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The Road To Engineering Programs Accreditation Under Nafta

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.476.1 - 1.476.5

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José L. Torres

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

Session 3 5 6 0

The Road to Engineering Programs Accreditation Under NAFTA

Jose L. Torres Indiana Institute of Technology

Summary This paper describes the current status of the Engineering Accreditation rules contemplated under NAFTA and the significant practical obstacles that exist in the implementation of such rules.

Introduction The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in effect since January 1, 1994, has spurred considerable growth in the export business of its signatory nations 1. However, in spite of its economic success, one of the issues covered by the rules of the agreement has received considerable attention in recent months: the exchange of professional services across the border with Mexico. This increased attention is rooted in a number of circumstances, among them the U.S. presidential election process.

On a purely rational level, the issue of legal immigration of Mexican engineers could almost be dismissed on the basis of its relative magnitude. Currently the U.S. issues about 2500 temporary entry visas to Mexican nationals in all professional fields combinedz. Even if we assume that 80% of these went to engineers, the total would amount to about 1/1000 of the Engineering/Technology employment in the U.S .s, and to about 1.6% of the number of graduates of these disciplines in the same years~4. It is also illustrative to consider that the influx of engineers into Mexico under NAFTA rules is also a source of anxietys, despite the fact that the Education Minist~ reports a grand total of 50 foreign applications for accreditation of an engineering degree, with the objective of practicing the profession in Mexico (none of these applications were submitted by U.S. or Canadian nationals.)

Building a multi-national economic union is necessarily a complex and painful process, given the large differences that typically exist in natural resources and technological development; it happened with the EEC and it will happen with NAFTA6

Engineering accreditation under NAFTA An important aspect of the exchange of services among the NAFTA partners will be the evaluation of professional credentials. The U.S. and Canada have developed independent but similar engineering accreditation systems, and have equivalency agreements in place since 19797. After a two-years long negotiation period, a preliminary agreement to extend the equivalency in engineering degrees to Mexico has been drafteds. The working document is officially called the Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Professional Certificates and

fiiiii) 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘Jay’: .

Torres, J. L. (1996, June), The Road To Engineering Programs Accreditation Under Nafta Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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