26 November 2001

Copyright © 2001 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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



International developments

Construction has begun on a new German University in Cairo, set to open next year, according to a note in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Daniel del Castillo. The new, private university will be linked to German institutions in Stuttgart and Ulm and will grant both undergraduate and graduate degrees. It will focus primarily on technology and science, with initial offerings in engineering, information technology, pharmacology, and media technology. Most faculty members will be Egyptian, and the new institution will actively solicit Egyptian students. Instruction will be in English and German initially, but eventually shift to German only. This will be the third foreign university in Egypt, joining the American University in Cairo and a French university currently under construction. See

Canada’s colleges are facing the biggest freshman class in 30 years next fall, and according to Maclean’s magazine most institutions are not prepared for the increased numbers. As reported in the Chronicle by Janice Paskey, an American-style focus on recruitment and an increase in scholarship dollars have brought more students into the university system – up 93,000 from the 1990 level of 532,000. Maclean’s expresses concerns about quality, given government funding cuts, decreased faculty numbers, and increasing class sizes. See

China will open its higher education system to foreign and domestic private investors, according to an article in People’s Daily. As reported in the Chronicle by Jen Lin-Liu, the Chinese government will also further encourage foreign colleges and universities to establish programs in the country – through mechanisms such as joint degree programs. The article in People’s Daily also stated that China plans to raise funds for universities by issuing government bonds and by requesting loans from international financial organizations. See

Tuition fee introduction has apparently led to enrollment plunges at two Austrian universities, according to an article in the Chronicle by Susan Ladika. Winter-semester enrollments are down 23% at Innsbruck University and Salzburg University compared to last year. New policies at the institutions require each student to pay $333 per semester, and encourage students to complete their studies more quickly through curriculum changes. Doctoral programs have been particularly hard hit, with natural sciences programs losing 45% of their students. See

Global Equivalency in University Accreditation was explored at a meeting in Slovakia last July, according to an article by Lynn Murison in The Institute of IEEE. Fifty invited leaders of industry, government, and universities from around the world met to consider the promises and problems of global equivalency of academic accreditation for university engineering programs. The aim of the IEEE sponsors of the meeting is to strengthen the profession globally and increase the portability of engineering degrees. A summary of the workshop is posted at

Germany is about to pass legislation that would link pay to performance for its 30,000 professors, according to an article in the Chronicle by Vivien Marx. The reform will base a quarter to a third of professor’s pay on performance, and will establish 3000 new ‘junior professor’ positions aimed at recruiting younger researchers to faculty posts. Currently, faculty members earn pay raises based only on seniority. The reforms are aimed at keeping bright young PhD’s from leaving Germany for employment in other countries, such as the United States. See

Japan has seen a 23% increase in foreign college students this year, according to a note in the Chronicle by Alan Brender. This year 78,812 foreign students are enrolled in institutions of higher learning in Japan – with the current annual increase being the highest in a decade. Because of declining birth rate in Japan, Japanese colleges and universities have been turning to foreign and nontraditional students to fill their classrooms. China’s 44,014 students form the largest group of foreign students in Japan. See

Foreign student enrollments in the United States are growing fast, but the international competition for their business is growing even faster, according to an article in the Chronicle by Beth McMurtrie. The US now dominates the market, with 425,433 international students enrolled in bachelor’s or graduate programs in American colleges and universities. But US market share has been dropping – down from 39% in 1982 to 30% in 1995, and competition has increased since that last reported year. Britain is the next largest competitor, with 223,465 international students enrolled last fall. Australian universities have been most aggressive in building international enrollments, with France and Germany also active. Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan have also stepped up their international recruiting efforts. See

The US State Department is applying extra scrutiny to visa requests from men from Arab countries, according to a note in the Chronicle by Goldie Blumenstyk. Applications from men aged 16 to 45 coming from countries with large Arab and Muslim populations are taking extra time, as the department compares them against lists on people on various government watch lists. The new procedures probably will have little impact on the ability of legitimate students to enter the US, as long as the department can accomplish its reviews within its estimated 20-day waiting period. Applicants from 26 countries are being affected. See


