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Where to start ?
#1
Hello,

I'm new around here. I have read all the info on the IRSE website, as well as the attached documents around the site. Of course, I haven't understood everything therefore I still have some questions.

First a few words about me, perhaps this will help finding answers for my questions: I'm a 28 years old engineer from EU. I have a M.Eng degree on Intelligent Transportation Systems, with a major in rail. I have 6 years work experience with Traffic Management Systems (multi modal) and for the last 3 years (up to present) I've been working in the rail industry. My company delivers electronic interlocking solutions and I've been dealing with safety-critical software development for the signalling modules (including signalling logic/principle design).

And now the things that are unclear to me:

- what is the difference between an IRSE Member (take the Affiliate Member grade for example) and an IRSE Licence holder? I've read on the site about the requirements and steps to be followed for each one and the fact that there is an extensive examination for both of them, but from the industry point of view, what is the difference between an individual that is an IRSE Member and one that is an IRSE Licenced ?

- what is the exact purpose of the IRSE Exam, what is the outcome of passing the IRSE Exam (M1+another 3 modules) On the site it is stated that in order to be accepted as a IRSE Member with the grade of Affiliate Member, you must pass the Exam. But on the other hand, you must be an IRSE Member to enter the exam. So the exam is required in order to be accepted as an IRSE Member with a certain grade? Or the exam is something independent of the IRSE Member status?

- the first step is to become an IRSE Member, in order to be able to apply for the exam. To become a member, you must submit the application form for the grade best suited for you. But I see that for all grades (including Affiliate) you need to be recommended by two IRSE Members. So, in other words, IRSE Membership application is only available to those individuals that are recommended by existing IRSE Members? What if I don't know any IRSE Members that can recommend me?

- what is the deadline to apply for membership (step required in order to apply for the IRSE exam) ? On the IRSE website it says 28/02/2014, but here on the forum it says end of January

- the IRSE Exam is held in October each year. You can take examination for a maximum of 4 modules in one exam session. You need to pass 4 modules to pass the exam. But you must pass all modules in a single session or, for example, you can take 2 modules in Oct. 2014 and another 2 in Oct, 2015 and still count as a passed exam?

- in the IRSE Exam equivalents guide it is stated that the IRSE Exam is equivalent (and therefore not mandatory) with "an academic qualification to degree level in railway signalling or railway telecommunications engineering from a recognised UK or overseas university or training college". How can I find out if my university is recognised and if my B.Eng and M.Eng majors are valid?

- in the "Membership routes" guide, for the Associate Member grade, it says that I need primary technical calification in the shape of two years post-graduate studies, three years of practical experience and to have currently a Responsible Experience position (as defined in the document). Question: how can I decide if I meet these conditions or not? How can I be evaluated, because there are no detailed informations on the site on how exactly these requirements are assessed (i.e. if my post-graduate studies are accepted, if my experience qualifies for 3years practical and if my current position is accepted as Responsible Experience)?

- IRSE Member and IRSE Exam have different rates? For example, to take this year's exam in order to obtain Associate Member grade, that would be 91 for the member status and 58*4 for the exam with 4 modules, which makes a total of 323£ ?

Thanks in advance for your time and answers.
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#2
To answer questions in turn:

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - what is the difference between an IRSE Member (take the Affiliate Member grade for example) and an IRSE Licence holder?


Licence holder means that you can undertake a specific job role. such as Designer, Principles Designer, Design Manager, Functional Tester, Principles Tester, Tester-in-Charge etc. Network Rail basically make holding a relevant an IRSE a pre-requisite for working on their infrastructure.

IRSE Member (with capital M- corporate membership MIRSE) is more of a refelction of professional standing within the industry- it is not job related. It is one of several indicators that an employer may care to take notice of when recruiting for a position within their organisation.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: I've read ....that there is an extensive examination for both of them, but from the industry point of view, what is the difference between an individual that is an IRSE Member and one that is an IRSE Licenced ?

No examination for a licence; however you do have a Workplace Assessment followed by a Competence Assesment. Depending on the exact licence, the WA may be mainly observation of you undertaking the activity (e.g. installation), but may be largely the inspection of work you have done (design). However there will generally be some aural questioning to probe your underpining knowledge- so perhaps of a verbal examination. Similarly the CA will be looking at your evidence portfolio and will be doing some questioning etc to satisfy themselves and provide additional evidence.

