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Proposed ABET requirement changes

Most of ABET’s volunteers and leaders are engineers. Engineers can’t resist tinkering to improve things. A big change is brewing in the ABET EAC criteria, impacting Criteria 3 – Student Outcomes and Criteria 5 – Curriculum. The changes in Student Outcomes will significantly change what you measure – adding some, combining similar ones and removing others.

The changes in Criteria 5 – Curriculum mainly clarify what is meant by a year as it applies to the minimum amounts of math and basic science and engineering. The changes clarify how programs with either fewer or more credits than the common US 128 semester hours can meet the requirements. Other changes clarify the difference between science and math and engineering and the design requirement.

Because these are included in the proposed changes in the EAC Criteria 2015-16, they would not go into effect until 2017-2018 at the earliest and programs would have a few years beyond that to transition. Computing, engineering technology and applied science would probably harmonize to something similar sometime later.

The following is the proposed language that was disseminated for discussion:

“Endorsed the continued development of the following draft version of Criteria 3 and 5 for dissemination for review and comments.

Criterion 3. Student Outcomes The program must have documented student outcomes that prepare graduates to enter the engineering profession. Student outcomes are outcomes (1) through (6) plus any additional outcomes that may be articulated by the program.

1. An ability to use the principles of science and mathematics to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems. 2. An ability to apply both analysis and synthesis in the engineering design process, resulting in designs that meet constraints and specifications. Constraints and specifications include societal, economic, environmental, and other factors as appropriate to the design. 3. An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation and testing procedures, and to analyze and draw conclusions from data. 4. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences through various media. 5. An ability to demonstrate ethical principles in an engineering context. 6. An ability to establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, manage risk and uncertainty, and function effectively on teams.

Criterion 5. Curriculum The curriculum requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The curriculum must support attainment of the student outcomes and must include:

(a) one year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the program. Basic sciences are defined as biological, chemical, and physical sciences. (b) one and one-half years of engineering topics, consisting of engineering sciences and engineering design appropriate to the program and incorporating modern engineering tools. 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 within constraints such as sustainability, ethics, health and safety, and manufacturability. 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. (c) a general education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program educational 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 constraints. One year is the lesser of 32 semester hours (or equivalent) or one-fourth of the total credits required for graduation.”

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