the classification of deep foundations are reviewed in our FE Civil exam review course for those preparing to become an engineer in training.

Pile foundations

A pile foundation is defined as a series of columns constructed or inserted into the ground to transmit loads to a lower level of subsoil. A pile is a long cylinder made up of a strong material, such as concrete. Piles are pushed into the ground to act as a steady support for structures built on top of them. Piles transfer the loads from structures to hard strata, rocks, or soil with high bearing capacity. The piles support the structure by remaining solidly placed in the soil. As pile foundations are set in the soil, they are more tolerant to erosion and scour.

Installation of pile foundations 

Piles are first cast at ground level and then hammered or driven into the ground using a pile driver. A pile driver is a machine that holds the pile vertical and hammers it into the ground. Blows are repeated by lifting a heavy weight and dropping it on top of the pile. Piles should be hammered into the ground until the refusal point is reached, which is the point where a pile cannot be driven into the soil any farther. The method of installing a pile is a major consideration in the structural integrity of pile foundations. The driven-pile method is an ideal option because it least disturbs the supporting soil around the pile and results in the highest bearing capacity for each pile. Since every pile has a zone of influence on the soil around it, piles must be spaced far enough apart from each other so that the loads are distributed evenly.

Categories of piles

· Depending on their function, piles are classified as bearing piles, friction piles, friction-cum-bearing piles, batter piles, guide piles, and sheet piles.

· Based on the composition of materials, piles are classified as timber piles, concrete piles, sand piles, or steel piles. 

1)Bearing piles are driven into the ground until a hard stratum is reached. Bearing piles rest on hard strata and act as pillars to support the structure. Bearing piles allow vertical loads and transfer the building load to the hard stratum underneath. 

2)Friction piles are used when the soil is soft and there are no hard strata available. These piles are long, and the surfaces are roughened to increase surface area and increase frictional resistance. They bear on frictional resistance between their outer surface and the soil in contact. Friction piles do not rest on hard strata. 

3)Batter piles are driven inclined to resist inclined loads.

4)Guide piles are used in the formation of cofferdams to provide stable foundations for under-water construction.

Basic principles of pile foundations and their classifications are recommended topics to review prior to taking the FE Civil exam. 

Types of piles based on shape and composition