Continuous Improvement

Logo for ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission.

To ensure that our students are well prepared for success in their future careers, the department follows a formal procedure in the development of our curriculum, assessment of its effectiveness, and improvement informed by assessments and other feedback mechanisms. The BS degree in Chemical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. This commission reviews all aspects of our undergraduate program every six years, and provides a valuable element of external oversight. All told, by continually assessing and improving our program, and being formally accredited, we enhance the effectiveness and career opportunities of our graduates.

Our bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, “a not-for-profit, non-governmental accrediting agency for programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology…recognized as an accreditor by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.”

Our Accreditation process is structured around two sets of goals reflecting skill sets you should have when you graduate (Student Outcomes, or SO’s for short), and more advanced skill sets you should have a few years after graduation (Program Educational Outcomes, or PEO’s for short).

We are re-accredited every six years based on a review by ABET that evaluates a number of factors, including:

  • How well we assess the degree to which students are achieving the SO’s (Assessment)
  • How well we modify our program to improve student achievement of the SO’s based on assessment results, as well as additional data such as senior exit surveys and other forms of student feedback (Continuous Improvement)
  • How well we tune our Program Educational Objectives such that they are appropriate and conducive to professional success through consultation with alumni, employers of our graduates, and graduate and professional schools where our students pursue further study (our Constituencies, i.e., the groups we serve).

We stay at the leading edge, self-correct and get better by embracing the six-year ABET accreditation cycle as the premier vehicle to continually improve our program.

Why Accreditation Matters

ABET Accreditation 

What is the ultimate outcome of my education?

Student Outcomes may be regarded as concrete goals of our undergraduate program in support of the Program Education Objectives. In other words, by meeting the goals embodied in the Student Outcomes, and subsequently engaging in engineering practice or advanced (graduate) study for several years, the plan is for you achieve the Program Education Objectives. Look the two lists below to see the capabilities you can expect to have as a CBE graduate, and as a practicing engineer or advanced degree candidate. “Expect to have” means you can realistically anticipate having these skills after successfully completing the BS degree and starting your career. We continually strive to have our students achieve these goals.

Student Outcomes

The goal of the courses you take is to empower you with a skill set that will serve you well in professional practice. You will have certain skills when you graduate, and these skills will develop as you gain experience.

Student Outcomes (SO’s) are specific statements of the knowledge and abilities you are expected to have by the time of graduation.

Student Outcomes

By the completion of their undergraduate studies, students are expected to demonstrate:

(1) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics,

(2) an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors,

(3) an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences,

(4) an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts,

(5) an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives,

(6) an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions,

(7) an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Program Educational Objectives

Program Educational Objectives (PEO’s) are broad statements that describe the abilities and accomplishments that you are expected to have within a few years of obtaining the BS degree from our program.

Program Educational Objectives

Within a few years of obtaining a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University at Buffalo, the recent graduate

  1. Demonstrates professional engineering competence, broadly defined. Demonstrates professional engineering competence, via promotions and/or advancement to positions of increasing responsibility; via satisfactory progress towards completion of an advanced degree; or via a successful transition from the "traditional" chemical engineering career path into medicine, business, government, education, etc.
  2. Applies engineering and science to solve technical problems. Develops and implements innovative and effective solutions to difficult problems. Shows proficiency in the application of engineering science in the presence of practical constraints or complicating factors to solve real-world technical problems while demonstrating excellence in ethical standards.
  3. Interacts well with a broad range of people. Grows continuously in the range of people with whom he/she interacts professionally, demonstrating the ability to relate well to superiors, subordinates, and peers, inside or outside the organization, perhaps involving difficult circumstances. Provides input that enables others to do their job better. Reaches team leadership positions. Communicates ideas, findings, and knowledge through the composition of papers and/or internal reports, authorship of standards and guidelines, publication of scholarly articles, and application for patents. Delivers effective presentations to group leaders, internal and external customers, and at technical conferences, and/or training of coworkers and associates.

Whom does the Chemical Engineering program serve?

The groups served by our undergraduate program are our Constituencies are groups served by our undergraduate program. They include alumni (i.e., the future you), employers of our graduates, and graduate and professional schools where our students pursue further study.

How does the program stay effective and cutting-edge?

We learn how we are doing using Assessment, which is the process by which we evaluate how well our students are achieving the SO’s. Faculty determine the level at which our students achieve the goals embodied in each SO by grading large samples of student work with reference to Performance Indicators (PI’s), which are statements of various aspects of the SO that collectively define what it means to achieve it. The grading of each PI is carried out using a formal Rubric — a set of formal written statements that objectively define various levels of achievement or effectiveness. Assessment is carried out in courses throughout the curriculum, so that student performance is assessed from sophomore through senior years.

The courses that are best suited for Assessment varies among SO’s. For example, lab courses (CE 327, CE 328, CE 427, CE 428) are clearly the courses that should be used to assess SO (b) (an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data), and design courses (CE 404, CE 408) are clearly the courses that should be used to assess SO (c) (an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability). Both lab and design courses can be used to assess SO (d) (an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams), and SO (g) (an ability to communicate effectively), because students work in teams, and write reports and give presentations, in both of these types of courses.

We get better by Continuous Improvement, which is the process by which we regularly analyze Assessment results, and decide upon steps to take to help our students better achieve the SO’s (such as changes to content or delivery in individual courses, or to the composition or order of courses in the curriculum). This process does not occur in a vacuum. Rather, we actively engage our constituencies in tuning our PEO’s, implementing improvements, and other areas. Continuous Improvement also involves other channels of feedback, such as senior exit surveys, Lunch with the Chair events, data from course evaluations, and incorporation of suggestions from industrial participants in courses. Aside from our curriculum per se, the ABET accreditation every six years reviews our Continuous Improvement process.