Recently I participated in an ASQ CRE focus group with a few of our peers. The ASQ facilitator prompted each of use to answer a few questions. Then she asked each of us to contribute to a “Start, Stop, Change” exercise focused on the CRE exam.
It appears ASQ is starting another round of reviews and possible updates to the CRE Body of Knowledge and exam process. That is good.
The initial questions involved value. How do your peers perceive the value of the CRE certification? How does your employer value the CRE? And, how do you value the CRE?
The responses ranged widely.
My responses went something like this:
Peers: Those I’ve talked to about the CRE expressed it is not a good indicator of performance as a reliability engineer. The certification shows the initiative to study for and pass the exam, yet the body of knowledge mastered is not sufficient.
If the only thing a person knows and practices are within the CRE BoK, then they will certainly require additional training and development. Furthermore, the CRE BoK is out of date, thus diminishes the perceived value of the certification.
Employer: I sat for and passed the CRE exam while at HP. My boss said, “That’s nice, now what can you do to be useful?” I didn’t expect a pay raise or company recognition, yet didn’t expect it to be simply dismissed.
Working for myself for the past ten years, I find having a CRE is little more than a few letters on my resume. Most of my clients are unaware of the CRE and it’s BoK and may simply note I have some form of credential in my field. Very few ask what the CRE is or entails.
Personally: I find value in the CRE simply as I teach a CRE Preparation course for my local ASQ section. They pay me for the work. I also write for the CRE Prep blog. Both activities directly or indirectly provide value to me. I do enjoy helping others as they pursue improving their ability as a reliability engineer. The CRE is a vehicle for such improvement for many.
I find the CRE BoK out of date with current reliability engineering practice. The breadth of the BoK and supporting references does provide a reminder of the range of tools and approaches in our profession. Yet, the baseline common practice sorely needs an update.
The CRE exam and BoK lack the connection to organization goals (mission, profit, etc.). There is a bit of it in the management section, yet doesn’t expect or evaluate one’s ability to connect FMEA (for example) to the value it may or may not provide the organization. Furthermore, the BoK and exam are not applied. It’s more important to know when and why to use a specific tool, then how to accomplish a bit of algebra.
How to Improve the Exam?
The second set of questions focused on the exam itself. The basic questions were how we would recommend improving the exam.
Here the group’s responses seemed to be consistent.
Update the BoK. Without an updated BoK the exam is testing the irrelevant material.
Make it Applied: Use case studies or scenarios to evaluate the application of reliability engineering knowledge. Use an actual work product as part of the certification, similar to six sigma black belt certifications. For recertification, provide evidence of ongoing relevant project work that adds value to their organization.
Update the Exam: See the Association of Maintenance Professionals’, ReliaSoft’s, and other similar certification processes to glean best practices around the evaluation of applied knowledge. Let us use the full range of tools we use when working, including graphing calculators, the Internet, and our peers to solve problems. We don’t solve problems in a vacuum.
When I assign a project to my graduate students they are expected to use every resource they can press into service to analyze and create solutions. Proper acknowledgment is expected, yet they have to work with many resources to be successful.
Glad to see ASQ looking at the CRE and exam process. From past experience with ASQ, I know they will move cautiously. It may take some time before any change occurs.
In the meantime, if pursuing a CRE is your plan, keep in mind that the CRE is a milestone and should be done for personal satisfaction. The process of learning as a reliability engineer will continue beyond becoming certified. And, hopefully, you will become involved when given the opportunity to improve our profession and the CRE certification.