Soon after I started representing AIAA on the ABET/EAC Executive Committee board, Bill Sangster, Dean of Engineering at Georgia Tech became Chairman of the EAC. At a meeting, Bill brought with him Gene Nordby who had both an engineering and a business administration degree and had been hired by Bill. Gene was given the EAC material and was asked by Bill to evaluate it and comment on it. At this meeting Gene noted that EAC had many very good criteria for engineering education accreditation which had been developed by academic and practicing engineers. But he and Bill went on to point out that we were not enforcing these criteria with rigor. Subsequently we increased the specificity of the criteria by such means as defining a year of engineering education as 32 semester hours and specifying the minimum number of semester hours of mathematics, science, design, humanities studies that an accreditable engineering bachelor's degree curriculum should contain. The ABET Executive Director David Reyes-Guerra was pleased with this specificity for he noted that should ABET accreditation decisions be challenged in court, then this numerical specificity would provide a more defensible position for ABET decisions. John Alden who was director of EAC activities was also pleased with this specificity and said that it should decrease the number of challenges of EAC decisions.

As an indication of possible future difficulties one of the more experience evaluators present voiced concern about the numerical approach but he was easily overwhelmed. We also developed Program Criteria for further define the curricular content of each major program such as AE, ChE, CE, EE, IE, MetE and ME. And we further agreed that these criteria would be enforced with rigor and enthusiasm. In addition we took steps to assure that all ABET matters including accreditation status and requirements would be contained in the ABET ANNUAL REPORT.

During my service on ABET, I visited the following schools as an EAC evaluator of Aerospace Program(E) or EAC team leader (TL).

University of Bridgeport (TL), Bridgeport

California Institute of Technology (E)

University of Florida (E), Gainesville

George Mason University (TL), Halifax

University of Hawaii at Manoa (TL), Honolulu

The University of Kansas (TL),

University of Illinois at Chicago (TL), Chicago

University of Utah (TL), Salt Lake City

University of Maine (TL), Orono

University of Massachusetts Lowell (TL), Lowell

University of Minnesota Twin Cities (TL), Minneapolis Saint Paul

University of Missouri-Kansas City (TL), Kansas City

Montana Tech of the University of Montana (TL), Butte

New Mexico University of Mining and Technology (TL), Sorocco

Oklahoma State Univesity (TL)

Rensselar Polytechnic Institute (E), Troy

Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TL). Kingsville

United States Naval Academy (TL), Annapolis

Villanova University (TL), Villanova

University of Washington (TL), Seattle

I led an ABET/EAC team to the University of Minnesota. They had combined their engineering college with science colleges including Physics and Chemistry. A very distinguished scientist had been Dean of that group and they had an engineering college with a distinguished faculty. However that dean had been replaced with an interim dean who was an astrophysicist and the enginerering faculty was concerned that they might get the support they were used to and needed frim the interim dean. So we listened patiently to their concerns, found no evidence to justify their worry and boarded the elevator to go to our exit interview several floors above.
After a brief ascent, the elevator groaned and came to a stop between floors. There was a loud speaker in the elevator and after we informed someone of our dilemma, he said do not worry, we are contactiing Westinghouse in Pittsburg. We noted that Pittsburg was some distance from Minneapolis and in that a snow/sleet storm was approaching we hoped to get out of town as soon as possible. Finally we could hear some workman on the outside discussing the problem. Then we heard a rushing sound and one of our crowded party yelled "My God, they are trying to gas us."

Shortly after they managed to raise us to a floor and pried the door open. We climbed several stairs and entered the President's office and found him most apologetic. We gave him the exit message and rhen hastened by bus to the airport. On the way it began to sleet but our driver being very civic minded stopped to help a lady who had run out of gas. As the plane went down the runway, the ground was turning white with snow.
I led a team to The University of Maine at Orono. All during our visit we had a high sky, bright sunshine and temps less then freezing. The Dean of Engineering was an Englishman who was very unhappy about his job. Included in their submission was a new program Forest Engineering supervised by the College of Agriculture, During our initial meeting, the Dean noted that the Forest Engineering program was being visited and he yelled out "What in Hell is that program doing here?" Although the team usually met with the President only once at the end of the visit, here te President lived on campus and we met with him just prior to the visit. He noted that the Dean of Engineering was of a very nervous temperment and we surely agreed with that. With pride the President pointed out that the University was chartered before the State joined the Union hence they did not operate under State rules for travel, accounting and contracting. During our visit we read in the newspaper that the State legislature had voted no funds for U Maine because it was not a State university but guess that got corrected for they are still operating.  

Since I had never heard of Forest Engineering I called David Reyes Guerra for assistance and he suggested a Universuty of Virginia faculty member as the evaluator. I called this person and with enthusiasm he agreed to be our visitor for that program. Since he had little prior visitation experience, I went with him for his first meeting with the department head and faculty. To my surprise they all knew him and greeted him fondly. Later I found out that he was the inventor of the Forest Engineering curriculum, he awarded the new program full accreditation but I changed that to a Not to Accredit recommendation because it appeared to be low in design credits.

Later they protested that the NA action and we met with them in Atlanta. They reported that the English Dean of engineering had resigned and that they had re-evaluated the Forest Engineering curriculum and with a minor change they showed that it did meet EAC criteria so we agreed to give it a Three Years and a visit accreditation.  

Following the visit to the University of Maine, I led a different EAC team to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. To save travel costs and to reduce the time away from home and work, I frequently scheduled visits on Monday and Tuesday at one institution and then Thursday and Friday at another.

Lowell was a very big textile mill town with huge long brick buildings for the hundreds of mill workers plus the textile machinery, But in the early 1900s, the mills moved to the south to take advantage of a better climate and lower label costs. As I arrived in Lowell, the town was engaged in an extensive renewal project. When the textile industry was there, the famous Lowell Textile Institute was prospering featuring engineering and management instruction in textile mill machinery and management. But with the industry gone the Textile Institute declined and another Liberal Arts College was started at Lowell.
When we arrived at Lowell, a very determined Irish Dean was faced with combining the Engineering/Science faculty with a Liberal Arts faculty to form a University of Massachusetts Lowell mostly housed in the old textile mill buildings. To further complicate matters, the technical faculty had one union while another union controlled the liberal arts faculty and state funding was very limited. But the programs we evaluated were well designed and most of the faculty were quite enthusiastic concerning the future. Thus we recommended 3 year accreditation for the few programs they had. I note with pleasure that more programs than we evaluated are now accredited so it appears that our decision was proper. And I suspect much of that is due to the very dedicated, determined Irish Dean we visited.

On the evening before the visit, the committee met to review the material we had been sent from the programs to be visited. Usually the committee was quite critical of the programs and noted several possible violations of ABET requirements. Usually after the first day of the visitation, the committee semed to regard the programs more favorably perhaps because they had met the faculty, staff and students involved in the priograms. lf the second evening discussion did not provide a more positve view then the institution was in real trouble.

As Chair, I usually asked what their accreditation recommendation would be noting that they had to have a recommendation in mind at the end of the visit the next day. Some responded immediately but others were much more hesitant usually because they needed more data to be obtained the next day, others because they simply had problems in reaching a decision. I noted that we were not to reveal our recommendations during the final meeting with the President but that we had to report on the programs consistent with our recommendations. I recall that as we made our exit report on a visit to a particular University the President scribbled down the expected accreditation action for each program and looking over his shoulder I noted that his estimates were totally accurate which pleased me for I felt such accuracy was the result of good team final interview performance.


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