22 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.






International developments


In a series of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Chan has written about developments in higher education in Japan. In one article, Chan cites Japanese business leaders, university administrators, and government officials in stating that Japan should aim to overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading information-technology country within the next few years. But observers of the Japanese scene indicate that universities there may not be ready to adequately respond to the challenges posed by such an effort. A report being prepared by the Japanese IT Council will focus on building up Japan’s IT infrastructure and reducing bureaucratic constraints that are inhibiting the growth of e-commerce and the Internet. See

In a second article, Chan describes efforts by Japanese universities to make it easier for foreign students to enroll. The Japanese government plans to utilize standardized aptitude tests that can be taken in the applicant’s home countries. There will be 10 test locations outside of Japan, mostly in Asia which provides 90 percent of the foreign students who study in Japan. The effort is aimed at increasing the number of foreign students in order to bring foreign talent, skills and diversity to Japanese universities – which have suffered enrollment declines due to a decreasing Japanese birth rate. See  In a third article, Chan comments on a draft report by the Japanese National Commission on Education Reform, which calls for more rigor in higher education. The report asserts that Japanese universities are not producing and nurturing the creative people that the country needs as leaders in the new century. The Commission charges that too many universities allow students with poor academic records to graduate, and it proposes a national graduation test, which all students would have to pass in order to graduate. See


Carnegie-Mellon University has announced plans to offer computer-programming courses in India via the Internet, according to a Chronicle article by Martha Ann Overland. The skill-certification program will consist of ten courses, identical to courses offered by Carnegie in the U.S. Ninety percent of each course is taught online, with problem solving assistance and discussions available from live teachers. Students throughout India will have access to the Internet courses through a network of computer centers. The program is being developed in response to a huge demand for I.T. service in India by multinational corporations, which want to take advantage of the time zone and salary differences between the U.S. and India. See


The Higher Education Funding Council for England has released proposals aimed at maintaining and developing the position of universities and colleges in England at the forefront of international academic research. Overall, a year long review has concluded that England has an outstanding university research base, and that current funding policies are working well. Recommendations are made in three areas: research funding, research assessment, and people-based elements. See


The government of South Korea plans to improve the country’s computer networks in order to facilitate online learning, as reported in the Chronicle by David Cohen. Internet based instruction has become a key part of the country’s efforts to change its traditionally insular universities into globally oriented institutions. The new plan also includes more use of English as a second-tier language of instruction. The improvements are also expected to facilitate marketing of online courses outside the country, particularly in Mainland China. See


A new New Zealand University of Technology is to be developed by the members of the Association of Polytechnics of New Zealand, according to a Chronicle article by David Cohen. The Association represents a large number of non-university-based providers of degree programs, which feel that the change is necessary to give their graduates similar status to those from the country’s eight existing universities. Some 50,000 students are currently enrolled in institutions represented by the Association, compared to some 130,000 in universities. Most degrees offered by the new University will be at the bachelor’s level. See


Europe’s major particle collider, CERN in Switzerland, has delayed plans for a shutdown for major renovation. According to an article in the Chronicle by Richard Monastersky, the director of the facility has extended the life of the current collider by a month in order to allow physicists to continue current experiments to observe a hypothesized particle – the Higgs bosun. Physicists consider this particle to be the missing piece in the model that explains all known particles in the universe. Since April, experimenters at CERN may have observed evidence of the elusive particle. More tests over coming weeks may be able to confirm those observations. The postponement will slightly delay the construction of an even larger collider at the site, scheduled for completion in 2005 or 2006. See



U. S. developments


The National Research Council (NRC) has received stern advice about how it conducts its business from a panel of science and engineering administrators, according to an article by Andrew Lawler in the 1 September 2000 issue of Science. The review panel has concluded that the NRC takes too long to produce many of its reports, is not responsive enough to sponsors, lacks clear lines of authority, and frustrates and stresses its staff. To correct these problems, the panel recommends that the NRC reduce unnecessary layers of approval, delegate more authority, appoint a chief management officer, and create a service oriented culture. Senior leaders of the National Academy of Science agree with the recommendations, and are following through with them. See


