Free FE Exam Prep Course: Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Georgia Tech releases MOOC to refresh the fundamentals of engineering for PE license.

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is a big hurtle for many engineers on their quest to get a professional engineer (PE) license.

“The FE exam is large and daunting,” said Joel Erway, author of the FE exam prep book, 30-Minute EIT. “The exam itself takes six hours to complete and many more to study for. Worse yet, the topics it covers are vast. You may not have seen them in your undergrad.”

To help prepare students for this exam, Georgia Institute of Technology has released a free massive open online course (MOOC). The course is designed to provide students with a refresher on the topics they will need to pass the FE exam. It covers seven modules that correspond to civil and mechanical engineering versions of the FE exam. These modules include math, mechanics of materials, statistics, fluid dynamics and more.

The FE exam prep MOOC “is modular, so students can pick and choose whatever modules they want to review, and they can do the exercises online,” said Philip Roberts, a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. “If they don’t understand anything, they can rewind [and] look through it again. So, from that point of view, it’s much better [than the refresher courses we used to offer].”

The FE exam course is based on on-campus classes that Georgia Tech’s faculty would offer to their students at certain times in the year. However, this MOOC opens up this content all and is available online the whole year around.

Typically, the refresher sessions held by the university enrolled about 100 to 120 students. Since opening in September 2015, however, the MOOC version of the course now has more than 500 students from 83 countries. Because half of the students enrolled are located in countries outside of the United States, these figures prove the potential of free courses open to anyone around the world.

For almost two years, Roberts gathered review materials and produced more than 100 videos for the course. He said, “The idea of the one-time refresher courses went out of the window. It was no good anymore. So then we came up with this MOOC idea.”

“We’re proud to be able to offer this outstanding resource for the engineering community,” said Reginald DesRoches, chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. “The online FE preparation developed by Dr. Roberts is yet another example of how technology can be used to provide access for lifelong learning as well as maximum flexibility to our current and former students.”

Once the students pass the exam, they can then collect their four years of experience under a licensed professional engineer and take the licensing test to acquire their PE license.

Benefits to Boost PE Licenses with FE Exam MOOCs

Time and time again we hear from politicians and academics that there is a shortage of engineers in America, and that the shortage is likely to grow. By making it more and more difficult for those who have taken engineering to obtain their licenses, the problem is compounded.

The FE exam is extremely long and difficult. According to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), the pass rates for engineers taking the exam for the first time within the first 12 months of graduation are between 64 and 82 percent, depending on the topic. However, many examinees will not be within their first year of graduation as they opt to enter the workforce instead of focusing on the exam.



Pass Rate

FE Chemical



FE Civil



FE Electrical and Computer



FE Environmental



FE Industrial



FE Mechanical



FE Other Disciplines



FE exam pass rates from Jan/Feb and Apr/May 2015 examinees taking the exam for the first time. These examinees took the exam within 12 months of graduation from an EAC/ABET accredited engineering program. Courtesy of

What scares engineers the most about studying for the FE exam? (Data collected from FE prep webinar.)

What scares engineers the most about studying for the FE exam? (Data collected from FE prep webinar.)

In a survey done by during a prep webinar for the FE exam, 50 percent of the attendees were most fearful of being out of school too long when studying for the exam.

You can expect that the pass rate for these more seasoned would-be professional engineers will not be as strong as those who are fresh out of college. They are not used to studying for such a daunting exam, and much of the content will be long forgotten unless it is used in their career.

To combat this, many examinees will take prep courses. Some might even look to take an engineering master’s degree to get back into the swing of continual education, studying and examinations, and to just refresh on some key content.

However, many more will choose to go it alone. By offering free study and refresher content online to these would-be professional engineers, we can only expect to see higher pass rates and more engineers to fuel the country.

To take the FE exam MOOC, follow this link. To learn more tips to pass the FE exam, watch this webinar. If you are interested in continual learning, then you might be interested in an engineering master’s degree. If so, check out our Masters Discovery Tool.

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.