12 April 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

The Japanese Education, Science, and Technology Ministry has decided to allow universities to grant credit for online courses, according to an article by Alan Brendler in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In a country where professors are not accustomed to having one-on-one relations with students, the Ministry is setting forth specific rules for online courses that require faculty members to respond to student’s questions by e-mail. The new standards will allow students to earn credit for both domestic courses and those from foreign universities. See

Two of the world’s leading business schools – the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and INSEAD in France – have teamed up to offer customized executive education at four campuses on three continents. According to an article by Katherine Magnan in the Chronicle, new courses will be jointly developed and aimed at company executives who want to hone their management skills. Locations for the new program are Philadelphia and San Francisco in the US, Fontainebleau in France, and Singapore. See

In Germany, where efforts to reform the hierarchical university system are underway, the Old Guard has made a major effort to push back – criticizing the research ministry’s plan to create ‘junior professors’ and to phase out the Habilitation requirement. According to an article by Robert Koenig in the 6 April 2001 issue of Science, the Old Guard has taken out 4-page newspaper ads urging the German Parliament to reject the proposed reforms. The ad says that the reforms would degrade the quality of professorships under the guise of promoting more independence for young researchers. The ad further states that a likely result of the proposed changes would be pay cuts for young researchers that would drive them into industry or abroad. Supporters of the plan disagree, and call the professor’s ad unfortunate and counterproductive. Lobbying is expected to be intense at the Parliament moves toward a decision later this year. See

Russia is to begin trying a new system of state examinations this year, similar in format to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) used in the US. According to an article in the Chronicle by Bryon MacWilliams, the new test is aimed at reducing corruption and creating equitable opportunities to obtain a higher education. The testing, which is the first such experiment in the country’s history, will start in four republics, and is aimed at nationwide use in 2004. Under the current admissions system, high-school graduates travel for testing at the institutions at which they would like to enroll, with each institution having its own exam and grading system. Critics say that the current system in subjective and susceptible to corruption, and that opportunities for study are tilted drastically in favor of students from well-off families. The exam will eventually cover five areas, with math and composition mandatory. See

European governments have been urged to speed the alignment of higher education systems across the continent in a meeting of education ministers and senior officials from 32 European countries. According to an article in the Chronicle by Burton Bollag, the countries are being urged to make the continent’s highly diverse national education systems more similar and compatible with one another, for the benefit of students who want to study across national borders and have credentials that are recognized throughout the region and abroad. The recent meeting follows up the Bologna declaration signed two years ago by education officials from 29 countries. Recommendations include introduction of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in place of the current wide variety of degrees, a credit hour system to enable students to accumulate credit at more than one institution, and quality control through accreditation systems. One goal is to eventually allow European countries to recognize each other’s degrees. See

As part of the movement toward harmonizing higher education in Europe, the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) has prepared a position paper on the Bologna declaration as seen by engineering educators. See SEFI has also developed a position paper relating to the accreditation of engineering education in Europe, available at the same web site. The accreditation position includes the following conclusions: the creation of a European Accreditation Board similar to ABET is neither feasible nor desirable; a European accreditation should respect the cultural diversity among European universities; minimum criteria should be defined for long and short cycle engineering education programs; a European system for accreditation should work on the basis of cooperation and mutual recognition between existing (or newly formed) national accreditation authorities; and SEFI should be involved in the development of such a system.

The University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is touted as a model success story in Africa, according to an article by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle. With meager budgets, sparse libraries, little equipment, and starvation wages for faculty, higher education is Africa is in a dismal state. But Dar has succeeded in making significant progress since embarking on an Institutional Transformation Program in the early 1990’s. It has developed new degree programs in response to Tanzania’s needs (public health, computer hardware and software, transportation engineering, …), and has become the best wired sub-Saharan university outside South Africa. The university has cut costs by reducing nonacademic staff, and has generated new sources of income by offering evening degree programs, providing training to companies and government agencies, and selling computer services. The strategic plan under which the university is operating aims at producing a ‘job creator’, not a ‘job seeker’. In the last seven years, Dar has doubled its enrollment to 7000, but facilities are being strained. Donors appear eager to support a rare African institution that gives value for money, with about 40% of the current $28-million annual budget coming from overseas development agencies – mostly in northern Europe. Four major US foundations recently announced a five-year, $100-million aid package for African higher education, singling out three institutions where local efforts have made it likely that external support will have great impact: Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, Makerere University in Uganda, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. See