Both the House and Senate returned to Washington after a month-long break that included the Presidential nominating conventions of the major political parties. One of the first actions taken by the Senate Finance Committee was unanimous approval of legislation reforming pension laws in increasing the portability of pensions. The bill would increase the caps on IRA and 401k contributions, catch-up contributions for older workers, and shortening of the vesting requirements for certain pensions. See a summary of the legislation at


Technology priorities for the White House under a new president are discussed in an article by Jean Kumagai in the September 2000 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Major technological issues discussed are: energy and environment, genomics, on-line privacy, military spending, federal R&D support, digital divide, and high-tech workforce. The positions held on each of these issues by candidates Gore, Bush, Nader, Buchanan and Hagelin are covered in the article. On one point, the Kyoto protocol, Bush is opposed and the other three candidates are supportive. On Federal R&D support, Bush and Gore both support increased funding, permanent extension of the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, and a moratorium on Internet taxes. For details of positions see,,,, and


Several prominent universities have rejected the U.S. Justice Department’s request to test Carnivore, an electronic eavesdropping device for the Internet. Andrea Foster, writing in the Chronicle, reports that university researchers complained that DOJ wanted too much control over the review. Apparently DOJ wanted veto power over members of the review staff, wanted to limit the scope of the study, and would not allow researchers to openly discuss their findings. The universities are also concerned that DOJ is really only interested in improving the public image of Carnivore, rather than obtaining an objective analysis. See


The 2001 budget for the U.S. Department of Defense, signed by President Clinton last month, includes big boosts for science-based research. According to David Malakoff, writing in the 8 September 2000 issue of Science, the $289 billion measure provides an 8% increase overall in Science and Technology funding – to about $9 billion. This increase reverses the trend of the past decade, where the Pentagon’s S&T budget typically has decreased or stayed level. A group of programs that fund basic research at universities will jump by nearly $100 million, to $354 million. Also benefiting is the Administration’s nanotechnology initiative, which has $40 million earmarked. One area that did not get increased funding was IT research, where Congress apparently felt that programs were growing too fast or duplicated work being done by other agencies. See



Engineering practice


Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott plans to push ahead with legislation to increase the number of high tech workers permitted to enter the U.S. through H1-B visas. Both political parties favor such increases, and the American Electronics Association has this increase high on its legislative priority list. Concerns have been raised by several engineering, scientific and technical societies, who feel that supporting ways to increase the flow of educated U.S. workers in this area would be a better approach. The hold-up on passing legislation has been disagreements with amendments being proposed by each party: Republicans have been supporting proposals to revise the H-2A agriculture guest worker program, while Democrats are pushing for a broader immigration relief bill. See


The Director of the U.S. National Institute of Standards, Raymond Kammer, testified before a House committee last week that standards are being used as a trade weapon and the U.S. is losing out. He said that the decentralized system of standards development used in the U.S. is not well connected with international standards organizations. In contrast, the systems for standards development used in Europe are top-down and highly centralized, allowing agreements to be reached more quickly – and the results fed into international standards groups in a timelier manner. Also testifying was Oliver Smoot, acting chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). He reported that ANSI is working on a new standards strategy that sets new principles and tactics designed to promote U.S. standards internationally.


“Building Big”, a five part television miniseries on megastructures, will premiere on Public Broadcasting Service on October 3. The series, hosted by acclaimed author David Macaulay, will bring the wonder of monumental civil engineering structures to audiences nationwide. The opening day coverage will be of bridges, and will be followed by coverage of domes (October 10), skyscrapers (October 17), dams (October 24), and tunnels (October 31). The series is co-sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Incompatible software systems used by engineers cause problems in designing across borders, according to an article by Jean Thilmany in the September issue of Mechanical Engineering. To deal with such incompatibilities, many companies are installing product data management systems (PDM), also known as engineering data management systems. These systems manage data from several sources that pertain to the development of one product. PDM systems link planning, engineering, manufacturing, and scheduling data from various sources, as if they were all created in a single environment. Businesses currently using PDM range from engineering and construction companies to manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, and electronic industries.



