Volume 3 No.4, Spring 2000

ISSN# 1523-9926

Guest Editorial

An Evaluation of, and Suggestions for, the new ET2K Criteria

Lyle B. McCurdy, Ph.D.

Professor and Coordinator
Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology
Department of Engineering Technology
Cal Poly Pomona
Pomona, California


Introductory comments -- after considerable evaluation and thought regarding the proposed ET2K criteria, the following comments and suggestions are submitted:

Part I. First and foremost, I believe that engineering technology must provide a consistent base or "core" of engineering principles for all ET graduates, and that this core be lower division so that it can be readily taught by, and articulated with, community college pre-engineering and/or pre-engineering-technology programs throughout the country. I believe that this will be best accomplished by blending some of the existing "bean counting," of the existing TAC/ABET Criteria along with the suggestions of the new ET2K criteria. 

In addition, my evaluation of the ET2K Committee's "charge" is provided below: 

1. The new criteria are to be shorter, simpler, and more focused.

-- the new criteria take five pages; the current criteria take ten pages. The Program Criteria apply in both cases, which I agree with. 

I agree that there should be less focus on bean counting, however, it should not be eliminated completely. Some "core bean counting" should be retained so that industry can be reasonably assured that graduates will have a defined minimum base of engineering fundamentals. 

In my judgment, the new criteria tends to allow too much subjectivity -- different evaluators may evaluate a given program differently. Although a strong emphasis on program-by-program focus sounds good, too much flexibility may be detrimental, and may cause articulation problems from community college programs to baccalaureate-level programs. For example, it appears that a course in "programming" is no longer specified -- the new criteria simply states that a program "must provide students with competence in computer applications appropriate to the discipline and degree level and include the use of software for solving technical programs within technical courses." What is a community college supposed to do? And, what basis of programming understanding does industry rely upon? On balance, I believe that a strong lower-division technical core should remain specified. See ET Core, attached.

Human Communication -- I believe that some standard set of core in oral/technical writing, team skills, use of literature in field of specialization is required. See ET Core, attached.

Mathematics -- I agree that the math foundation should be college algebra and trigonometry. I also agree that ASET programs must introduce higher math; and that BSET programs must use calculus. However, the notion of not specifying any required unit count is poor; I believe that this should remain specified. See ET Core, attached.

Physical Science -- I believe that the proposed criteria -- "must include physics, chemistry, life/earth science appropriate to program goals; with lab work required" is good. However, not specifying any unit count is poor; I believe that this should remain specified. See ET Core, attached.

SS/Hu -- I believe that the proposed criteria -- "must include understanding of diversity, global and societal impacts of technology" is good and that not specifying any units is okay.

Technical -- I believe that the proposed technical-area criteria -- "a broad interpretation of technical core and specialization coursework greater than or equal to 1/3, but less than or equal to 2/3 of the total program credits; with no specific courses or units specified, and no cap on coop units, but with a capstone course required," is probably okay. However, it should remain based upon a specified lower-division technical core. See ET Core, attached. 

Regarding the removal of the cap on coop units -- I think this is a poor idea, the current cap should remain in place.

2. The new criteria are to have greater emphasis on capabilities of graduates than current criteria.

The new ET2K criteria appears to give considerable program-content control to the faculty, rather than specifying a block of course names and/or topics as currently done. As a result, each faculty group will have to demonstrate the use feedback for continuous improvement, with business and industry input. Thus, each program will be able to set their own scope and level within broad "application" guidelines from the new criteria, as long as their graduates are accepted by industry, and industry feedback is used for program guidance. I believe that this is is a good idea, within limits, after the lower-division ET Core has been satisfied. See ET Core, attached.

3. The new criteria are to concentrate on quality and program effectiveness.

The ET2K criteria specifies that graduates must demonstrate each of the following: (a) mastery of knowledge, techniques, skills, and modern tools of their disciplines; (b) use current and emerging knowledge of math, science, engineering, and technology; (c) conduct, analyze, interpret, and apply experimental results to improve processes; (d) apply creativity in design of systems, components, processes appropriate to program goals; (e) function effectively on teams; (f) identify, analyze, and solve technical problems; (g) communicate effectively; (h) possess ability to pursue lifelong learning; (i) understand professional, ethical, and social responsibilities; (j) recognize professional, societal, and global issues, and to respect diversity; and (k) have a commitment to quality, timeliness and continuous improvement. Overall, I believe that this is acceptable, after the ET Core has been satisfied.

4. The new criteria are to allow flexibility in delivery to support innovation.

I believe that this is acceptable, after the ET Core has been satisfied. 

5. The new criteria are to retain assurance of expected standards.

It appears that the expected standards are to be broadened (specified by each faculty group). Overall, I believe that this is acceptable, after the ET Core has been satisfied. Regarding faculty credentials -- the new ET2K criteria for faculty appear to be about the same as the current criteria. For BS programs, a MS in engineering or engineering technology; for AS programs, a PE with a closely- related BS program is okay; 3 years industry experience, minimum. I believe this is acceptable.

6. The new criteria are to provide guidance for essential inputs and processes.

I agree that continuous feedback, with industry guidance, should be required for program evaluation and on-going development, after the ET Core has been satisfied.

Part II. Suggested Lower-Division ET CORE for all ET Programs

Lower-Division ET Core
for All Engineering Technology Programs
(Quarter units shown)

1. Human Comm/Humanities/Soc Sci
English Composition I (4)
Oral Communication (4)
English Comp II with Critical Thinking (4)
Economics (4)

2. Mathematics & Science
Pre-Calculus, or College Algebra and Trigonometry (4)
Statistics (3)
Technical Calculus I (4)
Technical Calculus II (4)
College Chemistry with Lab (4) 
College Physics with Lab (8)
Life Sciences (3)

3. Technical Courses (All ET majors)*
Applied Statics (3)
Electric Networks, with Lab (4)
Engineering Graphics, including CAD, with Lab (3)
Engineering Problems with Computer Literacy, with Lab (3) 
Manufacturing Processes/Materials, with Lab (2)
Properties of Materials, with Lab (3)
Computer Programming with Applications, with Lab (4)

* The typical math level for lower-division ET technical courses is college algebra and trigonometry, except for statics which requires a corequisite of tech calc I, or equivalent. For programs that require dynamics, its prerequisite is tech calc I, or equivalent.

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