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Preparing Effectively For Abet Accreditation: What Does It All Mean?

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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

Best Practices in Aerospace Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.995.1 - 13.995.11



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Paper Authors


Kristi Shryock Texas A&M University

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Kristi J. Shryock is a Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received both a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M and is actively involved in the ABET process.

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Helen Reed Texas A&M University

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Dr. Helen L. Reed is Professor and Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. She is active in computational work in boundary-layer transition, flow control, and hypersonic flow; in unmanned and micro aerial vehicle systems; and in micro-/nano-satellite design, responsive systems, and autonomous rendezvous and docking.

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

Preparing Effectively for ABET Accreditation: What Does It All Mean?


The simple word, ABET, invokes different emotions from people, which can range from pleasant to complete frustration. In most cases, people seem to favor the latter emotion. People many times get so caught up in the minute details that they lose sight of the fact the main purpose of ABET is to assure quality within your program. While many programs have sailed successfully through previous ABET visits, they find the newer process of outcomes-based accreditation somewhat overwhelming and are unsure of how to proceed. Many programs have finally accepted some comfort with terms, such as objectives and outcomes, but find this newer terminology, including continuous improvement and performance criteria or measures, somewhat terrifying.

The purpose of this paper is to assist both established and newer programs with navigating successfully through the ABET requirements. The authors are both from an established ABET department but have incorporated newer methods and procedures to streamline the accreditation process. Suggestions will be provided on how to convert a ‘death by data’ department into an efficient ABET program. The authors will discuss the role that specific course information plays in the process and the importance of properly defining learning outcomes. Many departments find they have a list of learning outcomes, but most people do not know what is actually meant by the particular outcome. This paper will detail potential struggles found in incorporating new methods and will provide strategies utilized to effectively overcome these. In addition, before and after showcases will be shown, so that the reader can observe the effectiveness and clarity of the newer methods. These showcases include data collection methods, assessment methods, and definitions of the process. Both experienced and new personnel working with ABET programs will discover practical, effective methods in this paper.


Founded in 1932 under the name Engineers' Council for Professional Development, ABET (formerly Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredits post-secondary degree-granting programs. Many people interpret this to mean that ABET accredits departments, colleges, or even courses. In reality, ABET accredits programs, and your accreditation work should reflect the program as a whole.

Some programs treat the six-year time lag between visits with the following timeline: - Year 1 – Celebrate success of previous ABET visit. - Years 2-4 – Feel that ABET is a long time away. - Year 5 – Begin to worry about ABET visit the following year, and survey every class imaginable to be ready for year 6 with the ABET visit.

This process invalidates the entire intent of ABET, which is to ensure continuous improvement within the program. The purpose of ABET is not to compare programs across the nation. It is

Shryock, K., & Reed, H. (2008, June), Preparing Effectively For Abet Accreditation: What Does It All Mean? Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4309

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