Certification Article May Help Others Prepare

It was comforting to know I am not the only one who uses James Rooney’s method for ASQ exam preparation (“Certification Exam Tips, Trips and Traps,” October 2004, p. 41). Everything in the article held true without exception. I intend to share it with some associates who are currently preparing for ASQ certification exams.

I have been a member of ASQ since 1990 and am a certified quality technician, quality engineer and Six Sigma Black Belt.

Tyco Electronics
Greensboro, NC

Study as if Exams Are Closed Book

I thought James Rooney’s article was full of good material and was very well written. When I took the open book certified quality engineer (CQE) and reliability engineer (CRE) exams, I studied for them as if they were closed book. This saved me a lot of time because I didn’t have to look things up in my reference materials. I completed the CQE exam in three and a half hours and the CRE exam in three hours. In fact, I believe I looked at my reference materials no more than five times during both exams.

But I wonder, of the six certifications Rooney earned, which test was the toughest? Which one(s) did he fail?

Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex
Richmond, VA

Author’s Response: Thank you for your kind words about my Quality Progress article. The one exam I did not pass was the certified quality auditor exam. It was the first certification exam I ever took, and at the time, my quality auditing experience was very limited. Though I did have significant experience in auditing process safety management systems in the chemical and oil industries, my study plan was definitely ad hoc.

I read a few books on auditing that I found at a local technical library, but I did not spend any time comparing my knowledge and experience to the body of knowledge. That was the real problem. My improvement plan for the next offering of the exam was to perform that comparison. I identified my weaknesses, purchased books that covered those areas and studied accordingly.

The certified quality engineer (CQE) exam was the most difficult for me. My statistical background was adequate, but I still had to work a large number of problems to sharpen my skills. This was the second certification exam I took, and I was still developing a strategy.

Your point about studying as though the exams are closed book is an excellent one. Solving statistical problems without opening the book will really build your confidence!

ABS Consulting
Operational Risk and Performance Consulting Division
Knoxville, TN

Certifications Provide Professional Distinction

I know James Rooney from our mutual involvement with ASQ awards, and his excellent grasp of all issues related to quality management has always impressed me. Having taken a few ASQ exams myself, I can attest to the high levels of preparation required. Manually completing each practice question prior to the exam is very helpful, but the best approach is to review all sections of the body of knowledge to ensure you’ve covered all the material. It is better to be relatively familiar with the broad scope of subjects than to be an expert on a limited subset.

People interested in not only passing the tests but also becoming proficient in the areas should consider subscribing to the ASQ journals most relevant to the exam being taken. They should also consider participating in the relevant ASQ division/forum. For example, the Quality Management, Quality Audit, Software, Reliability and Biomedical Divisions/Forums all provide members with exam preparation and certification resources. There are also many resources available on the internet.

My experiences with ASQ certifications have been very positive, and the investment has paid for itself many times over. ASQ’s certifications have enabled me to teach at colleges and universities, distinguished me from my peers and helped me attain positions of leadership and responsibility.

The continuous journey of recertification promotes constructive habits that will improve anyone’s professional success. Given the positive outcomes, I think everyone should urgently commit to the opportunities provided by ASQ to achieve professional distinction.

Neoteric Technology
Vancouver, British Columbia

Quality Managers Involved in Everything

Russ Westcott’s article (“The Metamorphosis of the Quality Professional,” October 2004, p. 22) was informative, well intended and well written; however, I disagree that the roles of quality professionals will disappear within the next eight to 10 years.

I am a quality manager in a metal forming job shop registered to ISO 9001 and AS9100, and I believe the duties of the quality professional are expanding greatly. As the management representative for ISO 9001 and AS9100, I am required to develop an increasing amount of specialization, and the organization is even more dependent on me.

Considering the typical quality manager is involved in everything from contract review, design reviews, quality planning, auditing, training, nonconforming product, corrective and preventive actions, document control, management reviews, continual improvement and supervising the quality department, I do not see the quality manager’s role disappearing.

Many of our customers require final product inspection based on sampling plans, compliance certificates and process capability data to accompany each shipment. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, for example, requires two individuals from the quality department to be designated quality representatives and provide an overinspection function.

I don’t think Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, General Electric, Honeywell, Boeing, Raytheon, Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler or any other defense, automotive, nuclear or medical device manufacturer sees the role of the quality professional disappearing, either.

Colonial/Han-Dee Spring
Bristol, CT

Quality Professionals Must Admit Deficiencies

Russ Westcott’s article gave me the vision I have been searching for. I am an ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt and quality engineer with 10 years’ experience in high tech manufacturing, and I am frustrated with the basis of HR performance evaluations. This article organizes all the bits and pieces into a useful format and gives a clear direction to anyone with the same frustrations.

I have been trying to put the material from the article into a spreadsheet and use the KESAA Factors to rate my knowledge, training and expertise in all areas. My first objective is to reduce the variation between the areas.

After reading the article, my company’s HR career trainer said, “Wow! This is so right for anybody. I am going to pass it along to my colleagues who are currently working on the new performance management system.”

As with all other career planning methods or improvement strategies, the usefulness of the tool is realized only if the professional has the bones or experience to admit to his or her deficiencies. I doubt I would have been wise enough to realize the potential of this article during the first three years of my career.

The bell of negligence rang loud at the mention of quality roles being merged into other positions in the near future. Perhaps many of us are already seeing this in some form or another. My company recognizes quality management as a separate department only at the corporate level; the engineers serve the quality function at the design and process levels. These engineers recognize it, plan for it and consistently use it.

The goal of the quality professional is to work toward making his or her position unnecessary. This brings into focus the need to reinvent oneself because it is critical to both doing the job right and personal survival. The roadmap to the vision of continuous metamorphosis is what I have been missing.

Wilton, CT

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