Some takeaways from this:
1.) I learned a little bit from studying, but overall even though it was hard, I would've learned a lot more by getting a Master's degree.
2.) The test isn't good at determining if you're good at your job or honestly even minimally competent in your area. For example, even in a specialized field (power systems engineering), there are thousands of diverse jobs (power generation, distribution, electrical contracting, power transmission operations, power transmission planning....etc etc) so the test only had a few questions on my particular area.
3.) There are a lot of amazingly smart people working in software, but the skill range seems to be bigger than in traditional engineering fields where most engineers are fairly similar in skillset (there are some outliers) as they all generally have to pass the same courses if their university is accredited (talking about USA here). In the software world, you have software engineers and computer science doctorates mixed with someone with very little training that is trying to wing it. That means the dataset has a far greater range on skillsets. One employee might have had a class on compilers while another just learned what a for-loop is. In engineering, we generally all show up to the first day of work with the same building blocks (thermo, statics, Dynamics, circuits, differential equations, stats, calculus, basic programming...etc). The only difference between me as a senior engineer and a new hire is 9 years of experience, knowledge of the business and tools and ability to get things done without oversight. It makes a big difference, but I wouldn't expect them to be lacking any of the tools or training that I have picked up (ok...maybe databases).
I'm struggling a bit to convey the overall message that software engineering seems a bit different and licensing would therefore need to be different if done. Perhaps you could have licensing for individual subjects? For example, you could pass a basic test on relational databases where you prove you can do basic operations such as select, where clauses, joins, updates, exports...etc. Then you'd have another to prove you were minimally competent in Java? Would that be of any value to an employer? I don't know. I'm guessing someone already does this for Oracle and Java too.
I personally find tests to be way easier than school, and the schools with reputations that are worth something are... pretty difficult for people like me (who weren't on the college track in high school) to get into. (and there is something of an inverse correlation between the prestige of a school and how flexible they are about scheduling around work; especially for undergrad)
From what I've seen of the test, it does provide some foundational ideas of what engineering is about. Like, it goes a lot into figuring out when things will break - something I haven't really seen a lot of in software engineering.
What I'm saying here is that I dunno that an optimal SWE PE would test you very much on the specifics of Java or SQL or what have you. I mean, from my experience with the FE, at least, they give you a book that has most of the formulae you need... and you are allowed to use a copy of that book during the test, you just need to be able to look it up and apply it. Seems like they would do the same with Java or SQL.
(I mean, to be clear, to apply the formulae, you still need to have more math than I do. I imagine the same would be true of sql or java, only I'm pretty good with SQL, having 20 years of propping up garbage written by engineers who weren't.)
From what I've seen of the software engineers, Most of the time, the software guys throw something together, toss it over the fence and move on. Clearly, they didn't do any analysis to figure out how much load the weak point in the system can handle, or even what the weak-point was. It's incumbent upon me (the SysAdmin; usually the least educated person in the room) to feed load to it at a reasonable speed and to back off and figure out what happened when the thing falls over.
I mean, I think the real question people are bringing up here is "what if we treated software engineering, or at least some subset of software engineering more like real engineering?" - like clearly sometimes you can slap together something over the weekend and it's fine, but... if you are building a car or an airplane or a tall building or something, you probably want to put in the time to make sure it's done right, and for that, you need rules that everyone knows; the PE system, I think, establishes rules everyone knows, while I think software engineering mostly works on the concept of "it worked for me"
Software is weird as the hardware, languages, and frameworks are always changing and the optimal work done on any project seems to be just enough to keep the customers from going to a new product and not necessarily the best or even a good product in many cases. There are cost constraints in Engineering as well (good, fast, & cheap...pick 2), but it still feels pretty different to me than software engineering where something breaks all the time in any non mainstream software I've ever used.
I'll check out that edx class, thanks, that sounds like my thing.