10 March 2001

Copyright © 2001 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, PhD., P.E.



International developments

China has reported a 14% increase in students entering higher education, according to a note by Daniel Walfish in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The number of students entering higher education institutions this year will be 2.5 million. The increase reflects a drive by China’s government to broaden access to higher education, with a goal of more than 20% of the eligible population to be receiving higher education by the year 2015. The current percentage is about 11%, compared to around 60% in the nearby countries of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Concern has been expressed by academic experts that such rapid expansion is causing education quality to suffer. See

South Africa has announced a major higher education reform plan, according to an article by Linda Vergnani in the Chronicle. The plan is aimed at ending fragmentation, duplication, and racial inequalities left over from apartheid. The plan also aims to increase the participation rate of college age students to 20%, from the current 15%. The racial composition of the student body has changed – increasing the black portion from 53% in 1993 to 71% in 1999. But the graduation rate of white students is double that of black students. Mergers of institutions are expected, and a distance education institution will be created. See

There is a worldwide rise in the number of private colleges, as the public monopoly on higher education ends in nation after nation. According to an article by David Cohen in the Chronicle, the world’s desire for higher education has outstripped the ability of many countries to pay for it. In countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and throughout much of the developing world, private colleges now represent the fastest growing area of postsecondary education. The private college mechanism is well established in the United States, although some 60 to 80 percent of students are in public universities. Private institutions worldwide may be run for profit or not, may offer traditional academic programs or vocational or technology oriented programs, and may or may not get some government support. See

In China, ‘publish or perish’ is becoming the new reality, according to an article by Ding Yimin in the 23 February issue of Science. A new program is funneling money and resources to a chosen few who are found to be highly productive as measured by publication output, at the expense of older researchers. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has since 1998 been slimming down its traditional cradle-to-grave funding of researchers at its sprawling range of 123 institutes, and replacing it with targeted funding of a cadre of elite researchers. It has adopted the practice of ongoing performance reviews, with the lowest performers being dismissed. In addition to selecting based on quality, the Academy hopes to deepen the talent pool by bringing in more young scientists – 20,000 graduate students by the year 2005, up from the current 12,000. See

Japan’s Education Ministry plans to submit legislation this year to allow colleges there to accept students as young as age 17, according to a note by Michael Chan in the Chronicle. The ministry’s intent is to permit more academically gifted students to benefit from a learning environment more suited to their abilities. See http://chronicle.cpm/2001/02/2001022806n.htm

A new project among universities in northern Europe and East Africa will use the Internet to provide African scholars with wide access to academic journals, according to Burton Bollag writing in the Chronicle. During the initial three-year phase, African scholars will have access to the full text of articles in only two disciplines – developmental studies and business and management – but they will have unlimited access to abstracts in other fields. The documents will be made available free to any scholars who want them, through ten cooperating African universities. Four universities in Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands are providing the service. See

The European Commission, hoping to breathe new life into its fragmented scientific community, has approved a 4-year, $16.2-billion, research program aimed at focusing its research programs on common goals. Slated to spend 17% more than previous programs, Framework 6 will spur more pan-European projects and pay for more scientists to country hop. According to an article in the 2 March issue of Science by Robert Koenig, areas targeted for support include: information technology, genomics and biotechnology, sustainable development and global change, nanotechnologies, aeronautics and space, and food safety. See

Britain is pushing for the introduction of SAT-like tests for use in higher education admissions, at a time when the SAT is facing increasing attacks in the U.S. According to a note in the Chronicle by David Walker, a report from an educational research body recommends that universities should use such standardized tests alongside the results of the ‘advanced level’ examinations taken by 18 year olds, which focus on knowledge rather than aptitude. Both the Labor government and the vice chancellor’s association are studying the report. See

Britain will be providing $979-million in science grants to universities and academic laboratories, aimed at raising its global standing in research. According to note by David Walker in the Chronicle, the one hundred institutions that are benefiting from the program are required to raise 25% of their costs from business or foundation sources. Government officials note that science is the bedrock of the ‘knowledge economy’, and expect growth in areas such as health care, new technologies, and environmental protection. See

