Getting ready for ABET


(last revised 1/26/2012)


Template files (right-click to download)

ABET CV template (docx-file)

Example of course outcomes relation to ABET outcomes (docx file)


1. What is ABET?


Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the single engineering program accrediting agency officially recognized by the US Dept. of Education. ABET only accredits programs, not institutions. There are 8 programs (including physics) at CSM which are ABET accredited, and each will be visited this fall. The outcome of the accreditation visit will be either (1) accredited until next general review (6 years), (2) enough weaknesses or deficiencies so that an interim visit (or report) is required ( 3 years), or (3) not accredited.


2. On what criteria will the Engineering Physics program be assessed?

There are eight criteria which will be evaluated:

  1. I. Students
  2. II. Program Educational Objectives
  3. III. Student Outcomes
  4. IV. Continuous Improvement
  5. V. Curriculum
  6. VI. Faculty
  7. VII. Facilities
  8. VIII. Institutional Support

3. How are we expected to show ABET Criteria compliance?


ABET requires each accredited program to demonstrate that these criteria are met through a specific multitiered process. Within this process and of particular interest to the faculty are the processes for determining and verifying the achievement of the Program Educational Objectives and Program Student Outcomes consistent with ABET Criteria .

At the highest level the Program Educational Objectives are the general qualities expected of our graduates to meet the needs of our "constituents", typically some industry, but for physics includes graduate schools, and for a state-supported institution includes the CCHE. The program must define its constituents and a process for responding to their evolving needs as well as document this process. Program goals are assessed generally through "post-tassel" measures such as alumni and employer surveys. The Engineering Physics Educational Objectives are closely related to the CSM Future Graduate Profile. Here are the Engineering Physics Educational Objectives as they appear in the CSM 2011/2012 Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 73:

1.     All engineering physics graduates must have the factual knowledge and other thinking skills necessary to construct an appropriate understanding of physical phenomena in an applied context.

2.     All engineering physics graduates must have the ability to communicate effectively.

3.     Throughout their careers engineering physics graduates should be able to function effectively in society.

The EP Educational Objectives were modified last year to be more operational in nature. The new objectives which will appear in the new bulletin are:
The B.S. Engineering Physics program prepares graduates who, based on factual knowledge and other skills necessary to construct an appropriate understanding of physical phenomena in applied contexts, will:

1.     obtain a range of positions in industry or positions in government facilities or pursue graduate education in engineering, science, or related fields;

2.     communicate and perform effectively within the criteria of their chosen careers;

3.     engage in appropriate professional societies and continuing education activites;

4.     participate ethically as members of the global society.

At the next level the Student Outcomes are the graduate qualities that arise from the educational activities of the program which lead to the achievement of the program goals. The student outcomes are generally assessed through traditional "pre-tassel" measures such as senior design reports, exams, written and oral reports, etc.


Engineering Physics Program Student Outcomes

Each Engineering Physics graduate will:


Of particular focus has been Criterion 3: Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have the following Student Outcomes:


(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering;

(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, and analyze and interpret data.

(c) an ability to design a system, component or process;

(d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams;

(e) an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems;

(f) an understand 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 and societal context;

(i) a recognition of the need to engage in lifelong learning;

(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues;

(k) an ability to use modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.


In addition to Engineering Physics program objectives ABET requires programs also meet the so-called "Professional Component" criteria which includes breadth topics such as mathematics, basic science, humanities topics, and engineering science. These requirements are generally met through the common core as well as humanities and engineering science electives. Since the Physics Department is responsible for the basic physics core, we have ABET reporting responsibilities through the institutional component.


At the next level are the curriculum (what is to be taught) and instruction (how it is to be taught) which are designed and implemented by the faculty to meet the program objectives. Traditionally this is a coordinated sequence of courses (other experiences such as field session, coop, and international exchanges are included). Each course has a set of course learning objectives which support the overall program objectives in some particular way. Most of the Engineering Physics courses have obvious connections to the objectives above; others are more subtle. The course learning objectives are assessed through the traditional instruments of exams and written and oral reports.


ABET further requires that there be some process for continuous program improvement which would work through an assessment and feedback process for each tier discussed above. At the course level the instructor's assessment data for course learning objectives are evaluated and specific recommendations for improvements (either within the specific course or in an earlier course) are made. These recommendations are addressed by the program faculty and the cycle repeated. (ABET calls this "closing the feedback loop".) At the next level the program objectives are assessed using, primarily, the assessment of the senior design experience since this comes at the end of the student's career and incorporates almost all of the ABET Criteria criteria to some degree. When coupled with some post-tassel surveys, these data provide an assessment of the program objectives. An evaluation of this assessment data by the faculty and DH leads to recommendations and actions which should improve the program. Finally, the goals are assessed through post-tassel surveys and the report of the Visiting Committee (whose makeup is designed to fit our "constituents"). Recommended actions based on these data close the final feedback loop.


4. When will this happen?


Each ABET-accredited program at CSM must submit an elaborate Self-study report (SSR) by mid-June. The SSR contains information on all aspects of the program: students, faculty, institution, facilities, budgets, curriculum, external relations, and management. Next the VPAA meets with ABET in July to fix a date for the visit. All eight ABET-accredited programs will be visited at once. Typically, the visit is scheduled for sometime in October. Before the visit, a sampling of Engineering Physics graduates will be selected and their transcripts pulled for audit. We will have an opportunity to annotate the transcripts before they go to the ABET examiner for Engineering Physics.


5. What do I need to do?


To prepare for this visit:

a. Each faculty member should be familiar with ABET and their general philosophy of outcome-based management.

b. Each faculty member should be familiar with the Engineering Physics Educational Objectives and Student Outcomes as described above.

c. Each course instructor must create an ABET formatted syllabus with a clear set of published course learning objectives and relation to the student outcomes (a-k). (See the link at the top of the page to download a template file.)

d. Each course instructor should collect assessment data which can in principle be evaluated to determine the degree to which the course learning objectives are being met.

e. At the conclusion of each semester the course instructor should evaluate the assessment data relative to the course objectives and make recommendations for course improvement which might involve actions by instructor himself, faculty teaching other courses, the DH, or administration.

f. All of the above must be documented for external review by the ABET examiner. Faculty already carry out most of the above activities. The new feature is that now this all must be documented. For this purpose each instructor will be asked to maintain a Course Notebook which, for each term the course is offered, will contain: (1) Course syllabus with well-identified course learning objectives, (2) a sampling of assessment data including but not limited to: exams, quizzes, reports, student evaluations, etc., (3) a brief (or not) analysis and evaluation of the assessment data, (4) recommendations for course improvement, and (5) an action plan with follow-up record of actions. To help faculty in this activity a "Course Post-delivery Review" template has been created which is available from Barbara. An example from the Spring 2011 delivery of PH341 is also available as an example (Spring 2011 PHGN341 Post-delivery Review example).

g. Each faculty member must provide an ABET formatted 2-page CV. (See the link at the top of the page to download a template file.)



Email additional questions to jamcneil@mines.edu