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Introduction to ABET Accreditation. Michael K. J. Milligan, Ph.D., P.E . Executive Director, ABET October 15 th , 2012. Topics. Who is ABET? ABET’s Global Activities Basics of ABET Accreditation Criteria: The Guiding Principles of Accreditation Decisions Continuous Quality Improvement

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introduction to abet accreditation

Introduction to ABET Accreditation

Michael K. J. Milligan, Ph.D., P.E.

Executive Director, ABET

October 15th, 2012

  • Who is ABET?
  • ABET’s Global Activities
  • Basics of ABET Accreditation
  • Criteria: The Guiding Principles of Accreditation Decisions
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Future Challenges

Who is ABET?

ABET Essentials

brief abet history
Brief ABET History

1932Engineers Council for Professional Development (ECPD) established

1936ECPD first evaluated engineering degree programs

1980 Name changed to “Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology” (ABET)

1980 Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) signed with Canada (1st international agreement)

1989Washington Accord Agreement signed with Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand

1994Policies and Procedures for Substantial Equivalency evaluations (evaluations outside the US) approved

1995-2000Major criteria reform (Engineering Criteria 2000)

2006Substantial Equivalency discontinued

2007 Accreditation of Programs outside the US began

2011 IFEES, GEDC Membership

abet vision
ABET Vision

Provide world leadershipin assuring quality and instimulating innovation in

  • Applied Science
  • Computing
  • Engineering, and
  • Engineering Technology


abet mission
ABET Mission

ABET serves the public globally through the promotion and advancement of education in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology.

  • Accredits educational programs.
  • Promotes quality and innovation in education.
  • Communicates and collaborates with its constituents and the public.
  • Consults and assists in the development and advancement of education worldwide.
  • Anticipates and prepares for the changing educational environment and the future needs of its constituents.
  • Manages its operations and resources in an effective and fiscally responsible manner.
value of abet accreditation
Value of ABET Accreditation
  • ABET accredited programs recognized globally
    • Commitment to quality education
  • Outcomes based approach
    • “What is learned” vs “What is taught”
  • Emphasis on Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Criteria encourages innovation
abet value students parents
ABET Value Students & Parents
  • Helps students select quality programs
  • Shows institution is committed to improving the educational experience
  • Helps students prepare to enter “the profession”
  • Enhances employment opportunities
  • Establishes eligibility for financial aid and scholarships
abet value institutions
ABET ValueInstitutions
  • “Third party” confirmation of quality of programs
  • Prestige, recognition by “the profession”
  • Attract the strongest students
  • Acceptability of transfer credits
  • Some external funding depends on accreditation status
abet value faculty
ABET ValueFaculty
  • Encourages “best practices” in education
  • Structured mechanisms for self-improvement
  • Institution is serious and committed to improving quality
    • Facilities, financial resources, training, etc.
abet value industry
ABET ValueIndustry
  • Ensures educational requirements to enter “the profession” are met
  • Aids industry in recruiting
    • Ensures “baseline” of educational experience
  • Enhances mobility
  • Opportunity to help guide the educational process
    • Program’s Industrial Advisory Groups
    • Professional, technical societies
abet value society
ABET Value Society
  • Helps ensure public safety
    • Supports professional licensure, certification
    • Graduates are ready for the profession
  • Engages multiple constituents
    • Academe, industry, public
  • Identifies programs for investment of public and private funds
  • Some assurance to taxpayers
    • Funds for higher education are appropriately spent

