18 March 2002

Copyright © 2002 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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



International developments

Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, has announced plans to overhaul the nation’s entire system of higher education, according to articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Martha Overland. In recent speeches, President Musharraf has said that the government will emphasize information technology, engineering, and the biological sciences in order to meet the industrial needs of the country. To fill the needs for computer engineers, Pakistan is opening 10 new information-technology institutes, and also plans to begin using distance education programs to train more computer engineers. See . In an earlier speech, Musharraf criticized the state of higher education throughout the Muslim world, and asked Muslim countries to work together to improve that situation through sharing of intellectual and financial resources. See

The economic crisis in Argentina is adversely affecting universities there and students studying abroad, according to articles by Michael Esterbrook and Alex Kellogg in the Chronicle. Recent government budget tightening moves in Argentina have cut the salaries of all state workers – including faculty members – by 13%, and have withheld funds for campus maintenance and student loans. The weakening peso and inflation – which may rise to 15% this year – will further erode university resources. Some 1.2-million students study at the tuition-free public universities in Argentina, up from 800,000 in 1990. See . Argentine students studying in US universities are facing financial problems also, as the flow of support funds from their parents has dried up. Some 3000 students and some 600 researchers from Argentina are currently on US campuses. US universities with significant Argentine student and researcher populations are trying to buffer their financial problems with financial aid and employment opportunities. See

Japanese academics appear set to enjoy new freedoms that would allow closer collaborations with private companies and greater autonomy in spending research grants, according to an article in the 1 March 2002 issue of Science by Dennis Normile. But these advances will come with a price – an end to lifetime job security, and stricter evaluations of the quality of their work. These changes are being recommended by an advisory panel to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. One thorny issue yet to be decided is whether the new rules on faculty evaluation and job security will apply to current employees of universities or only to those hired after the new approach takes effect. See

British scientists are alarmed over an ‘export control bill’ that would grant to the government sweeping powers to monitor exchanges of information on technology, according to an article by Kate Galbraith in the Chronicle. The bill is aimed at preventing information on creating weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands abroad, but scientists fear that the bill could act as a chokehold on research. The bill is broadly worded, putting the transfer of “technology of any description” under government scrutiny. The impetus for the bill arises from a series of embarrassing scandals involving Iraq, including sales of arms and training of a biological weapons expert. The government insists that critic’s concerns are overblown, and that this bill is merely an updating of a 1939 law to account for new methods of information transfer. See

Ireland’s science agency is restructuring to recruit more researchers from around the world to work at Irish universities, according to a note in the Chronicle by Doug Payne. The Science Foundation Ireland, which administers more than $550-million in grants annually, will support new programs of fellowships to help universities and companies to recruit world-class researchers, grants to support academic/university partnerships, and grants to support scientists who want to work in Ireland. See

A new study shows that Internet use in China rose almost 50% in 2001, to 33.7 million people. At the same time, the Chinese government has placed tighter restrictions on Internet service providers, in a move to discourage political dissent. It has issued its most intrusive Internet controls to date, ordering service providers to screen private e-mail for political content and holding them responsible for subversive postings on their websites. The new rules represent Beijing's latest efforts to tighten its grip on the only major medium in China not already under state control. The regulations also create new difficulties for a competitive industry trying to attract more overseas investment. See,1283,49855,00.html

The Canadian government has set up the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Program -- modeled on the Rhodes Scholarships -- to support Canadians and some foreign scholars, according to a note in the Chronicle by Karen Birchard. The government is providing $79-million as an endowment, and predicts that the investment income will eventually support up to 100 doctoral fellowships and 20 mid-career fellowships. Three-quarters of the fellowships will go to eligible Canadians, with the remainder open to international competition. See

U.S. developments

A new report from the National Academy of Engineering says that most Americans know little about the world of technology, according to an article in the March 2002 issue of Engineering Times. The report. “Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology” points out that Americans must make day to day decisions that are technology based. It calls upon engineering societies and universities to institute fellowship programs to create a cadre of policy experts and journalists with a background in engineering. See for the article, and to purchase a copy of the report see The report has a companion site at