US developments

Congress has pulled the National Science Foundation budget back from the brink of calamity, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the 16 November 2001 issue of Science. By providing a 7.7% increase for NSF’s $3.6-billion research account, Congress more than wiped out the 0.5% cut proposed by President Bush. Lawmakers did accept the President’s minor tinkering with NSF’s education programs, boosting them 11% to $875-million. Within the research programs, the foundation’s cross-disciplinary initiatives – such as information technology and nanotechnology – fared well. Increases for individual directorates ranged from 9% for engineering and the geosciences to only 3% for the social and behavioral sciences. The spending bill also overrode the Administration’s desire to block any major new research facilities. See

New Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger has shaken up the organization of his White House office, according to an article by Andrew Lawler in the 2 November 2001 issue of Science. He has eliminated two of the four senior positions within the Office of Science and Technology Policy, subsuming environmental matters and national security under either science or technology. Marburger felt that the office was too fragmented, and he wants to have more direct control. Critics are concerned that these moves are in the wrong direction, given the need to incorporate science in the war on terrorism and the importance of global warming and related issues. Marburger also has chosen Richard Russell, now OSTP chief of staff, to serve as technology chief. Critics complain that Russell does not have an advanced scientific degree or extensive experience in industry. The search for a science chief is still on. See

Science has conducted a major interview with John Marburger, new Presidential Science Advisor, and reported it in the 23 November 2001 issue. Topics covered include: why he took the job; on the delay in appointing a science advisor; on OSTP’s role; on management; on talking to the President; on terrorism; on regulating visas for foreign students; on next year’s budget; on avoiding duplication; on research infrastructure; and on judging his performance. See

The cover story in the 23 November 2001 Chronicle of Higher Education, by Jeffrey Brainard,  is “Scientists on the Sidelines – they are increasingly shut out of federal research policy”. The author asks whether they are being ignored because they never have sought clout, or because they properly stay out of politics. Many academic researchers dispute President Bush’s decisions to place tight controls on stem-cell research, to reject the Kyoto accord on climate change, and to set an ambitious schedule for testing and deploying a national missile-defense system. This appears to be an acceleration of a long term trend; for at least the last 30 years, academic scientists have largely stayed on the sidelines as the White House and Congress have ignored them or made controversial decisions that ran counter to their conclusions. See

More than 80% of the nation’s high school seniors lack proficiency in science, according to test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress science test. As reported by Michael Fletcher in the 21 November 2001 edition of the Washington Post, fourth-grade and eighth-grade scores for proficiency in science showed little change from 1996 to 2000, but twelfth-grade scores declined slightly. The results add to concerns that US students are growing weaker in a subject area that is increasingly important to the nation’s future. The performance of US schoolchildren in science mirrors the disappointing results in previously released NAEP tests in math and reading. Around one in five high school seniors are proficient in math, and two in five proficient in reading. See

Colleges and lawmakers are pushing students to graduate in four years, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Selingo. Concerns about ‘perennial students’ crop up periodically, and they are back this year – as students are sticking around to avoid a bad job market. Colleges are concerned that this will lead to a surge in enrollment just as the weakening economy is straining their budgets. Administrators are seeking ways to encourage students to graduate on time – such as requiring permission before taking light course loads, or giving tuition breaks to those who take heavier loads. Critics are concerned, though, that such policies will be a problem for students who legitimately need to take a longer time, such as those who have switched majors and those who must work part time to pay for college expenses. See

A new NASA administrator has been nominated by President Bush, according to an article in the 23 November 2001 issue of Science by Andrew Lawler. Sean O’Keefe has been deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, and is well connected to the Bush White House. He has been critical of NASA for cost overruns and poor management, and it appears clear that he is being sent to the top job there to ensure fiscal responsibility – forcing things to be on time and on budget. One major first task will be to address the concerns of NASA’s international space station partners, who are unhappy at moves to scale back from six to three astronauts at the station – a move initiated by O’Keefe at OMB. A second major crisis is brewing in the outer planet exploration program, where congress has provided funding for a flyby of Pluto which the White House has terminated. See

Trust and interest in government are soaring on campuses, according to an article by Michael Fletcher in the 23 November 2001 edition of the Washington Post.  A recent nationwide survey by the Harvard University Institute of Politics indicates that 60% of college students currently trust the federal government to ‘do the right thing’, as opposed to only 36% a year ago. Similarly large percentages of students support the US military, and the war in Afghanistan. Pockets of dissent have been small – some antiwar protests at a few schools. Agencies like the CIA and the FBI are being shown new respect in placement offices, and more interest by students. See

