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The Multifunctional Use Of A Multidisciplinary B.S.E. Degree Program: An Historical Case Study

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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

Multidisciplinary Curriculum Innovation

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1246.1 - 13.1246.6



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Paper Authors


James Farison Baylor University

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Dr. Jim Farison is currently professor and associate chair of the ECE Department at Baylor University, and is also administratively responsible for Baylor's multidisciplinary B.S. in Engineering program. He was a founding member and serves currently as the past chair of ASEE's Multidisciplinary Engineering Division, and is a member of the ASEE Accreditation Activities Committee. He received his B.S.E.E. from The University of Toledo and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, before returning to serve on the faculty at UT in the EE and then the Bioengineering departments, including 10 years as dean of engineering in between, before moving to Baylor in 1998. He is currently a member of the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission, a fellow of ASEE, a senior member of IEEE, and holds PE registration in Ohio and Texas.

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

The Multifunctional Use of a Multidisciplinary B.S.E. Degree Program: An Historical Case Study


The first nationally recognized accreditation of engineering programs was granted by ECPD (the antecedent of ABET) in 1936. Four of those initial programs (3 B.S. in Engineering and 1 B.S. in General Engineering) are still operating and accredited. In 2005, ASEE became the lead society for the ABET evaluation of multidisciplinary engineering programs (B.S. in Engineering and three other related titles). At last count, there were 32 accredited B.S.E. programs in the U.S. (plus 3 General Engineering, 17 B.S. in Engineering Physics and 11 B.S. in Engineering Science programs also under ASEE purview). This paper provides a case study of a current B.S.E. program, the shortest and most generic of the multidisciplinary engineering program titles. The B.S.E. program at Baylor University was first accredited in 1988-89 and has served and continues to serve effectively in multiple roles for our institution since that date, even as other traditional departmental programs have been established around it.

Launching the First Engineering Program

This story begins, at least in a publicly-documented way, in the 1978-79 academic year, when Baylor University approved the formation of the Institute of Engineering Science to develop an engineering degree within the College of Arts and Sciences. The Institute became operational with the hiring of the Institute’s first director in 1979, with the mission to start an engineering program. Over the next several years, additional engineering faculty members were hired, and an engineering program with its curriculum and courses was developed. In June 1980, the Department of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) was formed in the College of Arts & Sciences by combining the new Institute of Engineering Science and the established B. S. in Computer Science program, which was previously offered through the Department of Mathematics. When the initial faculty had completed planning for a full degree program with an appropriate set of all new engineering courses, the 1985-86 catalog announced the full degree requirements and curriculum plan for the new B.S. in Engineering Science program, initially with computer, electrical, and mechanical “options.”

In 1988, the Department of Engineering and Computer Science, still a unit within the College of Arts and Sciences, moved into its own new building, called the Rogers ECS Building, after the donors whose contribution enabled the building’s construction. The building was constructed specifically to support the programs in engineering and computer science. Somewhere during those early years, the program and degree were renamed to the B.S. in Engineering.

When some of the early students were completing the full professional B.S.E. curriculum plan and were ready to graduate, the institution requested an accreditation visit for the new program by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Accreditation was granted in 1989. By 1992, the computer option was subsumed into the electrical option (as a labeled emphasis). Accreditation was renewed in 1994-95. In 1995, the current School of Engineering and Computer Science was

Farison, J. (2008, June), The Multifunctional Use Of A Multidisciplinary B.S.E. Degree Program: An Historical Case Study Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3464

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