For MIRSE, one of the routes is via the IRSE Exam. Indeed it is the preferred route and is one that can get you that status at a younger age / with less years of experience than would otherwise be the case.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - what is the exact purpose of the IRSE Exam, what is the outcome of passing the IRSE Exam (M1+another 3 modules) On the site it is stated that in order to be accepted as a IRSE Member with the grade of Affiliate Member, you must pass the Exam. But on the other hand, you must be an IRSE Member to enter the exam. So the exam is required in order to be accepted as an IRSE Member with a certain grade? Or the exam is something independent of the IRSE Member status?

You must be paying the IRSE a membership (small m) subscription to be eligible to sit the exam- hence for example you may have Student membership. This permits you to partake of IRSE visits, lectures, receive IRSE News magasine etc.
When you have passed a set of four relevant Exam modules AND you have a period within of Responsible Experience in your job role, then you can apply for full corporate Membership (llrge M). This is what entitles you to vote, use the letters MIRSE as a post nominal etc.

There are ways to become MIRSE without the exam (perhaps best used by more senior engineers from outside the UK who have already achieved a standing in the industry before joining the IRSE as an organisation), so there isn't a complete linkage, but the IRSE Exam is on the major route to obtain MIRSE.
So what is the purpose of the Exam? Depends how you look at it,- either invaluable or a waste of time! Not 100 per cent essential; not having done it does not prevent you from being able to do anything. On the other hand, having passed the exam does mark you out as having a broad knowledge in areas of the profession which lie outside your day job. Hence it should be a means by which you can demonstrate that you have earned the right to be listened to- that you are beginning to become an "all round" signal engineer rather than just a specialist in one small niche of the industry. Actually the value of the IRSE Exam is the learning that you do and experience you assimilate whilst preparing for it, rather more than the piece of paper to frame and put on the wall.


(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: to become a member, you must submit the application form for the grade best suited for you. But I see that for all grades (including Affiliate) you need to be recommended by two IRSE Members. So, in other words, IRSE Membership application is only available to those individuals that are recommended by existing IRSE Members? What if I don't know any IRSE Members that can recommend me?

It isn't in reality a problem for Student membership. Bring a form to an IRSE event, particularly a Younger Member one (the exam review on 7th Feb would be one for example). The fact you turned up for the event would be all I would need to sign; actually bring a photocopy and the original of any degree certificate etc because probably the most important initial is the one certifying that the photocopy is of the original certificate. In the past I have signed the application form for someone who was in Turkey and I got the IRSE Chief Executive to place the other signature.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - what is the deadline to apply for membership (step required in order to apply for the IRSE exam) ? On the IRSE website it says 28/02/2014, but here on the forum it says end of January

The "deadline" is a little flexible; the important thing is that there is time to progress your application then present it for the formality of the Membership Committee which meets only occasionally and then have time to be ratified. In truth, some applications which are a bit late can often be squeezed through, but IRSE do not commit to do this and each year they decide (from the timing of all the various meetings) what is the date to quote. Since it does vary, the advice on the IRSE Forum is deliberately pessimistic by saying that if you get it in by end of Jan then you'll be ok in any year, but the actual date is always later than this by 3-6 weeks depending on circumstances. So the answer this year is 28th Feb (and in practice even if you miss this a bit then you may well still be lucky but no guarantees.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - the IRSE Exam is held in October each year. You can take examination for a maximum of 4 modules in one exam session. You need to pass 4 modules to pass the exam. But you must pass all modules in a single session or, for example, you can take 2 modules in Oct. 2014 and another 2 in Oct, 2015 and still count as a passed exam?

Yes you can take any number (0-4) in any one year; once you have gained a module then you have it and can use it to make a complete set after any number of years. Actually for most people I would advise no more than 2 modules per year.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - in the IRSE Exam equivalents guide it is stated that the IRSE Exam is equivalent (and therefore not mandatory) with "an academic qualification to degree level in railway signalling or railway telecommunications engineering from a recognised UK or overseas university or training college". How can I find out if my university is recognised and if my B.Eng and M.Eng majors are valid?

