In my visits under the old EAC criteria, I found the specific numerical
quantitative criteria very useful. I believe that it was useful for the
school to analyze each program relative to the numerical criteria and
during the first meeting with the team, discussion of the school's
numerical response provided a productive starting point. However, it
was very important to consider the qualitative as well as the
quantitative spects of the program,
During a visit to a major University, the dean of engineering reported
that the credits for design in their aerospace program were only two
thirds of the minimum EAC design requirement. My evaluator for that
program was the lead professor in one of our most prestigious aerospace
programs. During our second evening discussion he pointed out that with
fine facilities, good planning and very capable faculty he recommended
full accreditation for the program and it was granted, so that provided
at least one exception to the charge that EAC volunteers were simply
The following is submitted to show the change to qualitative:
"Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs Effective for Evaluations during the 2006-2007 Accreditation Cycle (From http://www.abet.org)
These criteria are intended to assure quality and to foster the
systematic pursuit of improvement in the quality of engineering
education that satisfies the needs of constituencies in a dynamic and
competitive environment. It is the responsibility of the institution
seeking accreditation of an engineering program to demonstrate clearly
that the program meets the following criteria.
I. GENERAL CRITERIA FOR BASIC LEVEL PROGRAMS
Criterion 1. Students
The quality and perfonnance of the students and graduates are important
considerations in the evaluation of an engineering program. The
institution must evaluate student performance, advise students
regarding curricular and career matters, and monitor student's progress
to foster their success in achieving program outcomes, thereby enabling
them as graduates to attain program objectives.
The institution must have and enforce policies for the acceptance of
transfer students and for the validation of courses taken for credit
elsewhere. The institution must also have and enforce procedures to
assure that all students meet all program requirements.
Criterion 2. Program Educational Objectives Although institutions may
use different terminology, for purposes educational objectives are
broad statements that describe the accomplishments that the program is
preparing graduates to achieve.
Each engineering program for which an institution seeks accreditation or reaccreditation must have in place:
(a) detailed published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution and these criteria.
(b) a process based on the needs of the program's various
constituencies in which the objectives are detennined and periodically
(c) an educational program, including a curriculum that prepares
students to attain program outcomes and that fosters accomplishments of
graduates that are consistent with these objectives
(d) a process of ongoing evaluation of the extent to which these
objectives are attained, the result of which shall be used to develop
and improve the program outcomes so that graduates are better prepared
to attain the objectives.
Criterion 3. Program Outcomes and Assessment Although institutions may
use different terminology, for purposes of Criterion 3, program
outcomes are 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 student acquire in their
matriculation through the program.
Each program must formulate program outcomes that foster attainment of
the program objectives articulated in satisfaction of Criterion 2 of
these criteria. There must be processes to produce these outcomes and
an assessment process, with documented results, that demonstrates that
these program outcomes are being measured and indicates the degree to
which the outcomes are achieved. There must be evidence that the
results of this assessment process are applied to the further
development of the program.
Engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain:
(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and
engineering (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well
as to analyze and interpret data
(c) 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
(d) an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
(e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) an ability to communicate effectively
(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of
engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and
(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modem engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
In addition, an engineering program must demonstrate that its students
attain any additional outcomes articulated by the program to foster
achievement of its education objectives.
Criterion 4. Professional Component
The professional component requirements specify subject areas
appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The
faculty must ensure that the program curriculum devotes adequate
attention and time to each component, consistent with the outcomes and
objectives of the program and institution. The professional component
(a) one year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic
sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the
(b) one and one-half years of engineering topics, consisting of
engineering sciences and engineering design appropriate to the
student's field of study. The engineering sciences have their roots in
mathematics and basic sciences but carry knowledge further toward
creative application. These studies provide a bridge between
mathematics and basic sciences on the one hand and engineering practice
on the other. Engineering design is the process of devising a system,
component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decisionmaking
process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics,
and the engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally
to meet these stated needs.
(c) a general education component that complements the technical
content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program and
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 course work and incorporating
appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints.
