The following response regarding the program review of the B.S. in Engineering Technology is based on the PRC’s final report. In that report, the PRC provided a recommendation for the program director, department chair and the dean, which follow, along with the respective responses.
Recommendations for the Program Director
- Pursue ABET accreditation. This accreditation is consistent with the program revision and change in title. Our program is now comparable to engineering technology programs throughout the nation and gaining this accreditation would confer the legitimacy the program deserves. Source: program report.
The pursuit of ABET accreditation for the ET program is a worthy goal and a priority of the college and the program. The program director agrees that this should be pursued. The program would benefit from external validation by increased opportunities for program graduates in both employment and further graduate education opportunities. Additionally, the university as a whole would benefit by having another program with this prestigious external validation.
However, it would be counter productive to all of these goals to apply for the ABET accreditation and be denied. It is likely under the current staffing and support model under which the program operates that ABET would deny accreditation on the principle of appropriate number of faculty.
It is clear from the February 2004 report “Faculty and Staffing Requirements to Support the Engineering Technology Program at UW-Stout” that the program is currently deficient in this area. As a result of this report and subsequent meetings with the Technology Department Chair, CTEM Deans, Provost, and Chancellor, additional course sections were approved for Fall semester 2004, however the shortfalls in this area really need to be addressed in a permanent faculty allocation manner.
Yet another faculty issue is that of the type of faculty that have primary commitment to the program. While significant advances have been made in the past three years in getting many of the engineering degree holding faculty to have secondary support for the ET program, most still would consider their primary affiliation to the Manufacturing Engineering program.
It appears to the program director from the discussions at the above administration meetings that the institution either does not have the financial resources and commitment to find resources assure the quality and continuity of the engineering technology program by way of full time faculty assigned to this program as a primary responsibility at the present time.
Given that the shortcomings have been well documented in the “Assessment in the Major Reports,” Advisory Committee meetings, the PRC review, and the above study, clearly a problem area with the ET program has been identified and would be recognized by an ABET review committee. Hence, it would be unwise to request a review for accreditation without first addressing a well-known problem area.
Recommendations for the Department Chair and the Dean
- Focus on using this program as an incubator for new and innovative engineering technology initiatives.
- Additional faculty and resources are needed to enhance the program.
- Consider entry into one of the emerging technology fields. For example, the Twin Cities has become a center for biomechanical engineering, and since we are located close to this technological cluster, it may make sense to pilot a concentration in this field.
Response from the Department Chair and the Dean
The first response from the Dean will combine items 1 and 3 as they are perceived as being related.
The College has identified the Engineering Technology program as one with great potential growth in terms of enrollment and program development. Several meetings with key stakeholders have been held over the past academic year to identify the technology related fields to pursue. Areas identified by the advisory committee that have a good fit with the current ET program include: Industrial Engineering Technology – Environmental, Health & Safety; Biomedical Engineering Technology (these three have potential for possible joint ventures with CAS); Computer and Electrical Engineering Technology, Nano-Engineering Technology; and Systems Engineering Technology. In order to grow in these new areas, additional resources are required.
The ET program has shown significant growth in student numbers, and fantastic improvement through the development of appropriate student learning outcomes and the planned program revision. The fundamental problem of sufficient faculty to support the number of students enrolled remains an issue that has not been addressed in a permanent manner. This program is a perfect fit for the special mission of the University of Wisconsin-Stout and presents tremendous opportunities for growth into new concentration areas that are unique offerings for the UW System. These concentration areas combine theory, practice and experimentation to prepare graduates for professional positions that meet the needs of a changing society.
Response to recommendation #2
During the spring semester of 2004, the program director completed a Faculty and Staffing Requirements Profile for the Engineering Technology program at UW-Stout. That report was included in the appendix of the original PRC self study. The messages in the staffing report have been echoed in the PRC Consultants report. Basically stated: the Engineering Technology program has experienced an increase in enrollment over the past three years while there has been a simultaneous decrease in the number of faculty and staff available to teach courses required in the program.
To meet the needs of the ET program, the College has reallocated internally to attempt to meet the demand caused by the increase in enrollments. Using 2 FTE from another department, additional courses were offered for the spring ’04 and fall ’04. These have been temporary solutions to a much larger problem. Enrollment in the 13 undergraduate and graduate programs housed in CTEM has increased steadily over the five years, with no additional resources to serve the students. High demand programs (including Construction, General Business, Apparel Design and Development and Engineering Technology) all require additional resources. In order the College to foster growth in the ET program, resources need to be reallocated from the university level.