Distance Education


An old-fashioned distance education system in Turkey draws the largest student body on Earth, according to Bryon MacWilliams writing in the Chronicle. Since 1982, Anadolu University in Turkey has used prerecorded Turkish-language television and other instructional technologies to develop a public distance education system that covers over 300,000 square miles, and attracts 504,000 students. The Turkish government supports the project in attempting to bring the educational opportunities of its wealthy, industrialized western region to the mostly agrarian, sparsely populated eastern part of the country. In 1998, the World Bank recognized Anadolu as the world’s largest university. But respect and prestige have been slow to come to the university. There are concerns about the rigor of the courses, in part because examinations exclusively use multiple-choice questions. See


Distance education is bringing new meaning to the concept of an exchange student, as the Internet allows students to take courses from foreign institutions without traveling there. Writing in the Chronicle, Jeffrey Young reports on a recent meeting in Washington where distance education leaders from more than 30 countries met to foster coordination among institutions around the world. The goal is not to replace the experience of living and studying in other countries, but to allow students who cannot afford to travel abroad to benefit from an international curriculum and international contacts. As the participants searched for ways to create a more seamless distance education environment, they identified one serious challenge – measuring the quality of the myriad of players in the worldwide market. There were calls for accrediting bodies and other agencies to set standards for judging distance education offerings. It was also observed that not all countries have the technical capability to participate in a global exchange of educational materials. The forum was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, as part of a Clinton Administration drive to promote international education. See


The September/October issue of the online journal TechKnowLogia focuses on technologies for lifelong learning. Articles include: ‘Lifelong Learning for the Third Age’, concerned with serving the needs of an aging population; ‘Open Universities – a Revolution in Lifelong Learning’, providing examples of how open universities have revolutionized lifelong learning in many countries; and ‘The Business of Borderless Education and Lifelong Learning’, summarizing the activities of corporate universities. See


At a hearing of the U. S. Congressional Web-Based Education Commission, experts suggested that the federal government should use its market power to promote the development of technical standards for online education. Writing in the Chronicle, Dan Carnevale reports that it was suggested, for example, that the government should insist that any distance education courses it buys be platform independent. It was also suggested that the federal government should influence software development, just as large states have shaped textbooks. The Commission has completed its scheduled hearings, and expects to make recommendations to Congress and the President in November. See


The U. S. Army has released its plans to implement its decision to offer distance education courses to all interested soldiers. The Army plans to spend $600 million over the next six years on the program. An integrator company or consortium is being sought to coordinate the program and subcontract with colleges and universities interested in offering online courses to the soldiers. The integrator will maintain a catalog of course and degree offerings and will provide advisors and mentors for students. It will also coordinate the technology, including supplying soldiers with laptop computers and Internet access, and will market the program and assess the quality of courses offered. See





Minnesota State University at Manketo will serve as a wireless field-test location for personalized mobile services that Nokia and Midwest Wireless will offer commercially. As reported by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle, the companies are eager to find out how college students and faculty members might use handheld wireless devices for learning and research. The university will initially receive 200 wireless cellular telephones to distribute to selected students and faculty members who will participate in the field-test. See


The cover story in the August issue of IEEE Spectrum, by Kenneth Foster and John Moulder, asks whether the mobile phone is safe. Should the users of mobile phones that routinely hold them against their heads worry about brain cancer? Public concern on this issue has sparked a new wave of research worldwide. Results of research to date are inconclusive, because of the absence of a single cause for cancer, and the statistical fact that many mobile phone users would develop brain cancer every year even if there were no connection between the phones and cancer. This extensive article provides details of research findings to date. See


Wireless applications protocol (WAP), designed to bring the Internet to cellular phones, has been slow to catch on, according to an article by T.R.Reid in the September 16-17 issue of the International Herald Tribune. A year after WAP hit European markets, millions of WAP enabled phones have been sold or given away by cellular networks eager for customers. But relatively few use the system; one company reported that the average WAP customer uses the service less than a minute a day. Complaints include long strings of menus with a waiting period at each level, and the need to strain to read text on a tiny screen. It appears that the designer’s reach has exceeded the engineer’s grasp. Satisfactory performance may await the ‘third generation’ of cellular networks, with vastly increased transfers rates. The most successful effort to put the Internet on cellular phones has been in Japan, where there are some 10 million users.


