I am a Naval Nuclear Submarine Officer. I have a Chemical Engineering B.S. UF '11 and have been working in Naval Nulcear propulsion for over four years. I am about to leave the military under the best conditions but I would like to get my PE before I step out.
I plan on working in the chemical industry when I transition to the civilian sector: Should I work on the nuclear PE now (depending on your answer to the previous questions) or wait until I have chemical industry specific experience and then get the Chemical PE?
I am also in dire need of professional engineering references as I have not found any in my search,
Your Nuclear Navy experience is valuable and I think you will find that your skills are in demand, whether in the nuclear power field or in a chemical industry engineering job. It is commendable that you are thinking ahead and exploring the possibility of obtaining your PE license. I also served in the Nuclear Navy and since finishing my enlistment in the 70's have not lacked for employment opportunities, mostly in commercial nuclear power.
My experience (after completing BSME) was that I needed to work for several years in industry before being able to obtain PE references from coworkers who knew and trusted me. Whether you obtain the nuclear PE or the chemical PE may be of little consequence.
As you are aware, if you have not already done so, you will need to pass the fundamentals exam. Some say that this is more difficult than the PE exam itself. In my case, taking the fundamentals exam while still in engineering school was that it was not that challenging, except that it takes all day (8 hour exam).
Hope this helps.
Andres - I'm happy to offer some input to a fellow engineering gator and I add my thanks for your service.
I'm a long practicing EE and retired from the electronics industry with several years in the chemistry intense semiconductor industry. I never found that a PE was expected or valuable.
I also served for many years on the UF Engineering Advisory Board as well as the San Jose Business Advisory Board providing mentor advice to a wide range of start-ups.
The only times that I've seen a PE needed was in the Civil and Construction areas where codes and regulation liability existed.
With your CE and military experience you will find that you'll be able to apply and get accepted for a wide variety of jobs. The ones that you may find most interesting maybe less engineering and instead in areas definitely not requiring a PE.
I recommend you spend time job hunting online - I like Indeed.com. Apply for some of the ones which sound interesting and in areas where you want to live.
Contact me if I can be of more help.
The clearest answer on whether to pursue your PE or experience first will come from someone in a position to hire candidates with your background. The best place to start might be to find people already working in the field via LinkedIn and other resources. Here are a few tactics I'd recommend:
LinkedIn: Search for "Professional Engineering" and Navy. I turned up ~700 results. See if any of them are shared connections and ask if your contact can make an introduction. If you're not connected, ask to connect and in your connection request say something to the effect of "I'm transitioning from the Navy and would like to pick your brain as an expert in the field. Would you be willing to answer a few quick questions?"
NSPE: Ask the experts. Get on https://community.nspe.org/home and find contacts near you or reach out there. Same thing as with LinkedIn. Be overt in the fact you're asking for guidance. I'm confident you'll find veterans already engaged there or professionals willing to reach out further.
Your Network: Ask your colleagues who they've worked with who has already transitioned out. Seek their insight. This may seem like an obvious one, but I figured I'd mention it. This could also include civilian vendors or contractors you may work with.
I hope this helps!
Thank you for your service and for the inquiry. As this is an industry specific question, I would encourage you to explore the community section of ACP Advisor Net. In the community section, you can filter advisors by areas of expertise and location. Once you have identified advisors within your industry of interest, you are more than welcome to send them a quick message. This will give you insight from someone who has direct experience in the industry. Additionally, I will also reach out to potential advisors from my end as well.
I hope this information was helpful.
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