16 June 2003

Copyright © 2003 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, Ph.D., P.E., with Bethany S. Oberst, Ph.D.


International developments

1.        Iraq ’s shattered universities

2.        Rebuilding higher education in Iraq

3.        Italy shifts to applied research

4.        Brain drain in Russia

5.        Mexico closes private universities

6.        Dual education system in Cyprus

7.        Women inducted into academies

8.        Myanmar universities closed

9.        Qatar develops engineering education

10.     China ’s Three Gorges Dam being filled

11.     El Salvador University gets funds

U.S. developments

12.     Pentagon plans research facility closings

13.     US Environmental chief resigns

14.     Information was key to Iraq victory

15.     Visa abuse criticized

16.     Congress considers requiring more university accountability

17.     Special visas allow low cost employees

18.     States fight flow of jobs to overseas

Distance education, technology

19.     Distance education reviewed

20.     C-Span to use Internet2

21.     Future of college libraries

22.     Course management software survey

23.     California counters identity theft

Students, faculty, education

24.     Underproduction of engineer and scientists

25.     ASCE proposes ‘raise the bar’

26.     President inaugurated at new engineering college

27.     ACT report cites slump in interest in engineering

28.     Professional school salaries compared

29.     Foreign students see tighter immigration enforcement

30.     Foreign nationals dominate US graduate engineering programs


31.    International Journal of Engineering Education

32.    Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice


International developments

1) Iraq ’s shattered universities are described in an article in the 6 June 2003 Science by Andrew Lawler. Classes are getting back in session, but Iraq ’s university system is largely wrecked after a decade of sanctions and repression, followed by war and mass looting. Science departments have been particularly hard hit by bombing, burning, and looting – some targeted by US troops seeking evidence of weapons of mass destruction, others plundered by mobs for their computers and laboratory equipment. Although classes for some 200,000 students at more than 40 public universities and colleges nominally resumed in mid-May, security is tenuous and dozens of top administrators have been fired for their close ties to the former regime. At the premier technical university, Baghdad ’s University of Technology , looters stole even light bulbs before torching labs and lecture halls. The US government has started to provide funds for physical rebuilding of that institution and at Baghdad University , the country’s largest higher education institution, but rebuilding expertise and morale is proving more difficult. (See

2) The US Agency for International Development has announced a program to help create linkages between US and Iraqi higher education for the purposes of recovery and mutual support. While money was quickly supplied to aid in the rehabilitation of Iraqi schools, higher education so far has not been a high priority.  USAID is looking especially at using higher education to strengthen such areas as engineering, medicine, teacher training and civil society development.  Daniel Del Castillo wrote this article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

3) Italy ’s scientific community is in an uproar over a long dreaded reform plan unveiled by the government, according to John Bohannon and Alexander Hellmans writing in the May 30th issue of Science. The concern by scientists is a dramatic turn toward applied projects, away from basic research. The reforms also include plans to have the government appoint institute directors and science chiefs, leading to concerns by the science community that politicians will dictate future research agendas. The government has already slashed funding for some scientific research institutes by as much as 30%. Some applaud the shift toward an applied emphasis, observing that industry will be asked to play a larger role in research funding. (See

4) Reviving Russian science is the subject of an article from the Russian literary weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta, as reprinted in the July 2003 World Press Review. The Russian Ministry of Education and its Academy of Sciences are concerned about the aging of current scientists and engineers and the lack of young replacements. Many young scientists and engineers leave Russia after gaining their technical educations, for other countries. Moscow State University reports that 25% of the recent graduates from its leading faculties have left the country.  Salary levels are apparently key to this trend – science PhD’s in Russia earn about US$ 100 per month, whereas foreign organizations offer far greater compensation. In addition, Russia offers limited access to state-of-the-art research equipment. Concerned Russian leaders in science list several things that must be done to increase the influx of young scientists – including higher pay and improving the material, information and technical resources at laboratories.  (See

5) In the past two years Mexico ’s government has closed down 88 private universities, a small portion of the 1368 such institutions operating in the country today.  This is part of what some call a long-overdue crackdown on low quality institutions which have appeared to provide education in a country that suffers for inadequate capacity at its public institutions.  Writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education was Marion Lloyd. (See

6) Francis X. Rocca, writing from Nicosia for the Chronicle of Higher Education, has prepared a lengthy article on the dual systems of higher education in Cyprus, explaining the historical background which created the ethnic fault lines that separate the Turkish and Greek universities in that country.  Most recently, the government of the Turkish sector began permitting people to cross over the buffer zone (or Green Line) between the two territories.  Besides permitting hundreds of thousands of people to move freely north and south, this change is seen to offer a slight glimmer of hope that one day the two university systems of the island will draw together, despite the hatred, violence and discrimination which have marked their relationship to this day. (See

