Put to the test

Phew! It’s been a busy month. My goal when setting out to write a blog was to make a contribution at least once per week. I do see that being possible but I am not overstating when I say I worked for over 20 hours last week designing an interactive button. This endeavor is certainly a challenging one. Every day there is something else to learn and everything is available to be improved upon. Engineering skills are my core discipline but its incredible being able to apply those skills with a visual interface and to understand the mechanics behind the software I’ve used for so long. One thing that I am grateful for is that I have a thick skull because it comes in handy with all the head banging I do on my desk every single day.

Since our launch date we have added another project and we are in the process of adding a third. Currently, we are doing some side consulting while we continue to refine the website and its tools. The overall goal is to be ready for the American Exploration & Mining Association (AEME) in December, the Roundup conference sponsored by the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) in January and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in March. We have gotten the mechanics down and we are becoming more confident in our abilities with time. The next big leap for a new enterprise is the marketing side. That’s when we will be working with other people to help us get our services out there. Looking at all the information that is available online and all the property owners that require investment there is definitely a market for what we do. Before all of the excitement can begin there is something more pressing to finish first.

I finished with a weeklong review course with the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) to prepare for my Professional Engineering (P.E.) Exam later on October 27th. Being a licensed professional engineer has some perks such as being able to sign off on certain projects, notoriety and bragging rights. For me, the most important part will be getting that portion out of the way. The exam has been a moving target due to the nature of the industry I am in. The test is offered once a year and it’s in the last quarter of the year. What do mining companies try to do in the last quarter of every year? They try to up their production to either a) cover any deficits from the year or b) capitalize on low costs or high commodity prices. Needless to say, I’ve tried to take the exam a couple times but this year will be the first time I sit down at a desk and complete the 8 hour exam.

The process of becoming a professional engineer isn’t complex. First, the engineer must have a four year degree in engineering. At some point, typically right before graduation, the Fundamentals of Engineering (F.E.) exam must be taken. With a passing score, the engineer is considered an Engineer in Training (E.I.T.) and, if working under a professional engineer, they start to accrue time towards professional licensing. Some states have different requirements for a professional engineer but they do share two things in common. The E.I.T. must have 4 years experience working for a professional engineer and successfully passed the P.E. exam. I have met all the requirements except the test.

I’d be pretty foolish if I didn’t admit that I am nervous to take the test. The review course gave out an 1100+ page binder that was meant to cover every possible subject that might be on the test. The test is made up of 80 questions that were pulled from a database of over 1200 questions randomly. Over the years the format has changed. The exam used to consist of 8 questions that would take about an hour each, on average. Then it evolved to have 4 one hour long questions followed by 40 short questions for the afternoon session. Now, the exam is made up of 80 short questions that, when doing the math, should take no more than 6 minutes each to complete. I have gone through the review haphazardly and feel confident about answering half of the questions that are asked. Over the next three weeks I will be studying about 4 hours a day and hoping to hit a little over 80 hours of study time before I sit down at the exam center.

What I like about this process is the fact that I have been in the industry for over 10 years and out of school for over 8 years but I am always encouraged to keep reviewing or to learn something new. I think it’s a testament to the engineers out there who have passed because they refuse to ride out how far their degree can take them. The odds aren’t bad since the pass rate of the exam is about 2 out of every 3 who take it. I should be hearing about the exam results sometime by the end of the year or the beginning of the next for which that blog title will either be “P.E.-Pretty Easy” or “P.E.-Painful Experience”. I am hoping for the former.

Another little side note, I hope you enjoy the comments and everyone is encouraged to leave anything they feel like leaving. We integrated with Facebook’s comment system for easy log in for those who visit the page. I will get to once a week blog entries to keep everyone informed of and to track what we actually accomplish in a week.

All the Best,

James F.