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September 6, 2016   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | UGA civil engineering program earns initial ABET accreditation

UGA civil engineering program earns initial ABET accreditation

Mike Wooten

External communications coordinator, College of Engineering

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By Mike Wooten | September 6, 2016
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The UGA College of Engineering's undergraduate degree program in civil engineering has earned its initial accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the recognized global accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

In addition, the college's undergraduate degree programs in agricultural engineering, biochemical engineering, biological engineering, computer systems engineering and environmental engineering have been re-accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. ABET accreditation demonstrates a program's commitment to providing its students with a quality education.

"Earning initial ABET accreditation for our civil engineering program is a tremendous milestone for our growing college," said Donald J. Leo, dean of the College of Engineering. "We're also extremely proud to receive re-accreditation for five other programs. This accomplishment demonstrates the college and its faculty are meeting the high standards of the engineering profession."

ABET accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process that evaluates program curricula, faculty expertise, facilities, institutional support and other factors.

For UGA's civil engineering program to be eligible for ABET accreditation, the college had to first graduate at least one class of civil engineering students. The college's first class of civil engineers graduated in 2014, and the accreditation process began as soon as the program was eligible during the 2015-16 academic year. The accreditation of the civil engineering program is retroactive to October 2014, meaning all previous graduates have earned degrees from an accredited engineering institution.

Many employers, including the federal government, require a diploma from an ABET-accredited program for employment in certain technical fields. Industry licensing and certification groups also use ABET standards to screen applicants. This accreditation can open doors to government-sponsored funding in the form of student loans, grants and scholarships.

As part of the evaluation, the commission used detailed criteria to analyze student performance and outcomes, curriculum requirements and program educational objectives, faculty competency and facilities.

In its final report, ABET listed an emphasis on written and oral communications skills and the interdisciplinary nature of academic programs as institutional strengths of the college.

"Few, if any, courses offered in the college are only required by one program," the report noted. "This creates a unique, multidisciplinary learning environment for students, giving them a broader context for learning and problem-solving that includes their chosen field of engineering integrated with other engineering disciplines."

Although engineering has been taught at UGA since 1868, the College of Engineering was established in 2012 when the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the merger of UGA's Faculty of Engineering with the department of biological and agricultural engineering to create the College of Engineering. Enrollment in the college has quickly grown to more than 1,800 undergraduates and more than 100 graduate students.

"Enrollment is booming in our College of Engineering, and for good reason," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. "The faculty provide outstanding learning opportunities, and its alumni are in high demand across Georgia and beyond."

The college offers eight undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs. Programs in mechanical engineering and electrical and electronics engineering are expected to produce their first graduates this year, making those programs eligible for ABET accreditation.

ABET is a nonprofit, nongovernmental accrediting agency for programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.

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