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Tribulations Of A New Electrical Engineering Program: From Program Inception To Abet Accreditation

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1281.1 - 14.1281.14



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Paper Authors


Esteban Rodriguez-Marek Eastern Washington University

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ESTEBAN RODRIGUEZ-MAREK is an Associate Professor in the department of Engineering and Design at Eastern Washington University. He did his graduate work in Electrical Engineering at Washington State University. He worked as a research scientist at Fast Search & Transfer before transferring to the Department of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. His interest include image and video processing, communication systems, digital signal processing, and cryptographic theory and applications.

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Min-Sung Koh Eastern Washington University


Michael Brzoska Eastern Washington University

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Dr. Michael Brzoska holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Professor and the Associate Dean of Computing and Engineering Sciences at Eastern Washington University. He is an active member of ASME and coordinates the annual Symposium on Applications in Computer Fluid Dynamics.

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Claudio Talarico Eastern Washington University

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Claudio Talarico is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Eastern Washington University. Before joining Eastern Washington University, he worked at University of Arizona, University of Hawaii and in industry, where he held both engineering and management positions at Infineon Technologies, IKOS Systems (now Mentor Graphics), and Marconi Communications.
His research interests include design methodologies for integrated circuits and systems with emphasis on system-level design, embedded systems, HW/SW co-design, system specification languages, and early design assessment, analysis, and refinement of complex SOCs. Talarico received a PhD in electrical engineering form the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and is a member of IEEE. Contact him at

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

Tribulations of a New Electrical Engineering Program: From Program Inception to ABET Accreditation


In the Fall of 2002, Eastern Washington University (EWU) received a call from the American Electronics Association (AeA) requesting our institution to initiate the process to open an Electrical Engineering program to fill an existing gap in the State’s labor force. The fact that our Department was exclusively dedicated to Engineering Technology put to the offer an even more exciting overtone, as we knew that it would not only be challenging, but that we would be walking on what for us was uncharted territory. On hindsight, the best thing that our Department had going in our favor is lacking the vision to anticipate the many hurdles that we would encounter. The first of these hurdles came in the form of state legislation. The State of Washington has a provision in its laws that precludes public comprehensive universities from offering engineering degrees, this privilege being reserved to public research institutions. After innumerable visits to the state capital and irrefutable evidence of the need for more electrical engineers in the state, the law was overturned, although only for Electrical Engineering. But the problems were just starting. We knew we had ahead of us a monumental competitor in the Higher Education Coordinating Board, an organization that rules and regulates approval of new programs in the State, but what we did not know is that fierce enemies would rise from within. The prospect of a new program, potentially very costly for the University, incited several programs at EWU to protest against the opening of an Electrical Engineering degree. Great temple and adroit political maneuvering by the administration, which was fully behind the new program, were required for the eventual internal approval of the degree. And the Higher Education Coordinating Board was still to come! This paper describes the trials and tribulations that were overcome by the Department of Engineering & Design from the initial idea to the final accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) [1] in the summer of 2008.

I. Introduction

It is not every day that a new Electrical Engineering program is started. This is an unfortunate fact for at least a couple of reasons. First, there is a severe need for more electrical engineers in the workforce, as a large percentage of the baby boomers are set to retire in the next few years. Second, the lack of new programs leads to very little literature being available to universities trying to start their own program, and when available, it may not address issues faced by a given institution [2][3][4][5][6]. While the overarching goal of EWU was to address the first reason mentioned above, the goal of this paper is to continue filling in the vacuum in the literature. The paper will describe the path taken by the University in the conception, design and implementation of the program. Section II talks briefly about the history of the program, followed by curriculum development in Section III. Section IV describes the Capstone Design class used in the curriculum, a multidisciplinary design class that has enjoyed a big success with the student population. The steps taken to prepare for the visitation of the ABET accreditation

Rodriguez-Marek, E., & Koh, M., & Brzoska, M., & Talarico, C. (2009, June), Tribulations Of A New Electrical Engineering Program: From Program Inception To Abet Accreditation Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4629

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