1 September 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.






Education news


This year’s incoming freshmen were born in approximately 1982, and faculty members need to be sensitive to the fact that these students have not experienced many events that the professors take for granted. An article in the Chronicle points out, for example, that to such students the ‘Kennedy Tragedy’ was a recent plane crash, not an assassination. The article goes on to list 50 items on a ‘mindset list’ to help professors think about what their students have and have not experienced. For example, somebody named George Bush has been on every national ticket, except one, since they were born. And the ‘45’ is a gun, not a record with a large hole in the center. See


A new report from the National Research Council warns that the US is falling behind in science, mathematics, and technology – just as these subjects are becoming central to the world economy and the competitiveness of industrialized nations. The report, “Education Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium”, focuses on the need to better educate both current and future teachers in these critical fields. It calls for partnerships between universities and pre-college teachers on teaching methods, standards, and advising. The report is available online at


Scores on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test increased this year to a 30-year high – up 3 points to 514 on average. Average verbal scores held level at 505 for the fifth consecutive year. In a Chronicle article by Vasugi Ganeshananthan, details of average scores by gender and race are detailed. One concern of officials of the College Board, which administers the tests, is the low number of men taking the test. See


Expressing concern that employers are focusing too much on top students in their hiring programs, an article in Electronic Engineering Times asks “What about the B and C+ students?” Author Terry Costlow argues that technology companies are missing opportunities when they do not also hire some mediocre technical graduates who can be nurtured and encouraged to grow into major contributors to such organizations. He points out that there are not enough young geniuses to go around, and that late bloomers are the ideal way to fill open positions. See p.167-68, 8/21/00 issue of Electronic Engineering Times.


The cover story in the September 2000 issue of ASEE Prism, reports on the development of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. The new college, scheduled to open in September 2002, is a $300 million project of the F.W. Olin Foundation. According to the article by Alvin P. Sanoff, the school will provide an approach to undergraduate engineering education that combines engineering and entrepreneurship. It is being built adjacent to Babson College, a business school outside of Boston which is known for its entrepreneur programs. The new college will have no departments, no tenured faculty, and tuition will be free to all students. See


More on the rankings of colleges by U.S.News and World Report. According to an article by Leo Reisberg in the Chronicle, an independent report commissioned by the magazine to analyze its methods for ranking colleges concluded in 1997 that they lack substance. Consultants from the National Opinion Research Center wrote in an internal report that “the principal weakness of the current approach is that the weights used to combine the various measures into an overall ranking lack any defensible empirical or theoretical basis”. The consultants recommended changes such as adding new measures – one that assesses student’s experience in campus life and their degree of satisfaction, and another that analyzes the academic demands of the curriculum. The current leadership of the magazine says that four of the five recommendations of the report have been pretty fully implemented. See

U.S.News will publish its latest ranking in its September 4 issue. The rankings will be available on their web site as well:


The July 2000 issue of ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education contains several papers of interest, including “Achieving the Right Balance: Properly Integrating Mathematical Software Packages into Engineering Education” by Wayne Whiteman and Kip Nygren, and “Multi-University Design Projects” by Vijay Kumar, Gary Kinzel, Stan Wei, Golgen Benju, and Jack Zhou. See



International Developments


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is calling for new government measures to end a brain drain of scientists, according to an article by Bryon MacWilliams in the Chronicle. Putin acknowledged that more than 30,000 researchers have left Russia in recent years, during a long period of scarce resources for the sciences. In a speech at the Russian Academy of Sciences, he called for new cooperation between his government and scientists to end the exodus. See


In India, soaring technology salaries reflect that country’s efforts to stem their brain drain. In an article in the 8/21/00 Wall Street Journal, Henny Sender reports that India’s information technology business is expanding beyond New Delhi, Bombay, and Bangalore, and that sharply jumping salaries are keeping Indians on the right side of the digital divide in the country. Business executives and government leaders say that to sustain India’s booming young software industry, the country must retain more of its high tech graduates and lure back tens of thousands of talented expatriates. In recent years, most expats have gone to the US, with more than half of the 100,000 engineers graduated from Indian schools each year taking that path.


Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, migration of large numbers of people has become a major factor in determining the political and economic shape of the world. Prior to that time, migration was largely limited to refugee asylum and guest worker movements, according to an opinion piece by Douglas Massey in the Chronicle. Although population growth is still of concern, it now appears that migration will play a greater role that reproduction in determining the strength and tenor of our societies. The US and other prosperous nations have tried to stem international migration by building barriers against immigration. Massey asserts that a more enlightened policy would be to recognize immigration as a natural outgrowth of a nation’s incorporation into the global economy, and to work to maximize immigration’s desirable features while minimizing its negative consequences. See

In a Foreign Affairs article on US immigration in particular, James Goldsborough describes the situation as out-of-control. While the US economy is soaring, few care that immigration to the US is at its highest levels ever. But Goldsborough worries about what will happen when the economy falls back to earth, and high-tech immigrant workers compete with Americans for jobs in a shrinking workforce. See the September/October 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs, p.89 – 101.


