18 December 2000


Copyright © 2000 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved


A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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





U. S. Politics


On December 13th, Texas Governor George W. Bush was named President-elect, after Vice President Al Gore halted his contest of the Florida vote and conceded the election in a nationally televised address. Bush immediately began naming key cabinet nominees and staff appointments. See


President-elect Bush and Vice President-elect Dick Cheney have set up a web site for those interested in applying for an appointment in their new administration. See


For world press views on the prolonged U. S. presidential election, see the World Press Review issue of January 2001. Articles include ‘America’s Mickey Mouse Election’ from Lagos, ‘The Divine Comedy Election’ from Russia, ‘A country split in two’ from France, ‘Winner take all’ from Germany, ‘A dual without ideas’ from Argentina, and ‘Can America teach us about democracy’ from Zimbabwe. See


With the presidential election finally decided, higher education lobbyists in Washington are preparing for a Bush presidency. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ben Gose notes that candidate Bush promised to increase spending on Pell grants and biomedical research, but that he may have difficulty keeping those promises given his higher profile pledges to increased defense spending and a huge tax cut. See




The December issue of IEEE Spectrum reviews new high tech products offered by electronic manufacturers for holiday season gift giving. Complied by Willie Jones, the special section details latest techie toys in several categories: watches, smart phones and pagers, two-way radios, personal digital assistants, and game cartridges. See


Writing a Point of View in the Chronicle, the director of the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia University – Kate Wittenberg -- reviews the current status of electronic publishing. She discusses issues such as costs, evaluation and quality assurance, integration of research and teaching, and libraries collection development. See  The author also lists two web sites of possible interest: Columbia International Affairs Online,, and Columbia Earthscape,


Red Herring magazine has described the top technology trends that will shape 200l, in the judgment of its editors: biotechnology, electronic communications, venture capital trends, new markets, business models, etc. See


The 4th Quarter issue of Today’s Engineer includes an article on presentation technologies – stating that with easy access to multimedia and powerful remote control, standing behind a podium with 3 x 5 cards will no longer suffice. Peter and Cheryl Reimold describe the current state-of-the-art, both the promise and the problems. They review the basics of electronic slide shows, describe text and graphics animation, discuss embedding photos and videos, and give other practical pointers. See or the Reimold’s educational web site


Scholars and library groups are pressing the U. S. Congress to amend federal copyright law to explicitly allow for copying and distribution of electronic material. According to an article by Andrea Foster in the Chronicle, Congress is being asked to revise the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to specify that a buyer of copyrighted electronic material can resell, lend, or share the material without the copyright holder’s consent. Such a change is opposed by commercial-media interests, who fear that extending the ‘first sale doctrine’ to digital works could enable widespread piracy of copyrighted works such as literary, musical, and video materials. See


The 11 December 2000 Wall Street Journal contained a special report section on e-commerce – focusing on ‘mobile commerce’, which promises to put the web at our fingertips anywhere, anytime. Articles include: ‘The internet enters uncharted territory’, ‘One consumer’s determined effort to go mobile’, ‘The airline industry’s high hopes’, ‘Microsoft places its bets on m-commerce’, and ‘Don’t hold your breath’. See  Reprints are available for $4 at 1-800-JOURNAL.


IBM is offering a computer recycling service to individual consumers and small business owners. It is estimated that 315 million computers will be come obsolete by 2004, and environmentalists are concerned that the toxic materials that are contained in PCs will end up in public landfills. For $29.99, IBM will accept PC parts and recycle them in an environmentally responsible way. See


The Pentagon has agreed to pay Iridium Satellite $36-million a year for unlimited use of the company’s global satellite network, according to a report by Greg Jaffe in the 7 December 2000 Wall Street Journal. Iridium Satellite last month acquired the assets of Iridium LLC for $25-million. The satellite-telephone company, a $5-billion venture largely backed by Motorola, filed for bankruptcy protection in August 1999 when subscriber numbers fell far short of those needed for financial success.


Distance education


The U. S. Army has announced the selection of the consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers to coordinate its $453-million project to deliver distance learning courses to soldiers all over the world. According to an article by Sarah Carr in the Chronicle, PricewaterhouseCoopers will serve as the ‘integrator’ for the project, managing the technology and recruiting colleges to offer courses. A team of 10 companies and 29 colleges will work together on initial offerings. The contract calls for the government to pay significantly less than the $600-million originally estimated by the Army. See


The World Bank has become a major provider of distance education in developing countries, according to an article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle. Since 1997, the Bank has spent $20-million to set up 16 distance learning centers in developing countries, and it expects to spend another $10-million in the next two years to set up many more. Courses offered focus on skills that community leaders and government workers can use to improve their countries’ economies. Courses are offered to remote regions through Distance Learning Centers, which have cameras, computers, satellite equipment, and Internet capabilities. The program does not offer degrees, but does award certificates of completion for the more than 70 seminars and courses offered. See


