The engineering colleges had much trouble meeting the ABET design requirements. In increasing the science content of engineering programs, the engineering art practices had been reduced and design faculty were in short supply. Also the rush to assure that all faculty had PhD degrees reduced the supply of design faculty. Many of the normally fine schools received less than full ABET accreditation as ABET requirements were strengthened and rigidly enforced.

Thus the University of Illinois Champaign Chemical Engineering program, one of the first ChE Programs which has long been very highly regarded, received a Show Cause threat of removal of accreditation followed by their Dean of Engineering accusing ABET of all the sins of mankind. Even MlT received a Show Cause for their Nuclear Engineering program. Both of these programs failed to fulfill the design requirement.

In the late 1980s, a few of the Engineering College Deans loudly and bitterly protested the ABET increase in enforcement accusing ABET of too much bean counting with too specific requirements, I attended ASEE meetings where we ABET types hudled together suffering abusive lectures by engineering deans some who had never spent a day practicing real engineering.

This was serious business for ABET was recognized by the U.S Education Department as the group for engineering and technology accreditation. Too much complaining of the Deans and Presidents could have led to removal of recognition for ABET and either assignment of that role to some other group or most feared accreditation by the Education Department, As I left accreditation activities on the early 1990s. that unhappy situation existed. Soon thereafter the very well known and strong accreditation director David Reyes Guerra resigned and ABET was managed by a new, perhaps smarter group.
In the late 1990s, ABET made an effort to better coordinate with the engineering Deans and changed their philosophy of engineering accreditation. During my ABET service we had both general and program criteria the philosophy being that if a program demonstrated that it was following these criteria developed by the engineering profession, then their graduates were prepared to be successful engineers. The new ABET criteria are less specific than the old and have few numerical requirements. Under ABET guidelines, the engineering college develops statements consistent with their goals and mission which then are submitted to ABET for approval. The EAC visit then focuses upon whether or not the program is making progress in fulfilling their goals and mission.

Included is the requirement to survey and report on the performance of their graduates which is a good feature of the procedure. During my visits I was frequently amazed that the college knew so little about their graduates. So the ABET philosophy now is one of featuring outcomes rather than concentrating on the study environment as during my service.

At the Aerospace Engineering Department of a midwestern State University, the EAC evaluator found about 80 Junior level students in a Stability and Control lecture class and subsequently the prgram received full accreditaion.. When a University official was questioned by a long retired EAC type as to whether this was really the way to teach Junior level students in such a course, it was stated it was only necessary to state your goal for the course, do it any way you thought would achieve the goal and get EAC approval. That seemed strange but we were told by a Dean that the new rules allowed such an arrangement which appears to much lessen the needed class interaction with the Professor.


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