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Understanding Abet Objectives And Outcomes

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1512.1 - 12.1512.10



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Paper Authors


Owe Petersen Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Petersen is Department Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He is a former Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and received his Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and an ABET EAC program evaluator in Electrical Engineering.

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Stephen Williams Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Stephen Williams is Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Missouri in 1990 and has 20 years of experience across the corporate, government, and university sectors. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin. He teaches courses in control systems, electronic design, and electromechanics.

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Eric Durant Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Durant is Program Director of Computer Engineering and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He did his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, receiving the Ph.D. degree in 2002. He teaches courses in both computer and software engineering and does consulting work involving signal processing, genetic algorithms, and hearing aid algorithms.

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

Understanding ABET Objectives and Outcomes Owe Petersen, Stephen Williams, Eric Durant Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Milwaukee School of Engineering, USA


Despite the maturing of the implementation of the EAC Engineering Criteria (EC2000), there persists a misinterpretation and misunderstanding regarding the program educational objectives and program outcomes. Many an engineering program still heads into the accreditation process without a clear sense of the meaning and implementation of these items.

This paper traces the development of the current definitions associated with ABET criteria 2 and 3 and provides insights into the resulting impact on program and curriculum development, specifically, the assessment process.

A useful understanding of objectives and outcomes can be achieved with a top-down approach. The process starts with the expected niche of the engineering world in which the graduates of an engineering program expect to pursue their intended/possible careers. The descriptors of the range of career paths and accomplishments expected of the graduates form the program objectives. The academic input and contribution that would foster and enhance the abilities of the graduates to achieve the intended career paths and accomplishments are limited to the years the graduate is a student. Hence, the skills and characteristics of the student at the time of graduation form the program outcomes since they are what a university is able to influence and attempt to assure. After establishing of the objectives and outcomes, consideration is given to the entire range of academic pursuits, from curriculum development to advising to institutional support activities. All of these form the vehicle for imparting the required knowledge and for channeling the development of the needed personal characteristics.

Index Terms – ABET Criteria, program objectives, program outcomes, assessment


“Engineering Criteria 2000” (EC2000, now called the Engineering Criteria) was implemented in the later 1990s. Many aspects of the new criteria required a new mind-set and were quite different from the Traditional Criteria, which had significant elements of “bean counting.” EC2000 at its heart was to allow greater freedom in how an engineering program defined itself via its intent, its constituencies’ needs, and its curriculum [1][2][3]. But, along with freedom to choose comes the need to properly understand the new criteria and its implications.

One item of lingering confusion relates to the program educational objectives and program outcomes. Even now significant difficulties appear to exist in understanding the meaning of those terms and their relationship to each other [4]. At recent events, such as the fall 2005 ABET Summit [5], questions were again asked regarding what was the difference between objectives

Petersen, O., & Williams, S., & Durant, E. (2007, June), Understanding Abet Objectives And Outcomes Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1799

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