by Ian S. Embradura, OPI
Two departments of the Institute’s College of Engineering (COE) submitted for international accreditation through the Washington Accord to provide its graduates opportunities to work as engineers abroad.
COE Assistant Dean Dr. Maria Shiela K. Ramos said that the results of the Washington Accord accreditation would recognize the MSU-IIT engineering graduates not as “technicians working abroad” but as “engineers in Washington Accord signatory countries.”
The Washington Accord visited MSU-IIT on August 24 -26 to verify and evaluate the Self-Study Reports (SSR) submitted by the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Technology (ChE) and the Department of Electronics Engineering (ECE).
A Washington Accord accreditation would mean a substantial equivalency of IIT’s engineering degree programs to the same engineering degree programs of the signatory countries of Washington Accord.
The three day visit comprised of a series of meetings between the accrediting body’s Program Evaluation Team (PET) and the key informants –from the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellors, COE’s Dean and Assistant Dean, to the laboratory coordinators and technicians, faculty members of the two departments, students, and even external stakeholders or the industry advisory board. In between these meetings are private sessions within the PET, a review of exhibits and documents, and a tour of the facilities.
There are 9 criteria to which Washington Accord evaluates: program educational objectives; student outcomes; students; faculty and support staff; curriculum; facilities and learning environment; leadership and institute support; extension, community-oriented programs, and industry-academe linkage; continuous quality improvement.
Unlike the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) that determines accreditation as either Center of Development (COD) or Center of Excellence (COE), ECE Chair Prof. Jefferson Hora explained that the Washington Accord determines the number of years it gives its accreditation depending on the deficiency, weakness, or concern from the given criteria.
Hora explained what these evaluations signify: weakness means that “there is a plan, procedure, or policy, but it is not fully implemented or executed”; concern is a matter of minimal improvements required; while deficiency indicates no plan, procedure, or policy at all.
Having at least no deficiency, despite a few weaknesses or concerns, gives an institution two years of being Washington Accord Accredited; four years if the weaknesses are fewer than the concerns; and, the maximum six years of full accreditation if there are no concerns at all, Ramos said.
Both CChE and ECE Programs were found to be deficient by Washington Accord only in the criterion of continuous quality improvement which requires a cycle of five years of an Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) program.
Ramos explained that OBE was only implemented in the engineering programs in 2013 and is still on its second year.
“We will invoke on our seven-day response to correct any error of facts and we have another 30 days to respond to correct everything,” Ramos added. In other words, COE hopes to change the deficiency into a weakness or concern in order to be given the minimum two years of accreditation.
“All engineering programs in IIT are committed for the accreditation,” Hora said.
As the recognized body in the Philippines to conduct the Washington Accord Accreditation, the Philippine Technological Council (PTC) recommended to have two engineering programs to be evaluated for verification as of now because the job “requires a lot of man power and there is a constraint in the number of accreditors”.
In terms of readiness, both Hora and Ramos believe that the Departments of ChE and ECE were up to the challenge and have the maturity to deliver the criteria, ECE as one of the pioneering programs of the college.
According to Ramos, the idea of applying for international accreditation sparked when Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Technology merged in 2012 and had a roadmap planning.
The Assistant Dean added that apart from the recognition, undergoing this international accreditation propelled the development and renovation of the respective departments’ facilities.