University News

WIU Engineering Degree Achieves Milestone with ABET Accreditation

September 4, 2012

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - Three years after the first engineering class began at Western Illinois University, President Jack Thomas has announced the accreditation of WIU's Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

According to School of Engineering Director Bill Pratt, ABET accreditation assures that engineering graduates have a solid educational foundation in innovation and emerging technologies and are prepared to anticipate the safety needs of the public. ABET accreditation is an essential indicator that WIU's engineering program is recognized internationally for its quality and best practices in engineering education.

"This accomplishment is a significant milestone for WIU's engineering program. It also reinforces our confidence in the success, credibility and viability of this degree program," said WIU President Jack Thomas.

In October 2008, WIU received authorization by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to proceed with the engineering degree and shortly after announced a combined $1 million donation by the John Deere Foundation and the Moline Foundation in support of the program. The first classes were offered at the Caxton Building in Moline in August 2009.

"From conception to accreditation, the process has moved forward in a relatively short period of time," noted Tom Erekson, dean of the College of Business and Technology at WIU. "The accreditation is also retroactive, meaning that it applies to the degrees of our past engineering graduates."

In May 2011, the first two graduates crossed the stage with WIU's first Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees. In total, WIU has nine engineering graduates who are actively employed in field.

"The success of this degree program has been phenomenal," Pratt added. "All nine of our graduates have obtained great paying jobs as engineers in our region. In addition, they all have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam on the first attempt. This compares very well to a 70-80 percent pass rate nationally."

As a core component of the WIU engineering degree, students are required to pass the FE exam. They are also required to complete a senior capstone project. Nine of these projects have been completed in the Quad Cities community and have benefitted various companies, Pratt said. The visiting accreditation team noted that the WIU senior design capstone projects were at the highest quality level.

"This important accreditation will continue to strengthen our partnerships with the corporations and private industry in the Quad Cities community that have supported the WIU School of Engineering by investing their time and resources with hands-on experiences for our students," said Joe Rives, vice president for Quad Cities and planning.

The WIU School of Engineering offers a multi-disciplinary program where students can focus in civil, mechanical, electrical or manufacturing engineering. There are currently 67 students in the program and it's expected to double in size next year.

The program admits freshman and transfer students. WIU's engineering degree is designed as a 2+2 program that articulates with pre-engineering programs at community colleges in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, which allows students maximum transferability to WIU. This fall, the School of Engineering started its first freshman engineering cohort at the new Riverfront Campus for 12 students.

For more information about the Western Illinois University engineering degree, visit Prospective students interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to contact Pratt at (309) 762-9481.

The School of Engineering will host an open house from 3-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the WIU Riverfront Campus in Moline, 3300 River Drive, to formally celebrate the accreditation.

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