Posted: September 25, 2009
In August 2009, Bucknell University's bachelor's degree program in biomedical engineering received formal notification of its initial accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., the recognized accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. The official accreditation is retroactive to include the inaugural Class of 2007, thereby ensuring that all students who have graduated from the program have done so with an accredited degree.
"As our biomedical engineering department had only graduated two classes of students before submitting our application for accreditation in 2008, the recent notification of accreditation by ABET is a strong testament to the quality educational opportunities created by our faculty and staff," says Professor Dan Cavanagh, chair of the department. "As this was our first effort to seek accreditation, we had no preexisting assessment or continuous improvement methods upon which we could build. Therefore, we started with a blank slate and created what I believe is a very effective system for continually enhancing our educational program." Professor Cavanagh also pointed out that the achievement of this milestone is a significant accomplishment made possible by the dedication of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external supporters of the department. "Without the dedication and support of a range of individuals, including our colleagues in the College of Engineering and the university administration, our initial efforts to earn accreditation may not have been successful."
ABET accreditation demonstrates a program's commitment to providing its students with a quality education. Furthermore, accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process requiring programs to undergo comprehensive, periodic evaluations. The evaluations, conducted by teams of volunteer professionals working in industry, government, academe, and private practice within the ABET disciplines, focus on program curricula, faculty, facilities, institutional support, and other important areas. One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously improve the quality of education provided. As part of this continuous improvement requirement, programs set specific, measurable goals for their students and graduates, assess their success at reaching those goals, and improve their programs based on the results of their assessment.