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Importance of ABET accredition?

sanjaygirsanjaygir Posts: 7Registered User New Member
edited May 2009 in Engineering Majors
how important is ABET accredition?

Lets say, I get an engineering degree from an institution whose courses are not accreditated by ABET. Does that mean, I am not termed as an engineer after i GRADUATE. And will I have difficulties finding engineering jobs.

Does anyone know the disadvantages of taking an engineering degree not accredited by ABET. Any help is appreciated. Thank you
Post edited by sanjaygir on
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Replies to: Importance of ABET accredition?

  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell Posts: 2,294User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    Probably the biggest, quantifiable difference is that in most states (this is US specific, but I believe it also transfers to Canada and some other countries), you cannot be a licensed engineer without ABET accreditation. For some industries (government, consulting, etc) and fields (mainly CE, AE, EnvE) this greatly limits your employment potential.

    From a realistic perspective, if a school is not ABET accredited, at least in the US, it will be a very low ranking program and will lead to a difficult employment search.

    The laws vary by states, but at least where I am, someone who graduates from an ABET program can legally call themselves a Graduate Engineer. Someone with a license can call themselves a Professional Engineer. Someone without an ABET accredited engineering degree or a license cannot call themselves an Engineer. The company titles I've seen for people like this include "technologist" and "technology specialist".
  • toadstooltoadstool Posts: 1,145Registered User Senior Member
    ABET certification = very important.
  • bearcatsbearcats Posts: 4,289Registered User Senior Member
    i dont find abet important at all.. Who cares? I am aiming for consulting and ibank anyway, much more money to be made and excitement there ...
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    As a general rule, you should have a good reason for getting a non-ABET accredited degree in a technical field. Lacking such a specific (and good) reason, it's a bad idea.
  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell Posts: 2,294User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    Who cares? I am aiming for consulting and ibank anyway, much more money to be made and excitement there ...

    Based on your posts, you may want to reconsider that.

    But it does bring up a point. If your goal is non-engineering based (business, law, medicine, etc) then accreditation doesn't really matter. I think we covered this top in detail in the BA engineering vs. BS engineering thread.
  • aibarraibarr Posts: 4,248Registered User Senior Member
    From a realistic perspective, if a school is not ABET accredited, at least in the US, it will be a very low ranking program and will lead to a difficult employment search.

    This is not necessarily true... Rice Computer Science is a respected program, but they think it's ridiculous to force their students to take advanced chemistry, so they don't even bother with ABET accreditation, since they know that their students are probably never going to need it and they'd rather not inflict unnecessary pain (in their opinion) upon their students. By and large, your generalization holds, but using ABET accreditation as a barometer for program repute is probably not a good idea (not that you're saying it is).

    Chances are very good that if you need an ABET-accredited degree for an eventual PE license, your school will be ABET accredited. It's not something to really worry about, but it's something to be aware of, and it's something to query a program about if they're not accredited, to see what their reasoning behind the lack of accreditation is.
  • worried_momworried_mom Posts: 2,205Registered User Senior Member
    A program that has ABET accreditation provides assurance that the program meets certain standards with respect to facilities, instructional content, etc. That does not mean that a program without accreditation is not a good one; you just have to look at it more carefully.

    ABET accreditation is important ONLY if you intend to become a licensed Professional Engineer (because most states require graduation from a ABET-accredited program to sit for the PE exam). However, the vast majority of engineers do NOT become licensed. It is most common in the fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, nuclear, and structural engineering -- and even in those fields, not every engineer will have a PE license. It's usually required where you're actually designing and/or building something that could have major safety implications if you screw up (like a bridge falling down).
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    From a realistic perspective, if a school is not ABET accredited, at least in the US, it will be a very low ranking program and will lead to a difficult employment search.

    The laws vary by states, but at least where I am, someone who graduates from an ABET program can legally call themselves a Graduate Engineer. Someone with a license can call themselves a Professional Engineer. Someone without an ABET accredited engineering degree or a license cannot call themselves an Engineer. The company titles I've seen for people like this include "technologist" and "technology specialist".
    ABET certification = very important.
    As a general rule, you should have a good reason for getting a non-ABET accredited degree in a technical field. Lacking such a specific (and good) reason, it's a bad idea.

    The Bioengineering programs at MIT and Berkeley are not ABET-accredited, but the one at Oregon State is. Does that mean that those who want to be bioengineers should turn down MIT or Berkeley in favor of Oregon State?

    Oh, by the way, according to USNews, MIT is ranked #5 in bio/biomedical engineering, Berkeley is around #11, and Oregon State wasn't even ranked at all. But, hey, at least the Oregon State degree is 'accredited', right?

    Stanford's Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) program is ranked #6 in the country despite not being accredited. Does that mean I should turn down Stanford for, say, Wright State or Boise State just because their MSE programs are accredited?