The chief science advisor to the Australian government has issued a report saying that the nation is falling behind in support for science, engineering, and technology. According to an article by Geoffrey Maslen in the Chronicle, the problem stems from cuts in spending on research and development by the Australian government – 16 percent over the last three years. Unless corrective action is taken, the report says the nation runs the risk of being unable to provide the right human capital for emerging high tech industries. It recommends doubling the number of postdoctoral fellowships, more research grants, and more corporate investment in research. See


Singapore is continuing its aggressive plan to become a regional hub for medical care, education, and high tech industries. A major strategy is recruiting internationally known universities to set up programs there, then luring companies with promises of an educated workforce and potentially profitable research. Half a dozen major higher education institutions have set up shop in Singapore in recent years: MIT, University of Chicago, Georgia Tech, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Johns Hopkins University, and INSEAD, a French business school. The latest effort, with Johns Hopkins, is primarily a medical collaboration. See


The Detroit News has reported, in a series of articles, that American colleges routinely send students to study in countries that the US State Department has deemed unsafe. According to Vasugi Ganeshananthan writing in the Chronicle, during the period 1996-98, colleges sent students to 16 countries that the State Department had warned Americans to avoid, and to 11 countries where the danger was so significant that the Peace Corps had pulled back its volunteers. The Detroit News series was undertaken in the wake of the March deaths in Cost Rica of an Antioch College student and her friend. Experts in study-abroad programs feel that in general such programs are safe, but that a better system was needed for colleges to share information on incidents. See



Distance Education


The six regional bodies in the US that grant accreditation to colleges and universities are near agreement on guidelines for evaluating distance education. According to Dan Carnevale writing in the Chronicle, these guidelines will differ from traditional accrediting standards by focusing on how much students learn. The guidelines will require that faculty members control the creation of the content of distance-education programs, that the institution provide technical and program support for both faculty members and students, and that the program has evaluation and assessment methods for measuring student learning. Since distance education programs reach students across regional boundaries, the six bodies feel it necessary to have common guidelines. The final version of the guidelines is expected in September. See


India’s government has announced steps to expand Internet access and online education, according to an article by Martha Overland in the Chronicle. Prime Minister Vajpayee announced that his government would take aggressive steps to privatize telecommunications, ending the monopoly of the state-run company. Students seeking online distance-education courses are expected to be among the main beneficiaries of the new policy. Educators have long criticized the government’s hold on the telecommunications industry, saying that limited bandwidth hobbled India’s ability to become an information-technology superpower. See


DeVry Institute, a giant commercial provider of higher education in the distance education marketplace, has received regional accreditation for online versions of its bachelor’s degree programs in business and information technology. According to Goldie Blumenstyk writing in the Chronicle, the online format is aimed at working adult students. Concentrations include business information systems, project management, e-commerce, and accounting. See


American colleges are flocking to attract Mexican students, via distance education, according to an article by Rhona Statland de Lopez in the Chronicle. Online education is attractive to many adults in Mexico who have never earned a college degree and now find it too expensive and impractical to leave their families and their jobs to get one. A recent push to upgrade teacher’s qualifications is helping to fuel the demand. But the boom in distance education across national borders also creates challenges, by bringing together students from different cultures and educational backgrounds. It also challenges the very ethos of international study, in which a student typically is immersed in another culture. The Chronicle article details the programs of one such program, operated by Endicott College in Massachusetts. See





The August 25 issue of Science contains a major article by David Malakoff entitled “Does Science Drive the Productivity Train?”. It points out that from the President on down, many hail science and technology as the fuel for the current booming economy in the US, and research budgets are seen as essential to continuing that prosperity. The President has said that the economic contributions of information technology are now ‘responsible for about 30% of our economic growth’. And the Labor Department has reported that productivity, as measured by worker output per hour, grew at 5.3% in the year prior to June – a 17 year high. Some science and research advocates are concerned, however, that hitching basic science’s star too closely to economic arguments could backfire, prompting Congress to guide cash toward less risky projects that they believe will pay off big. And others are concerned that statistics used tie the economic boom to computers and other high tech advances are being inflated. With the chance that the economic surge will slow down in the foreseeable future, some scientists are afraid of the prospect of arguing for science research funding in a downturn. See


