By Irina Rusanova
In the aftermath of a misunderstanding between students and faculty about accreditation last March, engineering department chair Dr. Stacy Birmingham and dean of the Boyer school Dr. Stephen Jodis explained the department’s progress in applying for accreditation from ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Of the goals they laid out last year, Birmingham and Jodis recently explained which have been met and which are still in progress.
These goals are necessary steps in preparing for the department’s submission of a readiness review, which begins the formal accreditation process, Birmingham said in 2019. These steps include hiring another faculty member for this year, ensuring student learning outcomes are being assessed properly, ensuring the curriculum is stable, ensuring institutional support, and understanding where students are being employed, which entails speaking with alumni and their employers.
A central achievement in the journey toward accreditation was the creation of a new engineering program in Spring 2019, which builds on the engineering science program that precedes it.
“We ensure that the curriculum meets the ABET requirements by keeping up-to-date with any changes to the ABET requirements.” - Stacy Birmingham and Stephen Jodis
“The engineering program differs from the engineering science program in that each engineering concentration is built on five classes, as opposed to three classes, to provide depth in an engineering field,” Birmingham and Jodis wrote in a joint statement. “There is also one technical elective, [either science or engineering] in the new program.”
In addition, the faculty wrote that the new program meets the current ABET requirements, despite their recent modifications by ABET.
“We ensure that the curriculum meets the ABET requirements by keeping up-to-date with any changes,” Birmingham and Jodis wrote.
Despite hopes to employ a new engineering faculty member to start the fall of last semester, Birmngham and Jodis wrote that they were unable to fill the position, and are continuing the search this year.
Finally, Birmingham and Jodis wrote that they will administer surveys to alumni and employers.
“The results of these surveys will be used in our ABET self-study that we will prepare in advance of applying for accreditation,” they wrote.
Students currently taking part in the unaccredited program will receive accredited degrees as soon as the program has been approved by ABET, Birmingham indicated earlier this semester.
“We have kept in touch with our alumni and will be administering surveys to them and employers regarding their education at Saint Vincent College.” - Stacy Birmingham and Stephen Jodis
“As long as [the students] are on campus when we’re writing [the preliminary] self-study and we’re successful, they will have an accredited degree,” she said. “It’s very important for us to be accredited [and] we’re trying to get to this end as quickly as we can.”
That timeline is uncertain, however.
“There are a number of steps that we have to go through prior to [completing the accreditation process],” Birmingham said. “So, I can’t say when we will be accredited; ultimately ABET […] is the one who will decide if they will accredit us.”
For information about what the accreditation process entails, read last month’s article Engineering chair explains accreditation process, which can be accessed here.