The U. S. Department of Education has granted authority to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology to accredit distance –education programs. According to an article in the Chronicle by Anne Marie Borrego, a similar request for authorization a year ago was denied over concerns about whether the commission had the expertise to assess online programs. After reviewing answers to questions raised in the previous process, the commission has now been judged as consistently applying and enforcing its quality standards. See


Harvard Business School and Stanford University have announced that they are teaming up to create a series of online courses on management education for worldwide offering. Writing in the Chronicle, Katherine Mangan notes that the nondegree courses will include curricular materials from the Harvard Business School and from Stanford’s business and engineering schools. The schools say that they share a common mission to educate leaders around the world, and a commitment to use technology in management education. See


International Developments


Japan is reevaluating its programs for lifetime career development of engineers, according to an article by Hideo Ohasi in the Newsletter of the International Association for Continuing Engineering Education. The days of lifetime employment and extensive on-the-job in-house training are past, and engineering education and companies are searching for appropriate new models. Japanese universities can no longer be only “raw material suppliers for a domestic market”, but must educate globally competitive graduates, according to the author. The article explores changes needed in engineering education, in the engineering profession, and in international recognition. See


The loss of the nuclear submarine Kursk and the fire in Moscow’s TV tower are indications that Russia’s infrastructure is in grievous repair, according to an article by James Oberg in the December issue of IEEE Spectrum. The article describes the Kursk disaster and TV tower fire in detail, and generalizes to express concerns about space projects and civil infrastructure. See Current information on trends in Russian society can be found at


An engineer credited with the invention of the microchip has been awarded the Nobel prize for physics. According to an article by T.R.Reid in the 11 December 2000 Washington Post, Jack S. Kirby built the first semiconductor integrated circuit in a lab at Texas Instruments, some 42 years ago. Now 77, Kirby noted that another engineer who has since passed away – Robert Noyce – hit on the same idea a few months after he did, and went on to found Intel Corporation.




The Ford Foundation has announced a major international program to provide higher education to promising members of groups that are underrepresented at universities, from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia. According to an article by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle, the Foundation is committing $330-million over ten years – the largest grant in its history.  The bulk of the money will go to an International Fellowships Program, to allow 3500 students to pursue graduate studies at a university of their choice anywhere in the world. The program will seek to assist women, members of minority ethnic, racial, or religious groups, and people who live outside capital cities or in countries involved in conflicts. A small portion of the funds, $50-million, will go to a complementary program to expand access to undergraduate education with the same emphases. See


Twenty-one students at the University of Maryland are living in a technology-rich living and learning environment, which the University hopes will help them learn about entrepreneurship. According to an article by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle, the dormitory is furnished with the latest multimedia and wireless-communications equipment, to facilitate learning by doing things that entrepreneurs do – coming up with ideas for new business, working in teams, writing business plans, seeking venture capital, making presentations, and managing business growth. The residential learning program was started with a $1.7-million gift from Brian Hinman, a 1982 electrical engineering graduate of the University. The program currently involves 87 students. See




Eighth graders in the U.S. are still ranked in the middle of the global pack in science and math achievement, according to results from the latest Third International Mathematics and Science Study. Writing in the 8 December 2000 issue of Science, Constance Holden describes a series of reports on fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders, which started in 1996. The Study provides longitudinal data that allows countries to measure their progress over time. These results are not good for U.S. educators, who have spent much of the past decade pursuing reforms aimed at raising student achievement. Compared with 16 other countries, the U.S. is the only country to show a significant drop in both math and science achievement as students mature. Top scores in math were obtained from Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Top scores in science were from Taiwan, Singapore, Hungary, and Japan. See


 An independent research group has issued a report grading the nation’s 50 states on how well they deliver higher education. According to two articles in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Selingo, the 188-page report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education examined both public and private colleges, and ranked states in several categories. States generally performed worst in affordability and best in college completion. Every state received an incomplete in the area of student learning, where researchers felt they had insufficient national data. Researchers were surprised at the variation of quality of college education depending on where students live – with the benefits of higher education influenced by geography, income, wealth, and ethnicity. Only undergraduate education was measured, so states with top-ranked research universities did not rank as well as expected. See For more information or a full copy of the report, Measuring Up 2000, see




The U.S. federal government has issued new regulations on instructing researchers about ethics and scientific fraud. According to an article by Ron Southwick in the Chronicle, the regulations offer institutions much more discretion than an earlier draft, which was criticized by college officials as too prescriptive. The regulations identify nine areas of instruction, including research misconduct, ethics involving human subjects, and data sharing and ownership. The regulations were released by the Office of Research Integrity of the Department of Health and Human Services. See


A special section in the 4th Quarter issue of Today’s Engineer describes how one international company has come to recognize its potential impact on the global environment, and is making a mid-course correction to build a sustainable enterprise that gives back more than it takes from the Earth. The founder of Interface Inc., Ray C. Anderson, describes how he and his firm have become awakened to the plight of the environment and the significant decline Earth has faced since the industrial revolution – and how they are now embracing the concept that business and industry can reverse Earth’s decline. See