The University of Limerick in Ireland may be entering a bidding war for top academics, according to an article by Karen Birchard in the Chronicle. It plans to pay top dollar for 24 new positions as part of its innovative Research Scholars Program, which will involve virtually no teaching. The university has started an international campaign for candidates, aiming for at least four senior professors. The university will provide seed money to the scholars for 5 years, after which they will be expected to get their own research funding. See

U. S. developments

The United States must invest more resources and entice more students into science and engineering, or risk losing the lead in areas that have spurred innovation, sustained national security, improved public health, and driven a strong economy. This message was delivered by the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the group’s annual meeting, according to a report by Lila Guterman in the Chronicle. Mary Good, of the University of Arkansas, also recommended that the federal government should establish a cabinet position in science and technology. She expressed concern about decreases in funding for scientific research, and decreases if bachelor’s degrees in engineering, mathematics, and computer science. To remedy the situation, Good said that scientific and engineering leaders must team up to develop proposals which attack both concerns. See

U.S. scientists are debating their role in President Bush’s missile defense plan, according to an article by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle. Proponents of the antimissile system say it is essential for national security. Opponents express concerns about whether the technology can be developed to build a reliable system, and note opposition by European allies who fear another arms race. University scientists are concerned that an expansion of spending on a missile defense system will siphon funds from the Defense Department’s other research programs, where funding of university research is more likely. See

The human genome is featured in the 16 February 2001 issue of Science. Several major articles cover the human genome projects and their potential impacts. Policy issues are dealt with in “Political Issues in the Genome Era”, written by Senators James Jeffords and Tom Daschle. This article cites the many potential benefits in medicine, but raises concerns about ethical, legal and social issues. The Senators note that one of the most difficult issues is determining the proper balance between privacy concerns and fair use of genetic information – which could lead to such problems as genetic discrimination by employers. Other ethical issues are raised by research methods used to gather genetic data, and how genetic information is catalogued and maintained – including use in forensic data banks for criminal cases. See

The new U.S. Education Secretary, Roderick Paige, has called upon colleges and universities to help improve elementary and secondary education through partnerships with local schools. According to an article in the Chronicle by Alex Kellogg, Paige noted that some 30% of college-bound students regularly need remedial work – thus making it in university’s self interest to upgrade their pre-college educations. He noted the key role universities play in teacher preparation, and in educational research. See

In a series of articles in the Chronicle, Stephen Burd and Ron Southwick reviewed President Bush’s recent budget message to the Congress for details on his spending agenda for higher education. While the President called education his ‘highest priority’, he did not indicate in his speech how much money he would request from congress for the Education Department or for federal student aid programs. His speech did reiterate a commitment to double the NIH budget by 2003. In the budget document released the day after the President’s speech to Congress, $1-billion in new funds for Pell grants was included – without the controversial plan to increase such grants for first-year students only. Other proposals of interest to higher education include: increased support for historically black colleges and institutions with large Hispanic enrollments; expansion of student loan forgiveness limits for math and science majors who teach in schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students; raising the cap on contributions to tax-free education savings accounts; giving tax breaks for philanthropic giving; and making it easier for parents to invest in prepaid tuition plans at private colleges. In the budget document, the NSF budget would increase only 1%, with some continuing programs slated for less funding than they are getting this year while funds are transferred to bolster math and science education. See,, and

Chronic shortages of high-tech and other skilled workers are starting to ease in many parts of the U.S. as layoffs rise and job-hopping abates, according to an article in the 8 March 2001 Wall Street Journal by Greg Ip. The findings, based on a Federal Reserve survey, suggests that demand has eased for the best paid workers – those in high tech, Internet, manufacturing, and construction jobs. See for the article, and for the Federal Reserve’s report.