Give details of your university degree syllabus to the IRSE. For example I think that if your degree is exclusively Telecomms then it is not difficult to get ann exemption from module 4, but this isn't usually granted where the degree is more general electronics degree with Telecomms content. I am not aware that dspensation has been given for any of the Signalling modules but that may be because historically in the UK that there have not been dedicated industry courses. Certainly the Central Queensland University open learning course is regarded as equivalent to an IRSE Exam pass. It isn't worth trying if your degree is general Electrical / Electronic / Mechanical / Computer Sceience etc.; it has to be very specifically relevant. However from what little I know from what you have stated, then in your case it may be worth a try. Don't think that you have anything to lose so I suggest you apply to Christine White at the IRSE and be patient whilst they evaluate and consider.


(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: - in the "Membership routes" guide, for the Associate Member grade, it says that I need primary technical qualification in the shape of two years post-graduate studies, three years of practical experience and to have currently a Responsible Experience position (as defined in the document). Question: how can I decide if I meet these conditions or not? How can I be evaluated, because there are no detailed informations on the site on how exactly these requirements are assessed (i.e. if my post-graduate studies are accepted, if my experience qualifies for 3years practical and if my current position is accepted as Responsible Experience)?

I am not sure on this one. Based purely on your age and the length of time that you have been in the industry, I personally doubt whether you'd be able to demonstrate the required Responsible Experience yet. This does not mean that it is not valuable formative experience in railway signal engineering. Broadly though for MIRSE you have to demonstrate that you are doing more than following existing process, but innovating, leading a team etc.

(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: IRSE Member and IRSE Exam have different rates? For example, to take this year's exam in order to obtain Associate Member grade, that would be 91 for the member status and 58*4 for the exam with 4 modules, which makes a total of 323£ ?

The subscriptions do differ a bit for the various membership grades, but not hugely. It is noticeably cheaper if you opt for emembership at a certain grade- by foregoing printed matter then there is a saving to be made.

The exam is something separate and yes the bill for 4 modules does add up to a significant sum. A good reason for not sitting any module until you judge that you have a pretty good chance of passing it. Whereas it may look pricy from the UK, spare a thought for those from India etc where in local currency terms the subscriptions and exam fees seem extremely large.



(13-01-2014, 01:36 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: Thanks in advance for your time and answers.

Hope this has helped. Feel free to ask further if still unclear
[/quote]
PJW
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#3
PJW, thanks for your detailed answers. It is all a bit more clear to me now. I also came to the conclusion that it is best for me if I attempt the IRSE Exam way instead of the equivalents way. This way I can both refresh my knowledge and improve those areas which are not (anymore) up to the standard. I took a look on the sample papers from past years for the modules that are in my knowledge area (M1,2,3,5,7) and while I can not say that they are easy, they are accessible to me, given the proper study/preparation time.

Right now, the biggest bottleneck on my way is the recommendation of two IRSE members that I need on the member application form. So to sit at the exam, I first must be a paid member, and to be a member I must submit the application form by 28th February, and to submit the form, I need the two "approvals" from two IRSE members.

Can you give me some advice on how I could get the required recommendations and if there is any chance I could get them in time for this year, that is by the application form deadline? Since I don't live in the UK, and I did not find any useful info on the forum in the study group meetings section... The only good thing that comes in my mind is that I will be in London 02nd-10th February (personal holiday) and if there would be any IRSE/study group meeting in London those days I would be more than willing to join, but i found no such info on the forum...

Thanks in advance
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#4
At the IMEchE in Birdcage Walk, approx 5 minutes walking from either of Westminster or St James' Park underground stations on this coming Thursday there is the IRSE Exam Review.
Mind you it looks as if there may be no Underground trains actually running on that day- latest info on the potential strike from TfL is:
If the strikes go ahead, Tube services will be affected from:
• About 21:30 on Tuesday 4 February until the morning of Friday 7 February
• About 21:30 on Tuesday 11 February until the morning of Friday 14 February

Hence it may well be the need to squeeze onto a bus or walk (which may be quicker!). Personally I may decide to walk across Hyde Park from Paddington to get there and then walk across Westminster Bridge afterwards to catch the slow train from Waterloo back home!

Bring your form and you can get it signed by two members and deposit it with the IRSE in one easy visit. If you have a degree certificate or similar, bring both that and a photocopy so that someone can sign the photocopy to verify that it is a true copy and then that can support your application.

