Two bachelor’s programs at NMU have recently been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The electronic engineering technology and the mechanical engineering technology programs were accredited at the same time this year.
The review process began more than a year ago in Jan. 2009, said Mike Rudisill, head of the department of engineering technology. The department submitted a report including a self-assessment to ABET for review, Rudisill said.
Three inspectors from ABET arrived at NMU in the fall of 2009 to compare the department to the contents of its report. “They looked at curriculum. They looked at the lab facilities. They looked at the instructors’ credentials,” Rudisill said. “[The inspectors looked at] just about everything you could think of.”
Rudisill said the accreditation came almost a year after the inspection, with the two programs accredited in August of this year.
The accreditation is good news for both the faculty and the students in the department, Rudisill said. According to Rudisill, the accreditation will attract quality students and industry partnerships to benefit the department. Students will also have a competitive edge in the industry coming from an ABET-accredited program.
“There’s some employers that require ABET accreditation (to recognize a degree),” Rudisill said.
Rudisill said that the department’s work doesn’t stop with the accreditation. ABET accredits programs on a six-year cycle, looking for continuous improvement. In a few years more, inspectors will visit NMU to examine the state of the accredited programs to see that they’ve surpassed the quality of their last inspection.
“It’s like any continuous assessment process,” Rudisill said. Rudisill said the department will conduct its own periodic reviews to determine the programs’ progress. These reviews will analyze student progress in the programs and any possible shortfalls. Rudisill said the department will work to improve any areas that might be lacking during the next six years and move forward to ensure accreditation in the future.
ABET, established in 1932, is a non-governmental organization that uses a voluntary peer-review process for accreditation. The organization has currently accredited 3,100 programs at more than 600 colleges and universities in more than 21 countries. ABET accredits university degree programs, but does not accredit specific universities or departments.
“We actually accredit more than engineering [programs],” said Caryl Cryer, the communications specialist for ABET. The organization also accredits programs in applied science, computer science, engineering, and other technology degrees.
According to Cryer, inspections are usually in the fall, especially in the United States. The inspectors, all volunteers numbering more than 1,500, spend two to three days on campus assessing the programs submitted for accreditation.