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Asce's Raise The Bar Initiative: Accreditation Related Barriers & Other Critical Issues

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Raising the Bar and Body of Knowledge

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.234.1 - 8.234.8



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Paper Authors

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Ernest Smerdon

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2315

ASCE’s Raise the Bar Initiative: Accreditation-Related Barriers and Critical Issues

Ernest T. Smerdon, P.E., Richard O. Anderson, P.E. and Jeffrey S. Russell, P.E. Dean Emeritus, University of Arizona, Tucson, 85721/Principal Engineer, SOMAT Engineering, Inc., Taylor, MI 48180/Chair, Construction Engineering and Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706


The conditions and broad requirements of engineering practice are rapidly changing – and they will change even more in the future. Moreover, engineering education is also changing, perhaps more rapidly than ever before. To its credit, ABET in the last decade has made substantive changes in accreditation procedures for engineering programs. The change from focusing evaluations on input measures to an outcomes based approach with much more flexibility is in line with total quality improvement concepts. The fact that each program to be accredited must have detailed published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution provides potential for variations in the programs and no longer are engineering education programs necessarily in lock-step (1). Differences and uniqueness in individual programs are valued.

Today’s engineering graduates must develop better professional skills to go along with their historic strength in technical skills based on mathematics and science. Those professional skills (sometimes referred to as soft skills) are integrated with the technical skills in ABET/EAC Criterion 3 – Program Outcomes and Assessment. At least half of the items listed in Criterion 3 refer to these professional skills – skills that any practicing professional must have whether or not he/she be an engineer. It is anticipated that the foundation for these professional skills are placed as part of the educational process. Words that were seldom mentioned in engineering education a decade or two ago – multidisciplinary team skills, professional and ethical responsibility, effective communication, global and social context, lifelong learning, and knowledge of contemporary issues are all in the ABET/EAC Criterion 3 on expected outcomes. To be sure, these changes did not come because educators suddenly saw the burning need. Industry was a vocal force in stimulating these changes.

Engineering work has changed and will change even more. Engineers are working in a much broader range of professional activities and while this work has always utilized the technical skills of the engineer in concept development, problem formulation, modeling, and solution, many of the jobs of engineers today are not strictly technical in nature. Those jobs that are strictly technical (design and manufacture/build) require a higher level of technical competence than ever before.

Current Conditions

For a number of years, the National Science Foundation has analyzed the dynamics of the U.S. engineering workforce. This covers all engineers, not just civil engineers. This Engineering

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Smerdon, E. (2003, June), Asce's Raise The Bar Initiative: Accreditation Related Barriers & Other Critical Issues Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12662

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