The March 2001 issue of ASEE’s Prism features an article on attracting women to engineering, “Getting it right” by Margaret Mannix. The author states that attracting women to engineering is tough, but that some schools have found formulas that seem to work. She describes efforts that are working: using current women students to attract new women students, creating courses that involve women students in hands-on engineering earlier in their college level studies, and including parents of prospective female students in the recruitment process. See

“Affirmative action and new demographic realities”, a substantial review article by John Skrentny in the Chronicle, reviews the history, current status, and future possibilities of affirmative action as a tool to address discrimination. The author points out that recent court cases have breathed new life into affirmative action, at least in the arena of college admissions. Arguments for the value of diversity on campuses have prevailed recently. The author points out that, more and more, members of nonblack minority groups – notable Latinos and Asian Americans – benefit from racial preferences. He argues that we need a bipartisan presidential commission to produce a thorough study of discrimination in the U.S., to provide guidance for national and local equal-opportunity policy. See

An Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid, which advises Congress and the Education Department, has reported that financial barriers are still keeping many of the neediest students from pursuing a higher education. The report says that the gap in the college-going rates between students from low-income families and those from high-income families is nearly as wide today as it was three decades ago, when federal student-aid programs were created. And because there is expected to be a tidal wave of college students over the next 15 years, matters are likely to get worse as most of them will be unable to afford college without major government help, according to an article in the Chronicle by Stephen Burd. The report says that the federal government, states, and colleges have shifted their attention away from helping the neediest students to bolster more politically popular programs that make higher education more affordable for middle-class families. Committee members hope that the Bush administration will take the report into consideration when crafting its student-aid proposals. See

U.S. education trends

Following similar moves by Harvard and Princeton Universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced changes in its financial aid policies that will increase the size of annual grants for undergraduates by $3100. According to a note by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle, MIT’s average student assistance package will rise to about $24,600 next year, including grants and loans. Cost of an MIT undergraduate education year will be $34,460 next year, and about 75% of its undergraduate students will receive financial aid. In January, Princeton University announced that it would replace all loans with grants, setting off a wave of increased financial aid packages at other elite institutions. See

Massachusetts is the first state in the U.S. to mandate engineering in the pre-school through 12th grade education curriculum, according to an article in the March 2001 Prism by Barbara Mathias-Riegel. Spearheaded by a Tuft’s University dean, the Massachusetts plan took more than a decade of working closely with teachers and young students to produce. Supporters of this development in Massachusetts hope that schools across the U.S. will embrace the concept that children need to be taught problem solving and design skills in order to understand our technological world. See

Northwestern University’s president has warned faculty members that unproductive professors may lose research space, according to an article by Scott Smallwood in the Chronicle. As the university expands its research facilities in a bid to become one of the top 20 universities in the U.S. in research spending, President Henry Bienen has made it clear that faculty members must compete more successfully for federal research grants, or risk losing space to those more competitive in using space productively. Northwestern is building three new research centers on campus, and the comments by the President were apparently aimed at assuring that these new facilities would be used effectively – through outside support for activities there. See

Standards developed by the International Technology Education Association are aimed at technological literacy in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to an article in the March 2001 IEEE Institute. ITEA says that while some school districts have comprehensive technology programs, most students nationwide receive little or no formal instruction in the study of technology. As a result, they have minimal understanding of one of the most powerful influences affecting their lives. The ITEA guidelines contain 20 standards, citing what students should know and be able to do in order to be technologically literate. The standards are intended to provide a road map for teachers, schools, school districts, and states. It is hoped that as pre-college students learn more about technology, more will be attracted to selecting engineering as a career option. See to learn more about the standards.

A recent study of the migration patterns of college graduates indicates that they are more likely to leave a state if they earned a degree in engineering, had a high grade point average, or graduated from a research-intensive university or a historically black college. According to a note by Jeffrey Selingo in the Chronicle, college graduates are 10 times as likely to stay in a particular state if they attended both high school and college there. The study also shows that students are likely to stay in a particular state even if they only graduated from college there, so states might be well served by lowering out-of-state tuition to attract college students who got high school degrees elsewhere. See

U.S. graduate schools are heavily populated by foreign students, according to an article by David Wessel in the 1 March 2001 Wall Street Journal. This trend is caused by the desire of foreign students to get high quality graduate degrees, and by the lack of interest by U.S. students to compete for places in graduate programs. For example, nearly 40% of graduate students at MIT are from abroad. The author asks whether this is good for the U.S., and notes that one major benefit is that many of the international students so attracted stay to join the U.S. workforce. This enriches the pool of talent for U.S. academia and industry – especially in areas such as science and engineering. About 27% of all graduate students in science and engineering are foreigners, and the percentage is rising. The number of Americans enrolling is falling, partly due to a strong job market that lures young Americans away from graduate student stipends. See

