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Ten Years of ABET EC 2000: One Person’s Reflections

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ABET: Reflections on Accreditation

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1271.1 - 25.1271.12

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Paper Authors


Allen C. Estes California Polytechnic State University

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Allen C. Estes is a professor and Head for the Architectural Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Until Jan. 2007, Estes was the Director of the Civil Engineering program at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. Estes received a B.S. degree from USMA in 1978, M.S. degrees in structural engineering and in construction management from Stanford University in 1987, and a Ph.D. degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1997.

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Ten Years of ABET EC 2000: One Person’s ReflectionsThis abstract is in direct response to the session proposed by the CE Division on the reflectionsof ABET over the past ten years from the perspective of program directors, program evaluatorsand members of the ASCE committee on Curricula and Accreditation. The proposed paper willoffer the perspectives and reflections from a full professor who has directed two differentprograms (Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering) at two different locations throughsuccessful accreditation visits. The author is also a seasoned program evaluator who has madeten ABET accreditation visits (one per year) to ten different CE and AE programs over the pastdecade. The reflections will include thoughts on the following accreditation issues: • EC2000 has appears to have abandoned some of the original core principles that made the outcomes based approach so attractive. The original philosophy espoused that programs would be encouraged to create their own outcomes and define their uniqueness and focus through these outcomes. The 3 a-k outcomes were included for all programs to ensure some minimum standards were maintained. The cited advantage of EC2000 over the previous bean-counting method of accreditation was that programs, rather than ABET, would be able to define their own purpose and goals. Over the decade the philosophical underpinning has been lost. Programs are encouraged to accept the 3 a-k outcomes in their exact form rather than risking loss of accreditation by failing to demonstrate an additional outcome. The result is that ABET is defining what all programs should achieve. • The dual definition of a year as either 32 semester hours or one-quarter of the curriculum is flawed and results in a dual standard for the amount of math and basic science that is required for accreditation • The bar has been raised on the assessment standard for attainment of student outcomes. Programs are gradually becoming better about using direct measures of student performance to assess outcomes. Schools have been very creative in using the FE exam results, practitioner feedback, embedded indicators, student surveys, advisory board consultations, and student portfolios to assess attainment of student outcomes. • Conversely, program educational objectives (PEO) have started to get out of hand. The wording of acceptable PEOs has become so finely parsed and evaluator dependent that is has become impossible to develop PEOs that are universally accepted. It is particularly difficult in many cases to distinguish what occurs at graduation from what is attained several years after graduation. • There are other areas where there has been little scrutiny and the bar has not been raised. The areas of faculty, equipment and resources have evolved very little over the past ten years, but that could change at any moment. • The collection of transcripts is often not given much attention, but can be critically important to the evaluation. • Earlier ABET documents introduced the concepts of a slow loop evaluation that occurs less frequently but covers broader issues and the fast loop evaluation that occurs annually and is more systematic. This idea has been lost. It was a good concept that should be resurrected. • Programs need to watch for changes because they occur every year. Some are not well advertised but can have a large effect on the documentation required for the self-study. The tables required for Section 1 and Appendix D have changed dramatically over the years and a program using a previous year’s self-study template could easily miss them.These reflections and more will hopefully be useful to those educators who are less familiar withthis process and will help put some of today’s requirements in context and perspective.

Estes, A. C. (2012, June), Ten Years of ABET EC 2000: One Person’s Reflections Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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