Two NCEES committees endorse HP-33S

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) currently requires examinees to use one of four approved calculators (including the 33S) on professional engineering and surveying examinations. However, NCEES has been considering standardizing on a single calculator model, and issuing it in the exam room. There has been speculation that NCEES would choose a Casio or TI, rather than the HP-33S, given its relatively high cost.

Both the Examinations for Professional Engineers (EPE) committee and the Examinations for Professional Surveyors (EPS) committee were asked about their calculator preferences. The results:

The EPE and EPS committees also examined the Council policy allowing candidates to bring their own calculators to the exam site. The policy — which limits the approved calculators to four approved models — is the result of past work by EPE, EPS, and EPP to
develop a system of calculator usage to reduce the likelihood of candidates using calculators to cheat on or compromise the test.

Both EPE and EPS surveyed exam development volunteers, providing calculators from the Council-approved list of four and asking for their preferences among the models. The EPS Committee favored adopting the HP 33S as the sole approved calculator due to its
ability to convert angles to degrees, minutes, and seconds as well as its ability to work in algebraic and reverse Polish notation (RPN) modes.

The EPE Committee also favored the HP 33S for the same reasons, but noted that many exam development volunteers voiced strong preferences for the Texas Instruments and Casio models. The EPE Committee also pointed to an ELSES survey of exam candidates that found preferences evenly divided among the HP, TI, and Casio models. Pointing to this, EPE does not support the idea of supplying candidates with a single calculator model. It instead recommends that at least two models be provided if NCEES decides to
provide examinees with calculators.

Based on these results, it appears likely that the 33S (or its sucessor, the 35S) will continue to be approved for use on NCEES exams, even if NCEES decides to start supplying calculators to examinees. This would preserve a major market for the 33S/35S.

Reported in June 2007 issue of Licensure Exchange


I welcome the day when the overwhelming "preference" will be back on the HP calcs, and TI and Casio will be second and third. I believe, the HP-35s will be a huge help in making that a reality...



If these folks vote in favour of the terribly cluttered 33s, then the 35s will wipe out all competition in this field! Looking forward to the launch of this product (will have to wait for 24 more days maximum). Although NCEES is totally irrelevant for 95% of the world, nevertheless their votes may foster HP turning in the right direction. Any support is appreciated :-)


Although NCEES is totally irrelevant for 95% of the world, nevertheless their votes may foster HP turning in the right direction.
You may be underestimating the impact of NCEES on 33S sales. My guess is that NCEES policies are the single most important factor driving the 33S market worldwide. I would bet (1) that the US is the most important country for 33S sales, and (2) that within the US, NCEES exams are the most important reason for 33S purchases.

Since the 33S is not widely available in US stores, it's likely that a high percentage of 33S sales are online, and through in particular. If you check Amazon for the 33S, you get a "Better Together" discount offer for an FE Exam Equations book. Furthermore, the "Customers who bought this item also bought" section features five other items: two FE exam manuals, two Civil PE Exam manuals, and a Mechanical PE Exam manual.

I wouldn't be suprised if Amazon is the single biggest retailer of the 33S in the US (if not the world). And Amazon clearly sees a close sales relationship between the 33S and NCEES exam study materials.

Edited: 7 July 2007, 12:43 p.m.


Well, Norris, what you were telling us may be read as "Almost nobody buys an HP33s besides those folks who are going to undergo an FE/PE exam in the USA". That's totally d'accord with what I posted ;-)

This correlation isn't a real surprise - just look at a 33s. IMHO the market of the 35s will be considerably larger, i.e. it will exceed the regulated area by far. Thus, more countries with free markets will contribute to the sales figures, reducing the relative importance of regulated areas to its appropriate value.

Edited: 7 July 2007, 1:47 p.m.

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