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Some Consequences Of The "Engineering 2000 Criteria" On Liberal Education

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.502.1 - 3.502.3

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Paper Authors

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Lance Schachterle

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

1 Session 3661


Lance Schachterle Worcester Polytechnic Institute

In December 1995, the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET promulgated a draft set of new criteria for engineering programs called “Engineering Criteria 2000. ” These draft criteria are intended for circulation within the engineering and professional communities for two full years (1995-97), with the final review and vote on adoption scheduled for 1 November 1997. If the new critelia are adopted, a three-year phased implementation period will follow in the academic years 1998-1999 to 2000-2001, during which institutions may select either the old or new criteria. If accepted in present or modified form, these “Engineering Criteria 2000” will replace existing ABET criteria, and will become the universal standard by which all engineering programs will be assessed from the year 2001 onwards.

These new criteria represent not only a very different methodology for assessing engineering education, but also disclose a change in fundamental philosophy of how accrediting is to be done. The new criteria resemble the methodology now used by the Regional Accreditation Commissions, accreditation with whom basically registers a college or university as a legitimate educational entity recognized by state and federal governments. For years, the regional accrediting societies have used a three-part structure in their campus assessments:

1. Asking the institution being reviewed to indicate its mission and goals, which must be what is advertised to the student customer base;

2. Reviewing the curriculum that has been designed to achieve those goals, making certain that there is a close relationship between the publicly stated goals and the curriculum purporting to embody those goals; and

3. Examining the ways in which the institution engages in continuous self-study so that institutional assessment of the outcomes of the curriculum (in ~erms of what students can-and cannot do) is related back to appropriate adjustments in the curriculum, creating a beneficial feedback loop between student outcomes and the curriculum that is supposed to nurture them. Thus, instead of the conventional mode of accreditation in ABET (experienced by most faculty throughout their whole professional lifetimes) which laid out in increasing detail the courses students had to pass in order for a program to be accredited, the proposed new curriculum looks at what students - rather than what students have taken. The new outcomes, eleven in number, assess both students’ disciplinary competence and their capacity to perform their disciplinary competence within a social context. In so doing, the new ABET curricular recognizes the frequently reported requests from industry that entering programs need not only to prepare people who are technically competent but also can begin quickly, while on the job, to carry out professional tasks in an open-ended problem-solving environment. (Examples of such reports include the 1995 Rand Corporation report, the SME&T testimony given to the National Science Foundation in October 1995 by American corporations, and the 1992 NSPE survey of what employers most want in new engineering graduates.)

{tigi~ 1996 ASEE Annual conference Proceedings ‘..+,yyy’:

Schachterle, L. (1998, June), Some Consequences Of The "Engineering 2000 Criteria" On Liberal Education Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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