To: EECS Faculty
From: Paul Hilfinger and Andy Neureuther
Date: 8 March 2006
Re: ABET Preparation Process
As faculty, we need to periodically re-examine our degree programs to continually improve them. Basically, this is what our 2006 visit from ABET enables us to do with regard to our undergraduate programs. This memo is relevant to faculty who teach undergraduates, and particularly to those of you who have been asked to revise our undergraduate course descriptions.
In fact, one of our chief tasks as teaching faculty requires an identification of the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that yield educational outcomes in support of our objectives and mission.
Our incremental concerns are demonstrating that our students: (1) attain an ability to design a system, component, or process within multiple realistic constraints; (2) obtain fundamental knowledge of probability; and (3) receive 45 units of engineering content, excluding E 190 and assuming that EE 126 is not used for the discrete math requirement in Computer Science Option IV.
ABET is a peer review accreditation process that evaluates the quality of engineering programs; to be accredited insures that our students are ready to enter the professional ranks upon graduation, and assures their employers of the same.
The terminology that ABET uses points toward this goal:
Intention: Assure quality and to foster systematic improvement that satisfies the needs of constituencies (students, industry, government, academia).
For a list of our ECE and CSE Program objectives, please see: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/education/abet-outcomes/
Outcomes: Statements that describe what students are expected to know and to be able to do by the time of their graduation. These relate to skills, knowledge, and behaviors.
For successful accreditation we must have the following in place:
- Detailed published educational objectives that fit our mission.
- A process based on the needs of the program's constituencies in which the objectives are determined and periodically evaluated.
- An educational program, including curriculum that prepares students to attain program outcomes that foster accomplishments of graduates that are consistent with our objectives.
- A process of ongoing evaluation of the extent to which these objectives are attained, the results of which shall be used to develop and improve the program outcomes.
ABET Criterion 3 (a-k) Outcomes
ABET has developed a list of outcomes that address educational needs imposed by the increasing globalization of the engineering profession, which itself is in response to the globalization of manufacturing and service delivery. In varying degree, our programs of study and individual classes are expected to meet these criteria.
Outcomes (i.e., skills, knowledge, and behaviors) can be measured and documented to demonstrate that we are attaining our objectives (i.e., the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing the student to achieve). The individual course outcomes will likely map closely to the ABET-required outcomes listed below, though with more articulated course-specific skills, knowledge, and behaviors.
As determined by ABET, accreditable engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain:
- An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
- An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
- An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
- An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams.
- An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
- An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
- An ability to communicate effectively.
- The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
- A recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
- Knowledge of contemporary issues.
- An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
In addition, an engineering program must demonstrate that its students attain any additional outcomes articulated by the program to foster achievement of its own educational objectives, as found in our updated list of ECE and CSE Program Outcomes.
It is helpful to think of the ABET preparation process as a feedback loop that relies on program evaluation, which depends on outcome assessments, which becomes subsequently reflected in continuous program improvements in support of our objectives. One very valuable resource for outcome assessment is the self-report Exit Survey administered yearly since 2000 by the College of Engineering to graduating seniors. A summary of student responses to this questionnaire can be found here: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/education/usli/Surveys.
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