Applications to the Peace Corps have increased 39% since President Bush promised to fight terrorism at home with more volunteers abroad in his State of the Union address, according to an article in the 21 February 2002 New York Times. The President urged all Americans to commit themselves to at least two years of volunteer service in their lives. For some applicants, motivation includes poor job prospects in a sluggish economy in addition to the events of September 11th. See

The Bush administration has proposed new criteria for the measurement of effectiveness of federal financing of basic scientific research, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Brainard. The new criteria would focus on the quality of research programs, mainly as assessed through peer review of the studies the programs finance. They would also require federal agencies that distribute research funds to examine the relevance of the studies they sponsor to their agency’s objectives, and to develop reliable measurements of the researcher’s performance. This information would then be used to guide future decisions on spending. Critics are worried that the proposal could inhibit research at universities and other institutions that takes years to pay off. See

The White House has spurned efforts to close the ‘Digital Divide’, according to an article by Yochi Dreazen in the February 27th Wall Street Journal. Administration leaders have spoken out against programs aimed at bringing the poor, minorities, and rural residents in the US into ready access and utilization of the Internet. Breaking with Clinton administration policy, the Bush administration is dismantling many programs devoted to ending the so-called digital divide. Democrats have complained, criticizing the Bush administration for dropping the programs amid a recession that leaves the least-educated Americans most vulnerable. The administration says that the divide has been closed somewhat, and that future efforts should be undertaken by the private sector. One casualty is the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), which was a Clinton favorite, aimed at providing matching grant funding for technology projects at schools, libraries, health agencies, police departments, and other nonprofits. See

The President’s Science Advisor, Jack Marburger, recently discussed the administration’s FY 2003 budget for science and technology at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He presented a justification for a major focus on supporting the fight against terrorism, but also described in detail the opportunities presented by new tools and understandings of science at the atomic level. His full remarks can be found at

The hiring of foreign workers under H-1B visas is frustrating native job seekers, according to an article in the February 27th Washington Post by Carrie Johnson. Groups such as the Black Data Processing Associates and the IEEE-USA say that there is significant unemployment of Americans in the technical areas where companies continue to hire from abroad under the H1-B program. Some 28,000 skilled foreign workers were approved for visas during the last three months of 2001. See 

The National Academy of Engineering has awarded two top prizes, honoring engineers in education and in medicine, according to an article in the March 2002 issue of Engineering Times. Eli Fromm of Drexel University received the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for his work in broadening the engineering curriculum to emphasize communication, business and design. The changes he has promoted, according to the Academy, have had dramatic results in improving the retention of students – especially minority students. Robert Langer of MIT received the Charles Stark Draper Prize, for his work with polymer plastics. The technologies he developed have created new ways for drugs to reach parts of the human body, thus prolonging lives and easing suffering for millions of people each year. Each prize includes a $500,000 award. See . The NAE also has announced its list of newly elected members – 74 in the US plus seven new foreign associates. For a listing and short description of rationale for each elected, see


Distance education, technology

Colleges are slowly starting to count work with technology in tenure decisions, according to a major article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Young. To date the standard advice to faculty has been not to waste time teaching online or laboring over electronic course enhancements unless you have already climbed to the top of the tenure and promotion ladder – but to stick to traditional academic activities like publishing journal articles. Arguments about whether technology in teaching counts seem to be more pronounced in research universities than at more teaching-oriented schools. Leaders at a nationwide project called Merlot propose a solution: apply the same kind of peer review system used for journals to the evaluation of electronic teaching materials. Many professors say that the lack of consideration given to teaching with technology at some institutions is simply the latest example of a longstanding neglect of teaching in professional evaluation. See

An Indian University plans a dramatic expansion of distance education using the airwaves, according to a note in the Chronicle by Martha Overland. The Indira Gandhi National Open University will establish 40 FM radio stations and set up 2,000 television satellite downlinks to its study centers. The new facilities will bring educational programming, in languages specific to the local area, to every corner of the country. The university is India’s largest provider of distance learning programs, with an enrollment of 750,000 students.  See

Research networks in North America and Europe have formed an international group to create a global backbone network for use by scientists doing multinational research, according to a note by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle. The new group includes advanced networking groups in Canada, the US, Britain, and Europe. The network is intended to provide advanced Internet services to researchers in such fields as high-energy physics, astronomy, weather forecasting, and biological and earth sciences, all of which require the transfer and analysis of huge quantities of data. See

