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Environmental Engineering Program Receives ABET Accreditation

Allison Preston • DATE: September 6, 2018

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Science's environmental engineering program has now earned accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The environmental engineering degree was first offered to students in the fall of 2013. Prior to that, the department only offered a civil engineering or environmental geosciences degree. In its first year, 16 students had enrolled in the program. By 2016, 55 students had graduated.

"The way the process works is you start your program, you run it for several years, you gather data, and then you submit it for evaluation," says Associate Professor Rob Nerenberg. "Those first few years of students are taking a gamble.

Accreditation makes it easier for engineering students to gain licensure because the curriculum must meet specific academic standards decided upon by the accreditation committee.

"It is critical to have an accredited degree. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to get your license," Nerenberg says.

"There were definitely some challenges that they [the students] had to face," says Elizabeth Kerr, associate teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies.

Now that the program has accreditation, it extends to students who have already graduated from the program.

"We appreciate the confidence they had in us and in the program," Kerr says. "Without those students, we would not have been able to get the accreditation in the first place."

Recently, the accreditation for the civil engineering degree was also continued. The accreditation for both programs is valid until the next review cycle during the 2023-2024 academic year.