June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Two Year College Division
13.139.1 - 13.139.9
Accreditation of Engineering Technology Associate Degree Programs Abstract
This paper discusses the issues involved with the accreditation of associate degree programs in Engineering Technology, and in particular looks at the concept of having differentiated criteria for such programs. The current Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc. criteria makes no distinction between associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs in the general criteria. The author would like to suggest some ways that the general criteria could be modified so as to have a different or modified set of criteria for associate degree programs as opposed to baccalaureate degree programs. This distinction becomes important in light of ABET being a signatory to the Sydney and Dublin accords which provide for the differences between and among technicians, technologists, and engineers.
For the past two years the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc. (TAC of ABET), the commission of ABET that accredits technology programs, has been discussing the development of differentiated accreditation criteria. The criteria for technology programs would be rewritten in such a way as to hold two year associate degree programs in technology to a different or modified set of criteria than would be applied to four year baccalaureate degree programs. The main impetus behind revising the criteria was the idea that two year programs simply cannot cover the same amount of material as four year programs and therefore should not be held to the same standards. This discussion takes on more importance because of ABET’s consideration of becoming a signatory to the Dublin and Sydney accords. These accords will be discussed further on in this paper.
By way of background, the author served on the Technology Accreditation Commission for five years as a commissioner and most recently has completed his second year as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of TAC of ABET. As such, he has been directly involved with the discussions regarding the development of differentiated criteria and has supported efforts to develop such criteria.
The concept of differentiated criteria is not new to ABET. The Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC) of ABET, Inc. has had differentiated criteria for many years. ASAC accredits programs in safety, industrial hygiene, health physics, environmental health & safety, industrial or quality management, and surveying or geomatics. The way in which ASAC makes the distinction between associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs will also be discussed later in this paper.
In reviewing the 2008-2009 TAC of ABET criteria1 for technology programs, it became clear that there were at least two of the nine general criteria that would have to be modified if there were to be a viable differentiation between two year and four year degree programs. It was apparent to both the TAC Criteria Committee and the TAC Executive Committee that Criterion 3 which deals with program outcomes a-k, and Criterion 5 which deals with curriculum, would need to be changed. It also appeared that the remaining six general criteria could pretty much
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