Roanoke, Va — We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Elmer Franklin (Frank) Hart on Dec. 24, 2023. At the time of his passing, Hart was serving as adjunct accreditation director for the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission.

Born in Lexington, KY, Hart moved to Virginia to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at Virginia Tech. Following graduation, he taught at Bluefield State College after graduation, where he remained until he retired as dean at the School of Engineering Technology and Computer Science in 2011. Additionally, Hart held licenses as a land surveyor and professional engineer in West Virginia and Virginia.

Throughout his career, Hart remained dedicated to education and engineering. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Society of Professional Surveyors and American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). In 2013, ASEE recognized Hart’s contributions to engineering technology education with the James H. McGraw Award, the association’s most prestigious award for engineering technology education. He was also named a fellow at ABET and ASCE.

Hart with his family in 2008 at his induction into the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni at Virginia Tech.

At ABET, Hart served in multiple roles within the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, including 2000-2001 chair, commission member, editor 1, editor 2 and team chair. He also served on the Accreditation Council, awards committees and task groups at ABET.

After his retirement from Bluefield, Hart joined the ABET staff as adjunct accreditation director for the commission. In 2021, Hart received ABET’s highest honor: the Linton E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award. This award is reserved for ABET Experts whose contributions over the course of decades define our organization and shape the course of our work. Hart’s dedication and contributions to ABET spanned nearly 50 years.

Frank Hart was not just a colleague but a great friend to ABET. His work will have a lasting impact on our organization and the engineering technology community. He will be greatly missed.

“Frank epitomized all that is special about ABET. His passion for engineering technology education was unmatched and will continue to have an impact on STEM education for decades to come. Frank’s leadership, kindness and support will never be forgotten, and he will be truly missed by all at ABET.”

Michael K. J. Milligan, Ph.D.

“Losing Frank feels unreal, as it wasn’t long ago when we laughed together on a phone call. I am filled with sadness for losing a friend and gratitude for having the privilege to work with Frank… Frank inspired us to do our best; his responses were immediate and thoughtful. He not only cared about my work at ABET, but he also cared about my well-being, my family, and my career… Frank has touched countless hearts, was an insightful leader with incredible kindness, and is loved by many. Frank left with a legacy that inspires us to be our best and be kind to others. He will be missed dearly.”

April Cheung, F.ABET
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Engineering Technology, Purdue University, Polytechnic Institute
Executive Committee Member, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET
2021-2022 Chair, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET
Hart, bottom left, with engineering technology faculty at Bluefield State College.

“Frank’s speaking ability reflected his many years of leadership and worldwide experiences, yet he remained rooted in his upbringing.  Who else uses phrases like “raising sand” or “bowels in an uproar” when talking about people or ABET meetings?  He loved telling stories, which ranged from growing up and leaving home to those about trying to herd various country representatives to a unanimous decision as President of the International Society of Mine Surveyors (which came up when discussing Accreditation Council meetings).  Another joy was seeing Frank’s face and hearing his laugh when he was tickled about something—a special treat when spending time with him.  One time I took him to a local eatery by my campus–the Burrito Shack, a true roadside shack with huge $3.50 burritos—and he was thrilled. 

Finally, to help capture one view of Frank’s uniqueness, I quote Berrin Tansel who grew close to Frank in the last few years.  ‘Frank’s tapestry is woven with threads of academic excellence, sportsmanship, and a profound appreciation for life’s simple joys. He recognized the beauty in the details, acknowledging and valuing what others brought into his life. Whether it was a moment shared with a friend, a colleague’s supportive gesture, or a stranger’s quiet presence, he reveled in the magic of appreciation. It was in these understated moments that he found the true essence of human connection—authentic, unadorned, and filled with sincerity.'”

Scott Danielson, Ph.D., F.ABET
Faculty Member, Arizona State University-Tempe
2020-2021 Chair, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET

“As a new faculty member in the program, I was tasked with getting our electronics engineering technology program accredited. To learn about accreditation, I traveled to Charlotte, NC, to attend ABET training for institutions in 1999. There I met Frank Hart, my trainer and teacher. Three years later when I was department chair, we decided to accredit a new industrial engineering technology program. I was told to speak with the [E]TAC chair. As you may have guessed, that was Frank Hart. He was a great help to us in a successful program conversion and accreditation. That was the beginning of Frank’s mentorship, which lasted for more than ten years—only ending with his untimely passing.

I became Frank’s friend. He always treated me as his best friend. But that was Frank Hart. He treated everyone as his best friend. And we were all fortunate to have his friendship. I have always had the highest respect and admiration for Frank. He and his legacy will live on in our collective memory.”

Thomas M. Hall, Jr., Ph.D., F. ABET, F. IEEE, F. ASEE
Professor Emeritus, Northwester State University.
Interim Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission Adjunct Accreditation Director, ABET
2019-2020 Chair, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET

“Along with so many others, I’ll miss Frank.

I met Frank when he took over for Dave Hornbeck as our Adjunct Accreditation Director-ETAC around 2010. It was my first year on the ETAC Executive Committee and worked with Frank in our quarterly ExCom meetings. I had the pleasure of working with Frank for the next 8 years until I finished my term with ETAC. I appreciated Frank’s “mellow” approach to problems that came up in our meetings. He would calmly help direct us on the correct way to address possible changes we proposed as an Executive Committee. I don’t ever remember Frank getting angry. He was always kind and considerate and was a true friend to everyone.

When I became Chair of ETAC, I had the opportunity for a complete year to meet weekly with Frank. While we talked about ETAC issues, these discussions always turned to family topics. I had the chance to talk about his interests and his family and he was always concerned about my family’s well-being. My sister-in-law, Chris Olson, became the ETAC Public Member and that gave Frank a chance to meet and work with one of my family members.

Frank will be missed by many and has influenced many, including me, for the better.”

Kirk Lindstrom, P.E.
2023-2024 Area Delegate, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET Board of Directors
2016-2017 Chair, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET
Hart (center) at the ASEE awards ceremony where he accepted the James H. McGraw Award with previous award winners who were also present that evening.

“Volunteering for ABET has been a privilege that has allowed me understanding of how quality assurance in higher education works. It works in large part because of the caliber of the employees and the volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to the enterprise. I would like to share my take on how E. Franklin Hart has made a significant impact in this arena.

One of my first meetings with Frank was on an ABET visit to Bluefield State University where he was both a Dean and an ABET Commissioner. I was a fairly new Program Evaluator Volunteer learning the new outcomes-based accreditation criteria. During that visit, I expected a full-throated defense of the programs by the dean. What was presented was a detailed explanation of criterion, how they connected together and examples from his programs with emphasis on the new criteria.  By the time the visit concluded, I wasn’t sure whether I had been through an ABET training seminar or a program review. It was both and it still stands as remarkable. Twenty years on and there are several insights that remain relevant.

Our commission has been most fortunate to have over two decades of the talents and examples of E. Franklin Hart in his adjunct role. While we have now lost access to his talents, I would rather focus on the improved debates, sharper problem analyses, and better commission process outputs that we all enjoyed over that period because of his consistent efforts and proffered skills. And, looking forward, I think those improvements will continue to be echoed in our future calls made. Thank you, Frank.”

Jim Lookadoo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Pittsburg State University
2018-2019 Chair, Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET

“I am deeply saddened by Frank Hart’s passing. Frank was a great colleague. I am grateful to have known him for a long time. I will miss him dearly!”

Ece Yaprak, Ph.D.
Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission Area Director, ABET
Professor and Division Chair, Engineering Technology, Wayne State University
Hart with ABET staff and volunteers.