MIT professors have proposed a costly effort to put all course materials on line, according to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. Under the proposed program, MIT would publish a vast collection of course materials on the Web, although it would not deliver the courses to students at a distance. Many colleges and universities encourage professors to publish Web pages for their courses, but few make it standard. The proposed MIT project might cost as much as $100-million over 10 years, with a goal of creating Web pages for about 2000 courses. Much of the money would pay for support services to help professors get their lecture notes and other teaching materials on line. The program would be voluntary, but every professor would be encouraged to participate. See

A study-abroad program targeting undergraduate engineering students hopes to equip graduates with global experiences and cultural awareness that will help them adapt to an expanding international business environment. An article in the March 2001 issue of Engineering Times describes the Global Engineering Education Exchange (E3) Program, a consortium of worldwide and American universities administered in the U.S. by the Institute of International Education. Currently 74 universities in 15 countries are members if Global E3, including at least 30 in the U.S. For more information see

The 12 March 2001 issue of Time contains a major special report: “Should SAT’s Matter?” With a growing number of colleges spurning or downplaying the test that has been used in American college admissions for 75 years, the articles explore alternative approaches. The President of the University of California, for example, plans to drop the SAT for his systems 90,000 yearly applicants and replace it with standardized achievement tests that measure student’s mastery of specific subjects. (See One of the Time articles points out that this approach is similar to that proposed by President Bush for public school children – mandated standardized tests in reading and math to encourage students to master factual material. See

Distance education

The Global University Alliance, an online venture of 10 institutions, has decided to start offering courses of its own, in addition to courses offered by its member universities. According to a note in the Chronicle by Geoffrey Maslen, the graduate level courses will be in business and information technology, with plans to market them to students in Asia starting in June. See

Distance education students are often required to trek to campus to take proctored tests. In Texas, 22 colleges and five public libraries have joined forces to make proctored testing more convenient for online students, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Young. The colleges and libraries are setting up testing centers that will be available to students taking online courses from any member college. The testing centers, funded by a $748,000 grant from the state, are expected to be in place by this summer. Other states, such as Illinois, have similar programs. See

As online education surges, some colleges remain uninvolved. According to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale, only about 10 to 15 percent of all colleges and universities in the U.S. have avoided creating online programs. Most of the institutions that have chosen not to jump aboard the online bandwagon are liberal arts institutions. But other, non-liberal-arts institutions have also avoided online education for a variety of reasons, such as lack of money and resources, or a no-growth strategy. The Chronicle article describes three such institutions in some detail – the University of Texas at Austin, Boston College, and the University of New Hampshire. See

Universities often have provided modem pools which allow off campus students, faculty and staff members to dial in to get access to the campus network or the Internet. According to an article in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen, many universities are now weighing whether to keep their modem pools, and for how long. Such pools are expensive – the University of Maryland, for example, spends $350,000 a year just in phone line charges to service the modems. And commercial alternatives are available, through the Internet that users can access through inexpensive or free access services. Several universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, and George Washington University, have terminated their modem services and provided alternative connection mechanisms such as negotiated discounts for Internet access. But Internet connections are not as fast as on campus networks, and high-speed DSL lines for off campus users are expensive. See


Servers are better for schools than PCs, according to an article by Terry Costlow in the 26 February 2001 issue of Electronic Engineering Times. Educators and technologists are arguing that the practice of schools buying PCs is now a waste of money, saying that the better cost-effective approach is for schools to invest in client-server systems. The latter are said to be less expensive, have lower maintenance costs, and save classroom space. Another benefit of the new systems is that schools could afford to give students a second server to use at home, at a cost of around $200 rather than the $1000 cost of a PC. Teachers would need additional training to make such a change.

