12 October 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

International educational meetings scheduled for this fall in the Middle East are being canceled, according to a note in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Daniel del Castro. Such cancellations are a result of participants deciding against traveling in the region. The American Embassy in Damascus has postponed a workshop which was to have brought together delegations from American Universities and Syrian Universities interested in establishing partnerships. A higher education summit scheduled for Marrakesh, Morocco, designed to bring together academics and government officials from around the Arab world and the United States to discuss the effects of globalization on higher education in the region, has been rescheduled to next year. See

French budget proposals would boost grant money for long-suffering university researchers by nearly 20%, according to a note by Michael Balter in the 28 September 2001 issue of Science. But civilian R&D funding overall would rise only 2.2%, barely beating inflation. French scientists are concerned that French R&D will gain little ground on R&D in the United States and other research powerhouses. Government officials say that the top priority is to create opportunities for young researchers, so that they are not attracted to positions abroad. See

Canada has announced the creation of a new public university, the first in almost 40 years, according to a note in the Chronicle by Karen Birchard. The Ontario Institute of Technology will be located in Durham, east of Toronto. It plans to open in 2003 with 1,500 students, and quickly expand to accommodate 6,500. The projected enrollment within 10 years is 20,000. The curriculum will include arts and sciences courses, along with job-related programs to serve local employers – in auto manufacturing, nuclear technology, and justice and community safety. See

Emerging market countries should not ignore the resources and contributions of their expatriates, according to an article by Janamitra Devan and Parth Tewari in the October 2001 issue of  IEEE Spectrum. In the 1990’s some 650,000 people from emerging markets migrated to the United States on professional employment visas. Around the world, about a third of the R&D professionals of developing countries have left them to work in the US, the European Union, or Japan. For most such countries, tackling the fundamental causes of the talent drain will take years. Some of these countries have found pursuing the expatriates to be useful – either to convince them to return, often with significant incentives, or by utilizing their contacts and expertise to start new ventures in their home countries. The writers suggest that emerging markets take three steps: create emigrant networks, facilitate contacts, and target incentives. See

A Japanese government panel has recommended that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology loosen controls on state-run universities, according to a note in the Chronicle by Alan Brender. The panel recommends that universities be allowed to establish new academic departments, change the pay scales of faculty members, and reap profits from patents resulting from academic research. It also recommends that national university presidents be given ultimate responsibility for financial as well as academic affairs. These recommendations are the first step in transforming the national universities from being wholly reliant on the Education Ministry to becoming independently administered institutions. See

India’s engineering students and professionals are among the finest in the world, and are highly sought after by graduate schools and businesses in other countries such as the US. Writing in the October 2001 issue of ASEE Prism, Thomas Grose reports that now such students no longer have to leave India to get an American engineering education as US schools are increasingly setting up shop in India. Illinois Institute of Technology has offered master’s degree programs for some years, and Northwestern and MIT have recently announced India programs. See

Eighteen British institutions plan to generate income by displaying advertisements on the screen savers of students, faculty and staff members, according to a note in the Chronicle by David Cohen. Each screen displays a rolling mix of up to 60 individual messages, lasting 15 seconds apiece. The lineup of ads will be changed each week. The displays continue to appear until the user activates the computer keyboard or mouse. About a third of the screen saver time will be reserved for promoting messages from the institutions themselves. See

According to recent report, 429 million people have access to the Internet. As reported in the October 2001 issue of the IEEE Institute by Carol Goodale, 41% of those users are in the US and Canada. Europe, the Middle East and Africa account for 27%, while Asia-Pacific users represent 20%. Only 4% are located in South America. This “digital divide” between cyber-haves and cyber-have-nots impacts the latter’s access to the e-world’s potential for education, economic and social benefits. Challenges for developing countries include the cost of building communications infrastructure, providing relevant content, and training of potential users. See