ABET is a Program AccreditorAlso called “Specialized” Accreditor

  • Evaluates programs
    • Not Institutions
    • Not degrees, diplomas, courses
  • Relevant, technically strong
    • Professional skills
    • Graduates ready to enter “the profession”
  • AS, BS, MS levels
  • Peer review process
  • Recognized by CHEA in U.S.
member societies
Member Societies
  • Represent “the Profession”
    • Over 1.5 million individual members
  • Develop Program Criteria
  • Appoint Board Representatives
  • Nominate Commissioners
  • Recruit and Assign Program Evaluators
abet a leader in assessment educational research professional development
ABET: a Leader in Assessment Educational Research, Professional Development
  • Educational Research
    • Assessment methods; measuring professional skills
      • Partners with faculty and industry
  • Professional Development
    • Institute for the Development of Excellence in Assessment (IDEAL)
    • Program Assessment Workshop
    • Webinars
  • ABET Symposium
    • 4 Tracks; example Self-Studies
      • Accreditation, Program Assessment, Innovations in Technical Education, and Program Evaluation Updates
abet organizational structure volunteer driven 2 000 volunteers
ABET Organizational StructureVolunteer-Driven: 2,000+ Volunteers
  • Board of Directors
    • Nominated by member societies
    • Provide strategic direction and plans
    • Decide policy and procedures
    • Approve criteria
  • 4 Commissions
    • Make decisions on accreditation status
    • Implement accreditation policies
    • Propose changes to criteria
  • Program Evaluators
    • Visit campuses
    • Evaluate individual programs
    • Make initial accreditation recommendations
    • “Face of ABET”

100% of accreditation decisions are made by volunteers

ABET Headquarters (Baltimore): ~38 full, part time staff

abet organizational structure

Computing Accreditation Commission

Engineering Accreditation Commission

Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission

Applied Science Accreditation Commission

633 accredited

programs at 213 institutions

381 accredited programs at 299 institutions

2,209 accredited programs at 456 institutions

71 accredited programs at 54 institutions

ABET Organizational Structure




Board of Directors

Industry AdvisoryCouncil

Academic AdvisoryCouncil

Global Council

abet board of directors
ABET Board of Directors
  • 5 Officers
    • President, Pres-Elect, Past Pres, Secretary, Treasurer
      • 1-year terms, except for Treasurer who serves for 2 years
  • 39 Directors
    • 1 to 3 Directors from each member society
    • 3-year term, renewable for additional term
  • 5 Public Directors
    • Right to vote; no affiliation with member societies
    • 3-year term, renewable for additional term
  • 2 Associate Member Representatives
    • Privilege of the floor, but no vote
abet is engaged globally consistent with abet s mission vision
ABET is Engaged GloballyConsistent with ABET’s Mission & Vision
  • Accredit Programs outside the U.S.
  • Assistance: MOUs with 15 national agencies
  • Mutual Recognition Agreements
    • Engineers Canada
    • International Engineering Alliance (IEA)
    • Seoul Accord
  • Membership in Global Organizations
    • Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC)
    • Intl Federation of Engr Education Societies (IFEES)
global accreditation activities as of 1 oct 2012
Global Accreditation ActivitiesAs of 1 Oct 2012
  • Accredited 3,205 programs at 659 colleges & universities in 24 countries
  • Non-U.S. Programs
    • Accredited 324programs at 64institutions in 23 countries
    • Uniform accreditation criteria, policies and procedures used for all visits, regardless of location
mutual recognition agreements
Mutual Recognition Agreements
  • International agreement
    • Between bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programs
  • Recognizes “substantial equivalency”
    • of accrediting systems
  • Graduates of accredited programs are prepared to practice engineering at the entry level to the profession
international engineering alliance
International Engineering Alliance
  • Washington Accord*
    • Engineering
  • Sydney Accord*
    • Engineering Technology
  • Dublin Accord**
    • Engineering Technician
  • APEC Engineer Agreement
    • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
  • Engineers Mobility Forum
    • Professional Engineers Register
  • Engineering Technologist Forum

