30 September 2010

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE now has a lead role in establishing criteria for college and university degree-granting programs in optics and photonics, as the Society begins its first accreditation cycle as a member of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

ABET, a federation of 30 professional and technical societies, acts as the recognized  accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology in the U.S.

Following ratification as a member society earlier this year, SPIE was designated the lead society for optics and photonics criteria related to curriculum and faculty for the ABET Applied Science Accreditation Commission, and will be co-lead with IEEE, Inc., for similar programs in the Engineering and Technology accreditation commissions.

Nominations of Barry Shoop (U.S. Military Academy) to fill the SPIE seat on the ABET Board of Directors and of Wei Chen (Univ. of Central Oklahoma) as alternate were approved by the SPIE Board of Directors at its meeting in San Diego last month.

Six program evaluators selected by SPIE attended training in Louisville, Kentucky, this summer, and two of the evaluators were assigned to perform accreditation reviews and site visits this fall.

Next, SPIE will work with deans and department heads of leading optics and photonics programs to develop criteria and faculty descriptions appropriate to the discipline. Once written, these will go to the commission and ABET's Board for approval. When approved they will be posted one year for public comment and subsequently become the accepted criteria for optics and photonics programs accredited by ABET.

"SPIE has already demonstrated its dedication to educating the next generation of optics and photonics professionals through its support of scholarships, grants, and other educational programs around the world," said ABET President David Holger. "Being an ABET Member Society will further this commitment and provide SPIE with a proven means to ensure the quality of as many as 300 degree-granting programs in optics and photonics worldwide."

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.


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