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 counseling, university service activities, professional
development, and interactions with industrial and professional
practitioners, as well as employers of students. The program faculty
must have appropriate qualifications and must have and demonstrate
sufficient authority to ensure the proper guidance of the program and
to develop and implement processes for the evaluation, assessment, and
continuing improvement of the program, its educational objectives and
outcomes. 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 licensure 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. Programs must
provide opportunities for students to learn the use of modem
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 program and 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 (if any). 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."
Our effort to make the criteria more understandable to the evaluators
and the accreditees involved more quantitative requirements with
recommended minimum numbers and we got rid of many imprecise "weasel"
words in the criteria. All the imprecise words we eliminated are used
in the new Criteria.
The difference between our old Critertia and the new is best seen by considering the new Criterion 4. Professional Component:
At first glance, Item (a) does appears to be quantitative but what is
the definition of a year? Is a year 12 months, 9 months or an academic
year? We faced this problem and as noted in the preceding decided that
a year was 32 semester hours. But now our hard won conclusion has been
discarded and who now defines what a year is?? In the interest of
better understanding we got rid of ill-defined phrases like
"appropriate to". "consistent with". or words like "adequate" but we
now find all of these have returned and surely they must create
problems in deciding and defending accreditation actions,
TO DEMONSTRATE THE LACK OF QUANTITATIVE CONTENT IN THE NEW PROFESSIONAL
COMPONENT, COMPARE IT TO OUR 1989 PROFESSIONAL COMPONENT:
"In the statements that follow, one-half year of study can, at the
option of the Institution, be considered to be equivalent to 16
semester credit hours (24 quarter hours).
a. For those institutions which elect to prepare graduates for entry
Into the profession at the basic level, ABET expects the curricular
content of the program to Include the equivalent of at least three
years of study in the areas of mathematics, basic sciences, engineering
sciences, engineering design, and the humanities and social sciences.
The coursework must include at least:
(1) one year of an appropriate combination of mathematics and basic sciences,
(2) one year of engineering sciences,
(3) one-half year of engineering design, and
(4) one-half year of humanities and social sciences.
b. The overall curriculum must provide an Integrated educational
experience directed toward the development of the ability to apply
pertinent knowledge to the Identification and solution of practical
problems In the designated area of engineering specialization. The
curriculum must be designed to provide, and student transcripts must
reflect, a sequential development leading to advanced work."
(c) is a very weakened version of the social-humanistic requirement we established:
COMPARE THE NEW VERSION TO OUR 1989
"(4) HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
(a) Studies in the humanities and social sciences serve not only to
meet the objectives of a broad education, but also to meet the
objectives of the engineering profession. Therefore, studies in the
humanities and the social sciences must be planned to reflect a
rationale or fulfill an objective appropriate to the engineering
profession and the Institutions educational objectives. In the
Interests of making engineers fully aware of their social
responsibilities and better able to consider related factors In the
making process, institutions must require coursework In the humanities
and social sciences as an integral part of the engineerIng program.
This philosophy cannot be overemphasized. To satisfy this requirement,
the courses selected must provide both breadth and depth and not be
limited to a selection of unrelated Introductory courses.
(b) Such coursework must meet the generally accepted definitions that
humanities are the branches of knowledge concerned with man and his
culture, while social sciences are the studies of Individual
relationships In and to society. Examples of traditional subjects In
these areas are philosophy, religion, history, literature, fine arts,
sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology,economics, and
foreign languages other than a student's native language(s). Non.
traditional subjects are exemplified by courses such as technology and
human affairs, history of technology, and professional ethics and
social responsibility. Courses that instill cultural values are
acceptable, while routine exercises of personal craft are not.
Consequently, courses that involve performance must be accompanied by
theory or history of the subject.
(c) Subjects such as accounting, Industrial management, finance,
personnel administration, engineering economy, and military training
may be appropriately Included either as required or elective courses In
engineering curricula to satisfy desired program objectives of the
Institution. However, such courses usually do not fulfill the
objectives desired of the humanities and social science content.
3. Other courses, which are not predominantly mathematics, basic
science, engineering science, engineering design, humanities or social
sciences, may be considered by the Institution as essential to some
engineering programs. Portions of such courses may Include subject
matter that can be properly classified in one of the essential
curricular areas, but this must be demonstrated in each case."
In the preceding two examples, which are the most informative and
enforceable? Why would any group of real engineers agree to the change
from old to new??