* Full signatory; **provisional membership

washington accord engineering
Washington AccordEngineering
  • ABET: U.S. (1989)
  • IEAust: Australia (1989)
  • CEAB: Canada (1989)
  • IEI: Ireland (1989)
  • IPENZ: New Zealand (1989)
  • EngC: UK (1989)
  • HKIE: Hong Kong (1995)
  • ECSA: South Africa (1999)
  • JABEE: Japan (2005)
  • IES: Singapore (2006)
  • IEET:Chinese Taipei (2007)
  • ABEEK: South Korea (2007)
  • BEM: Malaysia (2009)
  • MUDEK: Turkey (2011)
  • AEER: Russia (2012)
mutual recognition agreements washington accord
Mutual Recognition AgreementsWashington Accord
  • Periodic review of assessment processes
    • Every 6th year
    • Self study + observer teams
      • Campus evaluations, decision meetings
  • Signatories’ website lists programs
  • Graduate attributes
washington accord global graduate attributes
Washington AccordGlobal Graduate Attributes
  • Engineering Knowledge
  • Problem Analysis
  • Design/Development of Solutions
  • Investigation & Experimentation
  • Modern Tool Usage
  • The Engineer and Society
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Ethics
  • Individual and Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Project Management and Finance
  • Lifelong Learning
mutual recognition agreemen ts sydney accord engineering technologist
Mutual Recognition AgreementsSydney Accord (Engineering Technologist)
  • Sydney Accord
    • Australia - IEAust
    • Canada - CEAB
    • Hong Kong China - HKIE
    • Ireland - IEI
    • New Zealand - IPENZ
    • South Africa - ECSA
    • United Kingdom - EngC
    • United States – ABET
generally accepted accreditation principles
Generally Accepted Accreditation Principles
  • Accreditation is Voluntary
  • Non-governmental organization
  • Fair and impartial peer review process
  • Requires self-assessment by the program/school
  • Continuous process (reviewed every n years)
  • Failure of single criterion results in loss of accreditation
    • Deficiencies in one area CANNOT be compensated by strengths in other areas
what programs does abet accredit
What Programs does ABET Accredit?
  • Academic program leading to a specific degree in a specific discipline
    • Assigned Commission depends on program name
  • Applied Sciences (ASAC): AS, BS, MS
    • Examples: Health Physics, Industrial Hygiene, Industrial & Quality Management, Safety Sciences, Surveying and Mapping
  • Computing (CAC): BS
    • Comp Science, Info Systems, Info Technology
  • Engineering (EAC): BS, MS
  • Engineering Technology (ETAC): AS, BS
abet accreditation process what does it involve
ABET Accreditation Process What Does It Involve?
  • Criteria developed by member societies, practitioners, and educators
  • Self-Study report by the institution and program
  • On-site evaluation by peers
    • from education, government, and industry
  • Publication of lists of accredited programs
  • Periodic re-evaluation (maximum 6 years)
abet accreditation process objectives
ABET Accreditation Process Objectives
  • Assure that graduates of an accredited program are adequately prepared to enter and continue the practice of applied science, computing, engineering, and technology
  • Stimulate the improvement of technical education
  • Encourage new and innovative approaches to engineering education and its assessment
basic requirements
Basic Requirements
  • Programs must have graduates
    • Institution must asses entire program
  • Appropriate institutional accreditation or governmental approval
    • U.S. Department of Education, or
    • Regional accreditation agency, or
    • National accreditation agency, or
    • State authority
    • Outside the U.S.A.
      • Appropriate entity that authorizes/approves the offering of educational programs (e.g., CONEAU)
abet accreditation process peer review
ABET Accreditation Process Peer Review
  • Programs prepare Self-Study for evaluation team
    • Documents how the program meets criteria
  • Program review conducted by team of peer colleagues
    • Faculty, industry and government professionals, and administrators in the profession.
    • Review the Self-Study and conduct the site visit
  • ABET Program Evaluators (PEVs)
    • Approximately 2,200 faculty, industry, and government representatives (from ABET member societies)
review team membership
Review TeamMembership
  • One Team Chair
    • For large teams: Team Chair and Co-Chair
  • Typically one Program Evaluator for each program being evaluated
    • Minimum of 3 team members for single program
  • Possibly one or more observers
    • International partners, US State licensing boards, new program evaluators, ABET staff
  • Team members are volunteers and not compensated for their work
on site visit
On-Site Visit
  • Direct observations
    • Program facilities
    • Student work, materials
    • Interview faculty, students, administrators, and other professional supporting personnel
  • Complements the Self-Study
    • Provides direct, observable evidence that cannot be obtained from the Self-Study
accreditation timeline 18 month process
Accreditation Timeline18 month process