The National Science Foundation has awarded grants totaling $220 million for research and innovative applications of information technology, according to a story by Karolina Augustynowicz in the Chronicle. Sixty-two large projects were chosen under the Information Technology Research initiative, averaging $1 million per year for two to five years and representing 41 institutions in 22 states. For a list of awards see


The September/October issue of Change contains several articles on E-Learning. In one article, Frank Newman asks whether technology advances, new providers, and globalization of markets could mean that higher education will lose its emphasis on learning and scholarship apart from maximizing revenue streams. In another article, Michael Goldstein notes that Wall Street’s view of technology-mediated higher education as a rapidly growing market is prompting many institutions to consider a nonprofit/for-profit hybrid model. See


An article by Charles Murray in the 28 August 2000 issue of Electronic Engineering Times reports on the status of hybrid cars. Current hybrid car models work by running an electric motor, which powers the front wheels, and a diesel engine, which powers the back wheels and recharges the car’s battery pack. This parallel propulsion system appears to offer better performance than natural gas powered vehicles, turbo direct injection cars, electric cars, and autos that run on alcohol. The two best hybrids made so far are General Motor’s new Precept and the Toyota Prius. The Precept gets a remarkable 108 miles per gallon.


In a special section on 18 September 2000, the Wall Street Journal explored the current state of telecommunications, providing a guide to the players, the strategies, the technology, and what it all means to consumers. Articles explored the established players, new entrants, new technology, and keeping the customer. The special section attempts to describe the various pieces of the telecom puzzle, and how each fits into the whole.





Educational institutions are beginning to use the Web to create accreditation reports, according to a story by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle. Creating accreditation reports online is intended both to make the self-study more helpful to the institution, and to make its results more accessible to others. Traditional self-study reports tend to sit on a shelf, but ready access to Web based reports may make them more likely to be utilized for improvement. Some institutions are experimenting with electronic portfolios as an alternative to traditional self-study reports. For an institutional portfolio, materials are presented in the context of the institutional mission so that evaluators can look at evidence of effectiveness and accountability. See


The European Journal of Engineering Education, in Volume 125 Number 1, contains a major article on ‘Accreditation of Engineering Programmes’ by Guy Brusselmans. The author points out that globalization of the economy and resulting mobility of engineering graduates results in the need for institutions to  be able to document their value and quality. Accreditation of degrees or institutions by recognized international authorities is often seen as the way to meet the needs of quality assurance and mobility. But Brusslemans doubts that accreditation can meet the needs, and suggests that a system needs to be developed to objectively measure an individual’s competence. See


A new movement in accrediting circles which evaluates an institution’s performance on the basis of learning outcomes is beginning to replace traditional processes, which are based on resources or inputs. According to an article by Jane Wellman in the Chronicle, the U.S. government has initiated new regulations that demand more proof of student achievement in accreditation reviews. Accrediting bodies are changing to a new form of review, once a specific institution is initially accredited, where an institution is evaluated against its own goals for improvement rather that traditional standards. There are concerns, however, that assessment of learning is an imperfect science, and that the enforcement of quality still requires externally imposed minimum standards. It is suggested that accreditors should develop two types of evaluations – one for improvement within an institution and another for accountability to those outside the institution. See





A recent survey has found that there is increasing diversity among college and university presidents, with more women and minorities rising to the top. As described in the Chronicle by Kit Lively, a new study by the American Council on Education reports that the share of presidencies held by women doubled from 1986 to 1998, and that the share of minority presidents rose by 40 percent. The share of presidencies held by women doubled from 9.5% to 19.3%, with the biggest gains in two-year colleges (7.9% to 22.4%) and at doctoral universities (3.8% to 13.2%). The statistics reflect the growing number of women earning PhD’s, winning tenure, and working their way up the academic and administrative ranks. For minorities, the share of presidencies rose from 8.1% to 11.3% over the period studied. They are most heavily represented at public institutions. Half of the minority presidents are at predominantly white institutions. Copies of “The American College President: 2000 Edition” are available for $35 from ACE at (301) 604 – 9073. See