The US has joined international engineer registries in a move toward cross-border mobility, according to an article in the December 2001 issue of Engineering Times. The US Council for International Engineering Practice has joined international engineering registries sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization and by the Engineer’s Mobility Forum. The goal for each APEC and EMF member country is to develop a registry that follows as internationally recognized and agreed upon set of minimum standards for professional engineering practice. These minimum standards include recognized engineering education, professional experience, compliance with home jurisdiction requirements, having a verifiable record of responsible charge, and demonstrating a commitment to continuing education. For more information see

Engineering unemployment has been holding steady at 1.5% since 1996, according to data presented in the November 2001 issue of IEEE-USA News and Views. This compares with an average unemployment rate of 2.0% among managers and other professionals and 4.3% in the civilian workforce. More significantly, the number of employed engineers has risen from 1.9-million in 1996 to nearly 2.1-million in 2000. See

At its annual meeting in November, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology installed its new officers: Jerry Yeargan, faculty member at the University of Arkansas, was installed as President; Larry Nixon, a consulting engineer who represents NSPE on the ABET Board, was installed as President Elect. The program of the ABET annual meeting focused on “The Knowledge Economy – Global Challenges for Engineering, Computing and Technology”. Keynote sessions included “Defining the Knowledge Economy”, “Global Corporations – Leveraging Knowledge”, and “Challenges for Engineering, Computing and Technology in a Global Knowledge Economy”. Additional sessions covered “Emerging Accreditation Systems Worldwide” and “Partnerships and Innovative Practices in Global Education”. Annual Meeting proceedings with the papers from the sessions can be purchased from ABET at

Distance education

US News and World Report had a special report section on e-learning in its 15 October 2001 issue: “Learning Online – a special guide to distance education”. Article included were ‘Searching for quality in online education’, ‘What’s it like to take an online course’, ‘Successes and shakeouts in the business of e-learning’, ‘Equipment you’ll need to take online courses’, ‘Best online graduate courses’, ‘Why students should be wary’, ‘Where online corporate training really works’, and ‘Schooling on the Internet for children and teens too’. See

Columbia University is making a third foray into distance education, according to an article in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. Already involved in two high-profile distance education ventures, Columbia has opened a portal site that collects and showcases various online courses, course web sites, publications, and e-learning resources available through the university. Called ‘Columbia Interactive’, the web site links to other university web sites, including all of the web sites of courses offered through Columbia. The new site prominently features courses and seminars available through Fathom, Columbia’s for-profit distance learning venture. Columbia is also a player in UNext, a venture that sells online business courses to corporations. See

“A Bumpy Road”, a major article by Alvin P. Sanoff in the December 2001 ASEE Prism, states that although distance education as a whole has fallen on hard times, engineering has managed to avoid most of the potholes. What is currently happening in distance education is an inevitable shake-out, as many ill-conceived Internet-based undertakings find limited demand for their wares. At the same time, institutions that have taken a more measured approach and have long experience in distance education survive and even flourish in what has become a difficult economic environment. By settling for relatively low-cost means of delivering courses, engineering education has for the most part avoided the serious economic problems that have beset a number of Internet ventures. Whatever the economic climate, engineering educators are certain of one future trend: more distance education will be delivered on the web. See

Princeton University has pulled out of the ‘Alliance for Lifelong Learning’, a partnership with Yale and Stanford Universities and the University of Oxford, according to an article by Michael Arnone in the Chronicle. The year-old partnership, organized to deliver distance learning courses, started offering its first online courses last month. Princeton has decided to go in a different direction, creating open-source software to deliver multimedia content to classrooms. The three remaining universities have more than enough resources to carry on in distance education, and are not looking for a replacement for the departing Princeton. See


Students, faculty, education

As students work online, library reading rooms are emptying out, according to an article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle. At one school the door counts and book circulation have decreased 20% since 1997; while since 1999 the number of electronic articles retrieved went up 350% and the number of periodical database searches shot up by 800%. The shift leaves many librarians and scholars worrying about the future of what has traditionally been the social and intellectual heart of campus, as well as about whether the students are learning differently now – or learning at all. Some librarians are fighting back with plush chairs, double-mocha lattes, book groups, author readings, and even music. See