March - June

Team members assigned, dates set, Self-Study submitted

May - June

Necessary changes

to statement,

if any, are made


Institution requests

accreditation for


December - February

Draft statements edited

and sent to institutions


Institutions notified

of final action

Year 1

Year 2

September - December

Visits take place, draft statements written and finalized following

7-day response period


Commission meets

to take final action

February - May

Institution prepares


(Program Self-Study)

February - April

Institutions respond

to draft statement and return to ABET


Accreditation status publically released

governing documents accreditation process
Governing Documents Accreditation Process
  • ABET Criteria for Accrediting Programs in [ASAC, CAC, EAC, ETAC]
    • Program Management
    • Assessment
    • Curriculum
    • Resources and Support
  • ABET Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual[APPM]
    • Eligibility for Accreditation
    • Conduct of Evaluations
    • Public Release of Information
    • Appeals
overview of criteria goals
Overview of CriteriaGoals
  • Ensure the quality of educational programs
  • Foster the systematic pursuit of quality improvement in educational programs
  • Develop educational programs that satisfy the needs of constituents in a dynamic and competitive environment
engineering criteria 2000 ec 2000
Engineering Criteria 2000 “EC 2000”
  • Philosophy: “Outcomes-based”
    • Institutions and programs define mission and objectives to meet needs of their constituents
      • Provides for program differentiation
    • Outcomes: preparation for professional practice
    • Demonstrate how criteria are being met
    • Wide national & international acceptance
  • Commitment to Continuous Improvement
    • Process focus: outcomes & assessment linked to objectives; input from constituencies
  • Student, faculty, facilities, institutional support, and financial resources linked to Program Objectives
program names
Program Names
  • Determines:
    • Which ABET Commission is responsible
      • ASAC, CAC, EAC, ETAC
    • Which professional society is responsible
      • Appropriate program evaluators
    • Which criteria are applicable
      • “General Criteria” for all programs
      • “Program Criteria” for certain disciplines
  • Students
  • Program Educational Objectives
  • Student Outcomes
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Facilities
  • Institutional Support
criterion 1 students
Criterion 1: Students
  • The quality and performance of students and graduates is an important success factor.
  • To determine success, the institution must evaluate, advise, and monitor students.
  • Policies/procedures must be in place and enforced for acceptance of transfer students and validation of courses taken elsewhere.
  • Assure that all students meet all program graduation requirements.
criterion 2 program educational objectives
Criterion 2: Program Educational Objectives
  • The program must have published program educational objectives
    • Consistent with the mission of the institution, the needs of the program’s various constituents, and the criteria
    • There must be a documented and effective process, involving program constituents, for the periodic review and revision of these program educational objectives.
criterion 3 student outcomes
Criterion 3: Student Outcomes
  • The program must have documented student outcomes that prepare graduates to attain the program educational objectives.
    • Narrow statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program.
criterion 3 student outcomes1
Criterion 3: Student Outcomes
  • The program must demonstrate that their students attain the following outcomes:
    • An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
    • An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
    • An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
criterion 3 student outcomes2
Criterion 3: Student Outcomes
  • An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
  • An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  • An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  • An ability to communicate effectively
  • The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
criterion 3 student outcomes3
Criterion 3: Student Outcomes
    • A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
    • A knowledge of contemporary issues
    • An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
  • Plus any outcomes specific to field of study
criterion 4 continuous improvement
Criterion 4: Continuous Improvement
  • The program must use a documented process incorporating relevant data to regularly assess its program educational objectives and student outcomes, and to evaluate the extent to which they are being met.
  • The results of these evaluations of program educational objectives and program outcomes must be used to effect continuous improvement of the program through a documented plan.
criterion 5 curriculum 1 2
Criterion 5: Curriculum (1/2)
  • Faculty must assure that the curriculum devotes adequate attention and time to each component, consistent with objectives of the program and institution.
    • One year of a combination of college-level mathematics and basic sciences appropriate to the discipline
    • One and one-half years of engineering topics, consisting of engineering sciences and engineering design appropriate to the student’s field of study
criterion 5 curriculum 2 2
Criterion 5: Curriculum (2/2)
  • General education component that complements technical content and is consistent with program and institutional objectives
  • Students prepared for engineering practice through curriculum culminating in a major design experience
      • Based on knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work
      • Incorporates appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints
criterion 6 faculty
Criterion 6: Faculty
  • Sufficient number to achieve program objectives
  • Competent to cover all curricular areas of program
  • Authority for creation, delivery, evaluation, modification, and continuous improvement of the program
criterion 7 facilities
Criterion 7: Facilities
  • Adequate to (safely) accomplish educational objectives and outcomes of the program.
  • CAC: Computing resources are available, accessible, systematically maintained and upgraded, and supported.
  • EAC: Foster faculty-student interaction; encourages professional development & professional activities; and provide opportunities to use modern engineering tools.
criterion 8 institutional support
Criterion 8: Institutional Support
  • Sufficient to attract, retain, and provide for continued professional development of faculty.
  • Sufficient to acquire, maintain, and operate facilities and equipment appropriate for the program.
program criteria
Program Criteria
  • Each program must satisfy applicable Program Criteria which may, depending upon the commission, amplify:
    • Objectives
    • Outcomes
    • Curricular topics
    • Faculty qualifications
masters level programs criteria
Masters Level ProgramsCriteria
  • Fulfillment of baccalaureate level general criteria
  • One academic year of study beyond the baccalaureate level
  • Ability to apply masters level knowledge in a specialized area related to program area
  • Fulfillment of program criteria appropriate to masters specialization area
  • Develop, publish, and periodically review, educational objectives and student outcomes
continuous quality improvement cqi
Continuous Quality Improvement(CQI)
  • ABET Criteria have been developed on the principles of continuous quality improvement
  • On-going process at institution to improve quality of student’s educational experience
    • Systematic process: documented, repeatable
    • Assess performance against criteria
    • Take actions to improve program
  • Accreditation is a part of CQI
    • Verification that program meets certain level of quality, and CQI is part of the quality process
continuous quality improvement cqi process
Continuous Quality ImprovementCQI Process
  • CQI process includes a clear understanding of:
    • Mission (your purpose)
    • Constituents (your customers)
    • Objectives (what one is trying to achieve)
    • Outcomes (learning that takes place to meet objectives)
    • Processes (internal practices to achieve the outcome)
    • Facts (data collection)
    • Evaluation (interpretation of facts)
    • Action (change, improvement)

