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Development Of Customer Based Outcome Measures For An Engineering Program

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.151.1 - 2.151.10



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Paper Authors

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Mary E. Besterfield-Sacre

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Larry J. Shuman

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Cynthia Atman

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Harvey Wolfe

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

Session 3530

Development of Customer-Based Outcome Measures for an Engineering Programa

Mary E. Besterfield-Sacre, Harvey Wolfe, Cynthia J. Atman, and Larry Shuman University of Texas - El Paso/University of Pittsburghb

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has proposed fundamental changes to their accreditation criteria that are performance based, rather than prescriptive. As a result, engineering schools must now consider developing methods and measures to evaluate their engineering programs. One approach to developing program outcomes is to utilize feedback from customers of the engineering education system, specifically alumni and practicing engineers. As part of a larger research effort, the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh used customer feedback to develop a set of outcome measures for its program. Responses from surveys sent to the 1987 engineering graduates were analyzed by focus groups consisting of industrial engineers from the Pittsburgh area. From this information, the participants developed affinity diagrams to represent the requirements of an industrial engineering degree. Results of the affinity diagrams were then consolidated to form a set of fifteen measures that could be used in an evaluation program. The outcome measures developed were found to be in concert with the EAC 2000 criteria, yet were specific to the needs of the industrial engineering discipline. This paper discusses the research results and how the methods employed can be transferred to other engineering disciplines.


Changes in the work environment now require engineering graduates to be more than technically proficient. Engineering graduates must also demonstrate proficiencies and capabilities necessary to integrate and succeed in a continuously changing workplace, such as working in teams, communicating effectively, understanding social and economic concerns, etc.(1,2) Recognizing that the methods and criteria used to evaluate engineering institutions have constrained schools from addressing industry’s needs and making improvements to the educational system, ABET has proposed changes to their criteria that are more performance based.(3) As a result, engineering schools must now develop their own methods and metrics to evaluate and improve the education they deliver to students. The Joint Task Force on Engineering Education Assessment(4) has further stressed this by making a call to the engineering education community to develop methods and assessment tools to assist in the evaluation efforts of engineering programs and quality of engineering students.

At the University of Pittsburgh Department of Industrial Engineering, a research effort was conducted to develop an approach to measuring the education delivered to students and to offer a model of the engineering education system that may be used to assess the educational

a This research work was made possible by National Science Foundation grants, DUE-9254271 and RED-9358516, as well as grants from the Ford Motor Company Fund, GE Fund, Westinghouse Foundation, and Xerox. b Dr. Besterfield-Sacre is with the University of Texas - El Paso; Drs. Atman, Shuman, and Wolfe are with the University of Pittsburgh.

Besterfield-Sacre, M. E., & Shuman, L. J., & Atman, C., & Wolfe, H. (1997, June), Development Of Customer Based Outcome Measures For An Engineering Program Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6513

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