Engineering credit error leaves some worried

The College of Engineering has changed how it audits credit hours, which has affected some senior students whose requirements to graduate are in question.

“Late last fall, we discovered that there was an error in the way that DARS was programmed to treat certain foreign language courses,” said Charles Tucker, associate dean for undergraduate programs for the College of Engineering.

Tucker said the error allowed courses for the foreign language requirement to also apply to the college’s “other social sciences and humanities category.”

Foreign language courses are supposed to be individually reviewed to determine which category they belong in, he added.

Tucker said that a correction was made in the DARS audits by the college late in the fall, after most students had already registered for their spring courses.

He said the error has been in the system at least three semesters.

“It’s our normal practice that if we make an actual change in requirements, students who are already in the program complete their degree under the old requirements,” Tucker said. “For me that’s a guiding principle.”

He said this situation is not an actual change in requirements, but a correction to the audit.

Tucker added the college will not stop students affected by the error from graduating because they did not have notice that their DARS audits were incorrect.

“It is very clear that DARS is an unofficial audit,” Tucker said.

Daniel Weber, senior in Engineering, said he had to meet with several advisors and a dean last week to discuss this matter.

“I was originally afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to graduate,” Weber said.

He added that several of his classmates were also affected by this error and were scrambling to solve the issue in various fashions.

“It looks like it’s being solved on a case-to-case basis,” Weber said.

Tucker said there are a small number of students in the college for whose ability to graduate has been affected by this error. He added that some of those students were able to have their courses re-evaluated by an advisor to determine which requirements they fulfill.

Other students were told to take additional coursework to fulfill all their requirements.

Brent Dirks, senior in Engineering and treasurer for the registered student organization American Society for Engineering Education, said he was affected by the college’s error. He said he took a Spanish course that was originally applied to the foreign language requirement and to the college’s “other social sciences and humanities” category in his DARS report.

“I had to pick up another course this semester because of it,” Dirks added.

He said that his DARS audit had been showing this requirement as fulfilled since his sophomore year.

Dirks said he thought if the college already graduated students in previous years having not realized its mistake, it should have made an exception for the members of this year’s graduating class affected by the college’s error.

Weber said he applied for an overload, which grants clearance to take more than 18 credit hours in a semester, as a precaution. He added that he was originally informed about the situation via e-mail and the issue has been frustrating for him.

Tucker said all students are responsible for consulting with advising staff to monitor their degree progress.