American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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Position on Accreditation of Biologically Based Engineering Curricula

Approved by ASABE Board of Trustees October 30, 2002

The American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASABE) has been a biologically based engineering society since its formation in 1907. Because of the critical role that biological sciences play in the practice of engineering related to food, agricultural, and biological systems, ASABE members have been at the forefront in developing biological engineering education, research, and design processes.

The practice of biological engineering is defined as the application of the engineering method to the design of machines, processes, components, materials, and associated systems whose effectiveness cannot be optimized without accounting for the anatomy, physiology, or function of living materials, organisms or communities. The education to prepare for, and the professional practice of, engineering with and for biological systems is unique from other disciplines of engineering, just as the biological sciences on which it is based have both unique and common features when compared to chemistry, physics, and other sciences.

ASABE became a participating member of ABET (Engineers' Council for Professional Development (ECPD) at the time) in December 1966. ASABE is the lead society for accreditation of agricultural and similarly named engineering programs and a cooperating society for accreditation of bioengineering programs and environmental engineering programs. Currently, under the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) criteria of "agricultural and similarly named programs," there are forty-eight (48) accredited programs. Thirty-six of the forth-eight programs have the term bio- in their names. Seven are entitled biological engineering; seven are compound names including biological; eleven are biological systems or biosystems; four are compound names including biosystems; five include biological resources or bioresources; one is named bioengineering, and one is bioenvironmental engineering. ASABE, with ABET approval, has kept the program criteria for "agricultural and similarly named programs" current to reflect the educational preparation needed for professional practice in biologically based engineering. Clearly, ASABE is providing leadership in accreditation of biologically based engineering programs.

With its long-standing accreditation experience relative to biologically based engineering practice and education, ASABE offers its services and resources to ABET to be the facilitating and coordinating society for curriculum development and accreditation of biologically based engineering programs. ASABE is pleased to be working closely with IEEE and BMES on accreditation of biomedical engineering programs and with AIEE on accreditation of environmental engineering programs. As biologically based engineering curricula continue to evolve, ASABE is best positioned among engineering societies to provide leadership and facilitation for biological engineering program criteria. In this role, ASABE seeks collaborative partnerships with other ABET member societies to ensure appropriate accreditation of the diverse spectrum of biological engineering programs. ASABE will organize collaborative workshops with participation by peer engineering and related societies with interest in biologically based engineering programs to facilitate partnerships. ASABE commits to make available its extensive ABET experience and resources to train examiners for accrediting biological engineering degree programs.


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