Students to benefit as undergraduate programs earn ABET accreditation

By University Communications
September 11, 2014
A student works with a machine at an engineering lab in UW-Stout’s Fryklund Hall.

Photo: A student works with a machine at an engineering lab in Fryklund Hall.

Two popular undergraduate programs at the University of Wisconsin-Stout have been accredited by the national organization that reviews programs in the disciplines of applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

Two ABET commissions recently notified UW-Stout that the engineering technology and the game design and development-computer science programs have met the accreditation standards, retroactive to 2012.

ABET accreditation, which is voluntary and achieved through a peer review process, provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards established by the profession for which the program prepares its students.

“The faculty and staff involved in these programs have worked extremely hard to ensure that we are offering the highest quality education that prepares our graduates for good careers in industry,” said Chancellor Bob Meyer. “The accreditations validate the quality of these programs.”

The accreditation of engineering technology came from Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. UW-Stout has the only engineering technology program with a similar accreditation in the UW System.

Those associated with UW-Stout’s engineering technology degree, including staff, students, employers and outside constituents, knew this was an excellent program, said John Schultz, director. “Accreditation assures us as well as others that engineering technology meets the requirements and rigor established by ABET-ETAC.”

Schultz said the accreditation effort was a group effort by everyone in the engineering and technology department, as well as the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“I’m contacted every year by alumni who needed an ABET-accredited degree to get a job or a promotion,” Schultz said. “That isn’t an issue anymore.”

The game design and development-computer science program was accredited by the ABET Computer Accreditation Commission. UW-Stout has the only such program in the UW System and is believed to have the only one with similar accreditation in the country.

“This verifies the quality of the student’s educational experience,” said Diane Christie, program director. “The accreditation criteria ensure the students have the knowledge and skill in computer science to meet the standards of the profession. Graduating from an accredited computer science program greatly increases the employment opportunities and starting salary of the students.”

Graduates see benefits of accreditation

Ryan Lehmann, a Fall Creek native, recently graduated in game design and development-computer science and works as a programmer for Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan.

“I am thankful that I went into game design and development because there is truly nothing greater than to see people play a game that you have made and have fun playing it,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann said ABET accreditation definitely will help his career. “It will help my resume stand out if I am looking for a new job,” he said. “Having the accreditation will help set me apart from other programmers and show that UW-Stout has a programming-focused curriculum.”

Nathan Mullen, a Bloomer native, is using his engineering technology degree at IntriCon in Vadnais Heights, Minn. The company specializes in plastic injection molding in the medical field.

“When interviewing I noticed a few places required an engineer with a degree from an ABET-accredited program,” Mullen said. “Now that engineering technology-mechanical design is accredited, the variety of jobs that I qualify for increased greatly.”

Lehmann and Mullen, both spring 2014 graduates, said they benefited from the applied learning philosophy employed at UW-Stout, which emphasizes a hands-on approach through laboratory work, as well as co-ops and internships. It’s one reason why UW-Stout graduates have a 97 percent employment rate six months after leaving campus.

“I felt that classes gave me the framework to create games and then let me apply that knowledge to actually make games for class,” Lehmann said. “I felt like the applied learning showed me that I can create actual games and programs that others could play.”

“The applied learning philosophy definitely aided in receiving my job offer,” Mullen said. “The interviewer was impressed with the hands-on experience I was able to get while being a student at UW-Stout. Although I didn’t have experience in working with plastic manufacturing outside of school, Intricon felt confident in my education from UW-Stout and the skill I obtained to jump right into my role.”

For more information on the two Bachelor of Science degrees, go to www.uwstout.edu/programs/bset/ for engineering technology or www.uwstout.edu/programs/bsgdd/index.cfm for game design and development.

UW-Stout, Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, has more than 9,300 students in 45 undergraduate majors and 23 graduate majors, including one doctoral degree. UW-Stout, established in 1891, prides itself on the success of its students in the workplace, with a graduate employment rate at or above 97 percent for recent graduates. The university was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award in 2001.