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College of Engineering and Applied Science
Last updated prior to August 1998

Knowledge and skill goals for the College of Engineering and Applied Science are recorded in the description of the specific departments in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog. In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

The college's undergraduate programs include aerospace engineering, applied mathematics, architectural engineering, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, engineering physics, and mechanical engineering. The university catalog lists each program's knowledge and skills goals.

All the programs except for applied mathematics and computer science use a common assessment method. Seniors take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (FE exam) of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. This is also called the "Engineer-in-Training" exam. Passing this examination and receiving a B.S. degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) are the first steps toward professional registration. The exam is nationally developed and nationally normed.

Three-quarters or more of the CU-Boulder students pass the exam each year. The CU-Boulder pass rate is consistently higher than the national pass rate for students or graduates from ABET-accredited programs and often higher than the combined rate for all engineering programs in the state. The table shows results since 1989-90.

Year 90 91 92 93 94 95 96
N (CU-Boulder) 246 204 259 260 329 356 337
Pass Rate
CU-Boulder 90% 78% 73% 77% 85% 79% 78%
Nat'l 70% 62% 60% 72% 81% 77% 75%
Colo NA 65% 62% 68% 84% 84% 85%


Three things are responsible for the lower pass rates after 1989-90: a change in the exam format which lowered the national pass average by 8 percentage points, the removal of two exam sections at which CU-Boulder students excelled (computer programming and electronics), and the fact that fewer CU-Boulder students attended the exam review course offered in the spring semester. The review course was publicized more vigorously after 1991, and the school extablished a goal of improving the pass rate.

There is a wide variation by engineering major in the importance of the FE exam, and a corresponding variation in the performance of our students and in their comparison with state and national norms. The FE exam is important as the first step toward obtaining Professional Engineer designation to many Civil, Architectural, and Environmental engineers, to some Mechanical engineers, but to very few Aerospace, Chemical, and Electrical engineers. The performance of our students in the areas where the exam is important was very good, exceeding state and national norms significantly in Civil and Environmental and roughly equaling them in Architectural and Mechanical. The performance of our students in the areas where the test is not important was less good, below state and national norms in Aerospace and Chemical and slightly below these norms in Electrical. Overall, these results are rather gratifying in that they show that our students are doing very well on this exam when it is important. They also bring into question the requirement of having our students take this exam in cases where it is of no consequence to them.

The performance of our students in the different subject areas of the FE exam is similar to past years. Our students continue to perform below state and national norms in engineering economics and materials, subjects that may be less emphasized here. They continue to perform well above state and national norms in mathematics and roughly at state and national norms in other areas.

A new course in engineering economics was introduced in 1991-92 and there have been gradual improvements in the test averages for mechanics of materials and engineering economics. Faculty committees continue to evaluate course content in areas where our students have problems on the FE exam. The College is in the process of considerable evaluation and change in its undergraduate curriculum. These changes are especially oriented toward incorporating more design, hands-on experience, project experience, and written and oral communication into the curriculum. The project component may increase our students' abilities in engineering economics.

The College will be seriously considering its assessment programs during the coming academic year. This is motivated in part by a new engineering accreditation process which is expected to start within the next three years. This process is based heavily on a variety of outcome assessment measures. The College expects to begin to develop measures and studies of its students and graduates that are helpful to the College and appropriate for accreditation. In conjunction, we will examine whether it is useful for all our students to take the EIT exam, and may decide that only students in the majors where the exam is important should be required to take it.

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Last revision 01/29/03

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