History

In the 1960s and 70s, computing degree programs began multiplying across the country. The largest associations representing the computing profession, including the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS), responded by developing model curricula for universities. As these became the widely recognized standards upon which to develop computing programs, the next natural step was to consider creating a body to professionally accredit such programs.

In the early 1980s, the ACM and IEEE-CS established a joint committee to investigate the possibility of an independent accreditation agency sponsored by the two societies through an independent corporation. (The model for the organization was ABET, of which CSAB is now a member.) The joint task force completed its work with the creation and incorporation of CSAB (then the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board) in 1984. CSAB consisted of a Board of Directors, with all members appointed by one or the other of the founding societies, and the Computer Science Accreditation Commission (CSAC) also made up of members of the societies. The Board set strategy and managed the volunteer operations, while the CSAC carried out the actual accreditation visits and determined accreditation actions. CSAB accredited its first programs in 1986.

With the growth in accredited programs through the 90s, an issue arose regarding the jurisdiction of programs with both "computer science" and "engineering" in their title. The decision, to comply with the requests of the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA), was that programs named "computer science and engineering" required separate accreditations by CSAB for computer science and by ABET for computer engineering. This implied that there would have to be two accrediting teams making separate visits and taking separate actions. This presented problems for such programs, and even caused several programs to consider renaming themselves. An ad hoc committee created to address this issue concluded that the best approach would be to integrate CSAC with ABET and recommended this to the organizations. In 1998, CSAB and ABET signed a Memorandum of Understanding to "integrate" their activities. In 2001, CSAC merged into ABET and became what is now ABET's Computing Accreditation Commission.

CSAB is currently the lead society within ABET for accreditation of degree programs in computer science, information systems, software engineering, and information technology, and is a cooperating society for accreditation of computer engineering, biological engineering, systems engineering, and information engineering technology.

While the actual accreditation process is now handled primarily by ABET, CSAB recruits and coordinates the hundreds of volunteers who carry it out. CSAB nominates them to serve on ABET's Computing Accreditation Commission and trains and assigns them to be program evaluators in specific computing disciplines.

CSAB maintains a Board of Directors whose function is the same as when the organization was founded and whose members are still appointed by the founding societies. CSAB also has three appointed representatives on the ABET Board of Directors who bring the computing accreditation perspective of CSAB and the broader computing profession's perspective to ABET.

Much more on the history of CSAB can be found in this article from ACM's Inroads.

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