A coalition of foundations, colleges and government agencies have announced the creation of a new entity aimed at increasing access to higher education for minority and low-income students. According to an article in the Chronicle by Anne Marie Borrego, the Pathways to College Network plans to identify successful college-preparation programs and find ways to replicate them. Initial funding from several foundations is $1.8-million. The program will be administered by Occidental College and the Education Resources Institute. See


To help high tech industries to recruit African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, women and people with disabilities the U.S. government recently issued recommendations in its report “Land of Plenty: Diversity as America’s Competitive Edge in Science, Engineering, and Technology”. Writing in the December 2000 issue of the IEEE Institute, Kathy Kowalenko describes the report’s findings and recommendations. The report says that unless the science, engineering and technology workforce becomes more representative of the general U.S. workforce, the nation will undercut its own competitive edge in the future. The report can be read at


A federal appeals court has ruled that diversity can be an adequate justification for public colleges to use race as a factor in deciding whom to admit. According to an article by Sara Hebel in the Chronicle, this apparent victory for affirmative action may set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown. The three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit ruled that the 1978 Supreme Court ruling, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, applied in a University of Washington case. The Baake ruling has been challenged in other venues with different rulings, and it is anticipated that the U.S Supreme Court will take up the issue at some time since appeals courts have come up with opposite conclusions in this area. See A similar ruling was made in Michigan recently, where a judge upheld the use of race as a factor in college admissions at the University of Michigan. As reported in the 14 December Washington Post by Michael Fletcher, the federal judge ruled that Michigan’s affirmative action program is justified by the educational benefits of racial diversity.


The American Society for Engineering Education has announced the creation of a new award to recognize and honor a woman engineering educator who has an outstanding record in teaching engineering students, the Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education. Nominations are due 15 January 2001. Information on eligibility and requirements for nominations is available at




Foreign students and their dependents contributed $12.3-billion to the U.S. economy in 1999 -2000, according to an estimate by NAFSA. This figure is up 9% from the previous year. Figures available on the NAFSA web site allow schools and states to determine the impact in their specific areas. See


An investment bank has made a deal with the University of Oxford that will have it pay for one-third of the cost of a new chemistry building in return for a share of the profits from any spinoff companies in the next 15 years. According to an article by Karen Birchard in the Chronicle, this pattern may be the first in the world, and may provide a model for other universities. The bank, Beeson Gregory, is confident that it is getting a good deal, on the basis of its own expertise and experience in advising high technology and biotechnology companies. See


Three University of California campuses have been chosen as sites for a new $900-million program designed to keep the state a world leader in research and to bolster its economy. An article in the 15 December 2000 issue of Science by Evelyn Strauss states that each school will receive $25-million a year for four years from the state, with companies and other sources putting up at least twice that amount. Three new institutes are being established: Bioengineering at UC San Francisco, Nanosystems at UC Los Angeles, and Information Technology at UC San Diego. The institutes are to tackle topics not historically addressed on their own campuses. See


The entire staff of Ireland’s largest research facility – from receptionists to top administrators – are to gain from commercial spinoffs. According to an article by Karen Birchard in the Chronicle, the National Microelectronics Research Center at University College Cork will distribute half of the equity gained from spinoffs to the staff members. The center hopes the program will help to keep current researchers and attract more leading-edge scientists. See


In an essay in the 1 December 2000 issue of Science, James Robert Brown decries privatizing and commercializing of the university. An increased dependence on industry and philanthropy for operating the university, and the attempt to run the university more like a business, are trends that disturb the philosopher author. He fears that the privatization of research means that one point of view will tend to prevail. He feels that university research must be funded overwhelmingly from the public purse, and the public must own the results. See




The current issue of the European Journal for Engineering Education (vol 25 no 4) presents a series of 5 papers on ethics in engineering education. Additional papers deal with assessment, experimentation, curriculum development, tradition, and innovation in engineering teaching. See


The current issue of the International Journal of Engineering Education (vol 16 no 6) includes two interesting papers on engineering education issues: “Why not engineering – the process of career choice amongst South African female students”, and “Creating a leading edge – the link between second language proficiency, academic performance and employment leverage for engineering students”. Several more technically oriented papers are also included. See


Positions of possible interest


From the 15 December 2000 Chronicle of Higher Education:


Ø      Dean, West Virginia University Institute of Technology      

Ø      Dean, College of Design/Construction/Planning, University of Florida

Ø      Dean, School of Engineering/Mines, University of North Dakota – Grand Forks

Ø      Provost, Washington State University – Pullman

Ø      Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor, University of California – Davis

Ø      President, Widener University, PA

Ø      President, Texas State University System

Ø      Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ø      President, Bucknell University, PA





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