“The Case Against Teaching”, written by Larry Spence, is the lead article in the November/December issue of Change magazine. He points out that human beings are fantastic learners, but that they do not learn well in a teaching-focused classroom. The author strongly argues that professors need to become designers of learning experiences, and not teachers. He also states that much current use of educational technology is inappropriate, just adding an exciting gloss to ineffective teaching styles. He is hopeful that universities will eventually lead the way from a teaching environment to one that is a student centered learning environment. The motto that has guided his work in trying to transform undergraduate education in the past decade has been: “It’s not the teaching, it’s the learning, stupid!” See

New data has been released on student ‘engagement’, according to an article in the Chronicle by Thomas Bartlett. The National Survey of Student Engagement, funded by the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, gauges how colleges encourage learning by scoring the responses of freshmen and seniors to 41 questions. Now in its second year, the survey has collected 155,000 responses from undergraduates at 470 four-year institutions. One interesting statistic indicates that students spend less time studying than previously thought – about 20% of freshmen and seniors spend 5 hour or less per week, while only 15% spend 16 or more hours hitting the books. The survey has been criticized because its detailed results are available only to the colleges that participate, and no comparisons between schools can be made by prospective students and parents. See

“The Creation of the Future – the Role of the American University”, a new book by Frank Rhodes, is reviewed in the 19 October 2001 issue of Science. The reviewer, Robert Rosenzweig, points out that Rhodes writes from a vast experience base in higher education – professor, dean, academic vice president, and long time President of Cornell University.  In this book, the author provides a tour of the horizon of the research university as it grew through the 20th century and as it moves into the 21st. He sees the current research university as dauntingly complex, flawed in significant ways, and more important than ever. “For all its shortcomings”, he writes, “the American University has been an unambiguous influence for good”. See

The events of September 11 have given a new urgency and meaning to international education, according to a Point of View article by Madeleine Green and Michael Baer in the Chronicle. Educators have the responsibility to go beyond the rhetoric of ‘educating students for global citizenship’ to grapple with the educational process required to make it a reality. The learning needs to be rebalanced, away from talking about ‘markets’ and toward learning about global interdependence. Universities need to take advantage of the international students and faculty members on their campuses to enhance the undergraduate experience here in the US. See



The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has issued wide-ranging recommendations for reducing racial inequities in educational quality, access, and achievement, according to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Curry. About half of the recommendations deal with higher education issues. They come as the first step in the Association’s five-year plan to cut racial disparities in academic achievement by half. Among the recommendations is a call to promote affirmative action in states where race is still allowed to be a factor, and to increase the amount of available financial aid and intensifying recruitment in minority high schools in states where affirmative action has been outlawed. The Association also recommends that colleges be more careful in their use of standardized tests in admissions, to assure that excessive weight is not given to them. See

The University of California has decided to broaden its admissions criteria, selecting all students using a broad standard that takes into account their economic background and personal achievements, not just their high school scores or college entrance exams. According to an article by Rene Sanchez in the 16 November 2001 Washington Post, the policy shift will give admissions officials new flexibility to improve racial diversity on campuses without violating the groundbreaking ban on affirmative action that California voters approved six years ago. The change could ripple across higher education, because of the size of the University of California system. See

Some scholars are asking whether the rhetoric of a ‘digital divide’ between minority groups and others is doing more harm than good, according to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. There are concerns that African-American and other minority groups may be harmed by portraying them as technophobic charity cases who lack the desire to adopt new technologies on their own. Too often, discussions about the digital divide focus on installing hardware, rather than on helping develop online content for underrepresented communities. See

Two recent books on how math is taught are reviewed by Alvin Sanoff in the December 2001 issue of ASEE Prism. One is written by lifelong civil rights activist Robert P. Moses: “Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights”. It is well documented that American students are weaker in mathematics than students in more than a dozen other countries. While much attention has been paid to this issue at the national level, Robert Moses has quietly worked at the grassroots level to make young people more proficient in math. Moses launched the Algebra Project 20 years ago in one school, and it now serves more than 400,000 students in 25 cities. Moses, who earned a doctorate in math at Harvard, states that ‘… the absence of math literacy in urban and rural communities throughout the country is an issue as urgent as the lack of black voters in Mississippi was in 1961”. Moses and his disciples teach algebra to minority middle school students so that they enter high school ready to tackle college prep math. See



