Elon engineering advances through ABET accreditation process

Elon's four-year engineering degree program is included in ABET's 2020-21 accreditation evaluation cycle. ABET accreditation signifies a program meets global quality standards for education in engineering, applied and natural science, computing and engineering technology. The process should be completed in summer 2021.

Elon University’s Engineering B.S. program is advancing through the ABET accreditation process — an independent external review to determine if engineering, applied and natural science, computing, and engineering technology programs meet professional standards of quality.

ABET is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with International Organization for Standardization certification whose team of experts come from industry, academia and government. Since 1932, ABET has evaluated and accredited programs in a voluntary, peer-reviewed process.

“ABET accreditation is an 18- to 21-month process,” said Sirena Hargrove-Leak, associate professor of engineering and director of Elon’s four-year engineering program. “As a new engineering program, we anticipate a timeline closer to the 21-month range. New programs must have or foresee having at least one graduate before starting the process.”

The first graduating class earning engineering B.S. degrees at Elon is expected this May. The campus is on track to host an accreditation review team this fall, and the accreditation process is expected to be completed in summer 2021.

“With ABET accreditation, students, employers and the society we serve can be confident that a program meets the quality standards that produce graduates prepared to enter a global workforce,” according to ABET’s website. “Graduates from an ABET-accredited program have a solid educational foundation and are capable of leading the way in innovation, emerging technologies, and in anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.”

“ABET accreditation is an external validation of the quality of our program,” Hargrove-Leak said. A positive accreditation decision will give students, parents, and employers confidence in the quality of engineering education offered at Elon, she said.

Elon began the accreditation process last fall, completing the Readiness Review in October to enter the 2020-21 accreditation cycle. In December, the ABET Readiness Review Committee recommended that Elon submit the 2020-21 Request for Evaluation (RFE) to proceed with the formal Request for Evaluation for the 2020-21 cycle.

Elon submitted the RFE and ABET officially accepted it last month.

“The recent recommendation to proceed in the accreditation process was affirming,” Hargrove-Leak said. “Accreditation reviews are done by professionals in industry, academia, and government.” Associate Professor of Engineering Scott Wolter, Associate Professor of Physics and Physics Department Chair Martin Kamela and Hargrove-Leak “have attended an ABET conference and workshops. Collegiality and sincere willingness to help were abundantly evident among presenters, attendees, and ABET facilitators.”

Future steps in the accreditation process include completion of a Self-Study Report by July 1, and an on-site visit by an ABET review team between September and December 2020.

After a period of review, accreditation would be finalized by Aug. 31, 2021.

Worldwide, 4,144 programs at 812 colleges and universities in 32 countries have received ABET accreditation. Over 100,000 students graduate from ABET-accredited programs each year.