GVSU School of Engineering Marks Major Accreditation Milestone
September 11, 2023
The School of Engineering marked a major accreditation milestone, achieving reaccreditation of its baccalaureate programs in Computer, Electrical, Interdisciplinary, Mechanical, and Product Design and Manufacturing Engineering and an initial accreditation for its new Biomedical Engineering program. The 2022 accreditation decision received by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) states that all six undergraduate programs are accredited until September 30, 2029, with the Biomedical Engineering accreditation action retroactively extending from October 1, 2020, which coincides with the first cohort of students to graduate from the program.
For undergraduate engineering programs to earn initial accreditation or maintain existing accreditation, a program accreditation request must be followed with the development of detailed self-study reports and a rigorous and comprehensive on-campus accreditation visit by the ABET team, which is composed of university and industry volunteers. The on-campus visit includes an exhaustive review of the program's curriculum, processes (admission, enrollment, assessment, constituent feedback, student advising, continuous improvement, and career placement), faculty/staff credentials, professional development, facilities, and samples of graded student work. The student learning outcome feedback and continuous improvement loop is critical, and programs must provide written evidence that all constituents (faculty, staff, students, employers, and industry partners) are instrumental to the overall process. Programs must provide written evidence of student learning outcome attainment at the demonstrated mastery or proficiency achievement level. During the visit, the external accreditation team conducts interviews with administration, faculty, students, support units, and the university-level administration, including the president and provost. The School of Engineering’s baccalaureate programs completed this process in November 2022.
The external ABET accreditation process requires an enormous effort on the visiting team and the university, and the programs being evaluated. The final accreditation statement cited the School of Engineering's industry-driven, manufacturing-centric approach to engineering education as a major institutional strength. Specifically, the mandatory cooperative education program was acknowledged for providing industry exposure and training for real-world engineering projects in a professional environment, with both industry supervisors and faculty mentors participating in the educational process. The School ‘s strong and successful university/industry interaction was highlighted, as it yields a reliable pipeline of industry-ready engineering graduates and support for the institution's infrastructure including buildings, state-of-the-art facilities, and equipment.
The School of Engineering recognizes the comprehensive efforts of the entire faculty and staff in this momentous accreditation achievement and specifically acknowledges the efforts of the founding dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, Dr. Paul Plotkowski, for his lifetime legacy of building a community-engaged college that leverages the external accreditation process to drive the continuous improvement process through industry level engagement and interactions that are critical to the success of the undergraduate programs. Additionally, the School of Engineering recognizes the efforts of the non-academic support units, particularly the career center, that are critical to the program's ongoing success, and joint collaborative efforts among other campus units (university assessment/accreditation, eLearning Technologies, and Blackboard/Anthology) for the development of an accreditation tool that provides granular assessment data and feedback and generates disaggregatged program reports that are critical to the external accreditation process.
A program’s accreditation action is based upon the findings summarized in the final statement, and the actions depend on the program’s range of compliance with the accreditation board’s criteria. The strength of compliance range can be construed from stated deficiencies, weaknesses, concerns, and observations. The final statement for all six engineering undergraduate engineering programs indicates that all accreditation criteria, policies, and procedures were satisfied, with no strength of compliance issues noted within the School of Engineering that would impact or compromise the quality of the program.
ABET accreditation provides evidence that the School of Engineering programs have met standards essential to produce graduates that are ready to enter the engineering profession, and that graduates from the program have a solid educational foundation, allowing them to become leaders in engineering innovation, emerging technologies, and public safety/welfare needs.
• For students, accreditation matters because it instills confidence in the education received—ABET accreditation is the trusted standard for employers worldwide.
• For Grand Valley State University and the School of Engineering programs, ABET accreditation demonstrates a commitment to delivering quality education.
• For industry, governmental units, and the world, ABET accreditation matters because employers can trust that graduates of ABET-accredited programs are properly prepared to enter the workforce.