    Does that mean that somebody with a BioE degree from MIT or Berkeley, or an MSE degree from Stanford cannot call themselves an 'Engineer' (in certain states), yet somebody from Oregon State, Wright State, or Boise State can? Even so, do you think it really matters?

    The fact of the matter is that accreditation only matters if you want to be licensed, yet the fact is, licensing doesn't matter to the vast majority of engineers. By far the most populous engineering discipline, and I know scores of EE's from places like MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and other top schools, none of which have ever cared about licensing. The same can be said for ME's, ChemE's, BioE's, MSE's, CompE's, AeroE's and other engineering disciplines where you are producing a product that is potentially sold across state lines (i.e. a computer, a car, an airplane, a pharmaceutical, a chunk of software, etc.) and is therefore exempt from state licensing laws, and that comprises the vast majority of engineering jobs.

    The only engineering disciplines in which licensing seems to matter is Civil Engineering and the highly related Structural and Environmental Engineering.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    It's usually required where you're actually designing and/or building something that could have major safety implications if you screw up (like a bridge falling down).

    Nah, even that's not specific enough. An airplane or a car obviously has major safety implications, yet you don't need a license to get a job designing cars or airplanes. I know a woman who has worked on the design team at Boeing for years, and to this day, she has never found any Boeing aircraft designer who was actually licensed as a Professional Engineer. {To be fair, there are probably some, as the design department is huge, it's just that she has yet to find any.}
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,871Registered User Senior Member
    The Bioengineering programs at MIT and Berkeley are not ABET-accredited, but the one at Oregon State is. Does that mean that those who want to be bioengineers should turn down MIT or Berkeley in favor of Oregon State?

    As AuburnMathTutor said, you should have a good reason to choose a non ABET-accredited degree, and the reason here is MIT and Berkeley are well-regarded schools and not having ABET accrediation will not affect your professional advancement in bioengineering.
  • aibarraibarr Posts: 4,248Registered User Senior Member
    Nah, even that's not specific enough. An airplane or a car obviously has major safety implications, yet you don't need a license to get a job designing cars or airplanes.

    In my experience, PE licensing, which is done at a state level, is a way for municipal, county, and state entities to ensure that there's some consistency in quality of engineering design. So, anything that really needs to be permitted for construction at a municipal, county, or state level requires a PE stamp. Boeing doesn't take their airliner designs down to County to submit them for approval, so their engineers don't need to have PE licenses. Most manufactured items don't need to be sealed by a PE. Cities and Counties require civil, structural, environmental, and MEP plans to be sealed and signed, so civil, structural, environmental, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers are generally required to have PEs.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers are generally required to have PEs

    Like I said before, in all my years, I have never encountered a single EE, or even ME - many of them superstars in the field- who actually earned a PE license. Now, granted, I'm sure there have to be some who do, but that just shows that you can enjoy an excellent career as an EE/ME without it.

    Like you said before, engineers who design and produce manufactured items do not need to certify their work with the state, yet manufactured items comprise the vast majority of what ME's and EE's do. Whether we're talking about microchips, computers, cellphones, televisions, video game players, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, - you don't need a PE license to produce any of these items.
    As AuburnMathTutor said, you should have a good reason to choose a non ABET-accredited degree, and the reason here is MIT and Berkeley are well-regarded schools and not having ABET accrediation will not affect your professional advancement in bioengineering.

    Nor do you even need to be attending a well-regarded school as a rationale. The fact is, no bioengineering products such as a biopharmaceutical or a medical device requires a design sign-off from a PE. Bioengineering products obviously imply tremendous safety concerns, but as these products are sold over state lines, those concerns are not addressed through the state PE certification process. You don't need accreditation to be a highly successful bioengineer.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    The point is, sakky, that knowing the school is good *despite* not being accredited, along with a strong desire to go that school, is a good enough reason.

    Ceteris paribus, I think most reasonable people would agree that an ABET accredited program is a somewhat "safer" bet in the long run... the thing is, rarely are all things even remotely equal. Enter MIT, Rice, etc. Why? Because your average student from your average school applying to average jobs will be expected to be ABET accredited... if you went to some average school and didn't get one, people will ask about it.
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,871Registered User Senior Member
    Like I said before, in all my years, I have never encountered a single EE, or even ME - many of them superstars in the field- who actually earned a PE license. Now, granted, I'm sure there have to be some who do, but that just shows that you can enjoy an excellent career as an EE/ME without it.

    aibarr was speaking about mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers in the context of MEP engineering (buildings) and not each of the broad disciplines on their own.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 6,598Registered User Senior Member
    Like I said before, in all my years, I have never encountered a single EE, or even ME - many of them superstars in the field- who actually earned a PE license. Now, granted, I'm sure there have to be some who do, but that just shows that you can enjoy an excellent career as an EE/ME without it.

    Perhaps it's the fields you're working in that you wouldn't see an EE or ME requiring a PE? My girlfriend is an electrical engineer starting a job with the city water and power organization, and they want her to get her PE within a few years of starting.
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