 The United Kingdom has since 1999 spawned ten science centers, fueled by $1.4-billion in national lottery revenues and matching funds. According to an article by John Pickrell in the 6 April 2001 issue of Science, another seven such science centers are scheduled to get started in the next year. The centers have been created to mark the new Millennium, and are aimed at inner-city renewal as well as at communicating the world of science and technology to local communities. Emphasis is on hands-on exhibits, rather than museum collections. After initial funding from the lottery proceeds, the centers are expected to develop their own support base. There is concern that all of the centers will not survive, but hope that  most will. See

Japan’s government has allocated more that $400-million in this year’s annual budget for research in nanotechnology, according to an article in the Chronicle by Michael Chan. Government officials hope to match American interest in the field, and estimate that the Japanese market for products developed by nanotechnology could reach $150-billion by 2010.  New laboratories will be established at national universities already conducting nanotechnology research, including the University of Tokyo, Osaka University, and Tokyo Institute of Technology. The Mitsubishi Corporation has already started a $100-million investment fund with the aim of supporting nanotechnology startups. See

The idea of a National Missile Defense (NMD) shield has been percolating in military and defense circles in the US since the late 1950’s. The new US posture on developing such a shield, proposed by the Bush administration, has sparked fierce global debate. The May 2001 issue of World Press Review summarizes press articles from around the globe on this timely topic. The Hindu (India) writes that the proposed shield is a return to ‘fortress America’ , and points out that US allies and other world powers are expressing concern about its development. Leituvos rytas (Lithuania) expresses concern over how NMD development will impact NATO, to which it has been looking for security in Eastern Europe. The Australian notes that no country among America’s allies has given its unqualified support for NMD development. And the Korea Herald (South Korea) worries that having the US develop such a system to protect itself from North Korean missiles will negatively impact other efforts at providing security on the Korean peninsula. See

  US developments

The Computing Research Association is predicting that colleges may face a shortage of applicants for faculty positions in computer science and engineering because too few doctorates are being produced in the field, according to an article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle. The association has released a study indicating that about 880 doctoral degrees in computer science and engineering were awarded in the US in 2000, the lowest figure in the past 10 years; down from 950 in 1999, and from a high of more than 1100 in 1992. Universities are having difficulty filling faculty positions in this field, increasingly having to compete with industry. And many students are stopping short of doctoral study, finding that high paying jobs are available in industry without doctoral degrees. The survey showed that while the number of doctoral degrees declined, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in this field are booming – with a 20% increase over the past year. The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science and engineering has roughly doubled since 1995, to about 16,000 per year. See

The Winter 2000 issue of Engineers contains statistical information on US engineering degrees for the year 2000. In 2000, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering increased to 63,635, a 1.8% increase after a 19-year low last year. Master’s degrees increased slightly, by 224 degrees to 30,453, as did doctoral degrees, up 96 to 5,929. Mechanical engineering continues to be the engineering discipline with the highest number of new undergraduate degrees, with electrical and electronics engineering continuing a decade-long decline largely due to the rapid development of computer engineering as a separate discipline. Women continue to increase in number of degrees at all three levels, with this year being the first one where women accounted for more than 20% of bachelor’s degrees awarded. For more information contact

President Bush has named a venture capitalist to be the co-chairman of his science and technology advisory panel, but continues to delay the selection of a chief science advisor. According to an article in the 6 April 2001 issue of Science by David Malakoff, Floyd Kvamme, a former computer industry executive and Republican stalwart, will lead the science advisory panel – a volunteer panel stocked with prominent researchers and industry chiefs whose other co-chair will be the full-time presidential science advisor. Observers were puzzled that this appointment was made before the science advisor’s position was filled . Scientists and college lobbyists are concerned that the absence of a science advisor during the time when the new administration is setting its priorities for policy and budgets will have detrimental effects on the scientific community. See , and a similar article by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle at

President Bush has proposed a small cut in research funds for the National Science Foundation in his 2002 fiscal year budget proposal, and has called for justification of NSF’s proposed shift to offering larger, longer grants for scientists. According to an article by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle, the NSF budget for research would be $3.33-billion, some $16-million less than in 2001. The overall proposed budget of $4.47-billion for NSF represents a $56-million increase, a 1.3% increase. College officials and lobbyists were frustrated by this modest increase, compared with 14% growth in the 2001 fiscal year. In addition, the Bush administration is considering moving the NSF astronomy program to NASA. It has asked the National Research Council to evaluate whether such a transfer would lead to more efficient use of funds and a better coordinated research effort. See

