College of Engineering Undergoes Re-Accreditation Process

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By Jacob Wolf, Chief Distribution Officer 

Image Credit: ABET for Horizons

The engineering programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott Campus are undergoing a comprehensive evaluation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), whose mission is to provide “assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.” [1] Proving that ERAU engineers meet these standards is the task of Dr. Madler, Dean of the College of Engineering (COE), who sat down with Horizons to talk about ABET’s process.  

“ABET generally visits engineering programs roughly every six years” said Dean Madler, who explained that COE’s accreditation process began with the submission of a self-study in June of 2022. “That self-study is several hundreds of pages about… how we meet all the requirements that ABET has,” including Criterion 3 – Student Outcomes.  

Engineers who read their syllabi will recognize these as the “ABET Goals and Outcomes” section, which Dean Madler summarized as being able to “work in teams, communicate, solve basic problems, design, that kind of stuff.”  

After completing the self-study, COE sent it to the visiting team of ABET’s Program Evaluators (PEVs), who arrived on campus last fall. There is a PEV for “each of our five programs – aerospace, computer, electrical, software, mechanical” said Dean Madler, and their job is to “make sure that everything in that [self-study] is accurate… So, they meet with faculty, administration, support departments, and students. And they also review all of our course material and stuff like that.”  

After the visit, PEVs start “writing a report on basically everything that they saw and read in our reviews. And there’s a huge editorial process that it goes through. In fact, we’re still waiting for our report, and it is now two and a half months later.” The report highlights program successes and identifies opportunities for growth, what ABET refers to as “Deficiencies or Weaknesses.” [1]  

Dean Madler explained that “everyone’s supposed to be doing this continuous improvement. But sometimes it’s helpful to have an outside entity” visit campus and say, “well, this is what we’re seeing and no, you’re not doing it quite the way you should.” But if the program works well the Engineering Accreditation Commission will vote to award accreditation, and the six-year cycle begins anew. 

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