June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1301.1 - 26.1301.9
Raising the Bar for Engineering: Why ABET is Necessary but not SufficientFor the past two decades ASCE has been engaged in a major strategic initiative to enhance theeducational prerequisites for entry into the practice of civil engineering at the professional level.From a macro perspective, this “Raise the Bar” initiative has been promulgated by: Formally articulating and publishing the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CE BOK). Determining through curricular analysis that the educational component of the CE BOK cannot be fully attained within the current four-year baccalaureate degree. Determining that the educational component of the CE BOK can be fully attained through a baccalaureate degree augmented by a master’s degree (or equivalent). Advocating for a change to the NCEES Model Law and Rules, to require a master’s degree or equivalent for engineering licensure. Advocating for changes to state licensure laws, to require a master’s degree or equivalent for engineering licensure.This last endeavor—attempting to influence state licensure laws—is fraught with challenges. Inaddressing these challenges, ASCE’s Raise the Bar proponents are frequently confronted withthe question: “Why can’t ABET take care of this problem?” This question presumes thatenhanced educational standards could be implemented more easily or more effectively throughthe accreditation system than through the licensure system.The principal purpose of this paper is to answer the question: “Why can’t ABET take care of thisproblem?” In addressing this question, the authors will refute the claim that the inadequacy of afour-year baccalaureate degree as academic preparation for professional engineering practice canbe addressed by changes to accreditation policies, procedures, and criteria alone. In a broadersense, this paper will show that ABET accreditation does have a critical supporting role inraising the educational bar for engineering; however, this contribution is necessary but notsufficient to achieve the desired end.More specifically, this paper will: (1) Identify all possible mechanisms by which ABET might address the need for additional education, as articulated in ASCE’s Raise the Bar initiative. (2) Demonstrate why these mechanisms are infeasible. (3) Summarize recent changes to ABET accreditation policies, procedures, and criteria that have supported the “Raise the Bar” initiative. (4) Identify future changes to ABET accreditation policies, procedures, and criteria that could further enable the “Raise the Bar” initiative. (5) Demonstrate that implementing all feasible accreditation-related enablers will not fully address the problem; and that licensure, not accreditation, must be the principal focus for implementing enforceable standards that enhance the educational preparation of future engineering professionals.COORDINATING NOTE: This abstract is submitted at the specific invitation and request ofTom Lenox, the coordinator of the ASCE Liaison Committee’s program for the CE Division ofASEE in 2015. It should be considered for inclusion in the session that Tom Lenox is organizingand moderating.
Ressler, S. J., & Lenox, T. A. (2015, June), Raising the Bar for Engineering: Why ABET is Necessary but not Sufficient Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24638
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