Getting ready for the PE Examination Throughout the Pandemic with Two Youngsters in Tow

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preparing for the pe exam during the pandemic with two kids in tow - pe exam
Lauren Bergman Ph.D.

By: Lauren Bergman, Ph.D.

Changing into a Skilled Engineer (PE) was a long-time objective of mine.  I took the Fundamentals of Engineering examination throughout my senior 12 months of school and knew the PE examination could be the following impediment, as soon as I gained sufficient work expertise.

Nonetheless, after school I went straight right into a Ph.D. program, delaying work for a number of years.  As soon as I landed my first actual job in engineering consulting, I used to be behind a few of my friends work-wise, who had gotten by way of their first few years of entry-level employment and the PE examination by their mid-twenties.

My household targets had been additionally starting to take middle stage on the identical time. My husband and I had been keen to begin a household, so at 28 years outdated, I grew to become a mother with solely a 12 months and a half of labor expertise.   Changing into a mother opened up a complete new world of pleasure and goal in me and bolstered my want to develop professionally.  I continued to work and centered extra intently on acquiring my PE license, imagining a day when my daughter would inform her academics that her mother was an engineer.

Not desirous to lose any momentum, I utilized to take the PE examination within the fall of 2019 as soon as I met the requisite work expertise, just some months after discovering out I used to be pregnant with my second little one.  The planner in me went into overdrive as I mapped out easy methods to make all of it match collectively. With the PE examination in mid-April and my due date in mid-Could, I’d have simply sufficient time to squeeze all of it in.  I enrolled in a web based on-demand course, purchased all of the examination prep books, and began finding out in January. Because the weeks wore on, I used to be exhausted, however I stored reminding myself that making ready for the examination whereas working with a toddler and being pregnant could be simpler than making ready whereas working with two children.

Sadly, the pandemic had different plans in retailer.

In late March 2020, because the world started to close down, I acquired information from NCEES that they’d be canceling the April 2020 PE examination. The examination was solely supplied in-person each six months, which meant that my life would look quite a bit completely different by the point I’d have the ability to sit for the examination the next October. I knew that my loss was comparatively minor in comparison with the sacrifices individuals had been pressured into globally, however I nonetheless took every week to mourn the 70+ hours of finding out I had already dedicated to and to acknowledge the concern of getting to proceed my examination prep with a new child along with a toddler.

In August, I picked up my examine supplies and resumed making ready for the examination, as I used to be coming to the top of my maternity go away and making ready to begin a brand new job.  The interval from August by way of October was actually robust. It was exhausting to begin a brand new, full-time job (after having labored a diminished schedule since my first little one was born), deal with the bodily calls for of parenting a toddler and a child, push by way of the fog of early parenthood sleep deprivation, and carve out time to review. However the finish was in sight and I had already dedicated a lot, so I buckled down.

Trying again on the previous 12 months, there are a number of classes that stand out to me about easy methods to deal with making ready for the PE examination with two children, or obtain different skilled targets throughout early parenthood:

Plan Forward

Many individuals take about two and a half to a few months to organize for the examination, though some check prep firms supply intensive 6-week packages.  I enrolled in a web based on-demand course, which allowed me the flexibleness to look at lectures and work on apply issues alone schedule. I additionally started finding out originally of January, three and a half months prematurely of the examination.

  • I made a plan for what number of hours every week I might realistically spend finding out after which allotted the hours to numerous days all through the week, ensuring to share every weekly schedule with my husband.
  • I deliberate to complete the lectures a number of weeks prematurely of the examination in order that I might spend the previous few weeks engaged on drawback units and apply exams.

The cancellation of the April 2020 examination actually put a dent in my preliminary examine plan, however after I picked up finding out once more in August, I used to be capable of simply resume my examine plan and complement with extra time for reviewing ideas I had studied a number of months prior.

Ask for Assist

I’m lucky to have a supportive, engaged co-parent and through the intense interval of examination preparation, I leaned on my husband quite a bit.  We communicated virtually each day about my examination prep, discussing my examine schedule and the elevated calls for for each of us.  My husband upped his solo parenting sport, taking up beforehand shared duties so I might bury my head in examine supplies. He dealt with bedtime and bathtub time by himself on the evenings after I was finding out and made plans to take the children out of the home for a number of hours on the weekends.  And after we each wanted a little bit further assist, we received a babysitter. It was useful for each of us to know that this era was short-term, and after I accomplished the examination, we each felt like we might rejoice.

Converse Up

Ladies are nonetheless underrepresented in engineering, which signifies that engineering organizations is probably not aware about all of the challenges girls, particularly working mothers, face.  I’ve to imagine that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are within the small minority of PE examination takers. (I used to be really the one lady in my cohort of 28 examinees in October.)  Considered one of my main issues in my unique plan to take the examination whereas 8-months pregnant was being seated too removed from the toilet and spending an excessive amount of time working (or extra seemingly, waddling) to the toilet each half-hour.

After I registered for the examination, I received a notice from my physician testifying to the truth that I used to be pregnant after which submitted an lodging request to the testing company asking to be seated close to a restroom.  They responded with a good higher supply; they had been prepared to increase my time a further half-hour per 4-hour session.  I didn’t find yourself having to make use of the lodging since I took the examination after my son was born, nevertheless it was actually refreshing to see the testing company’s supportive perspective and real understanding.

Shield Your Time

For many of final 12 months, I sacrificed nights and weekends to organize for the PE examination.  I handled elevated stress and yearned without spending a dime time and household time.  I do know the short-term challenges had been price it now that I’ve my PE license, however I additionally acknowledge how priceless my time is.  I wish to protect my treasured non-work time for my household and myself.  Transferring ahead, I’m defending my nights and weekends.  I don’t thoughts working the occasional night when there’s a good deadline, and I’m completely happy to spend time doing skilled duties I get pleasure from (like penning this publish!) on the weekends.  However I’m promising to maintain common night and weekend work out of my schedule.

The aid I felt after I came upon I handed the examination was momentous.  I now have my license and new confidence in my capacity to tackle robust challenges. I’m wanting ahead to the day after I can inform my children about my expertise and hopefully encourage them to tackle new challenges and work exhausting to attain their targets.

Bio: Lauren Bergman, Ph.D., PE, works as an engineer for the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.  She earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the College of Michigan, in addition to an M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon College. She lives in Connecticut together with her husband and two youngsters.

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