Assessment: How are we doing?

Student Advising

Institutional support



Program goals


How students learn

What students learn


Institute for the Development of Excellence in Assessment Leadership (IDEAL)

Program Assessment Workshop

Intensive, Interactive 1-day Workshop

  • Various topics
  • Multiple offerings
  • No cost
  • Spring of each year
  • Over 80 Sessions
  • Four educational tracks
  • Accreditation Track
  • Resource Room – example Self-Studies

abet initiatives with cqi processes
ABET Initiatives with CQI Processes
  • Since 2006
    • 2,278 participants in one-day Program Assessment Workshops
    • 495 graduates from the four day-long Institute for Development of Excellence in Assessment Leaders (IDEAL)
    • 6,104 ABET Webinar views (680 per month)

Education is Changing

Non-traditional students

Students are changing:

Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z

  • Diversity of student population

Explosion of distance learning: online education

  • Globalization of the workforce

The Internet: a tool for learning

“Density” of academic programs


Students are Changing

  • Digital Natives (Gen Z)
    • Born between mid-1990s and end of 2000s
  • Lifelong users of
    • Internet
    • Instant messagingand text messaging
    • MP3 players
    • Cell phones/smart phones
    • Electronic tablets
    • YouTube, Facebook, etc.
  • Educational experience: what is their expectation?
why a global focus
Why a Global Focus?
  • Education
    • International Students
    • Global Institutions
    • Distance Learning
      • Transcends geographical borders
      • Explosive Growth
  • Global Business
    • Global technical professionals
      • Work anywhere, with anyone
      • Appreciation for, and ability to function, in a multicultural environment

Students are

Global and Mobile!

Studying and Working Abroad Learning Online International Experiences

thank you
Thank You!

Michael K. J. Milligan, Ph.D., P.E.

ABET Executive Director