The summer issue of New Perspectives Quarterly asks whether technology threatens human behavior. Anti technology critics have surfaced as ‘computer viruses proliferate, transgenic crops abound, and the human species comes to possess complete knowledge of its own genome’. Bill Joy, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, writes that three modern technologies – genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics – pose a threat to mankind greater than weapons of mass destruction, if they end up in the wrong hands. He recommends requiring scientists to take an oath to consider the needs of the public as they conduct their research. Other authors, such as Alvin and Heidi Toffler, take an opposing view – advocating more technology to control systems that may run amuck. See


In an article in the Chronicle, authored by Marta Downs, several case studied of how scientific researchers reach out to ‘stakeholders’ in their research are described. It is generally agreed by such researchers that partnerships with affected citizens can improve the science, but building consensus on what is the right approach is often difficult. Scientists may have knowledge that is useful, but their values may differ from those of the public with whom they interact. Community meetings and alliances can sometimes uncover and resolve such differences, and some federal agencies are now requiring such cooperation and interaction. See


Intellectual property rights is the focus of an article entitled “Coauthorship and Coinventorship”, by Philippe Ducor in the August 11 issue of Science. The author points out that in recent years, an increasing number of scientific discoveries are patented concomitantly with publication in the scientific literature. This is particularly true in the life sciences, where commercial applications of research can lead to rapid wealth. The credit provided by authorship of scientific articles has been the currency of success in academic careers. At the same time, patents play an increasing role for academic researchers, often representing their first moves toward entrepreneurship. This leads to strains among colleagues engaged in such research, and particularly to strains about shared authorship of papers and patents. See



Engineering practice


Writing in the 8/14/00 issue of Electronic Engineering Times, Terry Costlow notes that engineers are taking a hard look at the soft skills desirable for their practice. He points out that leadership and negotiating skills are critical assets for engineering managers, as is project management. Much of the interest in developing interpersonal skills for engineers comes from the changing face of engineering. Engineers today are unlikely to stay with one employer throughout their careers, and recruiters for senior positions are looking to hire ‘global’ engineers with a broad range of skills.


The Spring 2000 issue of Engineers, the publication of the AAES Engineering Workforce Commission, cites statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating strong growth in engineering jobs in the current economy. This projected strong growth continues to be marked by extraordinary increases in employment of people with computer skills. The same issue of Engineers also provides data on how student interests have changed during the past decade, presumably a reflection of the employment market. Full time bachelor’s enrollments have shifted as follows:

Electrical            26.1% in 1990, 17.6% in 1998

Mechanical            19.0% in 1990, 17.1% in 1998

Computer            6.2% in 1990, 14.1% in 1998

Civil                 10.6% in 1990, 11.0% in 1998

Chemical            5.9% in 1990, 8,2% in 1998


“What Does Ethical Mean”, asks Daniel McGinley in the July/August issue of American Consulting Engineer. The author states that many engineers and their firms are far less prepared to deal with ethical issues that they realize, and often do not consider questions of the values inherent in their professional decisions until it is too late. McGinley is Executive Director of the Institute for Professional Practice, which prepares and distributes educational materials on ethics for engineers. IPP suggests solving ethical problems with a three point approach: identify, plan, and practice. Start by identifying the conflict, the goal, and the value criteria. Then collect all pertinent information and explore all possible alternatives. Finally, evaluate each alternative and select a choice that ranks best with the value criteria.



Information technology


A new high-speed Internet gateway link to Latin American universities and research facilities will be operating by the middle of September. According to Florence Olsen in the Chronicle the new $30 million link will benefit researchers worldwide, as they connect with the more than 250 Latin American institutions which will initially be connected to Abilene, part of the Internet2 consortium. Increased bandwidth is being accomplished via fiber-optic cables located underseas along the coast of Latin America. See


The US National Science Foundation has announced that is has selected Compaq Computer Corporation and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to build and manage the world’s most powerful non-military supercomputer. The new facility is expected to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, in such areas as tornado prediction, drug discoveries, and the design of more fuel efficient engines. See


The US Justice Department plans to select a university to test a new, controversial electronic surveillance system developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – called Carnivore. It is an Internet wiretapping system than can scan millions of e-mail messages every second, eavesdropping on the online activities of suspected criminals. The system has come under strong criticism from privacy experts, members of Congress, and media leaders, who argue that the FBI might abuse its power by monitoring the Internet activity of innocent people. Writing in the Chronicle, Andrea Foster notes that several universities have been approached to review the system, to see whether it works as planned and is not overly intrusive. Attorney General Janet Reno will choose the university to conduct the review, which is expected to be completed by December. See