The National Academy of Public Administration has completed a study of the criteria used by the National Science Foundation in making grant awards, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the 30 March 2001 issue of Science. NSF changed its criteria three years ago, going from four criteria (the research’s merit, its relevance, the investigator’s ability to do the work, and the work’s impact on the scientific enterprise) to only two (scientific quality and social impact). The change was intended to give social impact – including such issues as education and training, diversity, and addressing of national issues – a more prominent role in assessments. The NAPA study, however, says that most reviewers do not even bother to rate proposals on their social impact, and it chides NSF for not doing more to get scientists on board. See

Most US adults believe that international issues will significantly impact their lives and the lives of today’s youth, and that institutions of higher education must play a prominent role in preparing citizens to be engaged in international issues. According to a survey by the American Council on Education: 75% of those surveyed agreed that students should have a study abroad experience while in college; 80% agreed that an institution’s international curriculum is an important factor to consider when choosing a school; 71% agreed that colleges should require foreign languages; and 53% agreed that it was very important to know about the cultures and customs of others in order to successfully compete in a global economy. ACE plans to publish a report on the survey in May. For more information, see the April 2, 2001 issue of ACE’s “Higher Education and National Affairs” at

College hiring is expected to increase 23.4 percent, according to an article in the Winter 2000 issue of Engineers. Based on a survey of employer’s hiring intentions as they relate to new college graduates, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, all regions of the country project healthy hiring increases for new graduates – with nearly 19% of the job offers going to new graduates. At the bachelor’s level, competition will be greatest for candidates with technology related degrees and business degrees. Other findings of the survey are: employers expect starting salaries to increase an average 5.5%; communications skills top the list of desired traits, with integrity, teamwork, interpersonal skills, motivation, and a strong work ethic following; and employers report that an average of 25.3% of 2000 graduates came from their internship programs. For more information, contact

Perhaps in contradiction to the above article, or at least segmenting the demand discussions, an article by Carrie Johnson in the 2 April 2001 Washington Post states that the technology sector is cutting back its demand for workers. Based on a survey conducted by the Information Technology Association of America, the slowing economy and a surge of entry-level workers into the industry has decreased demand for tech-savvy employees by 44% in the past year. Large employers across the country plan to hire 900,000 technical workers in 2001, compared with 1.6-million last year. See


The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, a new institution backed by funding of $500-million, is recruiting students to help faculty and staff members ‘invent’ the new college over the next academic year. According to an article by Katherine Mangan in the Chronicle, some 15 women and 15 men have been selected as “Olin Partners” to begin creating their future institution. They will officially be freshmen in the fall of 2002. The new engineering college hopes to create a new type of program – one in which the students work in teams, do more hands-on projects, and have a better grounding in business and communications. The initial batch of students will not receive academic credit for the first year, but will be working closely with faculty and staff members as consultants. The college, which will open in 2002 with 75 students and 6 faculty members, hopes to grow in about six years to about 650 students and 65 faculty members. See

MIT has announced that it will go ahead with a plan to make instructional materials for all of its courses available on the web, free. According to an article in the Chronicle by Sarah Carr, the project will cost an estimated $100-million. The web posting is described as a window on MIT, but not an active window – it will not be distance education. The web pages are to include course notes, homework assignments, syllabuses, and reading lists. The plan will take about ten years to put in place, with materials from some 2000 courses eventually posted. See

Some US suburban students ranked among the best in the world in the Third International Math and Science Survey (Timss), while those in urban school districts scored at the bottom of the list. According to an article by June Kronholz in the 5 April 2001 Wall Street Journal, the 1999 administration of the test showed US student performance improved over the previous exam in 1995, but some high scoring countries in 1995 did not participate in 1999. Detailed results of the 1999 tests were recently released, showing the disparity of results between high quality suburban schools and inner-city districts. See

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) sampling of student progress in reading indicate that average scores of fourth-graders have not risen in the past eight years, and that scores for the worst readers have dropped significantly. An article in the 9 April 2001 Wall Street Journal reports that some 27% of fourth graders essentially could not read – with 63% of black students and 58% of Hispanics in that category. The gap between the best and worst readers widened significantly. These results will fuel debate in the Congress, where Democrats argue for huge increases in the education budget, while Republicans contend that education-reform measure and not more money are the answer. See

US News and World Report has released its annual graduate school rankings. According to an article by Alison Schneider in the Chronicle, there are relatively few changes at the top. The biggest shifts were in business schools, with Stanford moving past Harvard to be listed as #1, and Northwestern moving up past Penn. In engineering the top three schools in 1999 – MIT, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley – retained their positions. Administrators and academics criticize the US News rankings as unreliable and superficial. See for the story, and for the rankings.

