By Jeff Murphy, September 22, 2020
WARRENSBURG, MO – ABET, an organization that sets the standard worldwide for the accreditation of programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology, has approved accreditation for six University of Central Missouri academic programs. All of these programs are housed in the College of Health, Science and Technology.
ABET announced its decision to continue accreditation for the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Computer Science Option and the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity programs. Also reaccredited were the Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene, Master of Science in Occupational Safety, and the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety, which includes options in Environmental Management, Safety Management and Occupational Health Management. The Bachelor of Science in Construction Management was accredited for the first time.
Belinda Copus, undergraduate program coordinator in computer science and software engineering, said that in considering the BS in Computer Science – Computer Science Option and the BS in Cybersecurity, ABET conducted a site visit in fall 2019 for both programs. In making its decision to continue accreditation, ABET reviewed program-level student outcomes and curriculum requirements, level of support by the institution, and definition and evidence of application of a continuous improvement process.
“Substantial work is required to execute and maintain a continuous improvement process,” Copus said. “The faculty in Computer Science and Cybersecurity are committed to applying our process so that we enable our students to graduate with market demand skills, both technical and non-technical, and to be work-ready upon graduation. Our students are equipped to enter the workforce and to continue to develop and advance their careers as computer science and cybersecurity professionals.”
As for what accreditation means, Copus noted, “Students can have an extra measure of confidence in the quality of the program. Because the program is continually reviewing itself and introducing changes based on measures of outcomes, input from our advisory board, students, and faculty, the program is current in knowledge content and effective in dissemination of program –specific knowledge.”
Leigh Ann Blunt, chair of the School of Geoscience, Physics and Safety, said, “ABET accreditation is the gold standard for safety programs and puts UCM among only a handful of programs in the U.S. with this distinction,”
She pointed out that ABET considers general criteria and program-specific criteria in making its decision regarding accreditation.
A designation that is sought globally, ABET’s voluntary peer-review process is highly respected because it adds critical value to academic programs in the technical disciplines, where quality, precision, and safety are of the utmost importance. Developed by technical professionals from ABET’s member societies, ABET criteria focus on what students experience and learn. ABET accreditation reviews look at program curricula, faculty, facilities, and institutional support and are conducted by teams of highly skilled professionals from industry, academia, and government, with expertise in the ABET disciplines.
Blunt said procedures that lead up to ABET’s action included submission of a request for evaluation by Jan. 31 of the year of the on-site visit; completion of a self-study for each program to be submitted by July 1; an on-side visit by the ABET accreditation team between September and December; and notification of accreditation actions by August or September.
Information provided by Ronnie Rollins, associate professor and chair of the School of Technology, noted that the accreditation of the BS in Construction Management extends retroactively from Oct. 1, 2018. The steps toward accreditation were consistent with other UCM programs that received ABET accreditation.
The Construction Management program was initially accredited by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) in 1990. In 1992, the program earned accreditation by the American Council for Construction Education, which was maintained until 2017.
More information about ABET, its member societies, and the accreditation criteria used to evaluate programs can be found at www.abet.org.