The Final Report of the NSF Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development is now available online in PDF format. See The printed version, available in early October, can be obtained by request to


The U.S. National Science Foundation has awarded its 2000 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. As described in an article in the Chronicle by Karolina Augustynowicz, the awards went to 10 scholars and 10 institutions for encouraging women, people with disabilities, and members of minority groups to pursue careers in these fields. Each recipient, listed in the Chronicle article, receives a certificate and a $10,000 grant. See



Recent/Future meetings


The European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) held its annual meeting in Paris from 6-8 September. Major sessions focused on Industry and Profession Needs, Thematic Network E4 – A New Global Project and Partnership, Enhancing Trans-National Recognition of Engineers, New Engineers in and for a Global Environment, and the Impact of the Bologna Declaration. Breakout session included discussion of Trends in Engineering Education facing the new Global Environment, International Exchange Programs, Professional Demand and Requirements, Communication Skills, International Partnerships, Virtual Universities, Information Technologies for Self Learning, and the Engineering Pipeline – Recruitment Issues. The Bologna Declaration by the European Union, aimed at creating a European space for higher education, was the subject of considerable debate and criticism. The Declaration has as objectives a common framework of compatible degrees across Europe, undergraduate and postgraduate degree patterns in all countries, a compatible credit system, quality assurance at the European level, and the elimination of obstacles to mobility for students and faculty. The engineering educators agree with the encouragement of mobility, but want to maintain the cultural diversity of national education systems. They agree with the desirability of having undergraduate and graduate degrees, but do not want an undergraduate degree to be a prerequisite for graduate study. Countries that have a ‘long program’ for educating engineers to an advanced level want to be able to continue that pattern. See


The 5th World Congress on Engineering Education, sponsored by the World Federation of Engineering Societies, was held in Warsaw, Poland, from 12-14 September. The conference, hosted by the Polish Federation if Engineering Associations, was opened by Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland. Presentations and discussions focused on several themes: The Image of the Engineer in the XXI Century; Diagnosis of the Present Systems of Education, Training and Professional Development of Engineers; and Directions for Changes in the Educational System of Engineers – Suggestions for the Future. The Congress was followed by a meeting of the WFEO Committee on Education and Training. See


The 3rd Workshop on Global Engineering Education (GEE’3) will be held 18-20 October 2000 in Aachen, Germany. With the theme ‘Educating the Engineer for the 21st Century’, the aim of the workshop is to discuss the challenges of education of engineers in the new century. Information is available at


The annual meeting of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is scheduled for 26-27 October 2000 in Atlanta, GA. The meeting will focus on information on partnerships between industry, government, and education, both in the U.S. and in other countries. There will also be a discussion of the results of implementation of EC2000, the outcomes assessment criteria being applied to engineering programs now in the third year of phased-in implementation. See


The American Society for Engineering Education has set a 1 November 2000 deadline for abstracts for its annual conference in June 2001 in Albuquerque, NM. Abstracts can be submitted via the Web at





A Web site has been developed to let nomadic scholars search for housing while away from home on sabbaticals, according to an article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle. The site ‘Sabbatical Homes’ allows faculty to search for apartments and house-sitting opportunities. Current listings on the site include ads from 16 countries on four continents. Currently there is no charge for using the site. See


Balancing faculty work and family in the academic world requires setting boundaries, according to an article by Ellen Ostrow in the Chronicle. The typical academic is faced with balancing the ever-increasing requirements for promotion and tenure against the challenges posed by important relationships in their nonacademic lives. The article suggests steps for setting boundaries on the Ivory Tower: write a mission statement, look beyond tenure, plan backwards, take a weekly sabbatical, let your priorities guide you, and maintain focus. See


