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Encyclopedia > Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ( www.abet.org ) is a non-profit organization that serves the public by accrediting United States postsecondary degree programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. Accreditation assures the quality of these programs. There are over 2,700 programs accredited at over 550 colleges and universities in the U.S. A nonprofit organization (abbreviated NPO, or non-profit or not-for-profit) is an organization whose primary objective is to support an issue or matter of private interest or public concern for non-commercial purposes. ... Public is of or pertaining to the people; belonging to the people; relating to, or affecting, a nation, state, or community; opposed to private; as, the public treasury, a road or lake. ... Accreditation is a process by which a facilitys services and operations are examined by a third-party accrediting agency to determine if applicable standards are met. ...

Contents

Overview

ABET, Inc., is the recognized U.S. accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. ABET was established in 1932 and is now a federation of 28 professional and technical societies representing the fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and technology.


ABET also provides leadership internationally through workshops, consultancies, memoranda of understanding, and mutual recognition agreements, such as the Washington Accord.


ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


The ABET Accreditation Process

Accreditation is a voluntary process on the part of an institution. The first step is that an institution requests an evaluation of its program(s). (Only programs that have produced at least one graduate are eligible for accreditation.) Each program then conducts an internal evaluation and completes a self-study questionnaire. The self-study documents whether students, curriculum, faculty, administration, facilities, and institutional support meet the established criteria.


While the program conducts its self-examination, the appropriate ABET commission (Applied Science, Computing, Engineering, or Technology Commission) forms an evaluation team to visit the campus. A team chair and one or more program evaluators make up the evaluation team. Team members are volunteers from academe, government, and industry, as well as private practice.


During the on-campus visit, the evaluation team reviews course materials, student projects, and sample assignments and interviews students, faculty, and administrators. The team investigates whether the criteria are met and tackles any questions raised by the self-study.


Following its campus visit, the team provides the school with a written report of the evaluation. This allows the program to correct any misrepresentations or errors of fact, as well as address any shortcomings in a timely manner.


At a large annual meeting of all ABET commission members, the final evaluation report is presented by the evaluation team, along with its recommended accreditation action. Based on the findings of the report, the commission members vote on the action, and the school is notified of the decision. The information the school receives identifies strengths, concerns, weaknesses, deficiencies, and recommendations to come into compliance with ABET criteria. Accreditation is granted for a maximum of six years. To renew accreditation, the institution must request another evaluation.


ABET specifies minimum curricula for various engineering programs. For instance, ABET requires that all engineering graduates of a baccalaureate program receive at least one year of study in the natural or physical sciences and mathematics, and requires some study within general education. ABET also requires that each student complete a capstone project or design class in their education. Because of ABET's involvement, engineering curricula are somewhat standardized at the bachelor's level, thus ensuring that graduates of any ABET-accredited program have some minimal skillset for entry into the workforce or for future education.


To become a licensed professional engineer, one common prerequisite is a degree from an ABET-accredited institution. The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ...


Criticism

ABET instructions are frequently changed and tend to be ambiguous (many programs hire outside consultants for clarification). Here are several examples:


• The difference between educational objectives and outcomes is not clearly defined - many departments adopted as Program Educational Objectives directly affect the ABET outcomes;


• A description of recommended assessment tools departments should consider adopting is lacking;


• Outcome (i) "a recognition of the need for, and the ability to engage in life-long learning" is vague and difficult to assess. ABET should be more concerned with students being capable to perform intellectual work without close guidance;


• Representatives of ABET disagree whether outcome (j) "a knowledge of contemporary issues," refers to contemporary issues within the field of engineering, or contemporary issues in general;


• ABET evaluators appear oblivious to the fact that course evaluations are the main assessment tools used internally by universities. They should at least ask how they are administered and what the questions are; A course evaluation is a paper or electronic questionnaire, which requires a written or selected response answer to a series of questions in order to evaluate the instruction of a given course. ...


• The discussion about ethical responsibility should begin with inquiring on how academic dishonesty and grade inflation are handled by colleges. Academic dishonesty is a form of cheating that occurs within an educational setting, usually committed by students. ... Grade inflation is an issue in U.S. education and in GCSEs in England and Wales. ...


• There is only a vague explanation of what materials course folders should include, and in what order.


• ABET arbitrarily discontinued ECEI accreditation services for engineers attending unaccredited foreign schools in October 2006, and promised to fulfill accreditations already in progress. They appear to be reneging on that promise.


External links

  • abet.org - official site.
  • Washington Accord - Mutual Accreditation Recognition Agreements

On ECEI's website, it states "As of October 30, 2006, ECEI stopped accepting applications for credentials evaluation of your credentials." "Applicants who have applied to ECEI prior to October 30, 2006 may check the status of their application through this link...." As per these statements, ECEI is responsible to full its obligations to applicants who have applied before October 30, 2006. ECEI's website is no longer active. However, there are records where ECEI's promise can be verified. ECEI may not be able to renege on its obligations to complete evaluations of applications received prior to its phasing out date.


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