PE/BE

West Molokai beach - 1987 (E Medley)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.

EWM studying for PE Exam at West Molokai beach 1988

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)…

About Ed Medley

Ed Medley has been on a random walk for over 50 years. Many scribbles and snapshots at this site are from his vagabond transits; others are from his decades of international experience in geological and geotechnical engineering, academia, and mineral exploration prospecting.
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