Outcomes assessment is a core aspect of assessment for the College of Engineering. It is required by our accrediting agency, the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (www.abet.org); by the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR); and by the UA’s accrediting association, the North Central Association. We are committed to outcomes assessment because it makes sense that an educational program should have defined objectives. As engineers, we are comfortable with the idea of measurement to see how we are doing, and putting a feedback loop in place to continuously improve what we are doing.
In 2000, our accrediting association, the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, shifted its accreditation standards to a focus on learning outcomes. The UA College of Engineering was among the first to have undergraduate degree prorgams accredited under the new system. Since that time, we have maintained and sharpened our infrastructure to support effective assessment.
Of our currently-offered undergraduate degree programs, all of the following are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org:
· Aerospace Engineering
· Biosystems Engineering
· Chemical Engineering
· Civil Engineering
· Electrical & Computer Engineering
· Engineering Management
· Industrial Engineering
· Materials Science & Engineering
· Mechanical Engineering
· Mining Engineering
· Optical Sciences & Engineering
· Systems Engineering
The undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering (BME) was established in AY 2009-10; evaluation of BME for ABET accreditation takes place in AY 2016-17. The undergraduate programs in Environmental Engineering and in Architectural Engineering began, respectively, in AY 2015-16 and AY 2016-17, and will be evaluated for accreditation once the programs produce graduates (a degree program may not be reviewed for accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET until such time as the degree program produces graduates).
Our College educational mission is to: Provide an excellent education for students entering the engineering profession.
Our College educational strategy is for each academic program to:
- Define the professional expertise that graduates in their discipline should have upon successful completion of the program
- Provide the educational activities that will:
o allow students to experience the benefits of interacting with experienced faculty and staff
o prepare them to understand the practice of the profession from political, ethical, economic and technological viewpoints
o enable graduates to fully participate in the state-of-the-art profession of the field at graduation and throughout their careers
- Continuously improve through assessment and feedback
The College initiated strategic planning exercises in Spring 2010 that, amongst other things, improved and provided greater definition to these educational strategies. Another strategic planning exercise is slated for Spring 2017.
We do not seek ABET accreditation for our graduate level programs, nor is it common practice for engineering programs to do so. The ABET general criteria for undergraduate engineering programs are described below.
Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET General Criteria for Baccalaureate Level Programs
Criterion 1. Students
The program must evaluate student performance, advise students regarding curricular and career matters, and monitor student’s progress to foster their success in achieving program outcomes, thereby enabling them as graduates to attain program objectives.
The program must have and enforce policies for the acceptance of transfer students and for the validation of courses taken for credit elsewhere. The program must also have and enforce procedures to assure that all students meet all program requirements.
Criterion 2. Program Educational Objectives
Each program must have in place:
a. published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution and these criteria
b. a process that periodically reviews the program educational objectives including how the program’s various constituencies are involved in this process
c. a description of how this process is systematically utilized to ensure that the program’s educational objectives remain consistent with the institutional mission, the program constituents’ needs and these criteria.
Criterion 3. Student Outcomes
The student outcomes that all ABET-accredited engineering programs must demonstrate are summarized below in the major section entitled Expected Learning Outcomes. Student (Learning) Outcomes must foster attainment of program educational objectives. There must be an assessment and evaluation process that periodically documents and demonstrates the degree to which the program outcomes are attained.
Criterion 4. Continuous Improvement
Each program must show evidence of actions to improve the program. These actions should be based on available information, such as results from Criteria 2 and 3 processes.
Criterion 5. Curriculum
The curriculum requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The faculty must ensure that the program curriculum devotes adequate attention and time to each component, consistent with the outcomes and objectives of the program and institution. The professional component must include:
a. one year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the discipline
b. one and one-half years of engineering topics, consisting of engineering sciences and engineering design appropriate to the student's field of study. The engineering sciences have their roots in mathematics and basic sciences but carry knowledge further toward creative application. These studies provide a bridge between mathematics and basic sciences on the one hand and engineering practice on the other. Engineering design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and the engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet these stated needs.
c. a general education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program and institution objectives.
Students must be prepared for engineering practice through a curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and incorporating appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints.
Criterion 6. Faculty
The faculty must be of sufficient number and must have the competencies to cover all of the curricular areas of the program. There must be sufficient faculty to accommodate adequate levels of student-faculty interaction, student advising and counseling, university service activities, professional development, and interactions with industrial and professional practitioners, as well as employers of students.
The program faculty must have appropriate qualifications and must have and demonstrate sufficient authority to ensure the proper guidance of the program and to develop and implement processes for the evaluation, assessment, and continuing improvement of the program, its educational objectives and outcomes. The overall competence of the faculty may be judged by such factors as education, diversity of backgrounds, engineering experience, teaching effectiveness and experience, ability to communicate, enthusiasm for developing more effective programs, level of scholarship, participation in professional societies, and licensure as Professional Engineers.
Criterion 7. Facilities
Classrooms, laboratories, and associated equipment must be adequate to safely accomplish the program objectives and provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. Appropriate facilities must be available to foster faculty-student interaction and to create a climate that encourages professional development and professional activities. Programs must provide opportunities for students to learn the use of modern engineering tools. Computing and information infrastructures must be in place to support the scholarly activities of the students and faculty and the educational objectives of the program and institution.
Criterion 8. Instituional Support
Institutional support, financial resources, and constructive leadership must be adequate to assure the quality and continuity of the program. Resources must be sufficient to attract, retain, and provide for the continued professional development of a well-qualified faculty. Resources also must be sufficient to acquire, maintain, and operate facilities and equipment appropriate for the program. In addition, support personnel and institutional services must be adequate to meet program needs.
Criterion 9. Program Criteria
Each program must satisfy applicable Program Criteria (if any). Program Criteria provide the specificity needed for interpretation of the baccalaureate level criteria as applicable to a given discipline. Requirements stipulated in the Program Criteria are limited to the areas of curricular topics and faculty qualifications. If a program, by virtue of its title, becomes subject to two or more sets of Program Criteria, then that program must satisfy each set of Program Criteria; however, overlapping requirements need to be satisfied only once.
Expected Learning Outcomes:
To receive accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, undergraduate engineering programs must demonstrate, amongst other things, that their students attain the following outcomes:
a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
c) 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
d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
g) an ability to communicate effectively
h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning
j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
To augment or complement outcomes (a) through (k), programs may articulate additional outcomes that foster attainment of program educational objectives.
There must be an assessment and evaluation process that periodically documents and demonstrates the degree to which the program outcomes are attained.
Our College Assessment (ABET) Team provides leadership for student outcomes assessment activities within the College. Their activities include guidance for defining educational objectives, measuring learning outcomes, and continuous educational improvement activities. This team provides a forum for sharing and testing ideas and the results of departmental assessment activities.
This team has worked cooperatively since 2001, first developing the College Educational Assessment Plan, then monitoring and assisting assessment activities, and in 2003-4, 2009-10, 2015-16 assisting programs in developing their self-study reports to the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. The committee has representatives from each program in the College. Meetings are held as needed, but more frequently during the year that precedes accreditation visits. ABET accreditation occurs in six-year cycles.
Detailed information about each department’s assessment and improvement efforts may be found on the following web-pages: