This summer has marked significant new milestones in human space flight. On July 11, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic launched its first crewed voyage into space. One week later, Jeff Bezos blasted off on his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. These two companies join Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which began transporting people to the International Space Station in 2020 as a partner in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, as leaders in a new era of space exploration.

The new space race, pioneered by billionaires and focused on commercial space flight and tourism, looks much different than the space race of the 1950s…


I was recently invited to address an educational technology conference in China. While I still haven’t traveled since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S., I was excited to participate virtually, as this was my first opportunity to engage an audience focused on this exciting topic.

Students in a classroom using mobile phone technology.

Educational technology (EdTech) is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. Widespread use of EdTech can have a big impact in expanding access to quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education around the world. The past year has brought many challenges, but I always try…


Last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading and countries went into lockdown, many of us thought we’d be working from home for just few weeks or maybe, at worst, a few months. It was hard to imagine a year away from our daily routines, without the ability to interact with friends, family and colleagues in person.

We had to cancel last year’s ABET Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee, due to the pandemic. When we chose Data Impact as the theme in 2020, we planned to explore the expanding influence data has across the STEM fields, and how it is reshaping…


Water is essential for the survival of all life on earth. Yet, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population. Worldwide, one in three people do not have access to clean drinking water and two out of five do not have basic handwashing facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water for preventing and containing diseases. According to the World Health Organization, handwashing is one of the most effective actions you can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.

Water…


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

February 11 was National Inventors’ Day, a day for us to celebrate the inventions that have shaped our lives, while recognizing the genius behind them. This day also provides an annual opportunity to encourage and inspire the creators of the future.

In 1983, President Ronald Regan designated February 11 — the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison, one of America’s most prolific inventors — as the first National Inventors’ Day. …


2020 was a challenging and extraordinary year, but being the optimist that I am, I always look at each challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. It is amazing to think that just one year ago, most of us didn’t know what COVID-19 was, or that it even existed. We certainly could not have anticipated how it would profoundly change our lives in so many ways, and the potential it has to reshape our future.

We are experiencing an unparalleled moment, thrown into the public health crisis of our lifetime almost overnight. When I made the decision to…


There is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted the world in many ways, but in a crisis of this magnitude, we can find opportunities for positive change — if we look for them. This disruption has given us a chance to hit the reset button and find new ways of going about our lives. In a relatively short amount of time, we’ve adjusted to doing everything online — from business and education to family gatherings and social events — which has allowed more opportunities for collaboration on a global scale. …


Each year ABET has the privilege of recognizing organizations and individuals who inspire excellence in technical education through the ABET Awards. The four major awards — The Linton E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award, ABET Fellow Award, ABET Innovation Award and Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion — recognize the achievements of some of ABET’s most dedicated Experts, as well as individuals that are taking huge strides in bringing diversity and innovation to technical education. Last month, we conferred these awards at the 2020 ABET Awards Celebration. …


Enrollment in traditional degree programs was already declining before COVID-19. The shift in recent months to remote learning and virtual classrooms has only accelerated this move. At the same time, interest in alternative credentials — non-degree educational activities like digital badges, certificates and micro-credentials — has surged. According to a recent report conducted for industry, there are over 730,000 unique credentials in the U.S. alone.

There are benefits to these short-term, focused programs, such as coding bootcamps and skills certificate programs. They provide intense training on specific topics in a relatively short amount of time, making them more accessible and…


Now that we’ve been working from home for an extended period of time, we’ve adjusted to the “new normal” of doing business routinely online, including attending virtual conferences and expositions. I was recently on a CEO online forum, and many of my counterparts were discussing some of the challenges of transitioning their conferences to virtual events. Many on the thread expressed excitement about shipping conference “swag bags” to their attendees since they couldn’t give them away in person.

I immediately thought about the missed opportunity. Think about all the energy, resources and money that go into making and shipping these…

Michael Milligan

Executive Director & CEO of ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in the STEM disciplines.

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