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   September 2013


licensure & registration update

Wyoming Recognizes Value of Ph.D.

By David L. Whitman, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASEE

Study Guide Available
To help prospective examinees to prepare, the exam committee also created a study guide. The guide includes the test specification, 40 representative questions with solutions and a suggested reference list. All code used in the questions are in a generic, pseudo-language, and the description of this language is also included in the book. The exam preparation book is available from the IEEE-USA E-Book catalog. The IEEE member price is $39.99 and the non-member price is $49.99.

The state of Wyoming has, for many years, defined the teaching of advanced engineering topics and research investigations as the practice of engineering. Thus, faculty at the University of Wyoming who teach upper-division or graduate-level classes and do engineering-related research, by law, should be licensed. Obviously, this has been a difficult proposition. In lieu of having all faculty members being licensed, the Wyoming Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors took the unofficial approach that the dean of the university’s college of engineering and applied science should hold the P.E. license as the responsible person in charge. This, in turn, has caused issues with regard to the hiring process.

A re-examination of this history has led to two new formal relationships between the board and the university—a memorandum of understanding and a new licensure path.

Memorandum of understanding

In January 2011, the board signed an MOU with the University of Wyoming that called for the following:

·          The college shall continue to promote the importance of professional licensure to eligible faculty, staff and students as follows:

o    Eligible engineering faculty and staff members shall be encouraged to become licensed professional engineers. The board will provide alternate paths to licensure for faculty members holding an earned doctorate in an engineering discipline.

o    The college’s Orientation to Engineering course, and other courses within each engineering program, shall instruct students on ethical behavior and the importance of professional licensure.

o    All graduating seniors within an engineering discipline shall be required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering examination with a good-faith effort.

·         Each engineering capstone design course (e.g., senior design) shall be taught under the supervision of a faculty member who is a licensed professional engineer. If a licensed professional engineer is not available to teach the course, a licensed professional engineer from the faculty and staff committee mentioned in the item below shall be appointed to provide design and course oversight. The appointed engineer shall actively participate in course design reviews and other related course activities.

·         The dean shall appoint a faculty and staff committee of professional engineers, licensed to practice in Wyoming, to oversee all engineering capstone design courses. A senior, licensed faculty member shall chair the committee. If the dean is licensed, he or she shall serve as committee chair.

·         The committee shall provide the board an annual report (due June 1 of each year) documenting the college’s activities pertaining to licensure, including a list of instructors for the capstone design courses and a list of program-specific courses that address ethical behavior and professional licensure.

After two full years in effect, the MOU is working very well.

The new path to licensure

Effective 1 July 2013, Wyoming law recognizes the value of the earned doctoral degree in engineering with regard to licensure. The NCEES Model Rules has, for a long time, allowed the waiver of the FE exam for those with an earned engineering doctoral degree. The Wyoming law now also waives the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The new path to licensure is stated as follows:

·         An applicant for a license as a professional engineer who has graduated from a doctoral curriculum in engineering approved by the board shall submit evidence satisfactory to the board showing that the applicant

o    Is of good moral character and repute;

o    Has passed any examinations required by rule of the board to establish competence at a professional level in Wyoming licensing laws and professional ethics; and

o    Has four years of engineering experience in increasing responsibility and scope of a grade and character that evidence the applicant is competent to practice as a professional engineer.

While the rules that will correspond to the new legislation are not yet approved, the current draft is as follows:

·         A “doctoral curriculum approved by the board” is defined as an earned doctoral degree (Ph.D., etc.) from an institution that grants EAC/ABET-accredited undergraduate or graduate degrees.

·         “Examinations required by rule of the board” are defined as

o    A written examination on professional ethics and Wyoming licensing laws; and

o    An oral interview with the board.

·         The four years of engineering experience must be obtained after the applicant completes his/her first degree (undergraduate or graduate) in engineering. No credit toward this experience requirement will be given for the applicant’s graduate education.


The Wyoming board recognizes that this is the first engineering licensure law in the United States that effectively waives both the FE and PE exams for those with qualified earned doctoral degrees. Because of that, the board realizes that those who are licensed via this pathway will, at least in the near future, have difficulty getting comity licensure from other jurisdictions. However, the board encourages other jurisdictions to include this new pathway in future modifications of their licensure laws.

Finally, this is NOT a limited license for teaching or faculty only. This license will have all of the rights and responsibilities that accompany any license in the state of Wyoming.



Comments on this story may be emailed directly to Today's Engineer or submitted through our online form.


This article was published in the August 2013 issue of the NCEES Licensure Exchange magazine and is reprinted here with permission from NCEES.

David L. Whitman, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASEE, is chair of IEEE-USA's Licensure and Registration Committee and served as 2010 President of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). He is also a member of the Wyoming Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors.

Comments may be submitted to todaysengineer@ieee.org.


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