Hundreds of Middle Eastern students in the US have decided to return home, in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, according to an article in the Chronicle by Beth McMurtrie. Many of the students departing stated that they did not feel safe on US campuses. Some countries have reported a drop in the number of students expressing an interest in studying in the US, but that is expected to be a temporary phenomenon with such student delaying rather than canceling US studies. Intensive English language programs appear to be hardest hit by withdrawals. In the Middle East, Universities are preparing to handle an influx of students who have either returned home from the US or decided not to go abroad. Overseas, most American students are staying put – although those in the Middle East and South Asia are anxious. See

US developments

The Chronicle has carried several reports of interest on developments following the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11th:

v     Congress is urged to spend more on research into ways to counter cyberterrorism, by Dan Carnevale. See

v     NSF awards grants to assess damage at terrorist-attack sites, by Tim Swartzendruber. See

v     Campuses beef up security, increasing patrols and ID checks, by Dana Mulhauser. See

v     Bush antiterrorist proposals raise concern about students’ privacy rights, by Sara Hebel. See

v     Colleges largely complying with requests for information on foreign students, survey finds, by Ron Southwick. See

v     Students protest and show support for US military strikes in Afghanistan, by Dana Mulhauser. See

In an article in the 21 September 2001 issue of Science, Andrew Lawler reviews how the unthinkable in terrorism became real for a horrified world. If lightly armed men with pilot’s training could bring about such devastation, what might they be capable of doing with weapons of mass destruction? One expert observed, “had the terrorists had nuclear weapons, we might be facing the fact that New York City doesn’t exist”. Weapons of mass destruction come in three types: nuclear, chemical, and biological. Better coordination of  defense efforts and more resources – such as increased R&D funding to combat terrorism -- are needed, according to the author. See

High schools in the US are not adequately preparing enough young people for college, according to a report by the National Commission on the High School Senior Year. As reported in the Chronicle by Alex Kellogg, only half of the 70% of high school graduates  who enroll in four-year colleges leave with a degree. Although 90% of freshmen say that they expect to complete college, only 44% have taken a college-preparatory curriculum in high school that positions them to successfully do so. The other 30 million are being prepared for a future that has already vanished, in courses of study that lack rigor or coherence, according to the report. Its recommendations call for comprehensive restructuring of high school curriculums to better prepare students for the rigor of college studies, and a closer alignment of high school’s curriculums and graduation requirements with college standards. See

Officials at the Internet2 project have announced that the project’s high speed network backbone will get improvements over the next two years that will allow it to carry more data and support more users, according to an article in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. This news follows the decision by Internet2 members to open the system up for use by thousands of colleges and universities, community colleges, libraries, museums, and elementary and secondary schools. The network was previously available only to research universities that belonged to the Internet2 consortium. A maturing of high-speed technologies played a part in the policy change. See

The White House has asked the academic community to oppose earmark projects, according to an article by David Malakoff in the 28 September 2001 issue of Science. Last year, Congress steered a record $ 1.7-billion into specific university projects that had not been requested by the Administration, nor gone through peer review. Critics argue that earmarking undermines peer review, promotes poor quality science, and erodes government science budgets. But most legislators support academic earmarks as a way to help smaller institutions – especially those in their districts – compete against wealthier research universities. See

President Bush’s nominee for science advisor won strong bipartisan support at his Senate committee hearing, according to a report in the Chronicle by Ron Southwick. John Marburger, director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, is expected to be confirmed soon by the full Senate. In his testimony, Marburger said he hoped to direct scientific research to help combat terrorist attacks, and emphasized interest in research on global climate change. He spoke about the importance of funding research in chemistry, engineering, and mathematics – to balance the greatly increased funding on biomedical research in recent years. Many scientists have praised the selection of Marburger to direct the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, but say that the key to his success will be not his scientific prowess but his ability to get the President’s ear. See