Internet2 officials have announced a new effort to reach out to colleges and universities that are not research oriented, as well as to elementary and secondary schools. According to an article in the Chronicle by Jamilah Evelyn, the developers of Internet2 are committed to finding creative ways of providing high-speed access to institutions that do not need all the amenities that research universities demand. The Internet2 project comprises more than 180 universities that spend more than $80-million yearly for membership dues and campus infrastructure upgrades. See

The U.S. believes that it must prepare for a new breed of Internet-enabled terrorists over the years ahead. Adversaries are expected to launch attacks with computer viruses and logic bombs, according to two reports released by the US-CIA and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Other countries share similar concerns. See


The January 2001 Journal of Engineering Education contains several papers from the 1999 Frontiers in Education Conference. Of particular interest is “The view from the top: leader’s perspectives on a decade of change in engineering education”, by Stefani Bjorkland and Carol Colbeck. It discusses the sources and pervasiveness of each change, how each has influenced policy or practice in engineering education, and the best ways to encourage faculty involvement in change – based on interviews with engineering education leaders by researchers at the Pennsylvania State University’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. Another key article is “Do online students perform as well as lecture students?” by James Dutton, Marylin Dutton, and Jo Perry. Their study, done at North Carolina State University, indicates that where significant differences in outcomes appear they favor the online students. See

The March/April 2001 issue of Foreign Affairs contains an interesting set of five articles on ‘The Age of Technology’.  In an article entitled “The Great Disruption”, authors Christenson, Craig and Hart argue that national economies rise and fall these days due to their ability to nurture innovations that lead to new classes of products that are cheaper, better, and more convenient than their predecessors. In “Digitally Empowered Development”, author Hammond states that the information revolution has created unexpected wealth around the globe, and that technology and policy can work together to help all countries to reap the benefits. In “Trade for a Networked World, former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky explores the opportunities and challenges for global trade created by the information economy. See

The March 2001 European Journal of Engineering Education contains eight articles on advances in engineering education, including “International dimensions: a challenge for European engineering education” by Said Irandoust and Jorgen Sjoberg, and “Toward culturally inclusive global engineering” by S.F.Johnston. See

The March/April issue of the online journal TechKnowLogia, has been posted on the Web. Articles include “Capacity Building for Science and Math Education” by Molly Teas, “Science Literacy: Project 2061/AAAS Experiences in Panama” by Fernando Cajas, and “Evaluating Computer and Web Instruction: New Opportunities” by Gregg Jackson. See

Upcoming meetings

“Best Assessment Processes IV”, 7-8 April 2001, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana. See

“Sustainable Development and the New Economy”, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 14-16 May 2001, Paris. See

“International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training”, Kumamoto University, 4-6 July 2001. See

“International Conference on Engineering Education – interfacing the world”, ICEE 2001, 6-10 August 2001, Oslo/Bergen, Norway. See

Positions of possible interest

From the 9 March 2001 Chronicle of Higher Education:

Ø      Engineering faculty positions, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Ø      Building faculty positions, National University of Singapore

Ø      Planning and development positions, University of West Indies

Ø      Provost and VPAA, Florida A&M University

Ø      VP for Research, Michigan Technological University

Ø      President, Tennessee Board of Regents

And from the 2 March 2001 Chronicle:

Ø      Chair, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ø      Chief Technologist, Air Force Research Laboratory, OH

Ø      Dean, Fenn College of Engineering, Cleveland State University, OH

Ø      German/Engineering, Rice University, TX

Ø      VP Research, University of Alaska

Ø      Provost and Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, North Carolina State University

Ø      Dean, Graduate School, University of North Dakota – Grand Forks

Ø      Provost, New Mexico State University

Ø      Dean of International Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Ø      Provost/Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, University of Wisconsin – Madison


From the March 2001 issue of Prism:

Ø      Chair, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Iowa State University

Ø      Chair, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, University of Florida

Ø      Chair, Electrical Engineering, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Ø      Dean, School of Mineral Engineering, University of Alaska – Fairbanks

Ø      Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Ohio Northern University

Ø      Dean, School of Engineering and Engineering technology. LeTourneau University, TX



     To unsubscribe from this newsletter service, please               respond to with the word     UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

To contribute information to this electronic newsletter, please send it by e-mail to

This Digest provides summaries of published articles, both printed and electronic. World Expertise does not endorse or corroborate the information in these articles.

Back issues of this International Engineering Education Digest can be read on the Web at