Can ABET Really Make a Difference?

John W. Prados
Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-2200, USA

Over the past 15 years, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has implemented fundamental changes in its accreditation philosophy, criteria, and processes: active encouragement of continuous educational quality improvement has replaced an arms-length auditing mentality; accreditation criteria now focus on what graduates have learned and can do, rather than their seat time in classes; better selection, training, and evaluation of program evaluators and team chairs remains an elusive but essential goal. But are these changes driving needed changes in the education of professionals for engineering and related fields? Are such programs becoming more innovative and responsive to the future needs of the profession? How can ABET assure that innovations in accreditation are implemented effectively and produce the desired results? Answers to these and related questions are far from clear, but strategies for moving toward critical ABET goals will be suggested.


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