Colleges are struggling to deal with student use of their computer networks to download hefty video and software files, according to an article in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. People are e-mailing music and videos to one another as attachments, leading to a logarithmic increase in size – challenging universities’ bandwidth capabilities. Some students have downloaded files as large as 19 gigabytes. Some universities have been forced to limit downloads, in addition to previous efforts to educate students about good network citizenship. But since bandwidth use on campus is generally free, student demand is hard to control. See

Scientific collaborations between the US and India and Pakistan have received a green light in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, according to a note in the 5 October 2001 issue of Science.  The US government had cracked down after both countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998, but restrictions were lifted in a September 22nd decision by President Bush as he put together a worldwide alliance to help the US fight terrorism. The easing lifts restrictions for most civilian R&D agencies, but a small number of agencies involved in nuclear, missile, and space programs remain under the restrictions. See

The National Science Foundation will honor seven professors “whose research excellence has been shared” with both students and the public, according to a note in the Chronicle by Michael Blasenstein. The first ever Director’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching Scholars will be presented at a November 8th ceremony, and each recipient will be awarded $ 300,000 over the next four years to continue his or her work. For a list of  recipients, see

The MIT Media Laboratory has been looking for ways to clone its successful approach to conducting and paying for cutting-edge research in other parts of the world, according to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. It has an outpost in Dublin, is building one in India, and is exploring additional locations in South Korea and Latin America. In addition to such efforts at spreading the lab’s model for conducting research, it is pursuing a second major thrust – exploring ways that technology can be used to help developing nations. The idea is not just to give word processors, Palm pilots, and other technology to people in remote villages, but to explore how digital technology could be used in practical ways to improve the health and lives of people in impoverished areas. See

We should resist the push to rush all scholarly journals to free access via the internet shortly after publication, according to an article by John Ewing in the Chronicle. The author, who is from a scientific society which publishes several journals, argues that those calling for such free internet access have not thought clearly about all aspects of publishing. They do not understand the need to have journals make a small profit in order to ensure that they stay self-sustaining. And they forget that quality is as important as price – where quality includes such frills as links that allow navigating through large collections of materials. The author does not argue for the status quo, but does argue that scholarly societies that are wrestling with online delivery tools, archiving, format changes, and new business models should not be criticized for being cautious in order to protect the fragility of scholarly publishing. See

Fulbright Award applications are currently being accepted for engineers interested in providing research or university lectures in Armenia, India, Mauritius, Namibia, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. Candidates with specializations in biomedical, chemical, electronic, environmental, textile, computer, petroleum, manufacturing, materials, and industrial engineering are being sought. Applicants must be US citizens, have a PhD or similar degree, have professional or university experience, and have a record of publication and teaching in higher education. For more information see

Distance education

In Pakistan, an Open University is offering distance education to more than a million students, according to an article by Daniel del Castillo in the Chronicle. Allama Iqbal Open University was founded in 1974 under a government charter, functioning both as a bricks-and-mortar traditional university and as a distance learning institution. Its courses are based on tutorials and enhanced by non-broadcast video, audio cassettes, and a network of 12 regional campuses around Pakistan. It follows the model of the British Open University, which was the first open university in the world when it opened in 1969. See

Aboriginal people in Canada are embracing distance education, according to a note in the Chronicle by Doug Payne. The Conference Board of Canada has reported that they are using web-based distance education, electronic conferencing, bulletin boards, e-mail, and self-directed learning software to more fully participate in the knowledge economy. The Conference Board’s report includes 10 case studies of projects that utilized information technology to improve aboriginal education. A government committee has recently unveiled a national broadband strategy to provide high-speed access to Canadian residents, with a special emphasis for First Nation, Inuit, rural, and remote communities. See

The University of Phoenix has announced plans to market its adult-education and degree programs through America Online, according to a note by Michael Arnone in the Chronicle. The University is trying to expand information flow about its programs to a broader audience, and a significant percentage of the 30 million members of AOL have shown an interest in taking courses online offered through AOL. Advertising for the University is being prominently displayed on AOL, with links to the university’s web sites. The University of Phoenix describes itself as the largest university in the US, with 70,000 students on 58 campuses nationwide and 25,000 students earning degrees through its online division. See

