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Engineering Technology And The 75 Th Anniversary Retrospective Of Abet

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

History and Future of Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.528.1 - 13.528.9



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Paper Authors

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Lawrence Wolf Oregon Institute of Technology

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Michael O'Hair Purdue University

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

Engineering Technology and the th 75 Anniversary Retrospective of ABET

Introduction In this 75th year of ABET, a published anniversary Retrospective has been made available. Some of this paper appears in that Retrospective in Chapter Three, which is entitled “Building an Organization, 1938 –1954.” It is included here with the permission of ABET, with the confidence that it will add to the interest in the entirety of that historical retrospective which is hoped will be of great value to engineers and scholars from now on.

This particular paper is admittedly a view of engineering through the particular prism of engineering technology by one who is not by any means a historian. Historical credentials derive only from the fact that the author has been in the field long enough to have had the honor of knowing, or at least having met, many of the actors who are mentioned herein. That first-hand knowledge is further enhanced by the research done as part of the ABET Steering Committee for the retrospective. The work is strengthened with some of the actual documents provided by ABET, and printed in the retrospective (though not included here). This paper goes beyond the year 1954, which was the limit of that aforementioned Chapter Three. It takes us to to the present. It discusses the relevance and impact of the generation of the “Characteristics of Excellence in Engineering Technology Education,” which treated 2-year engineering technology programs, and the “Grinter Report.” It discusses key reportage and steps toward the legitimization and accreditation of the four-year programs in this field, including Grinter’s own remarks on that development from the last paper he published. Given that this space and time can accommodate only a touch of the extensive history of engineering technology, others are trusted to delve into the ABET retrospective and be inspired to take us beyond what is presented here and right on out into the future.

Engineering Technology – 1938 to 1954 The genesis of engineering technology was the so-called “Committee of Twenty-One.” Understanding the Committee of Twenty-One requires seeing it in the setting of a world at the close of a war in which 8 million Americans had been in uniform and 22 million more had been in war production. That meant 30 million people being moved back into the civilian economy. Probably not before, nor since, had such a large number of militarily trained persons been reabsorbed into a civilian workforce. Nor had it been done with such smoothness, and positive results as by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. By 1956, 450,000 engineers had been educated under that act known as the “G. I. Bill.”

Engineering was only one of the fields that benefited from the 14 billion dollars spent on the G. I. Bill. There were many successes in other fields as well, but also some failures. According to Michael Haycock, “Virtually all problems occurred in education and training on the trade, not the college level. Numerous vocational schools had sprung into existence seemingly overnight. Until Congress tightened the restrictions on vocational/technical training in 1949, much of what was offered in some 5,635 such institutions was useless to those enrolled.” But among these

Wolf, L., & O'Hair, M. (2008, June), Engineering Technology And The 75 Th Anniversary Retrospective Of Abet Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3176

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