The Accreditation for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is recognised in the United States as the sole agency responsible for accreditation of educational programs leading to degrees in engineering. The first statement of the Engineers Council for Professional Development (ECPD, now ABET) relating to accreditation of engineering educational programs was proposed by the Committee on Engineering Schools and approved by the Council in 1933. The original statement, with subsequent amendments, was the basis for accreditation until 2000. The statement presented here is required of programs beginning in 2001.

Engineering education programs may be accredited at the basic or the advanced level; however, a program may be accredited at only one level in a particular curriculum at a particular institution. All accredited engineering programs must include "engineering" in the program title (An exception has been granted for programs accredited prior to 1984 under the title of Naval Architecture). To be considered for accreditation, engineering programs must prepare graduates for the practice of engineering at a professional level.

I. Objectives of Accreditation

The ABET accreditation process is a voluntary system of accreditation that

  1. assures that graduates of an accredited program are prepared adequately to enter and continue the practice of engineering
  2. stimulates the improvement of engineering education
  3. encourages new and innovative approaches to engineering education
  4. identifies these programs to the public.

II. Basic Level Accreditation Criteria

It is the responsibility of the institution seeking accreditation of an engineering program to demonstrate clearly that the program meets the following criteria.

Criterion 1. Students

The quality and performance of the students and graduates is an important consideration in the evaluation of an engineering program. The institution must evaluate, advise, and monitor students to determine its success in meeting program objectives.

Criterion 2. Program Educational Objectives

Each engineering program for which an institution seeks accreditation or reaccreditation must have in place

  1. detailed published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution and these criteria
  2. a process based on the needs of the program s various constituencies in which the objectives are determined and periodically evaluated
  3. a curriculum and process that ensures the achievement of these objectives
  4. a system of ongoing evaluation that demonstrates achievement of these objectives and uses the results to improve the effectiveness of the program.

Criterion 3. Program Outcomes and Assessment

Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyse and interpret data
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs
  4. an ability for function on multidisciplinary teams
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  7. an ability to communicate effectively
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

Each program must have an assessment process with documented results. Evidence must be given that the results are applied to the further development and improvement of the program. The assessment process must demonstrate that the outcomes important to the mission of the institution and the objectives of the program, including those listed above, are being measured. Evidence that may be used includes, but is not limited to the following: student portfolios, including design projects; nationally-normed subject content examinations; alumni surveys that document professional accomplishments and career development activities; employer surveys; and placement data of graduates.

The institution must have and enforce policies for the acceptance of transfer students and for the validation of credit courses taken elsewhere. The institution must also have and enforce procedures to assure that all students meet all program requirements.

Criterion 4. Professional Component

The Professional Component requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The engineering faculty must assure that the program curriculum devotes adequate attention and time to each component, consistent with the objectives of the program and institution. Students must be prepared for engineering practice through the curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on

the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier coursework and incorporating engineering standards and realistic constraints that include most of the following considerations: economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; social; and political. The professional component must include

  1. one year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the discipline
  2. one and one-half years of engineering topics, to include engineering sciences and engineering design appropriate to the student s field of study
  3. a general education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program and institution objectives.

Criterion 5. Faculty

The faculty is the heart of any educational program. The faculty must be of sufficient number; and must have the competencies to cover all of the curricular areas of the program. There must be sufficient faculty to accommodate adequate levels of student-faculty interaction, student advising and counselling, university service activities, professional development, and interactions with industrial and professional practitioners, as well as employers of students.

The faculty must have sufficient qualifications and must ensure the proper guidance of the program and its evaluation and development. the overall competence of the faculty may be judged by such factors as education, diversity of backgrounds, engineering experience, teaching experience, ability to communicate, enthusiasm for developing more effective programs, level of scholarship, participation in professional societies, and registration as Professional Engineers.

Criterion 6. Facilities

Classrooms, laboratories, and associated equipment must be adequate to accomplish the program objectives and provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. Appropriate facilities must be available to foster faculty-student interaction and to create a climate that encourages professional development and professional activities. Program must provide opportunities for students to learn the use of modern engineering tools. Computing and information infrastructures must be in place to support the scholarly activities of the students and faculty and the educational objectives of the institution.

Criterion 7. Institutional Support and Financial Resources

Institutional support, financial resources, and constructive leadership must be adequate to assure the quality and continuity of the engineering program. Resources must be sufficient to attract, retain, and provide for the continued professional development of a well-qualified faculty. Resources also must be sufficient to acquire, maintain, and operate facilities and equipment appropriate for the engineering program. In addition, support personnel and institutional services must be adequate to meet program needs.

Criterion 8. Program Criteria

Each program must satisfy applicable Program Criteria. Program Criteria provide the specificity needed for interpretation of the basic level criteria as applicable to a given discipline. Requirements stipulated in the Program Criteria are limited to the areas of curricular topics and faculty qualifications. If a program, by virtue of its title, becomes subject to two or more sets of Program Criteria, then that program must satisfy each set of Program Criteria; however, overlapping requirements need to be satisfied only once.

III. Co-operative Education Criteria

Should the program include as a part of the professional component a co-operative work element, this element of the program may be examined as a separate entity and reported as part of the accreditation action.

IV. General Advanced Level Programs

Criteria for advanced level program are the same as for basic level programs with the following additions: one year of study beyond the basic level and an engineering project or research activity resulting in a report that demonstrates both mastery of the subject matter and a high level of communication skills.

PROPOSED Civil Engineering Program Criteria 2000

These program criteria apply to engineering programs including civil and similar modifiers in their titles.

  1. Faculty
  2. The program must demonstrate that faculty teaching courses that are primarily design in content are qualified to teach the subject matter by virtue of professional licensure, or by education and design experience. The program must not be critically dependent on one individual.

  3. Curriculum
  4. Graduates of the program must demonstrate a proficiency in mathematics through differential equations, probability and statistics, calculus-based physics, and general chemistry.

    Graduates of the program must demonstrate a proficiency in a minimum of four (4) recognised major civil engineering areas.

    Graduates of the program must demonstrate an ability to conduct laboratory experiments and to critically analyse and interpret data in more than one of the recognised major civil engineering areas.

    Graduates of the program must demonstrate an understanding of professional practice issues.

    Graduates of the program must demonstrate an ability to perform civil engineering design by means of design experiences integrated throughout the professional component of the curriculum.

Engineering Criteria 2000 will be published in January 1998 for a three-year phased implementation beginning in the 1998-99 accreditation cycle. During the three years (1998-99 through 2000-1), institutions may elect to have their programs evaluated under the current criteria or under Engineering Criteria 2000. When an institution elects Engineering Criteria 2000, all programs will be reviewed under Engineering Criteria 2000.

(This information has been based on material kindly provided by Dr.Michael Kupferman of the American Society of Civil Engineers - ASCE)

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