EPS and ABET What is ABET? ABET is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET is composed of a operational staff, located in Baltimore, Maryland, and a rather extensive volunteer team of representatives from professional societies employed in industry and academia. The mission of ABET is to serve the public through the promotion and advancement of education in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology primarily through accreditation of educational programs in these fields. In the year 2000, ABET went though a significant change. Prior to this change, accreditation had evolved into process of ensuring specific course content and course sequencing in degree programs followed national needs. New guidelines introduced in 2000, referred to as ABET 2000, placed the responsibility of meeting the needs of the regional industries and nation through assessment and feedback. Restraints (such as the simple ‘counting’ of course hours and subject matter) were removed allowing for creative solutions to science and engineering educational challenges. For further information, the ABET website is http://www.abet.org The techniques of educational delivery, educational pedagogy, is an evolving process. Once fixated by any accreditation, governmental, or administrative bureau, it becomes stagnated and out-of-date. Creativity is the key in growth and successful evolution.
Will EPS Cause a Problem with ABET Accreditation? Educators, particularly task oriented engineering educators, often ask the important question “Will EPS cause a problem with ABET accreditation?” This is a reasonable question. European Project Semester, EPS, is a creative solution to the engineering design requirement enunciated in the ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs. Rather than defend EPS in statements here, it is best to simply review the criteria for engineering accreditation. The entire document can be found on the ABET website. Pertinent excerpts in the general criteria are duplicated here for convenience. Those criteria specific to the EPS experience are highlighted in color.
Excerpts from CRITERIA FOR ACCREDITING ENGINEERING PROGRAMS Effective for Evaluations during the 2009-2010 Accreditation Cycle Criterion 3. Program Outcomes Engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain the following outcomes: (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 (emphasis added) (d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams (emphasis added) (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 societal context (emphasis added) (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 modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. Criterion 5. Curriculum The curriculum requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses (emphasis added). 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 must include: (a) one year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the discipline (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 decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and
the engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet these stated needs (emphasis added). (c) a general education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program and institution objectives. Students must be prepared for engineering practice through a 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 (emphasis added).
In addition to the general requirements (excerpts above) each program may have specific program requirements. These specific program requirements are given in the criteria on the ABET website. For instance, specific program requirements for chemical engineering and related programs are given below. It is important to note that specific requirements for each program do not have restrictions on specific course content but rather leave interpretation open for creative solutions to engineering pedagogy. (Example) PROGRAM CRITERIA FOR CHEMICAL, BIOCHEMICAL, BIOMOLECULAR, AND SIMILARLY NAMED ENGINEERING PROGRAMS Lead Society: American Institute of Chemical Engineers These program criteria apply to engineering programs that include “chemical,” “biochemical,” “biomolecular,” and similar modifiers in their titles. 1. Curriculum The program must demonstrate that graduates have: thorough grounding in the basic sciences including chemistry, physics, and biology appropriate to the objectives of the program; and sufficient knowledge in the application of these basic sciences to enable graduates to design, analyze, and control physical, chemical, and biological processes, consistent with the program educational objectives. (end of Specific Program Criteria)