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Let's Get Down To Business: Preparation For Abet Under The New Ce Program Criteria

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Implementation of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge and Recent ABET Experiences

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.846.1 - 14.846.11



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Paper Authors


Fred Meyer United States Military Academy

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Colonel Fred Meyer is the Civil Engineering Division Director in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from USMA in 1984, a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1993, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2002. COL Meyer has been a member of the USMA faculty for over six years and teaches courses in basic mechanics, structural steel design, reinforced concrete design, structural system design, and professional practices. He is an active member of the American Concrete Institute, the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Civil Engineers and is an ABET Program Evaluator. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia.

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Stephen Ressler United States Military Academy

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Colonel Stephen Ressler is Professor and Head of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. He earned a B.S. degree from USMA in 1979, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Lehigh University in 1989, and a Ph.D. from Lehigh in 1991. An active duty Army officer, he has served in a variety of military engineering assignments around the world. He has been a member of the USMA faculty for 17 years, teaching courses in engineering mechanics, structural engineering, construction, and CE professional practice. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia and a Distinguished Member of ASCE.

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

Let’s Get Down to Business: Preparation for ABET Under the New CE Program Criteria


For engineering programs undergoing ABET accreditation visits during the 2008-2009 accreditation cycle, there are now nine criteria against which the program is evaluated. There have been several organizational changes within the criteria with the most significant being the addition of Criterion 4 to collectively address continuous improvement in the program; Criterion 8, the Program Criteria, has become Criterion 9. For civil engineering programs, Criterion 9 was revised to be less restrictive in some areas, but now contains a few new twists that program directors must address to include coverage of at least on additional area of science, and the requirement for students to explain basic concepts in management, business, public policy, and leadership. This paper provides lessons learned from the preparation for an ABET visit that occurred during the Fall of 2008 under the newly revised ABET and CE Program Criteria.


Preparation for an ABET accreditation visit can be a complex, difficult, and time-consuming project. If approached properly and proactively, however, many of the tasks associated with preparation can be simplified to a point where the impact on the faculty is not onerous. There are many keys to success, but the one that outweighs all is to establish effective systems and maintain them on a continuous basis. It is wishful thinking to assume that systems implemented shortly before an ABET visit will be seen as anything other than that—systems implemented a short time before an ABET visit. ABET evaluators are looking for evidence of established and functioning systems that assess all aspects of the program with the goal of continuous improvement in mind. And, there must be evidence that the systems in place will continue to function after the ABET team departs your campus on Tuesday afternoon following the final out brief. The bottom line is that preparation for an ABET evaluation should be a well-coordinated process that begins well in advance of the visit and has all the key players striving to achieve a rating of “Next General Review.” We consider the following as the most important aspects of successful preparation.

Establishment of Program Educational Objectives and Program Outcomes

The establishment, periodic review, and assessment of program educational objectives and program outcomes are fundamental for a properly functioning and coherent civil engineering program. Program educational objectives are broad statements that describe the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing graduates to achieve. Program outcomes are narrower statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire as they advance through the program.1 The ABET program evaluator (PEV) will expect to see that your program educational objectives are consistent with the mission of your institution and that they support your program’s constituencies. The PEV will also expect your program outcomes to foster the attainment of your program educational objectives and will expect your

Meyer, F., & Ressler, S. (2009, June), Let's Get Down To Business: Preparation For Abet Under The New Ce Program Criteria Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5695

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