The Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas-Pan American reached a significant milestone when it recently received accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology/ Computing Accreditation Commission (ABET/CAC).
"The national recognition that ABET/CAC accreditation brings, couldn't have come at a better time than UTPA's 75th Anniversary," said Dr. Richard Fowler, department chair from 2001-2003, current professor and director of the Computing and Information Technology Center. "The computer science faculty have worked very hard to create and deliver a top-flight computing curriculum and are glad that the benefits to students are highlighted by this latest achievement."
Fowler also credited the achievement to the support of UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, the College of Science and Engineering and its dean, Dr. Michael Eastman.
The UTPA computer science program joins other ABET/CAC accredited institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas-El Paso.
"The ABET accreditation is just further proof that this University is providing its students with quality programs and a first class education," Nevárez said. "Current and future computer science students alike will benefit professionally from this accomplishment."
To achieve accreditation, the department conducted an extended self-study in 2001-2002, and was visited by a three-member team from the Computing Accreditation Commission in November 2002. The team met with the faculty, administration and students and reviewed the self-study materials, evaluated the computing and library resources associated with the program and subsequently made its recommendation to ABET for action in July 2003.
The accredited computer science program is a broad-field major that meets all the guidelines set by the accreditation board and provides a solid foundation of computing courses, along with supporting courses in science, mathematics and technical communication.
UTPA first offered a computer science bachelor's degree in 1983 within the Department of Mathematics and developed the broad-field Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) degree in 2000 in anticipation of accreditation.
The Department of Computer Science was formed in 1994 and is now part of the School of Engineering and Computer Science within the College of Science and Engineering.
The department also offers two graduate programs, a Master of Science in Computer Science and the Master of Science in Information Technology. The program currently has 360 students in its BSCS and Bachelor of Science programs and more than 60 master's students.
"This is the fulfillment of a goal that I and members of the department have had for our program for many years. Our students have done extremely well and have been recruited by national and international companies and now they can also say that they have graduated from an accredited program," said Pearl Brazier, who served as chair of the department from 1994-2001 and was instrumental in the development of the program and the accreditation.
The accreditation effort was supported by members of the Computer Science Advisory Council, which include representatives from Compuware, Exxon-Mobil, IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls, Microsoft, Motorola, Wornick Company and Xerox.
According to Brazier, graduates of the program have gone on to earn their master's and doctoral degrees. She said graduates and students in the program have also served as interns and been placed in positions that range from software engineering, software testing, network administration, database programming, database administration, technical support, internet computing and teaching.
Established in 1932, ABET is a federation of 31 professional engineering and technical societies that has accredited more than 2,500 engineering, technology, computing, and applied science programs at over 550 colleges and universities nationally.
For more information on ABET and the accreditation log on to www.abet.org