Accreditation is a non-governmental, peer review process that ensures educational quality. Educational institutions or programs volunteer to periodically undergo this review to determine if minimum criteria are being met. Accreditation verifies that an institution or program meets the criteria, ensuring a quality educational experience.
Accreditation of Programs in Engineering
ABET is responsible for the specialized accreditation of educational programs in engineering, engineering technology and engineering-related fields. Originally, "ABET" stood for "the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology." The organization changed its name to simply "ABET" in 2005. Programs either receive accreditation or are denied, but they are not ranked.
Accreditation, and ABET in particular, helps many people make important decisions about education including:
- Students choosing an educational program
- Parents seeking assurance of a quality education
- Institutions seeking to improve the education provided by their program
- Employers recruiting well-prepared graduates
- State registration, licensure and certification boards screening applicants for entry into professional practice
- Industry seeking to voice educational needs to institutions
- Many state registration and certification boards view ABET-accredited programs as the first step for state licensure or certification.
- ABET accreditation is also a consideration for admission to many graduate programs.
Under ABET criteria for engineering accreditation, termed EC2000, schools must demonstrate outcomes, methods of assessment, and a process for continual improvement of programs. The desired outcomes for a well educated engineer include:
- 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
- A 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
- A knowledge of contemporary issues
- An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
ABET Accredited Programs at Brown
Seven bachelor of science programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012; Tel: (410) 347-7700). These are the programs in Biomedical, Chemical and Biochemical, Civil (through 2016 and will not seek re-accreditation), Computer, Electrical, Materials, and Mechanical Engineering. Within each of these concentration programs there are several options, each of which is accredited. The Engineering and Physics program is intended for students interested in a stronger physics foundation, and continuing on to graduate studies. There are currently no plans to seek ABET accreditation for this Sc.B. program. The Environmental program was just introduced in April 2013 and can't seek ABET accreditation until after the first class graduates from the program.
For enrollment and graduation data of each Brown University program by class and program track, please go to:
The current curricular requirements and guidelines of ABET for accredited Sc.B. concentrations include:
- One year of a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience)
- One and one-half years of engineering topics
- A general education component that complements the technical content
In the context of the Brown program, one year is the equivalent of eight courses.
In light of these intended outcomes, the engineering design component of the curriculum includes at least some of the following features:
- Development of student creativity
- Use of open-ended problems
- Development and use of design methodology
- Formulation of design problem statements and specifications
- Consideration of alternative solutions
- Feasibility considerations
- Detailed system descriptions
It is essential to include a variety of realistic constraints such as economic factors, safety, reliability, aesthetics, ethics, and social impact.
For those students who wish to become registered professional engineers after they have acquired the requisite level of professional experience, an ABET-accredited program is generally desirable. In most states, the completion of an ABET-accredited four-year Sc.B. degree program is among the requirements to qualify for admission to examination at the first level of professional registration. Many exciting and rapidly developing fields of engineering can be entered with a well-designed non-accredited Sc.B. program. Students desiring more information on professional registration should confer with Prof. Eric Suuberg, who can also provide information on taking the Fundamentals Exam as a first step.