Two Canadian colleges are testing the effectiveness of wireless learning, as reported in a Chronicle note by Karen Birchard. The research program will assess whether wireless technology helps students to learn better in their first year in colleges – and also whether going wireless will help attract future students. Students in an introductory accounting course will use handheld pocket computers with Internet access. They will be able to download course materials, including their textbooks, and to communicate with fellow students and their instructors. See

More institutions are encouraging students to create online ‘electronic portfolios’ that highlight their academic work and experiences, according to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. An e-portfolio is typically an extensive resume that links to an online repository of a student’s papers, problem sets, pictures from study-abroad periods, and anything else that demonstrates the student’s accomplishments and activities. Such portfolios can be useful in dealing with prospective employers, and with parents who want to know where their tuition money is going. See

A new handbook collects essays about the nuts and bolts of online learning, according to a note by Brock Read in the Chronicle. The ASTD E-Learning Handbook (McGraw Hill, 2002) compiles both essays that have previously appeared in online or print journals, and other written specifically for the book. The book’s range of suggestions and studies is its greatest strength, according to one reviewer. See


Stu dents, faculty, education

The March/April issue of Change magazine has an interesting series of articles on university finances and student aid. “Cracks in the Bedrock” asks whether U.S. higher education can remain number one in the world with current fiscal pressures. “Higher Tuition” analyzes the trend for public institutions to raise tuition and fees as state dollars decrease. “After the Tipping Point” explores the complex relationships between the economic downturn, public policy on funding higher education, changing demographics, and the information economy’s demand for a more educated workforce. “Is Merit Based Student Aid Really Trumping Need Based Aid” concludes that to date need based aid is not jeopardized. And “The Blurring Line Between Merit and Need in Financial Aid” indicates that student’s academic promise is becoming more important in admissions and is increasingly influencing the amount of aid granted. See

A national commission that blasted American research universities in 1998 for ignoring undergraduate education says in a follow-up report that the institutions have undergone a ‘sea change’ in the emphasis they put on teaching undergraduates, according to an article in the Chronicle by Robin Wilson. The Boyer Commission, followed up its 1998 report “Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities” with a new survey of 123 research universities. The group concluded that the universities have made ‘considerable headway’ in achieving many of the recommendations of the earlier report. However, the group noted that campus efforts to improve undergraduate education are not always well coordinated and that many faculty still do not believe that teaching is as important as scholarship in tenure and promotion decisions. The new report says that universities have made the most progress in creating research opportunities for undergraduates. See

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a federal privacy law governing educational records does not prohibit teachers from asking students to grade one another’s work, according to a note by Ben Gose in the Chronicle. The unanimous decision ends a challenge filed by an Oklahoma mother who had argued that peer grading violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act because the grades are disclosed without parental consent. The mother had filed the lawsuit after her learning disabled son was ridiculed as a ‘dummy’ after his grades were disclosed in his sixth grade classroom. Briefs filed by educational organizations argued that posting of exemplary papers in the classroom and having students exchange and assess written work of others was a time tested instructional method. See

The global economy requires international accreditation, according to an article by Kathy Kowalenko in the March 2002 issue of IEEE’s The Institute. With globalization of the engineering profession and the trend in companies of hiring from qualified engineering and computer science programs in many countries, many countries have adopted national accreditation systems. IEEE has organized several international workshops to inform its members, government officials, university leaders, and industry executives about the accreditation process. It is noted that in today’s economy, graduating from an accredited university with globally equivalent programs has become extremely important for engineering students. See

A new study explores the factors linked to tuition increases at public and private colleges, according to a note by Thomas Bartlett in the Chronicle. The study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Studies examined trends in institution’s costs and revenues and what they charge in tuition, from 1988 to 1996 for private colleges and from 1988 to 1998 for public colleges. At private colleges, the study found a strong correlation between increases in undergraduate tuition and institutional aid for students, with a smaller but still significant correlation between tuition and higher faculty pay. The overriding influence in public universities was reductions in state appropriations. See

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a model for evaluating success of transfer students from 2-year institutions, according to a note by Jamilah Evelyn in the Chronicle. The model evaluates how successful community colleges are in preparing students to transfer to public four-year institutions, and how effective universities are at graduating those transfer students. Community colleges are judged mainly on the proportion of students they send to four-year institutions and how many of those students graduate within three years. Universities are judged on the proportion of such transfer students who graduate within three years of transferring. See

