Prior to the day of the examination

The candidate will be provided with the following information at least two weeks prior to the exam:

  • Examination Procedure document
  • Location and time of exam
  • The Body of Knowledge of the Discipline they’re being examined on.

The panelists will be provided with the following information at least two weeks prior to the exam:

  • Candidate’s Application
  • Candidate’s Resume
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Scoring Sheet
  • Handouts provided by the candidate for the presentation (provided the candidate has them ready two weeks prior to the exam)

Selection of Panel

The examination panel is comprised of at least three current Diplomates in the Academy who are in good standing, including a Chair that is assigned by the Application Committee.  To maintain consistency, the Chair must be someone who has already served as a panelist in the ACOPNE interview process; the other panelists may or may not have been through the process before.  They will be selected by the Application Committee out of the pool of Diplomates in good standing.  Anyone who has not been on an examination panel before will receive detailed instruction on the process by the Chair.

Each panelist will receive a score sheet where they can track the applicant’s responses and rate the applicant as either meeting the requirement satisfactorily or not.  After the examination the panel will discuss any requirements that were found not to have been met satisfactorily by all of the panelists.  If there is any discrepancy, each panelist will explain the reason they found the applicant to have been deficient in one of the requirement areas.  If all of the panelists find the candidate deficient in the same area, the candidate failed the exam. 

After discussion of the requirement, a consensus must be reached.  If there is no consensus between the panelists, the Chair will present the matter before the Application Committee.  The Chair will try to remain unbiased in his presentation and present both sides of the argument to the committee.  The Application Committee will decide the final outcome with a simple majority vote.

As part of the score sheet, there is a place for the panelist to provide feedback about how the exam was conducted and the processes used.  The feedback is then used by the Application Committee to improve the process over time.

The day of the examination

Pre-Examination Meeting of the Panelists

The chair of the examination panel must meet with the panel immediately prior to the examination start.  The Chair must cover the following areas:

  1. Ensure that each panelist has all the proper documents that include the candidate’s resume, recommendation letters, application form, any handout materials the candidate provided and the scoring sheet.
  2. The chair should first describe the examination process, what is expected of them, questions that should be asked and well as questions that are not pertinent to the process.
  3. Each of the evaluation questions should be discussed by the Chair in order for the each panelist to understand the general nature of what is being assessed.
  4. Any unsatisfactory mark given to the candidate must be discussed as a group and if possible the panel must agree that the candidate should or should not receive a satisfactory mark.  If the panel cannot agree to a decision then the outcome will be decided by the Application Committee by a simple majority vote.
  5. Once the panel is fully briefed on the process and understand their role and the scoring sheet, the candidate will be allowed to enter the room.
  6. At the close of the examination, the Chair should thank the candidate and inform them that they will be notified within 30 days if they have passed the examination.  No further discussion with the candidate by any member of the panel should be made until the results are released by the Academy staff.
  7. When the panel has completed its evaluation it is important for the Chair to ask each member to complete the questionnaire regarding how the examination process was handled and if they have any suggestions for improvements to ensure that the examination given is a consistent and fair method.

Interview Process

The candidate is to give a presentation that should cover his professional work experience, with example projects as appropriate. Through this presentation, the candidate should demonstrate that they have achieved mastery in one of the Body of Knowledge (BOK) elements. The candidate should be specific about which BOK elements they believe they have mastered. The candidate can provide hand out materials only to supplement their application. No computer projector, slide, overhead presentations, or any other electronic medium that would aide in the presentation are allowed. (Although for example, a handout of PowerPoint slides is acceptable).  It is up to the candidate to convince the panel that they have achieved the requisite body of knowledge at the expert level.  In most cases, this can be accomplished in 30 minutes to an hour, although there is no time limit or time requirement.

Following this presentation, the candidate will be given a scenario or a number of scenarios to assess their professional judgment. These scenarios will not be provided to the candidate before the interview. The responses will be used to evaluate the candidates understanding of Coastal, Ocean, Port and/or Navigation Engineering and approaches to solving problems.

Admissions Committee Evaluation Criteria

In evaluating the above requirements, the ACOPNE board has decided to use the ACOPNE Body of Knowledge (BOK) elements and levels to evaluate whether a candidate has progressed to an acceptable level of professional competence and can be considered as an expert in one or more aspects of Coastal, Ocean, Port or Navigation Engineering.

After the presentation, the candidate will be given a series of questions by the examiners to clarify the full extent of the applicant’s experience.  The examiner’s questions will relate to the applicant’s specific presentation, as well as any other areas of his professional career as necessary to provide a basis for assessing whether the candidate has:

  1. Demonstrated advanced and accurate knowledge of at least one area of Coastal, Ocean, Port and/or Navigation Engineering,
  2. Demonstrated progressive responsible charge in COPNE since obtaining his/her P.E,
  3. An attitude regarding continued professional development that is consistent with that of the Academy, and
  4. Current responsibilities that include either routine performance or routine review of technical aspects of COPNE.

Evaluation of the candidate would be as follows:

  • Following completion of the questions and answers, the candidate would be asked to leave the room.
  • The examiners at first should not tally their responses for the candidate, but should discuss any items that they found the candidate to be deficient in.  A discussion would take place for each individual areas of evaluation to provide some protection to the candidate in the event one examiner missed or misunderstood some aspect of the candidate's presentation or responses to questions.  The purpose is not for one examiner to convince another of his opinion, but to make sure key information was not missed or misunderstood.
  • Following conference, each examiner would finalize his score, make sure clear explanations for any area found not satisfactory are provided, and then present the completed form to the lead examiner.
  • The lead examiner would then try to reach consensus in all areas questioned in the exam.
  • If the candidate is given an unsatisfactory mark by consensus in any one area of evaluation, the candidate would not pass the exam.  A candidate would be considered as successfully completing their exam if they are deemed satisfactory by the panel (consensus) each area of evaluation.
  • If a consensus cannot be reached in any of the areas, the decision would go to the Application Committee, who would hear the arguments on both sides and vote on the outcome.  A simple majority would be needed to pass/fail the examinee.

Using the scoring form, the individual panelists will determine if a candidate either satisfies the requirement or they are found unsatisfactory.  An unsatisfactory mark by one of the examiners doesn’t necessarily mean that the candidate failed the exam.  After careful deliberation that immediately follows the exam, all unsatisfactory marks will be discussed at length, if there is anyone who marked the same requirement as being fulfilled satisfactorily.

The form also provides several lines for comments below each area of evaluation.  This space would be used to briefly state the reason behind the panel’s decision.  This would ensure that the Academy has documentation explaining why a candidate may have been rejected. 

Following the exam:

After the examination is complete, the Chair is to collect the individual scoring sheets from the panel members, fill out the Tabulation of Exam Form and the Panel Assessment of Examination Form as well as any materials that were provided by the candidate to the panel to Academy staff at:

ACOPNE Secretary
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, VA  20191

The Academy staff will then forward this information to the Application Committee who will conduct a semi-annual assessment of the examination process in order to improve it over time.  Staff will then notify the candidate via email and letter of the examination result as well as any other appropriate materials (i.e. certificates, pins, etc).