Civil Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 15th Ed
s I mentioned in the preface to the fourteenth edition, I am chagrined to admit that I never read a single preface while I was in college. Out of the prefaces of 100 or so textbooks written by witty, clever, dedicated, and famous experts, I never read a single word. Since then, I have added hundreds of additional books to my library, and I have only read a few of their prefaces. I certainly have never written to an author and said, “Hey, I loved your preface.” Nor have I ever received such a communication about any book that I have written. So, why does a book even need a preface?
The preface usually explains (a) why the author wanted to write the book, (b) why the book turned out the way it did, and (c) how the book differs from the previous edition. Whereas subsequent chapters after the preface constitute a book’s brain, the preface constitutes a book’s heart and soul. You do not have to read its preface for a book to have utility. The real “value” is in the subsequent chapters. However, if you want a special connection with the book, if you want to get inside the author’s head, if you want to feel what you are learning, you should start by reading its preface.
New books are written for a variety of reasons; new editions less so. Typically, new editions are written to replace old editions that have become somehow inadequate. Although I have read some that come close, authors do not intentionally write books to be inadequate when they are first published; instead, their books just evolve into obsolescence and inadequacy over time. Now and then, however, the reason behind publishing a new edition is more complex.
For example, sometimes a perfectly good book can become suddenly obsolete due to an external event. This book has had many “sudden” new editions (and this fifteenth edition is no exception), which were triggered by some change to the civil PE exam. Typical exam changes that have required publishing a new edition of this book include revisions to the codes and standards on which the civil PE exam is based, as well as changes to the exam’s body of knowledge, format, administration, and emphasis on (i.e., number of questions for) each subject.
Other times, new editions are driven by an author’s desire to add new material or to improve preexisting material. Sometimes they are driven by a need to incorporate accumulated corrections.
This fifteenth edition of the Civil Engineering Reference Manual represents a complex agglomeration of the easons mentioned: revisions to exam codes and standards, addition of new and improved material, and changes in how the exam is administered.
The reasons this fifteenth edition turned out the way that it did are as complex as the reasons why it was written in the first place. First, like its predecessors, this edition was developed in an ethical and professional manner, which means that only the NCEES published outline of exam subjects guided me when I wrote this edition. It may seem strange to you that a book designed to help you pass the civil PE exam would not be based on the actual exam content; however, though not associated with NCEES in any way, both PPI and I share its passion for exam security. Therefore, no actual exam content is present in this book.
Second, as a professional engineer, I understand it is my responsibility to protect the public, while still helping qualified applicants to prepare for their future careers as engineers. To help you review and learn the engineering concepts necessary to pass the civil PE exam (and thus, go on to protect the public), PPI went far beyond industry standards in getting content checked and reviewed, edited, and proofread.
Finally, this book is the way that it is because I wrote it to be the kind of textbook I would want to help me learn the concepts needed to pass the civil PE exam. You will not have to go very far to find someone who will tell you that this book goes beyond the subjects covered on the civil PE exam. This is true. I have my own idea of what engineering concepts the civil PE exam should cover, and I have woven those concepts into this book. You may disagree with this practice. Indeed, history has shown that my expectations of what an engineer with a minimum of four years of experience should know are very high. (You would probably have to read trade and industry publications every day to have the knowledge that I want you to have when you take your civil PE exam.) However, I have incorporated those concepts because I do not just want you to review or learn “some engineering” from this book. Instead, I actually want you to be a better engineer for having read it. Think of passing your exam as icing on the cake of being a great engineer.
Regardless of why I wrote this edition, or why this edition turned out the way that it did, inevitably, PPI’s Customer Care (what PPI calls “Customer Service”) department will need to answer the pre-purchase questions such as, “What has changed?” and “Do I really need to purchase this book?” and “I have the 12th edition. Can I use it?” This department also has to deal with irate customers who purchased the previous edition 25 months ago and swear they would have waited if they had known that Michael R. Lindeburg was writing a new edition. (Hey, everyone: I’m always writing a new edition. But, only the publisher knows when it is coming out.)
To answer those questions and to help the Customer Care department answer such questions, I am writing this script: “Yes. You absolutely need to get this new edition. The author did not write it for nothing. He wrote it because the exam changed. He wrote it because it is better. He wrote it because it is more helpful, easier to understand, more complete, and better organized. This edition differs from the 10th (or 11th, or 12th, etc.) edition in several hundred thousand ways. No, a zillion ways. You will not know everything that has changed, but you will benefit from the changes. You do not use obsolete technology like a buggy whip, leaded fuel, a rotary-dial phone, carbon paper, or an IBM Selectric typewriter any more, do you? Instead, you drive a motorized car, use unleaded fuel, talk “hands-free” on your cell phone, send emails (from this same phone!), and type on your personal laptop or tablet. Still not convinced you need this edition? Let me put it another way: You would not study for your driver’s license test using a 1968 copy of your state’s DMV driver handbook, would you? No, you would not. So, why then, would you take a book based on obsolete material into the most important exam of your career? Do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. In fact, do not be foolish, period. You need this fifteenth edition.”