The September issue of the AAHE Bulletin contains an article on ‘Making Adjunct Faculty Part of the Family’. Authors Phyllis Frakt and James Castagnera describe the efforts of one institution, Rider University, to develop a new status – preferred adjunct. In their plan, adjuncts who have taught a total of at least 12 course sections over the past six years attain the status of preferred adjuncts. These adjuncts enjoy increased job security. This arrangement has been formalized in the current contract between the faculty union and the Board of Trustees. See





Seventy percent of Israeli students work more than 25 hours a week, and four-fifths of them say that working to pay for college expenses interferes with their studies. An article by Haim Watzman in the Chronicle reports this finding and others from a survey by the country’s National Student Association. The Association cited these figures to the Public Commission for the Reduction of Tuition, appointed by Prime Minister Barak. Annual tuition in Israel currently averages $2200. University administrators on the Commission opposed a tuition cut unless there is a compensating increase in government support for universities. See


U. S. Vice President Al Gore has released a detailed economic plan that seeks to raise the proportion of young Americans who earn two- or four- year degrees to 50% by the year 2010. As reported by Ben Gose in the Chronicle, proposals such as allowing tax deduction for college tuition and creating new programs to encourage savings would make this increase possible. Today 36% of Americans age 25 to 29 have earned an associate or bachelor’s degree, up from 30% in 1992. These objectives are said to be important because the earning power of college graduates far exceeds that of high-school graduates, and because jobs that require college degrees are growing at twice the rate of other jobs. The full text of Mr. Gore’s plan is available online at


U.S. postdocs have been complaining for years about paltry salaries, lack of benefits, and low status. According to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in Science, a committee of the National Academies of Science and Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, has validated these concerns and recommended changes. The panel urges institutions to increase salaries, and to adopt a common definition for postdocs and policies for their appointment, training, compensation, evaluation, and career guidance. The recommendations are contained in a guide: Web Guide to Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers, 2000, available at


German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has announced plans to increase dramatically the number of students majoring in information technology at its universities and polytechnic institutes, according to an article written by Karen Birchard in the Chronicle. He pledged that German Universities would have 60,000 new places for people who want to study I.T., by 2003. The I.T. industry in Germany has blamed the rigid approach to selecting students by universities for a shortfall in computer graduates. Chancellor Schroeder provided no details on how the number of I.T students would be increased. See


The language of English is increasingly becoming the language of science and technology around the world, according to an article by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle. The development is being driven by the growing integration of the world economy, with the United States – the world’s economic locomotive – at its head. The trend is also being fueled by information technology, wherein a large amount of software is written in English, and by the Internet – a resource largely composed in English. Also, colleges in many countries are teaching their courses in English in order to attract foreign students, who then do not have to learn the local language to study. Ninety-five percent of the 925,000 scientific articles published in 1997 were in English, even though half of them originated in non-English-speaking countries. Some find the dominance of English troublesome, saying that it represents a serious cultural and psychological imposition. Despite concerns about the smothering of other languages, many feel that the English language juggernaut is unstoppable. See



Positions of possible interest


The following positions are listed in the 15 September Chronicle of Higher Education:


Ø      American University in Cairo, faculty positions in construction engineering and mechanical engineering

Ø      Vice Chancellor/Research, University of California – Davis

Ø      Vice Provost for Minority Affairs, University of Missouri – Columbia

Ø      Associate VP for Academic Affairs, University of North Carolina

Ø      Provost and VPAA, CUNY – Brooklyn College; also CUNY -- Lehman College; also SUNY Potsdam

Ø      Provost/Vice President, University of Texas – Tyler               

Ø      President, Iowa State University

Ø      Associate Vice Chancellor, United States Open University


And in the 22 September Chronicle:


Ø      Dean, College of Science and Engineering, San Francisco State University, CA

Ø      United Arab Emirates University, faculty positions in engineering

Ø      Assistant/Associate Dean for Research, Florida International University; also Dean of Graduate Studies

Ø      VP for Research and Graduate Studies, U of Louisiana – Lafayette

Ø      Provost of the University, Rowan University, NJ

Ø      VPAA and Provost, Clemson University, SC

Ø      Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M University System

Ø      Dean, College of Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University, VA

Ø      Chancellor, University of Massachusetts – Boston

Ø      Provost and VPAA, San Jose State University, CA






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