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Editor’s note: Architecture engineering in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and bioresource and architectural engineering in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences also received reaccreditation in addition tot he 10 engineering programs in the College of Engineering. We regret the error.

The College of Engineering received recognition at the 2010 Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) symposium for its assessment techniques and evaluation reports utilized by the ABET for ongoing accreditation.

In April 2010, 12 degree programs in the College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design received reaccreditation. One additional program, software engineering, received its first accreditation since the major was established in 2003.

The 10 programs in the College of Engineering that received reaccreditation were aerospace engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, industrial engineering, manufacturing engineering, materials engineering and mechanical engineering. In addition, architecture engineering in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and bioresource and architectural engineering in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences also received reaccreditation.

Receiving accreditation from ABET is not an easy task — it requires ongoing internal reports by Cal Poly professors and deans as well as a campus visit by a group of evaluators. According to a Cal Poly press release, group of evaluators return to campus every six years in order for the accreditation to be renewed.

“I know our professor talked about all the different things that they had to do (to be accredited) … there’s a rigorous set of things and procedures we must follow,” said software engineering senior Issa Araj.

Fred DePiero, the associate dean of the college, confirmed that the procedures for accreditation are not an easy task, but Cal Poly’s College of Engineering has done some of the best “self-studies” in the nation.

“Our reports were brought to a nationwide conference and we had a total of six shown,” DePiero said. “Only a couple of other universities had multiple reports shown and there were 20 total.”

These reports are vital to the re-accreditation of the engineering programs.

“The reports are basically a six-year summary of everything,” DePiero said. “Some programs put questions on exams to be used for the report, others make a special exam or even use senior projects and surveys as means of assessing student success.”

Once the reports have been assembled, the ABET decides whether or not to recognize the programs with its stamp of approval as stated in the press release.

This year with the approval of the software engineering program, many students are pleased to be a part of an accredited program.

“A lot of people don’t see the difference between computer science and software engineering,” Araj said. “But now this major will get more recognition.”

For many students in the engineering fields, accreditation of their programs could make the difference in whether or not they receive jobs after graduation.

“It definitely gives students better opportunity for jobs,” DePiero said.

In order to get a professional license in some fields, it is required to have a degree from an accredited program, said Anthony Bonilla, an environmental engineering senior.

“Employers prefer it and it is absolutely required for some of the civil engineers and others like that,” DePiero said.

Engineering majors who become professional engineers will find it useful to have a degree from an accredited program under their belt.

“Being in an accredited program definitely gives us a leg up,” Bonilla said. “I definitely believe that employers might look down on a degree that wasn’t from an accredited program.”

Not only are accredited programs vital to current students and their professional futures, but they are also meaningful for recent graduates and alumni.

“It is important to graduates for their resumes and also important to alumni for maintaining the importance of their degree, as well as industry contacts and relations,” DePiero said. “If all of a sudden we lost our accreditation (everyone) would be upset that we dropped the ball.”

The reports and accreditation are an ongoing process of monitoring students, DePiero said. They show that the programs are making continuous improvements in their respective departments.

But DePiero made it clear that these accreditations do not just affect the College of Engineering.

“It speaks not only of our engineering programs but of the institution as a whole,” DePiero said.

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