The Kettering University Applied Physics and Engineering Physics programs were recently accredited by ABET, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that accredits university applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology programs. Kettering’s Applied Physics program is the first in the world to receive the ABET accreditation and the Engineering Physics program is now among only a handful of ABET-accredited.
“Kettering University’s Physics programs are unlike any in the country because of our co-op and experiential-based model,” said Dr. Kathryn Svinarich, Physics department head. “Students apply what they learn in Kettering’s classrooms and labs in industry settings on their co-op term. This accreditation of the Applied Physics and Engineering Physics programs validates how well-prepared Kettering students are to make positive, meaningful contributions to their fields immediately upon graduation.”
The accreditation, which is voluntary, is a peer-reviewed process that assures that university programs meet professional standards. The strengths of both programs, as noted by the ABET evaluators, were the strong experiential learning and co-op components that differentiate Kettering’s programs from other colleges. The evaluators also noted the advantage of small class sizes in the mid- and upper-level physics courses -- typically with 6-15 students -- which lead to more meaningful faculty-student interaction.
Dr. Kathryn Svinarich
"The ABET accreditations continue to build the growing national and international reputation of the Kettering University Physics program,” said Kettering University Provost Dr. Robert Simpson. “Our Physics faculty have created truly unique programs that blend classroom and laboratory learning with day-to-day practice in industry in a way that few other institutions can compare to.”
Kettering’s Applied Physics major was added in 1995 and the Engineering Physics major was added in 2007. Since 2002, the number of Physics majors at Kettering has tripled. The Applied Physics program has graduated 45 students and the Engineering Physics program has produced 13 graduates since their inception.
The Physics curriculum is an integration of core physics and mathematics principles explored in classrooms and labs and put into practice through meaningful co-op experience with leading companies. The Applied Physics program emphasizes applied areas of acoustics, optics, medical physics and materials with a strong background in mathematics and computational techniques. Graduates are prepared for success in graduate school or technical careers. The Engineering Physics program builds on a core of physics and math courses to support a systems approach to engineering. Graduates have a solid foundation in physics, capable of interdisciplinary innovation and prepared for success in the engineering workplace.
Kettering’s Physics program was developed with industry in mind, getting insight from 450 of the leading companies in the United States. Curriculum is tailored to their responses that acoustics, optics, medical physics and materials expertise were the biggest keys to professional success. The program has a strong assessment process and uses a robust set of data to adjust curriculum based on a continuous improvement plan that is led by faculty and based on feedback from Physics alumni, students and co-op partners.
The department applied for ABET accreditation in 2012. The process included a self-study evaluating the program and an on-campus evaluation of the program by an ABET team. Accreditation was granted starting Oct. 1, 2013, and students who have graduated since Oct. 1, 2011, are grandfathered with an accredited degree.
“This is exciting news for the Applied Physics and Engineering Physics programs,” Svinarich said. “Through assessment and continuous improvement, the physics programs adapt to the needs of the physics graduates, from pursuing graduate school to immediately stepping into a wide range of industrial positions.”
A Physics degree from Kettering offers graduates versatility. Graduates are currently working for NASA, working in finance, attending medical school and working in national labs, among other fields.