A new Federal government report says that American colleges that seek to provide higher education abroad are faced with red tape, contradictory regulations, and difficult requirements – in addition to outright legal barriers. According to an article by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle, though, there are greater than expected opportunities for American institutions abroad as countries allow joint ventures in education and training with local partners. Some countries prohibit education in languages other than their native tongue. See for the article, and  for the report.

A Joint Task Force on Computer Curricula 2001, formed by the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Society of IEEE, has developed new guidelines for undergraduate programs in computing, The final task force report is scheduled for release in the summer of 2001, but a draft may be reviewed now at

A Federal government plan to collect new fees from foreign students, which would finance a program to monitor students from other countries, is being opposed by college lobbyists. According to an article by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle, college officials argue that such fees could hurt enrollments of international students and be an unfair hardship on those from the poorest countries. The fee proposed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service is a one-time $95. The fee will support a databank to keep track of the addresses and academic status of all foreign students in the US. Students would be required to pay over the Internet using a credit card or send a check or money order drawn on an American bank – a collection system which college lobbyists say would be very difficult for many foreign students. If the rule takes effect this spring, it could keep many students from starting classes in the fall, given the times required to make payments, get receipts, then apply for visas. See

Students are going deeper into debt each year to pay for college, and most of them do not realize how much they owe until after they graduate. According to an article by Stephen Burd in the Chronicle, a report issued by the State Public Interest Research Groups’ Higher Education Project cautions lawmakers to be wary of proposals to increase the size of loans that students are allowed to borrow. Currently, students in college for five years can take up to $22,625 in federal loans. Students saddled with large debts may think twice about public service careers or have to postpone buying their first home. See


Long ignored by South Korea’s educational system, women are benefiting from online instruction. According to an article in the Chronicle by David Cohen, Ewha Womans University currently offers 152 full-credit virtual courses to 8799 female students dispersed within South Korea. One result is a growing number of women in academic positions  -- now 16% (compared to 36% in the US). See

A nonprofit organization in Detroit, Focus:HOPE, gives disadvantaged students opportunities to pursue higher education in fields such as engineering. According to an article by Rachel Davis in Engineering Times, Focus:HOPE has partnered with several universities, NSF, SME and large corporations to establish a Center for Advanced Technologies, which exposes students to a blend of hands-on training and classroom education to get them moving toward technical degrees. See for the article, or for more information on the program.

The number of students from underrepresented minority groups being admitted to the University of California has risen 17% this year, apparently driven by a new policy that guarantees admissions to the top 4% of the graduates of each state high school. According to an article by Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle, overall minority enrollments have risen each year since 1998, along with the state’s minority population. But the number of minority students at the most competitive campuses, Berkeley and Los Angeles, continues to lag well below 1997 levels. See

  Distance education

Assessment is taking center stage as online educators experiment with new ways of teaching and need to prove that they are teaching effectively, according to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale. Education researchers note that distance educators are in the early stages of assessment, proving that they can actually assess anything. One major difference between assessment in classrooms and in distance education is that distance education courses are largely geared toward students already in the workforce, and their courses often involve learning by doing. So in many of the distance programs, students complete projects to show they not only understand what they have learned but also can apply it – a focus of many assessment techniques. All of higher education is moving toward outcomes-based assessment, with online education leading the way. See

Academics are finding that publishing a Web log is a good way to share aspects of their research with a broader audience. According to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle, Web logs are sites that deliver frequently updated annotated links on a given subject. A number of free software tools, like Manila and Blogger, are available to help make it easier to publish a daily Web page. Several Web logs focus on distance education and instructional technology. See

Recent articles in the Chronicle by Jessica Ludwig highlight interesting distance education courses. “Global Seminar: Environment and Sustainable Food Systems” is being offered from Cornell University and has institutions in India, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and Honduras offering it to students. See . “Environmental Ethics” is being offered by Loyola University Chicago via the Web, and includes a two-week trip to East Africa. See

The University of Alaska system is working to overcome its geographical limits via distance education, according to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale. The state’s physical size and population dispersal create problems that limit accessibility to education. The system has hired instructional designers and other technical support people to help faculty develop online courses, using limited state funding. With few students having access to the Internet, the Alaska system relies heavily on older technology such a telephones and faxes. See

