CMAA and ABET

ABET was founded in 1932 as the Engineers Council for Professional Development. Its name was changed in 1980 to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, and it is now known simply as ABET. ABET is the preeminent organization accrediting undergraduate and graduate education programs in engineering and related fields. ABET serves the public through the promotion and advancement of education in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. At present, ABET accredits more than 3,300 programs at more than 680 institutions in 24 nations. ABET is recognized as an accrediting body by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ABET accredits programs, not institutions or individuals. Academic programs leading to a specific degree in a specific discipline are eligible for accreditation by ABET.

ABET applies both general and program-specific criteria to its evaluation of programs. General criteria apply across all academic disciplines and address such matters as how institutions accept students and track their progress; whether their curricula address appropriate topics; the number and qualifications of faculty; adequacy of facilities; policies for continuous improvement, and the like. Program-specific criteria are developed in collaboration with the leading professional societies or associations in each field, to reflect each discipline’s most current body of knowledge and standards of professional practice. Program-specific criteria are subject to an extensive review, comment and balloting procedure before being adopted by ABET.

ABET criteria are outcomes-based. That is, rather than itemizing courses to be taken or other “teaching inputs,” the criteria describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the program.

In 2013, CMAA was accepted as a member society of ABET. CMAA was recruited as the lead society for accreditation of CM programs by several academic institutions who felt their construction management programs needed a dedicated, distinct accreditation option.

Working through ABET supports CMAA’s mission because the adequacy and quality of tomorrow’s professional workforce is among the most frequently cited concerns in the CM industry. CMAA is dedicated to career-long education and professional development, beginning with supporting more than 40 student chapters and continuing through the Construction Manager-in-Training (CMIT) program and up to the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credential for the most accomplished CM practitioners.

By helping to assure that undergraduate CM education effectively prepares students to enter the profession, ABET significantly compliments CMAA’s mission and vision. Moreover, both CMAA and ABET are delivery-system neutral, advancing professionalism regardless of specific delivery methods.

ABET functions as a federation of 33 member societies. Each is responsible for leading the process of developing and maintaining program-specific criteria in its area, as well as for providing program evaluators, conducting site visits, and recommending accreditation approval or other actions to one of four ABET Accrediting Commissions: Applied Science, Computing, Engineering and Engineering Technology. The member societies are also responsible for recruiting the more than 2,000 volunteers on whom ABET depends throughout each year. ABET member societies also designate representatives to serve on the relevant Accreditation Commissions, as well as on the national ABET Board of Directors.

Accreditation demonstrates international recognition of the quality of an academic program. It promotes best practices and involves faculty and staff in self-assessment and continuous quality improvement. ABET accreditation helps attract talented and committed students by offering validation that the education available at an institution reflects the way a profession is practiced and what knowledge and skills industry needs in newcomers. Students gain a reliable way of assessing the quality of different educational programs. Graduating from an ABET-accredited program enhances employment opportunities and eases entry into the professional workplace. ABET accreditation is also often a condition of eligibility for federal student loans, grants, and scholarships.

Accrediting CM programs assures industry employers that entry level job candidates have met the basic educational requirements of the profession. It also demonstrates that students are specifically interested in CM careers and have made CM their primary career interest. CM programs can obtain more information about the accreditation process at www.abet.org.

Individuals can become involved in the CM accreditation process as ABET program evaluators. CMAA prefers to work with Certified Construction Managers (CCMs) as program evaluators and CCM recertification points are available for this service. Contact CMAA or ABET for additional details.