Details of this event are indeed referenced from this Forum.
http://irseexam.co.uk/thread-1437-post-4...ml#pid4563
You should, particularly if you want to attend the afternoon seminar as well as the evening Exam session, get in touch with the YM organisers as per the flyer instructions to register via email- it is only polite but I doubt you'd be turned away if you don't.


That would be the best- failing that don't worry there are other ways. You don't say in which country you currently live to be able to make a suggestion for some one local, but there are other ways as well.

As it happens I'll be in the Euston station area around 18:00 on Monday 3rd Feb before having a meal with another IRSE Member- if you were able be there then I am sure I can persuade her to put her signature on the form alongside mine (she'll no doubt want my vote at the forthcoming election for IRSE Council!)


(30-01-2014, 07:43 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: PJW, thanks for your detailed answers. It is all a bit more clear to me now. I also came to the conclusion that it is best for me if I attempt the IRSE Exam way instead of the equivalents way. This way I can both refresh my knowledge and improve those areas which are not (anymore) up to the standard. I took a look on the sample papers from past years for the modules that are in my knowledge area (M1,2,3,5,7) and while I can not say that they are easy, they are accessible to me, given the proper study/preparation time.

Right now, the biggest bottleneck on my way is the recommendation of two IRSE members that I need on the member application form. So to sit at the exam, I first must be a paid member, and to be a member I must submit the application form by 28th February, and to submit the form, I need the two "approvals" from two IRSE members.

Can you give me some advice on how I could get the required recommendations and if there is any chance I could get them in time for this year, that is by the application form deadline? Since I don't live in the UK, and I did not find any useful info on the forum in the study group meetings section... The only good thing that comes in my mind is that I will be in London 02nd-10th February (personal holiday) and if there would be any IRSE/study group meeting in London those days I would be more than willing to join, but i found no such info on the forum...

Thanks in advance
PJW
Reply
#5
Thanks a lot PJW, that is indeed awesome. I should be able to make it for the AGM on February the 6th. I don't think I will be able to sit in all day (that is including the 2013 Exam review starting at 17:30) but anyway I will send an email to the given addres in the leaflet to checkin my attendance. Moreover I am happy about the opportunity to meet on Feb 3rd; i'll do my best to be there also. I'll get back to you for meeting details on PM.

As for the application form, first i'm from Romania, since you asked. And I will need to bring the application form filled and printed, right? And also diploma/certificates as original document and photocopy and...since they are not in english i'm guessing I should also provide an authorised translation to english, right? Will I need any other papers/documents for my application? (trying to build my checklist here)
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#6
Yes I can see that finding a couple of MIRSE in Romania may be difficult task!

I'll send you my mobile number and details re meeting via PM.
The application form can be filled in by hand or typed as convenient.
I am trying to recall but I think when I signed an application form for someone from Turkey that their certificate was actually bi-lingual. Certainly an authorised translation would be helpful but from my (imperfect) knowledge of the rules, this is not an absolute requirement and one could then argue that it is the IRSE's problem. I do have the contact details of someone who works for LU (and might just be attending the YM AGM and seminar- you never know) who may well be able to translate. Fortunately the IRSE is a small enough organisation that it tends to be able to be a little flexible with its rules when it is sensible to be so; hence do not worry unduly re the translation. The important thing is to lodge your form- if they need to come back to you later to get some other confirmation then so be it. In the case of the Turkish applicant for example I remember making email contact with the university just to satisfy myself re authenticity and scope.

(31-01-2014, 02:51 PM)viperfx15 Wrote: Thanks a lot PJW, that is indeed awesome. I should be able to make it for the AGM on February the 6th. I don't think I will be able to sit in all day (that is including the 2013 Exam review starting at 17:30) but anyway I will send an email to the given addres in the leaflet to checkin my attendance. Moreover I am happy about the opportunity to meet on Feb 3rd; i'll do my best to be there also. I'll get back to you for meeting details on PM.

As for the application form, first i'm from Romania, since you asked. And I will need to bring the application form filled and printed, right? And also diploma/certificates as original document and photocopy and...since they are not in english i'm guessing I should also provide an authorised translation to english, right? Will I need any other papers/documents for my application? (trying to build my checklist here)
PJW
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