PE exams, calculators, NCEES - PLEASE READ!!


Hey all:

I have been in contact with the executive director of the Texas State Board of Registration - Victoria Hsu. (I live in Texas and am a registered PE here.) She tells me that the calculator issue was very contentious in the last general meeting. Originally the NCEES proposed to allow only certain calculators to be used. Eventually that was voted down and, according to the Exec Dir. they voted to disallow only communications devices like cell phones and pagers. She is of the opinion that NCEES acted beyond what the vote allowed.

The Texas Board is putting together a letter of protest to NCEES. Ms.Hsu does not believe that the calc communications issue is a real one; however, she would like to have some technical expertise to back her up. Key issues might include:

1. Short range of IR capabilities
2. Incredibly slow input of text. (No stealing questions)
3. Inability to comm with anything other than their own brand.

And so on. If some of you would be willing to lend your expertise to these issues, I would be glad to act as a clearing house to get the information out to her. I will also be calling the other state boards where I am registered which include Michigan, Indiana, and Louisiana.



I'm not sure, but wasn't the IR removed on the 49G anyway?

Note that some RPL machines notably lack IR input (28 series).


The IR was removed; however, the 49 is banned on the basis that the 49 has text editing. I believe they are concerned that someone might copy down questions and take them out. ???


I thought they did not like text storage because it would allow students to take notes into exams and 'cheat' (perhaps you are talking about exams where notes CAN be taken in?)

Also in the exams I have taken in the UK the exam papers are usually available after the exam for revision for next year. Do you have access to past papers in the US?

At most schools and university exams calculators that can store text are not allowed. At Sheffield Uni the HP32 is banned, see their page at:

Avid readers may like to note that the HP42S IS approved - I think because letters are not printed on the keyboard (unlike the '32) they thought it couldn't store text!


Thanks for your reply Tom. Our PE exam is a 16 hour examination. The first 8 hours is a fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam and is usually taken by recent graduates or, in some cases, by undergraduates in their last year. Currently, the FE exam is a "references provided" exam and participants are not allowed reference materials. I suppose that something like the equation library in the 48GX or the 49G could be a problem.

The second 8 hours is the professional portion (PE). This is usually taken by engineers who have been in practice for some time. The actual requirements vary with the level of education obtained; however, most with undergraduate degrees have to wait four years. In this test the participant is allowed to take as many reference books in as he/she can lug.

The NCEES ban applies to both portions of the exam.


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