President Peter McPherson of Michigan State University has challenged the nation’s universities to heed the wakeup call of the September 11th terrorist attacks by becoming more involved internationally, particularly in developing countries struggling with poverty. According to an article in the February 21st issue of the MSU News Bulletin by Deb Pozega Osburn, McPherson challenged all public universities to make long-term commitments to solving global problems that universities are uniquely qualified to address. He cited university’s expertise in economics, agriculture, and education as examples of resources that should be used to improve the human condition globally. See



Minority faculty members have made slight gains in representation on campuses, according to new figures reported by the U.S. Department of Education. As noted in the Chronicle by Martin van der Werf, about 82.8% of faculty members were white in 1999, down slightly from 83.9% in 1997. The proportions of Hispanic and Asian faculty members were up slightly, with the proportion of Black faculty members virtually unchanged. The study also looked at changes in percentages of full time vs. part time faculty: four year private colleges hired a higher percentage of full time faculty, while public four year colleges hired a higher percentage of part timers. See

A panel at the recent AAAS annual meeting offered strategies for raising the number of women scientists in academe, according to an article by Lila Guterman in the Chronicle. Placing women in leadership roles and making rational hiring decisions are vital to helping female engineers and scientists receive equitable treatment in the job market, according to panelists. Success stories from several institutions were reported. Many of the speakers also stated that improving women’s opportunities for being hired and promoted usually results in overall improvement for a department or institution. See

The engineering discipline, trying to provide a warmer welcome for female students, tries to stress social relevance – an important factor for many women. According to a major article by Elizabeth Farrell in the Chronicle, the percentage of women students choosing engineering continues to hover around 20% – up only a little from the 15% some 20 years ago. For years educators assumed that women’s lack of interest in engineering was due largely to the programs’ being male dominated and the curriculum’s containing lots of math and science, but trends in other fields suggest that is too easy an explanation. The challenge for the engineering program is to show that its disciplines have social value and relevance. Engineering programs need to make the field relevant by first providing a framework, instead of just charging into math and science equations. See

Women engineers and scientists who want to pursue academic careers in Japan face almost insurmountable obstacles, according to an article by Lucille Craft in the March 2002 issue of ASEE Prism. Increasingly, however, they are fighting back against the male-dominated, tradition bound Japanese culture that assumes that women exist primarily to serve as wives and mothers. Currently at national universities in Japan, women comprise a higher proportion of science and engineering faculties than ever before, but they are concentrated at the lower rungs: 15.9% of all assistants, 11.2% of lecturers, but only 5.8% of associate professors and 2.4% of professors. See

The University of Wisconsin has given ‘equity’ pay raises to 42 female faculty members, according to a note in the Chronicle by Jennifer Ruark. The raises are part of a continuing effort to redress gender inequity at the university. After a 1992 study found a significant gap between men’s and women’s salaries that could not be explained by merit, accomplishment, or years of service, the university gave pay raises to 372 female faculty members. When salaries were examined again in 1995 and in 1998, no aggregate differences were found. But questions about the validity of the 1998 study led to the recent re-evaluation and subsequent raises. See



The International Journal of Engineering Education has published Volume 18, Number 1, 2002. Some eleven papers cover topics on engineering education research and policy, engineering design, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, engineering mathematics, and marine engineering-software. See


Positions of possible interest

The Chronicle of Higher Education has vastly improved its job postings, and has made them freely available on the Internet. Signing on at brings up a menu that includes:

Ø     Faculty positions (click on Science/Technology, then Engineering)

Ø     Administrative positions (click on Academic affairs, then Deans)

Ø     Executive positions (look at Presidents, Chancellors, and VPs/Provosts)

Ø     Positions outside academe

In each case, positions available are listed by state, and date of posting is noted. Also in each case, you can sign up for an e-mail alert each time new positions are added to categories of interest to you – a significant free service when you want to explore available positions.

Since this Chronicle service is now vastly superior to its previous approach, and is superior to the listings previously provided in this space in the Digest, the listing of positions of possible interest will no longer be carried here. 


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