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Engineering Programs Hit Key Accreditation Milestone

September 20, 2017
The independent nonprofit Engineering and Accreditation Commission of ABET Inc. has accredited Merrimack College’s new mechanical engineering program and reaccredited the bachelor’s degree program in electrical and civil engineering.

ABET accreditation assures that programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields that are leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.

The designation is also a boost to job-seeking graduates who benefit from the programs’ enhanced standing and reputation.

“Everyone who has graduated from this program has an accredited degree,” said Joel Kuszmaul, associate professor and chair of civil engineering. “Our engineering faculty are excellent teacher-scholars.”

To be eligible for accreditation, a new program must graduate a class that has been enrolled for four years, said Franco Capaldi, associate professor and chair of mechanical engineering. Merrimack’s mechanical engineering program was established in 2012 and graduated its first class in 2016. The accreditation this summer is retroactive to the 2016 graduating class.

Among the factors that helped earn Merrimack accreditation were its $2 million in physical improvements to the Mendel Center and the addition of highly regarded instructors, including those who have recently earned their doctorates and others who have years of industrial experience.

“The college has made considerable investments in facilities and faculty for engineering,” said science and engineering dean Cynthia McGowan. “The quality of the new faculty is excellent.”

ABET is a nongovernmental accrediting agency for programs in engineering and engineering technology; applied and natural sciences; and computing. It is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

ABET collects measurements of competence, including data that demonstrates a program’s continuing improvement. Accreditation is good for six years.

“Requirements for ABET accreditation are much more stringent than those required for accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges,” said Jack Adams, associate professor and chair of electrical engineering. “These three programs are already collecting data for reaccreditation in six years.”

Mechanical engineering is the largest of the three programs with about 140 students this semester. Civil engineering enrolls about 113 students and electrical engineering about 70.

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  • From left: Jack Adams, associate professor and chair of electrical engineering; Joel Kuszmaul, associate professor and chair of civil engineering; Cynthia McGowan, dean of the School of Science and Engineering; and Franco Capaldi, associate professor and chair of mechanical engineering.
    From left: Jack Adams, associate professor and chair of electrical engineering; Joel Kuszmaul, associate professor and chair of civil engineering; Cynthia McGowan, dean of the School of Science and Engineering; and Franco Capaldi, associate professor and chair of mechanical engineering.

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