Accrediting agency adds stamp of approval to JMU engineering

by Eric Gorton


Engineering student works with electronic equipment in a lab.
The ABET accreditation is retroactive and covers students who graduated in the program's first two classes, in 2012 and 2013.

Employers have been lauding the JMU engineering program since its first graduates hit the job market in spring 2012. Now ABET, the leading accrediting agency for technical and engineering programs in the U.S. and around the world, has given it's stamp of approval.

"It's an external assessment of our program and by getting it, it suggests Madison engineering is meeting the rigor that the engineering profession expects," said Dr. Kurt Paterson, head of the department.

The accreditation puts Madison engineering with the best programs in the country and will benefit students and alumni seeking jobs, graduate school opportunities and licensure. "When you tell others around the world that your program is ABET accredited, it's understood what that means," Paterson said.

And the program's youth is one of its strengths. "This is a curriculum designed in the 21st century for 21st century needs," Paterson said, noting students get a heavy dose of design experience beginning in their freshman year. "I think the curriculum resonates with prospective students because it's very hands on. You learn engineering by doing engineering."

In addition to design, JMU engineering students take business courses and work on projects requiring them to work with clients. During their sophomore year, the students meet with physically disabled children and their families, design mobility devices to meet their needs, such as custom bicycles, then build and deliver them. Such experiences, Paterson said, position JMU engineering graduates to be problem solvers who understand people while also having the technical knowledge required of engineers.

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Sept. 18, 2013

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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