Visayas State University’s (VSU) Agricultural and Civil Engineering programs are the first engineering programs in the Visayas region to be subjected to an accreditation by the Philippine Technological Council - Accreditation and Certification Board for Engineering and Technology (PTC-ACBET). This was held from January 22 to 24, 2018.

PTC is the only recognized organization in the country by the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and Pacific (FEIAP) and the Washington Accord. PTC is an umbrella organization of 13 engineering professional organizations in the Philippines, and the only recognized accrediting organization for engineering programs by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The Washington Accord is an important agreement among different countries to standardize qualifications for engineering and technology fields. It also recognizes a specific engineering body that is especially assigned by a signatory country to do accreditation on behalf of the Washington Accord. In the case of the Philippines, the engineering body qualified to assess on behalf of the Washington Accord is the PTC-ACBET. Therefore, once a program is a PTC-ACBET certified engineering course, graduates of this program can practice their profession in any signatory country of the Washington Accord around the globe.

Dr. Virgilio E. Abellana, the Dean of the College of Engineering of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), led a team of six accreditors coming from different engineering schools in the country. He was joined by Engr. Charlito L. Canesares, the deputy chair of the accrediting team with Dr. Marife L. Pesino, Engr. Mel Dennis A. Ferrer, Engr. Oliver S. Dimailig, and Ms. Robelle Ampuan serving as members. PTC officers including its President, Engr. Federico A. Monsada and ACBET Chairperson Dr. Lydia Tansinsin also sat with the team of accreditors as panel of consultants.

The accreditation team assessed the two VSU engineering programs under the following criteria: (1) program educational objectives, (2) student outcomes, (3) students, (4) faculty and support staff, (5) curriculum, (6) facilities and learning environment, (7) leadership and institutional support; (8) extension service, community service and industry-academe linkage, and (9) continuous quality improvement.

The accreditation team also used a set of categories in evaluating each criterion. These include the following: (1) ‘concern’ refers to whether the program currently satisfies the criterion or whether some changes may be applied by the program to satisfy the criterion; (2) ‘weakness’ refers to whether the program lacks the strength of compliance with a criterion; and (3) ‘deficiency’ which refers to whether the program does not satisfy the criterion at all.

The rigorous evaluation involved several interviews with VSU key officials, external stakeholders, program chair, faculty and students. It also involved class observation, visits to engineering facilities including its laboratories and workshops.

After the exit conference held at the Center for Continuing Education (CCE) on January 24, the accreditors revealed that the two programs received a ‘no deficiency’ mark which means that the 2 engineering programs have somehow satisfied all the nine accreditation criteria. However, shortcomings were noted such as finding a ‘weakness’ under criteria 1, 3, 5, 6 and 9 and a ‘concern’ under criterion 8. Official results are expected to come out six months after the accreditation.

Dr. Roberto C. Guarte, the Dean of the VSU College of Engineering, is very hopeful for positive results despite the lack of experience of the college on being subjected to an international accreditation.

Dean Guarte further shared that despite of time constraints and other challenges in preparing for the PTC-ACBET accreditation, he pursued with the evaluation as he saw it as an opportunity for VSU’s engineering programs to become truly globally competitive.

“The only way to do that [become globally competitive] is to be accredited by an international accrediting body. For engineering, there is only one accrediting body and that is the Washington Accord. And in the Philippines, the PTC-ACBET is the sole organization accredited by both the Washington Accord and CHED, so we are taking our chances on this,” he quipped.

This is the first time that a college within the VSU system is being subjected to an international accreditation. The Department of Agricultural Engineering (DAE) is also the first agricultural engineering unit in the country to go through an accreditation by the PTC-ACBET.

The VSU College of Engineering is also set to gear up for another general review accreditation visit by the PTC-ACBET this time for the Mechanical and Geodetic Engineering programs set in the next few months.

They will also undergo evaluation from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in June to July 2018 and the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Quality Assurance accreditation in October to November this year.

(With reports from Kim Kenneth Roca and Sheila Lemos)

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