7) A record nine women are among the 42 new fellows elected to the UK’s Royal Society this year, according to a note by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in the May 21st Science. This follows the recent announcement from the US National Academy of Sciences that 17 of its annual class of 72 fellows are women. Women now make up 4.4% of the Royal Society’s total membership of 1290, and 7.7% of NAS’s 2015 members. (See

8) Universities under the control of Myanmar ’s Education Ministry were ordered closed on June 2, shortly after authorities in that country had detained activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Since 1988 universities have been closed then reopened, apparently because they are seen by the government to harbor pro-democracy groups.  Jen Lin-Liu wrote the article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See 

9) Texas A&M University (USA) recently signed an agreement with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to design an undergraduate engineering program in that country.  This move follows the lead of Virginia Commonwealth University and Cornell University, both of which have established academic programs in the new “education city” being built in Qatar, according to Katherine S. Mangan writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. All classes will be taught in English, quality assurance will be provided by Texas A&M, and 50 students will be admitted each year for the first five years.  (See

10) China ’s Three Gorges Dam remains contentious, with supporters praising the power and flood control it will provide and others predicting untold destruction. As described in a June 2nd article in the Washington Post by John Pomfret, the dam is 600 feet high, 1.4 miles long, will contain as much water as Lake Superior , and is submerging two cities and 1352 villages. The reservoir is being filled currently, and power generation will begin in August. At a time when many countries are dismantling dams faster than they are constructing them, China ’s project is emblematic of a political system run by builders. All nine members of the Communist Party’s all powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo were trained as engineers, and their faith in the power of man over nature remains unshaken. (See

11) The title of the article provides a summary: “Earthquake and Civil War: Trials of the University of El Salvador .” Michael Easterbrook, writing from San Salvador for the Chronicle of Higher Education describes the decades of violence, man-made and natural, which have swept over the university, but concludes that the road to recovery may have been found, in the form of a rebuilding loan for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.  The story is a grim one of a once-proud university campus being destroyed, of faculty being deported, of students being killed.  Even now, the university retains a legacy of being a center for radicalism, negative in the eyes of some citizens.  The recent loan, which has permitted a major reconstruction of physical facilities, now must be met with comparable rebuilding of personnel, equipment, scholarship aid, along with a rethinking of traditional ways of administering the university.  (See


US developments

12) Pentagon planners aim to close up to 25% of military facilities over the next three years, according to an article by David Malakoff in the May 30th issue of Science. They are taking an especially hard look at the sprawling network of defense R&D labs. The goal is to free up billions of dollars for other uses, from new weapons systems to higher pay for the military. Four previous post-Cold War downsizings have already axed some 400 facilities, including about 60 research and engineering centers, and some 30,000 technical workers. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld predicts that this round of base realignments and closings could be as big as all the prior rounds combined. The 80 research-related facilities, which will spend more than $5-billion this year, are prime targets. Many members of congress are fighting this round of changes, however, trying to protect their districts from potentially huge economic losses. (See

13) The administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, has resigned, as described by Erik Stokstad in the May 30th Science. While getting high marks for EPA science during her tenure, she has been heavily criticized by environmentalists who claim that under her tenure the agency has caved in to industry interests by weakening environmental laws and regulations. During her 2.5-year tenure at EPA, she is credited by observers as having strengthened research and boosted its role in decision-making. (See

14) Information was key to an efficient US-Anglo military victory in Iraq , according to an article by Mark Bowden in the June 2003 IEEE Spectrum. Remote sensing, communications, and command gave the coalition forces a commanding advantage. With images and navigational data from satellites and drone aircraft, military forces right down to individual soldiers and tank commanders almost always knew where they were, and where their targets were. Commanders on the ground received real-time images and targeting data from satellites on their laptop computers. Satellites and remotely piloted aircraft also played a big role in rapidly delivering precise air strikes. Such technological mastery of the battlefield may make conventional war obsolete, according to the author. (See

