Proposed Accreditation Changes Released for Comment

January/February 2016

Communities: Education
Proposed Accreditation Changes Released for Comment

Suggested changes to the criteria used for accrediting college engineering programs are now open for public comment, and accreditation organization ABET wants to hear from NSPE members.

The process of revising the criteria on student outcomes and curriculum began in 2009. According to ABET Executive Director and CEO Michael Milligan, P.E., the criteria needed to keep up with the evolution of engineering education as well as address feedback from schools, industry, and member societies. According to ABET, the new criteria better meet current needs of the profession. They are also more streamlined and measurable.

NSPE has actively contributed to the revision process. For example, in 2010 the Society adopted Position Statement No. 1752 recommending engineering education outcomes not contained in ABET’s baccalaureate-level general criteria. These outcomes included the ability to analyze risk and uncertainty as well as apply project management principles.

ABET’s proposed changes mirror some of NSPE suggestions, including new student outcomes incorporating risk and uncertainty as well as principles related to project management. In addition, ABET’s revisions add a specific reference to humanities and social sciences in the general education component complementing a technical curriculum, which NSPE also endorsed in its position statement.

NSPE had also contributed to the proposal by providing ABET with input on an earlier draft of the revised criteria. “NSPE definitely had a positive impact on criteria development,” Milligan says. “[The Society’s] input was very constructive and helpful and appreciated.”

The version now open to public comment considers more than 70 suggestions from stakeholders.

To promote the proposed changes, ABET is engaging with academia and publicizing the comment period through its website and newsletter as well as at member society events. “We’re working hard to make sure anybody that might care about the modifications has the opportunity to read and comment on them,” says Milligan. He notes that the majority of the feedback so far has been supportive of the revisions.

Assuming there is no need for major edits to the proposal, the revised criteria may be approved during the fall 2016 ABET Engineering Area Delegation meeting. NSPE is reviewing ABET’s latest proposal and intends to provide additional specific comments.

The comment deadline is June 30, 2016, although ABET would like to gather feedback as early as possible.

Learn more and find the link to the feedback survey at Read more about NSPE’s participation at