OPINIONS OF ROBERT L. YOUNG

I find it amazing that a group of real engineers would agree to the qualitative accreditation procedure which has replaced the prior quantitative and qualitative procedure. All the real engineers I know place a high value on numerical results. I found the University's estimates of the math, science, design content of their courses to be quite useful in carrying out the evaluation process and I am sure it was helpful to the University in analyzing and developing their curriculum. It is also noticed that the overall annually reported accreditation results provide more 6V accreditations and less if any Show Cause accreditations then formerly. That is to be expected when the procedure is heavily qualitative and specific deficiencies are not identified.

1. The new almost totally qualitative criteria requires a consistency of action and judgment by the evaluators which I doubt can be achieved by training a bunch of volunteers.
2. The fact that the Universities will pay more attention to their students and graduates is good. Also the needed review and study of their mission and goals by the University is a good feature of the new procedure. However the criteria give almost no specific guidance to the mission and goal selection and I doubt the ability of the evaluators to properly evaluate such mission and goals.
3. The Program Criteria lack specificity and once again depend too much upon the evaluator's judgment during the visit.

Following a comparison of the EAC Criteria and procedures in place in the early 1990s with the current new Criteria and procedures in effect for the 2005 - 2006 EAC accreditation cycle, I am convinced that ABET is now in the midst of an experiment on the quality and the credibility of engineering education. I am surprised that the Engineering Societies sponsoring and to some extent financing ABET have agreed to such a high risk endeavor. The result of this experiment can only be known after the recent graduates have completed several years of engineering practice and as in all experiments the results may be positive or negative.

I realize that I am out of the main stream, but I find it surprising that I have heard no comments for or against the new operations from any of the several engineering societies I belong to including AIAA, ASME, ASEE and NSPE. I hear that NSPE is not happy with the change and the following experience may testify to their dissatisfaction.
Two of my NSPE colleagues paid 175 dollars to attend a prospective EAC visitors orientation and informed me that they were concerned about the overall vagueness of the material. Both have PhD degrees in engineering from major universities. One has a long career as an engineering consultant with a few years of engineering employment in industry and another few years as a part-time engineering faculty member. The other is a lady involved in futuristic aeronautics and space research and development. Both have been informed that they have not been selected as EAC visitors at this time. I encouraged them to spend the 175 dollars for when I was selecting AIAA EAC visitors, I surely would have picked them. But the operation has changed. However it was this matter that caused me to look at yesterday and today's engineering accreditation.

FROM ANOTHER COLLEAUGE OF THE LATE 1900S
" You should note that this is your opinion, but that several 'old time' visitors have the same
misgivings about the new criteria.

Again, my personal feeling is that the new criteria were foisted on the engineering education world by Deans of Engineering who want to cut corners by hiring a minimum number of faculty. They accomplish this by making large class size OK and ACCREDITABLE! I feel sure that engineering education will suffer as a result of the new criteria being so non -specific. Engineers in industry know better than the faculty what courses are fundamental- and thus should be taught with much contact with experienced professors. So sayeth I; so sayeth you."

RLY COMMENT: I have known many Deans of Engineering and I believe that most would not adopt such a crass view of accreditation but I do recall that only a few complained loudly about our accreditation criteria and procedure.

Despite my critical remarks, I do admire those volunteers who are interested in engineering education and work hard to improve it. As is the case when I was a volunteer, I am sure that the supervisors of many of these volunteers would prefer that they were at their home base preparing a reseach proposal for NSF, DOD, NASA or some other funding agency as it was in my day. I also hope that they are experiencing the same level of friendship with their colleagues as I enjoyed. I hope that like us they are having spirited, even heated discussions of proposals to change the accrediataion process on a mature basis without personal animosity.

I much enjoyed my accreditation activities and the many friendships I made but I am happy not to be associated with or responsible for this new process.

Because I left accreditation activities in the early 1990s, I was not present when this new qualitative accreditation procedure was adopted, I do not know why these major changes were adopted. Should anyone have such knowledge, I would be pleased to receive it.

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