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Angermann, Barbara; Hoffland, Shelly (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 93, No. 2 (December 1988)

Hromadka, Nancy
Accreditation board for engineering and technology,   pp. 18-19

Page 18

by Nancy Hromadka
A little over two months ago, the
University of Wisconsin-Madison's
College of Engineering underwent an
examination by the Accreditation Board
for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
to verify that the College of Engineering
is maintaining the standards necessary to
achieve status as an ABET accredited
ABET, a federation of 26 engi-
neering societies, is the major accrediting
agency used to evaluate engineering
programs in the United States. The
organization was formed in 1933 as the
Engineers' Council for Professional
Development (ECPD) and later changed
to its current title with the primary
purpose of standardizing engineering
degree requirements and institutions
throughout the country. ABET identifies
programs that meet minimum criteria for
evaluation and provides guidance for the
improvement of existing engineering
Within ABET there are several
committees, such as the Engineering
Accreditation Commission (EAC) which
is responsible for administering policies,
procedures, and criteria previously
drafted and approved by the ABET
Board of Directors. The EAC consists of
engineering professionals from through-
out the country representing both
industry and academics. Each member
of the EAC has been nominated and
elected by a professional society to serve
as an active member on the committee
for a five-year term. The EAC's mem-
bers represent all disciplines of engineer-
ing including aeronautical, agricultural,
chemical, civil, electrical, industrial,
metallurgical, and nuclear.
From this large and diverse
group of engineers, smaller evaluating
teams known as Ad Hoc Visitors' Boards,
which actually visit the schools and make
accreditation recommendations, are
formed. Each visiting team consists of
approximately 10-15 people and includes
one type of engineer for every program
within a school to be evaluated. Every
member of the EAC is expected to serve
on one such visiting team during each
year of his or her term.
The actual evaluation of an
engineering school involves a two-day
visit and an extensive personal examina-
tion of the school by each team member
prior to the visit.
Every year, 45-50 schools are
visited and evaluated. Generally,
individual schools must request an ABET
evaluation before their current accredita-
tion expires. For example, in the case of
UW-Madison, Chancellor Donna Shalala
made a formal request in January
inviting ABET to send a visiting team to
evaluate ten programs in the College of
As a follow-up to such a request
and in preparation for the evaluation,
each school prepares a self-analysis,
known as a Self-Study Questionnaire,
sometime between February and May.
Associate Dean Donald Dietmeyer was
responsible for composing UW-
Madison's self-analysis which consisted
of three large volumes.
The first volume, typical of one
prepared at any school, dealt with the
college of engineering as a whole,
evaluating in detail the faculty, curricula,
administration, facilities, budget,
commitment, and students. It identified
areas the college viewed as its strengths
and weaknesses, and offered suggestions
for improving any such weaknesses.
The second volume of the self-
analysis consisted of multiple parts with
a separate section prepared for each
program to be evaluated. The ten
programs covered in UW-Madison's
latest evaluation were Agricultural
Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil
Engineering, Civil Engineering Survey
Option, Electrical Engineering, Engineer-
ing Mechanics, Industrial Engineering,
Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical
Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering.
The third volume illustrated the
numerous pamphlets, brochures, and
informational packets put out by the
College of Engineering to publicize its
A copy of this kind of self-
analysis is then sent to each member of
the visiting team and used as back-
ground information to familiarize
members with the school prior to the
A typical visit takes two days,
beginning on a Sunday evening with an
initial meeting of the team members and
ending on the following Tuesday
afternoon in a final meeting with the
school's chancellor. During the two days
on campus, team members speak with
Wisconsin Engineer, December 1988

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