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University MSVE Program is Country's First to Earn ABET Accreditation

Old Dominion is the first university in the United States to have its modeling, simulation and visualization engineering (MSVE) program certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

This prestigious recognition was a result of two decades of multi-disciplinary scholarship, teaching and partnerships in the field of modeling and simulation led by Old Dominion engineers, along with work done for this accreditation process which will be incorporated into national ABET standards for other modeling and simulation engineering programs.

"The best quote I've heard lately is from one of our advisory board members, who said that having an MSVE graduate is like getting three people rolled into one," said Rick McKenzie, chair of the MSVE department in Old Dominion's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology. "They are engineers that can design and implement the system, they are simulationists that can model system parameters and simulate behavior of the system over time, and they are analysts that can understand the results along with any statistical limitations of the output so that the best decision will be known."

ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards established by the profession for which the program prepares its students.

However, since no M&S professional society has taken the reins as yet to approve and sponsor a set of discipline-specific criteria within ABET, Old Dominion's MSVE faculty developed criteria for the Bachelor of Science in the discipline to which other ABET candidates will need to conform for accreditation.

After careful consideration of desired capabilities and capabilities already contained within the ABET general engineering student outcomes, the MVSE faculty developed three modeling and simulation program-specific outcomes: an ability to model systems across different domains; an ability to design and develop appropriate simulation solutions; and an ability to apply visualization techniques to support the simulation process.

There are currently 90 undergraduate students in the MSVE major at Old Dominion, along with about 110 graduate students. Instruction is provided by 10 faculty, along with 12 adjuncts (many of whom work full time at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) in Suffolk.

The effectiveness of the undergraduate-to-post-doctoral degree programs is proven by the success of its graduates. McKenzie said five Old Dominion MSVE students worked on a senior design project with Huntington Ingalls-Newport News Shipbuilding, "and they hired two of them from that graduating class."

ABET accreditation is an important recognition of engineering programs that work towards student attainment of learning outcomes that conform to engineering disciplines and have a process for measuring attainment and continuous improvement.

There are eight general criteria to be satisfied, including objective measures such as student outcomes, educational objectives, curriculum, facilities and faculty. Additionally, there may be program-specific requirements depending on the particular discipline.

The MSVE program at Old Dominion University satisfies the program criteria for general engineering in the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission, and outlines detailed, discipline-specific student outcomes to ensure unambiguous definition of a pioneering program in order to set a standard that can be utilized as a template for future up-and-coming modeling and simulation engineering programs.

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