Navajo Technical University Engineering Programs Earn ABET Accreditation

Student Cyrus Leopold Norcross tinkers with a LED light project in Navajo Technical University’s Electrical Engineering Fundamentals I course.

Published October 2, 2018

CROWNPOINT, N.M. — Navajo Technical University reached another milestone in establishing itself as a premier university of the southwest after its electrical and industrial engineering programs received notice of approval for ABET accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission. ABET is a non-profit, international accreditor of college and university engineering programs, and requires an intense peer reviewed process that evaluates curriculum, faculty credentials, and facilities, among other factors. In earning accreditation, NTU becomes the first tribal college and university to offer engineering programs recognized by ABET.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for NTU and all tribal colleges and universities,” said Dr. Casmir Agbaraji, dean of undergraduate studies at NTU. “We’ve paved the path for others to follow, and we’re excited to open a world of opportunities for students.”

Navajo Technical University

The opportunities for students gained under the accreditation was also reiterated by Dr. Stanley Atcitty, chair of NTU’s Engineering Advisory Board and engineer for Sandia National Laboratories. “Obtaining such a significant milestone will greatly expand the students’ opportunities and marketability as they enter the workforce,” Dr. Atcitty stated.

NTU’s accreditation is retroactive, meaning the four students who have received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and the six who have earned a B.S. in industrial engineering now have accredited degrees. The accreditation will date back to Oct. 1, 2015, which was the semester NTU graduated its first engineer when Fayetta Clawson of Farmington, NM received her degree in industrial engineering. Clawson has since secured a job with Intel and is working in Portland, OR.

“Our alumni played a crucial role in our approval, since the majority of their work was reviewed and assessed by the Engineering Accreditation Commission,” explained Dr. Agbaraji, who came to NTU in 2011 as an industrial engineering faculty member. “The retroactive accreditation is a testament to the quality of their work, and celebrates everything they endured to get our engineering programs off the ground.”

Since 2011, NTU has increased its effort to meet a growing demand for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It began with a National Science Foundation grant that helped establish the industrial engineering program, after which NTU’s electrical engineering degree shortly followed. NTU also developed Associate of Applied Science degrees in chemical engineering technology and engineering technology. A certificate in pre-engineering was also pursued, and is being offered to high school students through dual credit.

“It’s our responsibility to ensure our students succeed,” explained Dr. Agbaraji, who noted that with the accreditation, students can now transfer credits to other accredited engineering programs. “Engineering is a complex field that can be a challenge to students. But if we can put programs and resources in place that help them progress through the field, then we can let them know that anything is possible.”

Many private and federal employers require a degree from an ABET-accredited program as a condition of employment, and applicants are often screened by this merit. According to Dr. Agbaraji, this was a driving factor in NTU’s pursuit for accreditation after recognizing limitations in its collaborations with laboratories such as Lawrence Livermore and corporations like Boeing. With the accreditation, NTU engineering students now provide assurance that they’ve met global standards that are maintained in technical education programs.

Over 3,800 applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology programs are accredited through ABET at more than 775 colleges and universities in 31 countries. For more information about NTU’s ABET accredited programs in electrical and industrial engineering, contact Dr. Casmir Agbaraji at cagbaraji@navajotech.edu.

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