History

Founding

We were 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. We relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1996.

Licensure

From the very start, our educational standards have served as the basis of quality against which professional engineers are held for licensure. After over 80 years of refining our processes, programs accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) remain the benchmark for the engineering professions.

Our Policy on Licensure >

Member Societies

From the start, our activities were driven by the professions we serve. Today, 36 member societies provide experts and set the standards for the ABET accreditation process. In 1932, seven engineering societies founded the organization and contributed to ECPD’s original direction and focus:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, now the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE)
  • Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, now the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • National Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners (now NCEES)

 

In 1936, ECPD evaluated its first engineering degree programs. Ten years later, the council began evaluating engineering technology degree programs. By 1947, ECPD had accredited 580 undergraduate engineering programs at 133 institutions.

Producing guidance and training publications was a large part of ECPD operations. The council produced dozens of books, pamphlets, brochures, and movies—among them:

  • Reading List for Junior Engineers (1945)
  • Speaking Can be Easy… for Engineers Too (1950)
  • WOMENGINEER (1974)
  • Minorities in Engineering (1974)

A New Name And Expanded Focus

In 1980, ECPD was renamed the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to more accurately describe our 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 our largest member societies, with more than 300 accredited programs.

In 2005, we began operating simply under the acronym ABET, using “Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.” as our corporate name only when required by law.

Becoming a Global Accreditation Leader

Our international activities began in 1979, when ECPD signed its first Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board. By the early 1990s, we 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.

Engineering Criteria 2000 and Program Innovation

In 1997, following nearly a decade of development, we adopted Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000), considered at the time a revolutionary approach to accreditation criteria. EC2000 focused on outcomes (what is learned) rather than what is taught. At its core, EC2000 affirmed the importance of institutions establishing clear objectives and assessment processes to ensure that each program provides graduates with the technical and professional skills employers demand.

By eliminating the inflexibility of earlier accreditation criteria, EC2000 allowed us 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.

We continue to work globally to promote the EC2000 perspective with other accreditation boards and in other degree program areas. We also promote global education and career mobility through Mutual Recognition Agreements, such as the Washington Accord, the Seoul Accord, the Sydney Accord and the Dublin Accord.

ABET Today

Currently, we accredit 4,005 programs at 793 colleges and universities in 32 countries. Each year, over 2,200 volunteers from 36 member societies contribute to ABET’s goal of assuring confidence in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology education, serving as program evaluators, committee and council members, commissioners and members of our Board of Directors.

Past Presidents of ABET

2000–Present

Mary Leigh Wolfe
2018-19
Michael R. Lightner
2017-18
Wayne R. Bergstrom
2016-17
Lawrence G. Jones
2015-16
K. Jamie Rogers
2014-15
Monte L. Phillips
2013-14
Karan Watson
2012-13
Larry A. Kaye
2011-12
Phillip E. Borrowman
2010-11
David K. Holger
2009-10
Joseph L. Sussman
2008-09
L.S. “Skip” Fletcher
2007-08
William S. Clark
2006-07
Richard C. Seagrave
2005-06
Richard O. Anderson
2004-05
John D. Lorenz
2003-04
Larry D. Nixon
2002-03
Jerry R. Yeargan
2001-02
Joe R. Fowler
2000-01

1976–2000

Lee W. Saperstein
1999-2000
C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni
1998-99
 Eleanor Baum
1997-98
Stanley I. Proctor
1996-97
Winfred M. Phillips
1995-96
Jerrier A. Haddad
1994-95
Robert R. Furgason
1993-94
Albert T. Kersich
1992-93
John W. Prados
1991-92
Leslie F. Benmark
1990-91
Edward W. Ernst
1989-90
Francis J. Cashin
1988-89
Russel C. Jones
1987-88
Gordon H. Geiger
1986-87
Gene M. Nordby
1985-86
Gordon H. Millar
1983-85
Leland J. Walker
1980-83
Richard G. Cunningham
1978-80
Paul F. Allmendinger
1976-78

1932–1976

Robert B. Beckmann
1974-76
Richard A. Forberg
1972-74
Melvin R. “Pete” Lohmann
1970-72
Ernst Weber
1968-70
Arthur W. Weber
1967-68
Linton E. Grinter
1965-67
W. Scott Hill
1963-65
Ralph A. Morgen
1961-63
William L. Everitt
1958-61
M.D. Hooven
1956-58
Thorndike Saville
1955-56
L.F. Grant
1952-55
Harry S. Rogers
1949-52
James W. Parker
1946-49
Everett S. Lee
1943-46
Robert E. Doherty
1940-43
John P.H. Perry
1938-40
Charles F. Scott
1935-38
C.F. Hirshfeld
1932-35