A professor of comparative education in Britain is calling for governments to take a realistic view toward distance education, according to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale. Bernadette Robinson of the University of Nottingham has worked with 37 different countries, most of them developing nations, that are creating distance education programs. She states that many governments and institutions think that distance education is going to be a cheap way of providing courses and programs, without recognizing the high initial investments needed for delivering them online. She also notes that countries need to have the human capacity to develop good materials and to operate distance education programs. See


The International Journal of Engineering Education has published a special double issue on “Design Education for the 21st Century”, edited by Clive Dym and Sheri Sheppard. More than 30 papers are organized into several categories: ‘People’ issues, teams and collaborations, products and projects, science and systems for the design toolbox, and assessment. The papers represent much of the proceedings of Mudd Design Workshop II, held on the campus of Harvey Mudd College in California in May 1999.See

The October 2001 issue of the Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice contains several articles on civil engineering education and practice, including one on assessment of communications and collaborative learning in engineering education. That paper, by Enno Koehn, observes that in many companies today team goals, team contributions, and team rewards often supercede individual actions – and that today’s students have accepted the concept of collaborative learning. See


The annual meeting of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) was held in Denmark from 12 to 14 September 2001. World Expertise LLC organized a one- day pre-conference to introduce US and other non-European participants to issues in engineering education in Europe. A US group headed by Gerry Johnson of the National Technological University presented a half-day session on the results of the first international electronic conference on engineering education, run for three months last summer as a mechanism for involving third-world educators who typically cannot travel to such meetings. The SEFI conference itself focused on changing the paradigm in engineering education. Major plenary sessions covered the following topics:

Ø     The changing society

Ø     New engineering competencies

Ø     Changing the paradigm

Considerable discussion centered on the Bologna Declaration, an attempt of the European Union to harmonize education across the Continent. See for details of the program and copies of plenary presentations.

A post-conference scheduled for Berlin, cosponsored by SEFI and ASEE, was cancelled due to travel disruptions following the terrorist attacks on the US. It will be rescheduled for 2002. See for details as rescheduling plans are firmed up.

The 2002 annual meeting of SEFI will be held in Florence, Italy, from 8-11 September 2002. A call for papers and other information can be found at  as planning progresses.

The deadline for submitting abstracts for the 2002 ASEE ANNUAL conference is November 1st. Abstracts must be submitted through the CAPS system, ASEE’s online submission web site, at

Positions of possible interest

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Ø     Georgia Institute of Technology, Dean of Engineering, 9/28/01

Ø     Al Akhawayn University, Morocco, job opportunities, 9/28/01

Ø     University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Dean, College of Engineering and Technology, 9/21/01

Ø     University of New Mexico, Chair, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, 9/21/01

Ø     North Carolina State University, Department Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering, 9/14/01

Ø     Nanyang Technological University, School of Computer Engineering, positions, 10/5/01

Ø     University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, Professor, Energy Systems, 9/21/01

Ø     United Arab Emirates University, multiple positions, 10/5/01

Ø     University of Southern Colorado, President, 9/14/01

Ø     Florida Institute of Technology, President, 10/2/01

Ø     University of Louisiana at Monroe, President, 9/14/01

Ø     Minnesota State University at Mankato, President, 9/14/01

Ø     University of Tennessee at Knoxville, President, 9/14/01

Ø     Washington and Lee University, President, 10/5/01

Ø     University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Chancellor, 10/5/01

Ø     Oklahoma State University, Vice President for research, 9/28/01


From the October 2001 issue of ASEE Prism:

Ø     SUNY at Buffalo, Department Chair, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Ø     University of Pittsburgh, Department Chair, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Ø     University of New Mexico, Department Chair, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

Ø     University of Minnesota at Duluth, Head, Chemical Engineering

Ø     Ohio University, Dean, College of Engineering and Technology

Ø     Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, VPAA and Dean of Faculty




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