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 engineering professionals and students in the United States. At its founding, ECPD was headquartered in New York City, first at the Engineering Societies Building and then the United Engineering Center. ABET relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1996. In 1980, ECPD has 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. At its merger with ABET in the early 2000s, CSAB became one of ABETs’ largest member societies, with more than 300 accredited programs. In 2005, the organization began operating simply under the acronym ABET, using “Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.” as a corporate name only when required by law.
International activities began in 1979, when ECPD signed its first Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board. By the early 1990s, ABET served as consultants to both fledgling and established international accreditation boards, a substantial equivalence evaluator of international programs and a founding member of the multinational Washington Accord.
For most of its history, ABET's accreditation criteria specifically outlined the major elements that accredited engineering programs must have, including the program curricula, the faculty type, and the facilities. However, in the mid-1990s, the engineering community began to question the appropriateness of such rigid accreditation requirements.
After intense discussion, in 1997, ABET adopted Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000). The EC2000 criteria shifted the focus away from the inputs (what material is taught) and to the outputs (what students learned). EC2000 stresses continuous improvement, and accounts for specific missions and goals of the individual institutions and programs. The intention of this approach was to enable innovation in engineering programs rather than forcing all programs to conform to a standard, as well as to encourage new assessment processes and program improvements.
By eliminating the inflexibility of earlier accreditation criteria, EC2000 allowed ABET to empower 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 our disciplines, and studies like Penn State’s Engineering Change prove those criteria are having a positive impact on ABET-accredited programs and graduates who have such essential 21st century skills as the ability to work in teams and communicate effectively.
ABET continues to work globally to promote the EC2000 perspective with other accreditation boards and in other degree program areas. ABET also promotes global education and career mobility through Mutual Recognition Agreements, such as the Washington Accord, the Seoul Accord, the Sydney Accord and the Dublin Accord. Currently, ABET accredits approximately 3,700 programs at over 750 colleges and universities in 30 countries. Each year, over 2,200 volunteers from 35 member societies contribute to ABET’s goal of assuring confidence in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology education, serving as program evaluators, committee and council members, commissioners and members of our Board of Directors.
ABET is a federation of 35 professional and technical member societies representing the fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. Totally 696 programs are accredited in different Universities from 28 countries at present and this process continue continually.
ABET accreditation is voluntary; the request for accreditation is initiated by the institution seeking accreditation. Accreditation is given to individual programs within an institution rather than to the institution as a whole. Accredited programs must request re-evaluation every six years to retain accreditation; if the accreditation criteria are not satisfied, additional evaluations may be required within the six-year interval. Programs without previous accreditation can apply for accreditation as long as they have produced at least one program graduate.