Engineering Societies Building

Engineering Societies Building

ABET was founded in 1932 as the Engineers' Council for Professional Development (ECPD), an engineering professional body dedicated to the education, accreditation, regulation, and professional development of the engineering professionals and students in the United States. It was headquartered at the Engineering Societies Building and then the United Engineering Center in New York City until it relocated to Baltimore in 1996.

Founding Member Societies

Seven engineering societies founded the organization and contributed to its original direction and focus:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, now the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE)
  • Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, now the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • National Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners (now NCEES)

In 1936, ECPD evaluated its first engineering degree programs. Ten years later, the council began evaluating engineering technology degree programs. By 1947, ECPD had accredited 580 undergraduate engineering programs at 133 institutions.

Producing guidance and training publications was a large part of ECPD operations. The council produced dozens of books, pamphlets, brochures, and movies. Here are just a few of the many titles:

  • Reading List for Junior Engineers (1945)
  • Speaking Can be Easy... for Engineers Too (1950)
  • WOMENGINEER (1974), and
  • Minorities in Engineering (1974)

A New Name

In 1980, ECPD was renamed the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to more accurately describe its emphasis on accreditation. In response to the anticipated boom in computer science education, ABET helped establish the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (now called CSAB) in 1985. CSAB is now one of ABET's largest member societies with more than 300 accredited programs.

In 2005, the organization began operating simply as ABET, using its "Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc." corporate name only when required by law.

International Accreditation

ABET's international activities began in 1979 when ECPD signed its first Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board. By 1989, ABET was a consultant to both fledgling and established international accreditation boards, a substantial equivalence evaluator of international programs, and a founding member of the multinational Washington Accord.

Currently, ABET accredits over 3,300 programs at more than 680 colleges and universities worldwide. Each year, over 2,000 volunteers from 33 Member Societies contribute to ABET's goals of leadership and quality assurance in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology education, serving as program evaluators, committee and council members, commissioners, and members of the Board of Directors.

ABET has been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) since 1997.

Engineering Criteria 2000 and Program Innovation

In 1997, following nearly a decade of development, ABET adopted Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000), considered at the time a revolutionary approach to accreditation criteria. EC2000 focused on what is learned rather than what is taught. At its core was the call for a continuous improvement process informed by the specific mission and goals of individual institutions and programs. Lacking the inflexibility of earlier accreditation criteria, EC2000 meant that ABET could enable program innovation rather than stifling it, as well as encourage new assessment processes and subsequent program improvement.

Today, the spirit of EC2000 can be found in the evaluation criteria of all ABET disciplines, and studies like Penn State's Engineering Change (PDF) prove those criteria are having an impact on accredited programs. ABET encourages the EC2000 perspective with other accreditation boards and degree programs, promoting global education and worker mobility through agreements like the Washington Accord, the Seoul Accord, and the Sydney Accord.

A Proud Legacy of Quality Assurance in the Preparation of Technical Professionals: ABET 75th Anniversary Retrospective, Edited by John W. Prados, Ph.D., P.E.

This is the first publication of its kind: A thoughtful investigation of quality assurance in U.S. post-secondary technical education. Weaving annotated prose with original documents and reflections from some of ABET's most prolific volunteers, the 75th Anniversary Retrospective tells an interesting tale of the people, places, and paradigms that have shaped the organization and its significant role in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology education. A great gift for educators and ABET volunteers, and a worthy addition to the campus library. View the pre-publication cover, table of contents, and index. 11"x11", 350 pages (approximate), full color, hardcover with illustrated dust jacket, $15. Order form 

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ABET Facts

Accredited Programs at HBCUs

Howard University was the first historically black college or university to have ABET-accredited programs. ABET's predecessor, the Engineers' Council for Professional Development, accredited three engineering programs there in 1937.