15) As jobs dry up in the US , abuse of power over visas is on the rise, according to an article in the June 16th Business Week by Brian Grow. Skilled workers imported to the US from abroad may be abused by employers who pay low salaries and provide little job security. Previously such problems were concentrated in the lowest rungs of the workforce, but the current weak economy has sparked an outbreak of abusive treatment among the legions of white-collar employees who flocked to the US during the late-1990’s boom. Violations involving workers on H1-B visas have jumped more than fivefold since 1998, according to the US Labor Department. Experts point out that the US work-visa system gives employers tremendous power over immigrants – if the employer yanks their sponsorship, the immigrant must leave the country or try to find another sponsor. (See

16) The US Congress may seek more accountability from universities, according to a note by Katherine Hutt Scott in the June 5th issue of USA Today. Congressional lawmakers and Bush administration officials are floating ideas such as: cutting off federal funding to colleges and universities that raise tuition beyond a certain point; urging colleges to graduate a minimum percentage of students; and testing students in the same way the No Child Left behind Act requires those in grades 3 through 8 to be tested annually in reading and math. Debate over these ideas comes during the early stages of consideration of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which expires in September 2004. (See

17) The use of special visas to allow import of foreign technical workers is being challenged, according to Katie Hafner and Daniel Preysman writing in the May 29th New York Times. With the economy in a slump, American technology workers are expressing concern that their jobs are going not only to lower-cost foreign workers abroad, but also increasingly to workers who enter the US under a little-known visa category known as L-1. In the three years since the technology bubble burst, the use of L-1 visas has become a popular strategy among firms seeking to cut labor costs. These visas are intended to allow companies to transfer employees from a foreign branch or subsidiary to company offices in the US . But they are now routinely used by companies based in India and elsewhere to bring their workers into the US and then contract them out to American companies – in many instances to be replacements for American workers. American companies that use such contract workers have said that their use is based on factors like skills, and not on cost alone. Some immigration experts are questioning the legality of this use of the L-1 visa. The use of the related visa category, H1-B, which has a cap on numbers and requires employers to pay prevailing wages, has had a decline in the past two years. (See

18) Alarmed by jobs flowing overseas where skilled workers are cheaper, state lawmakers and labor unions are fighting back. According to an article in the June 3rd Wall Street Journal by Michael Schroeder, legislation aimed at keeping jobs in the US is pending in at least five states – New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri and Washington. The bills employ a variety of methods, including blocking companies from using workers on state contracts and requiring foreign call-center employees to identify where they are located. On Capital Hill, unions are urging Congress to ask the General Accounting Office to study the trend’s US economic impact. More than 25% of the 500 largest US corporations are engaged in out-sourcing to foreign countries. (See  


Dista nce education, technology

19) The Chronicle of Higher Education published a long article on distance education, featuring information from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.  Although the current economic downturn in the US appears to make these relatively new programs more vulnerable than other, more established ones, that fear is allayed by the solid, even impressive growth that has occurred in distance education over the past several years for those organizations that took the trouble to plan and implement carefully.  Some of the “rules” which seem to have emerged are that marketing, playing to an institution’s established strengths, quality control, ease of operation, and career focus are essential for a distance education program to be successful.  Web-based education is gaining a foothold in traditional institutions, such as Virginia Tech, where students take on-line courses to supplement their regular on campus schedule.  While traditional universities appear to have recovered from the ill-founded belief that they would make a fortune from distance education, some for-profit institutions are, in fact, thriving in a business sense. Dan Carnevale and Florence Olsen wrote this report.  (See

20) According to Florence Olsen writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education Northwestern University (USA) will begin providing C-Span and C-Span2 broadcasts to anyone with an Internet2 connection.  The ability to make available high quality, lower bandwidth broadcasts to large numbers of people at the same time, an essential component for efficient distance education, was made possible, in part, by “multicasting.”  But the cost of such delivery is still high, requiring universities to have fast computers and fast connections, according to Michael Dupagne of the University of Miami , who was quoted in the article.  (See

21) What will college libraries be in 2012?  Fairleigh Dickinson University (USA) and the New Jersey Association of College and Research Libraries received about a dozen responses to this question when they held an essay contest.  Technology was clearly on the minds of most of the writers, as they riffed on images of librarians equipped with virtual reality helmets, and working, not in buildings, but in a cyber-space of information.  Technology was too much on the minds of the essayists, according to some critics, who do not share a vision of a future without library buildings, and without the librarian working face to face with individual students, handling print material, and defending free access to information.  Scott Carlson wrote this article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See 

22) Course-management software has become a familiar tool in US higher education, with proponents saying that it brings ease of organization and flexible interaction between faculty and students.  The Center for Applied Research of Educause financed a survey of University of Wisconsin faculty, asking about their experience using the software.  While the study confirms that faculty like the software for its organizations power, they also report that students demonstrate some problems with the technology, and some faculty respond to these problems by under-utilizing the full range of options the programs offer.  Educause is planning to conduct another survey, this time questioning students about their experience in using course-management software, to gather more information. This article was written for the Chronicle of Higher Education by Dan Carnevale. (See