The August issue of Syllabus has a feature cover story entitled “Digital Video and Internet2: Growing Up Together”. It points out that the increased bandwidth of Internet2 makes synchronous digital video communications viable. Authors Apryl Lundsten and Robert Doiel say that this new combination has enormous implications for education, especially distance learning. Using synchronized streaming media, educators will be able to send multimedia presentations to students anywhere in the world, in real time. See


One of India’s most prestigious universities may ask IBM to leave its campus, according to an article by Martha Overland in the Chronicle. At the Delhi campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, IBM has been operating a research and development center for the past two years. The center has been a source of controversy, with some faculty members believing that the corporation’s presence on campus is not compatible with its academic standards. The pairing of IBM and IIT was designed to foster technical collaboration between the information technology industry and the academic world. But faculty complain that the center puts heavy loads on the institute’s infrastructure while offering only minimal interaction between IBM researchers and professors. See



Women, minorities


The July 2000 issue of ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education contains an interesting paper entitled ‘E-mentoring: a longitudinal approach to mentoring relationships for women pursuing technical careers’, by Sara Wadia-Fascetti and Paula G. Leventman. The authors point out that the number of formal mentoring programs has increased greatly in recent years, particularly for underrepresented groups. This paper describes an electronic mentoring project at Northeastern University, designed to provide long-term mentoring experiences for pre-college and college female engineering students. To enhance the electronic mentoring, face-to-face networking socials are held three to four times a year. Some 250 young women participated in the program last year. See


According to Alison Schneider writing in the Chronicle, many female scientists are turning their backs on research universities, concluding that liberal arts colleges provide a better place for women to thrive. Although many women succeed in major research universities, more are now asking whether they want the pressure and the struggle associated with such success. Some are concluding that women can more readily gain tenure, enjoy teaching, conduct research, and start a family at liberal arts colleges. See


The 3rd Quarter issue of Today’s Engineer asks ‘Are women being passed on the information highway’ in an article by Sarah Hardesty Bray. According to US Department of Labor statistics, the percentage of technical jobs held by women hangs at a relatively static 28%, while the number of women in the overall workforce approaches 50%. The fundamental problem appears to be that few women gain the technical background to enable them to advance into areas that require real technical expertise. The author points out that the barriers that keep women out of the high tech field begin in childhood, but can be overcome in school with appropriate guidance and study. The article describes some successful strategies being employed by schools. See


Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans believe it is important to have racial and ethnic diversity on college campuses, but far fewer support the use of affirmative action to achieve it. The results of a telephone survey by the American Council on Education are reported in a Chronicle article by Peter Schmidt. When asked about ‘affirmative action programs in higher education’, only 24% strongly favored such programs, 30% somewhat favored them, and 31% said they oppose such programs. At the macro level, the poll determined that 53% of those surveyed believe that diversity has had a positive effect on the country, while 19% said its effect has been negative, and 21% said it has made no difference. See



Positions of possible interest


From the August 18 Chronicle of Higher Education:


Ø      Associate Dean – Electronics, DeVry Institute of Technology, OH

Ø      Provost and VP Academic Affairs, SUNY Potsdam, NY

Ø      Dean for Research, University of Pittsburgh, PA

Ø      Vice Chancellor, Papua New Guinea University of Technology


And from the September 8 Chronicle:


Ø      Dean, Engineering and Information Technology, Australian National University

Ø      Founding Dean, California State University – Bakersfield

Ø      Faculty Positions, American University of Cairo, Egypt

Ø      Chair, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Ø      Head, Department of Electrical/Computer Engineering, University of Illinois – Urbana

Ø      Department Head, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Penn State University, PA

Ø      Director, Science, Engineering and Technology. Penn State University – Harrisburg, PA

Ø      Engineering/Mathematics faculty positions, Atilim University, Turkey

Ø      Provost/VPAA, San Jose State University, CA

Ø      Vice Chancellor/Research, University of California – Davis, CA

Ø      Chancellor, VPAA, Indiana University, IN

Ø      Senior VPAA and Provost, Tulane University, LA

Ø      VP for Academic Affairs, University of North Carolina

Ø      Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Ø      Provost, Rowan University, NJ

Ø      Dean, School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie-Mellon University, PA

Ø      Provost and Academic VP, Duquesne University, PA

Ø      VPAA/Provost, Clemson University, SC

Ø      Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Washington – Tacoma

Ø      President, University of Miami, FL

Ø      President, Iowa State University

Ø      President, Duquesne 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


Back issues of this International Engineering Education Digest can be read on the Web at