Like all US licensed civil engineers I have had to take and pass licensing exams. They are not fun: in California a licensed Civil PE (Professional Engineer) has to endure about 21 hours of exams.
In 1988 I was living in Hawaii, which required only 16 hours of exams at that time – an 8 hour Fundamentals of Engineering and an 8 hour Professional Exam (PE). Because I failed the PE exam in 1983 I had sit the exam over in 1984 and again in 1988, when I decided to take the exam again, a third and final time.
At the time, I was much involved in teaching children and adults, as well as successfully working as an as-needed consultant. I was also a committed hospice volunteer helping men die of AIDS and cancer; and I also read and recorded math and science text books at the Honolulu Library of the Blind. I was so torn between teaching, engineering and volunteer work that I decided that if I took and failed the PE exam a third time I would heed the sign and give up on engineering.
But I was not about to give up easily- I was going to give my last chance a real chance to succeed.
I and my lover often used to visit the deserted western beaches of the quiet island of Molokai. So; we took a week off and visited some more, staying on the undeveloped beach side property of friends.
Early in the morning we played for a while – boogie boarding, body-surfing, hammocking, frolicking lovingly… Then our tent became my office, where I studied hard for several hours. Lunch was served in the hammock. Then more afternoon toil, followed by pau hana (Hawaiian for “work’s end”): more play until dark and reverent admiration for the black satin sky studded with stars.
I spent the whole week being a BE -a beach engineer- en route to my PE. It was the the most effective and enjoyable studying I have ever done- and after 9 years of schooling and 8 professional licenses, I know a bit about study. I passed the exam, was awarded my Hawaii Civil Professional Engineer license and decided to continue my career as an engineer. if I had failed, perhaps this BE would have become a successful BB (Beach Bum)…