23) California is making a new attempt to counter identity theft.  According to Andrea L. Foster in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a new law requires colleges and other organizations to inform people when computers containing their personal information have been hacked.  In that way, advocates say, people can take steps to protect their identity.  Some university administrators, however, admit that they have no idea how they can comply with the law, given current information systems.  (See


Students, faculty, education

24) A new report by the US National Science Board says that the federal government needs to take action on several fronts to guarantee an adequate supply of US scientific and engineering workers, according to an article in the May 30th Science by Jeffrey Mervis. The report calls for a variety of efforts, including better pay for public school math and science teachers, increased funding for basic research, and better efforts by universities to bolster retention rates among undergraduates who declare an interest in science and engineering degrees. NSF Director Rita Collwell notes that we have become too dependent on the global workforce, and need to make the most of homegrown talent. The report, three years in development, is still in draft form – at It avoids controversial terms like “shortfall”, opting for “underproduction” and “underused resources” instead. See (

25) The American Society of Civil Engineers is proposing to ‘raise the bar’ for engineering practice by requiring a master’s degree or equivalent as a prerequisite for licensure and practice of civil engineering at a professional level. In a “Viewpoint” column in the June 2003 Engineering Times, ASCE president Thomas Jackson describes how the practice of engineering has changed, with the risks and challenges to public health, safety and welfare increasing in complexity. ASCE has adopted a policy statement on increasing the requirements for professional practice, and it is also working on defining the ‘body of knowledge’ for the civil engineer of the future. (See

26) Franklin W. Olin College, the new engineering school in formation in Massachusetts , has inaugurated its founding president and dedicated its campus, according to and article in the June 2003 Engineering Times.  Richard Miller, formerly a professor of mechanical engineering and dean at several universities, was inaugurated in ceremonies in May. The school opened its doors to faculty members in 2000 and to 75 students in 2002. Students who are admitted to the college receive scholarships to cover four years of tuition and room and board. (See

27) A new report from the ACT Office of Policy Research states that the US position as a world engineering leader is threatened by a dwindling number of qualified engineering students, according to an article in the June 2003 Engineering Times. The report, “Maintaining a Strong Engineering Workforce”, cites a 12-year slump in the number of high school graduates who want to study engineering – plus a drop in their levels of preparation and achievement. Analyzing research numbers over the last decade, the report says that 0nly 6% of seniors taking the ACT indicated plans to study engineering, compared to 9% in 1992. One conclusion of the report is that better preparation and recruitment of females and minorities will be key to ensuring engineering’s future. The report can be seen at and the article at

28) The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article by Katherine S. Mangan on salary differentials between faculty in US professional schools and those who teach in other units. (See http://chronicle/com/free/v49/i38/38a01001.htm) A quick look at the report issued recently by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources gives readers a chance to gain some insight into the issue. Excluding medicine, the average 9 – 10 month faculty salaries at public four-year institutions in 2002-2003 include: law ($106,748), finance ($87,699), civil engineering ($78,516), English composition ($48,506). 

 29) Foreign students in the US are having to navigate a labyrinth of new laws and regulations, according to a June 9th article by Caryle Murphy and Nurith Aizenman in the Washington Post. Many students from countries with majority Muslim populations have been forced to leave the country since 9/11, often for minor violation of immigration laws. A US government official is quoted as saying “There is no such thing as a technical violation anymore; you’re either in status or you’re violating the law”. (See

30) Foreign nationals continue to dominate enrollments in engineering degree programs, according to a note by Sharon Richardson in the June 2003 IEEE-USA News and Views. Master’s and doctoral degrees awarded to US citizens in engineering have been declining since the mid-1990’s. Enrollment data indicate that this degree trend will be maintained in the current decade as well. The number of foreign nationals receiving bachelor’s degrees in engineering from US universities has been relatively constant over the past two decades. (See



31) The International Journal of Engineering Education has issued Volume 19, Number 2, 2003, containing twelve major papers. Topics include engineering faculty development, academic leadership strategies, teaching creativity, and virtual teams for engineering design. (See

32) The April 2003 Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice contains eleven papers in four categories – teaching lessons learned, ethics cases in professional practice, legal affairs, and technical papers. One timely paper discusses engineering and the threat of terrorism. (See


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