The International Journal of Engineering Education has published Volume 16, Number 6, 2001, with a dozen solid papers on a variety of topics, from engineering education policy and research through four technical fields. One interesting paper, “The status of engineering in the age of technology” by Holt, argues that the changing base of industrialization from production to consumption has diminished the prestige and prominence of engineers. He asserts that engineering is now captive to a managerial agenda driven by the marketplace. Another paper by Rothberg, Lamb and Wallace, “Computer Assisted Learning in Engineering Degrees” reports the results of a comprehensive survey done in the UK in 1999. See

“Nuclear Power Gets a Second Look” is the focus of a special report in the November 2001 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Articles include ‘Pragmatic concerns fuel nuclear support’, ‘Pebble-bed design returns’, ‘ReactorLand: a board game’, ‘Canned heat’, ‘Extending life by half’, ‘Core studies make comeback’, and ‘Unconventional nuclear weapons’. Events such as California blackouts, concern over global warming, and the September 11 terrorism are the stimulus for this special report. See

The November/December 2001 issue of TechKnowLogia, the online journal, has been posted on the web. The theme of this issue is “Technologies and Language Acquisition”. Papers include: ‘ICT and the teaching of foreign languages’, ‘Web-mediated second language instruction; will it actually work?’, and ‘Training language testers via the Internet: a new approach’. See

The December issue of World Press Review is concentrated on “Battle without borders; the war against terror”. It summarizes articles from international papers and magazines, presenting a spectrum of opinions on the actions of the US led coalition in responding to the terrorism of September 11th. There are also major sections on “Whose Islam Holds Sway”, and on “The Arts in a Time of Crisis”. See


Positions of possible interest

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Ø      University of Alaska at Anchorage, Dean, School of Engineering, 11/16/01

Ø      California State University at Long Beach, Dean, School of Engineering, 11/9/01

Ø      Georgia Institute of Technology, Dean of Engineering, 10/22/01

Ø      Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Head, Civil Engineering, 10/26/01

Ø      Northern Illinois University, Chair, Electrical Engineering, 10/25/01

Ø      University of Kansas, Dean, School of Engineering, 11/9/01

Ø      Wayne State University, Dean, College of Engineering, 11/9/01

Ø      Citadel, Dean of Engineering, 11/16/01

Ø      Universidad Espiritu Santo, Ecuador, Provost, 11/8/01

Ø      University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vice Chancellor for Research, 10/26/01

Ø      Indiana University – East, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology, 10/20/01

Ø      University System of Maryland, Chancellor, 10/26/01

Ø      University of Cape Town, South Africa, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, 11/2/01

Ø      Florida Institute of Technology, President, 11/1/01

Ø      University of New Hampshire, President, 11/2/01

Ø      California State University at Long Beach, Provost and VPAA, 11/16/01

Ø      Tufts University, Provost and Senior Vice President, 11/16/01

Ø      University of Massachusetts at Boston, Provost and Vice Chancellor, 10/26/01

Ø      University of North Carolina at Ashville, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 10/31/01

Ø      Milwaukee School of Engineering, Vice President of Academics, 11/9/01


From the December 2001 issue of ASEE Prism:

Ø      Loyola Marymount University, Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Ø      Michigan Technological University, Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering

Ø      University of South Florida, Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department; and Chair, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Department

Ø      University of Kentucky, Chair/Endowed Chair, Chemical and Materials Engineering Department

Ø      University of Alabama at Birmingham, Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Ø      Wright State University, Chair, Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering

Ø      St. Louis University, Chair, Aerospace Engineering Department

Ø      Kansas State University, Department Head, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Ø      Penn State at University Park, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ø      Loyola College/ Maryland, Chair, Electrical Engineering and Engineering Sciences Department

Ø      North Carolina A&T, Chair, Chemical Engineering Department; and Chair, Mechanical Engineering Department

Ø      Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Chair, Civil Engineering Department

Ø      Bucknell University, Dean, College of Engineering




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