  I nformation technology

Linux, the free operating system developed by Finland’s Linus Torvalds, has been organically grown by thousands of programmers around the globe. According to an article in the 9 April 2001 Wall Street Journal, a maturing Linux is now starting to be used to run business functions by major companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell, Amerada Hess, and Home Depot. Linux is a variant of the popular Unix operating system, and it is gaining market share – 27% of operating system software for computer servers sold last year, up from 17% in 1998. The other industry leader, Microsoft Windows 2000, captured a 41% share last year, up from 38% the year before. While it can no longer be dismissed as a fad, Linux still has not made much headway on corporate desktops – where Microsoft dominates. Corporate programmers like Linux because they are free to change it for their own purposes. See

The Oberlin Review, a student newspaper, has been available on the Web since 1996.   Last month its editors began making the weekly paper available to users of handheld computers and personal digital assistants – perhaps the first student newspaper downloadable in this way. To save memory space, the photos and graphics are removed. Some 20 to 25 percent of Oberlin students use handheld devices, and many have commented positively about having the Review available for them. See

Oscars for technical achievement are not awarded every year, and they have never been awarded for computer science – until this year. According to the cover story in the April 2001 issue of IEEE Spectrum, three computer scientists from Pixar Animation Studios received an Oscar last month for their significant contributions to the field of motion picture rendering. Their computer graphics software package allows seamless integration of multi-element computer-generated scenes into other footage. It has been used in such films as “Toy Story”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Gladiator”. The software, called Render Man, has been used in 8 of the last 10 films awarded Oscars for best visual effects. See

Numerous university presses are making use of the latest printing technology – “print on demand” – to breathe new life into hundreds of out of print books, according to an article in the Chronicle by Niko Pfund and Michael Groseth. Already, thousands of titles are available to readers whose interest would previously gone unfulfilled. Print on demand books are not e-books, that are published solely on line. They are not put on Web sites, are not downloadable, and thus cannot be pirated. They are rather books that have been printed in response to a specific demand, rather than printed by the thousands. See

As demand for communication convenience continues to skyrocket, the wireless communication industry is investing billions of dollars in new equipment. According to an article by Deborah Shapley in the April 2001 Technology Review, mobile phone sales worldwide exploded from seven million in 1990 to 700-million in 2000, and are expected to reach two billion by 2005. The challenges for wireless communication providers range from transmission incompatibility to obsolete equipment. US wireless operators use three different standards, only one of which is compatible with the leading European standard, and many Asian networks use yet a different standard. A technology that could make wireless upgrades more flexible and cost effective, software-defined radio shifts, is being pursued by wireless industry leaders. First used in the military, this technology shifts the bulk of the workload from hardware components to software components that can be reprogrammed and applied to different standards. See

According to a report by Dun & Bradstreet, American colleges will spend 13% more on information technology this year that they did last year. The report, covered in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen, projects expenditures for administrative software to be up by 24%, and costs of the hardware to run it to be up by 18%. With outside service costs included, colleges’ total spending on information technology could reach $4.4-billion in the current academic year. The study found that 5% of colleges require students to have computers, an increase of only 1% from last year. The number of colleges offering Internet access to their libraries reached 100% this year, and distance education programs were in place at two-thirds of all colleges. See


The International Journal of Engineering Education has issued a special issue on Virtual Universities in Engineering Education, compiled by guest editors Freimut Bodendorf and Philip Swain. Volume 17 Number 2 of the Journal contains twelve timely papers on virtual universities in engineering education, and how they operate. See


The annual Assessment Conference of the American Association for Higher Education will be held from 23-27 June 2001 in Denver, Colorado. Theme tracks include: articulation of expectations; qualitative and quantitative methods; models of collaboration; and accreditors’ expectations. See

The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IASTE) will hold a conference at UNESCO in Paris at the end of November 2001. Topics will include: pedagogical aspects of internships abroad; organization of internships abroad; preparing and recruiting students for internships abroad; and linking university with industry. See http://www/

  Positions of possible interest

From the 6 April 2001 Chronicle of Higher Education:

Ø      Dean, Engineering and Applied Science, UCLA, CA

Ø      Dean, Engineering and Computer Science, Oakland University, MI

Ø      Mechanical Engineering Faculty, University of West Indies

Ø      Provost. University of Alaska – Anchorage

Ø      Dean of Academic Affairs, DeVry Institute of Technology. CA

Ø      VPAA, University of Colorado – Boulder

Ø      President, Board of Regents, Oklahoma Colleges

And from the 13 April 2001 Chronicle:

Ø      Visiting faculty positions, Technical University, Hamburg. Germany

Ø      Dean, Computer Engineering, University of Missouri – Kansas City

Ø      Provost, Dartmouth College, NH

Ø      Interim President (3 years), Bermuda College, Bermuda



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