Jeffrey R. Keaton, Ph.D., PE, PG, was honored with the 2021 Ivan B. Rahn Education Award from the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME-AIME). This award recognizes SME-AIME members who have shown long-term interest in and have significantly contributed to SME-AIME activities relating to ABET, student affairs, continuing education, professional registration or the Council of Education. About 25 years ago, Keaton was asked by two SME-AIME members to become an ABET program evaluator for quality assurance of geological engineering programs. Nearly 15 years ago, he was asked to serve as SME-AIME’s geological engineering commissioner on ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC). Nearly 10 years ago, the EAC leadership invited him to become a member of its Executive Committee and serve as the Chair of EAC’s Criteria Committee. He was invited to become an officer of EAC in 2016 and ultimately served as its Chair in 2018-2019. Keaton was awarded ABET Fellow status in 2019.


While serving as Chair of the EAC Criteria Committee, Keaton had the distinction of making the motion on the floor of the EAC annual meeting to approve major changes to Criterion 3, Student Outcomes, and Criterion 5, Curriculum, in the EAC Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs. Early in his term on the EAC Executive Committee, he recognized that laboratory safety issues could be identified and addressed in a more consistent manner. He proposed a safety task force and served as task leader to gather information and make recommendations about improving safety consistency within the accreditation process. He also served on an Executive Committee task force to develop a protocol for conducting accreditation reviews under challenging conditions, including those that might threaten safe travel to campuses for in-person reviews. This protocol was implemented in 2017, three years prior to the 2020 pandemic, for review of 25 engineering programs at a major university with Keaton serving as the Team Chair. He also led accreditation visits to universities in Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, Peru and Saudi Arabia, as well as many programs in the United States.

Keaton is a principal engineering geologist at Wood Consulting in Los Angeles, California.

Watch Keaton’s 2019 ABET Fellow Award video to learn more about his career and impact >