To satisfy the marketing department, which inevitably wants to know what has changed since the fourteenth edition, I will say: “This book is completely consistent with the NCEES exam content and breadth-and-depth format, and it is equally representative of the codes and standards NCEES has adopted for the exam. In fact, the largest replacement of content that took place in this edition occurred in order to make material consistent with NCEES-adopted codes and standards.” (The actual codes and standards used by this book are listed in this book’s “Codes Used to Prepare This Book” section of the front matter.)
In addition to the 15 new appendices and the usual slate of reader-suggested improvements, updates, and inevitable errata, this fifteenth edition incorporates changes in structural design. For example, the concrete chapters were updated to the 2011 ACI 318; the steel chapters were updated to the 2011 AISC fourteenth edition; the masonry chapters were updated to the 2012 IBC and the 2011 ACI 530/530.1, including deleting the one-third allowable stress increase for wind and seismic loads; and the traffic and transportation chapters were updated to the 2012 Highway Capacity Manual. A lot of new material has been added from AASHTO’s first-ever 2010 Highway Safety Manual, which is now listed by NCEES as a civil PE exam standard/code reference. Four structural chapters have been augmented with additional material from the 2012 AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. Statistics on new content are listed in Sidebar S1 at the end of this preface.
The geotechnical chapters reflect NCEES’s reliance on specific editions and/or parts of Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE/SEI7), and Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry (OSHA 1926).
The structural chapters reflect NCEES’s reliance on specific editions and releases of Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (ACI 318); Building Code Requirements and Specification for Masonry Structures (ACI 530/530.1); Steel Construction Manual (AISC Manual); Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE/SEI7); International Building Code (IBC); National Design Specification for Wood Construction ASD/LRFD (NDS); PCI Design Handbook: Precast and Prestressed Concrete (PCI); and AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications (AASHTO LRFD).
For concrete, solutions based on ACI 318 App. C may not be used on the exam. This book provides solutions using only ACI 318 Chap. 9 (the so-called unified) methods.
For steel, you may still use either load and resistance factor design (LRFD) or allowable stress design (ASD) methods on the exam. Therefore, this book presents both solving methods in parallel so regardless of which method you choose to study, you will be supported.
For masonry, only ASD may be used on the exam, with the exception that the strength design (SD) method covered in ACI 530 Sec. 3.3.5 is the only method permitted to be used for slender walls with out-of-plane loads. This book provides ASD solutions, followed by SD solutions for additional reference.
As with the fourteenth edition, this book contains a chapter covering some bridge topics. Bridge rating is not specifically identified by NCEES as an exam subject, although bits and pieces of bridge design, analysis, and construction are implicit in other civil engineering activities that are covered on the exam. Given the great likelihood of future transportation funding shortfalls, even with the ongoing dedicated and noble efforts of our state departments of transportation, I feel that all professional engineers should be able to speak about the U.S. transportation infrastructure. This bridges chapter is a stub that I intend to continue to flesh out in future editions according to my own observations.
The transportation chapters reflect NCEES’s reliance on specific editions of A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (AASHTO Green Book); AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures (AASHTO GDPS-4-M); AASHTO Roadside Design Guide; Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide: A Manual of Practice (AASHTO MEPDG); Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities (AASHTO Pedestrian); Highway Safety Manual (HSM); AI The Asphalt Handbook (MS-4); NRC Highway Capacity Manual (HCM); Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD); Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures; and Hydraulic Design of Highway Culverts.
The construction chapters reflect NCEES’s reliance on specific editions of ACI 318; Guide to Formwork for Concrete (ACI 347); Formwork for Concrete (ACI SP-4); AISC Manual, Design Loads on Structures During Construction (ASCE 37); NDS, CMWB Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls Under Construction;and Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry (OSHA 1926). Still, the majority of what NCEES considers to be “construction” was already present in this book and continues to be covered in other chapters. Earthwork, foundations, slope stability, compaction, temporary structures, and other geotechnical subjects are in their own chapters, as are formwork, engineering economics, construction law, and many other construction subjects. Although there is no single chapter titled “Construction” that contains everything NCEES thinks you should know, this book presents the construction topic to the same degree of detail as other topics—regardless of where you read it.
You and I are associates in the same honorable profession, and we are also members of the same species. In those regards, we exist to help each other. Helping you review and learn the subjects in the chapters that follow was always foremost in my mind. With every word that I wrote, I wanted to help you conduct an ethical review that would make both of us proud. This book is proof that I have been here for you. Now, you should go do your best to serve humanity. That starts by passing the PE exam.
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