27 October 2003

Copyright © 2003 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, Ph.D., P.E., with Bethany S. Oberst, Ph.D.


1 - International developments

2 - U.S. developments

3 - Distance education, technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment

6 – Journals

7 – Meetings


1 - International developments

President of University of Baghdad fired – Sami al-Mudhaffar, recently elected president of the University of Baghdad, was fired by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.  Ziad Abdel Razzaq Aswad, the minister, claimed that al-Mudhaffar had failed to enforce an American-designed policy calling for the ouster of all high-ranking officials formerly associated with the Baath Party.  President al-Mudhaffar had reportedly insisted on reinstating faculty according to his own criteria.  The firing of the president provoked violent student protests and the university’s deans demanded his reinstatement.  American officials were reported not upset by the dismissal, but some indicated that his firing out could have been done differently, and that perhaps the action was the right one but for the wrong reasons.  Iraqi higher education officials expressed concern about university independence under the newly created higher education ministry and worried that it might herald a return to the suppression of the past under Saddam Hussein. The article was written by Daniel del Castillo for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Bologna process continues in Europe A recent Ministerial level conference in Berlin continued the Bologna Declaration process, according to a report in the September/October SEFI News. Ministers set three priority areas for the period through 2005. 1) By 2005, each country should have established a quality assurance system in their country, which should include accreditation, verification or a similar procedure at the end. 2) by 2005, each country should have started implementation of a two-tier system (not just ‘planning’ or ‘preparing’ for it). 3) By 2005 all countries should have ratified the Lisbon convention and put forth maximum effort toward a better recognition of degrees and study periods. For the full report on the conference see For an analysis by Professor Andrejs Rauhvargers of Latvia , see

Educational Testing Service wins court case in China – Faculty and administrators in US colleges and universities will probably recall that in 2001 and 2002 the Educational Testing Service (ETS) issued a warning that the scores earned by Chinese students taking the ETS Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may have reflected widespread cheating.  In 2001 ETS and the Graduate Management Admission Council sued the New Oriental School , which claims to have enrolled half of all Chinese students now studying in the US .  The suit accused the school of having sold stolen copies of the copyrighted tests, and of having phony test-takers sit for exams in order to memorize the questions. Now, reports Jen Lin-Liu, reporting for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a Beijing court has ordered the New Oriental School to pay the plaintiffs $1.21 million, to return stolen copies of the tests, and to publish an apology in a Chinese newspaper.  An official of the New Oriental School said that the decision would be appealed, and that Chinese students were being discriminated against in favor of Japanese, South Korean and other Asian students. (See

European Research Council proposed – Research ministers of European Union countries have developed a detailed proposal for a $2.3-billion-a-year fund to support basic research across the continent, according to an article in the October 3rd Science by Gretchen Vogel. Europeans already have their own national research agencies, as well as the E.U.’s Framework 6 program, which is slated to spend nearly $20-billion on research over the next 5 years. But critics say that Framework 6 is overly bureaucratic and skewed too heavily toward applied projects. Many science leaders in Europe argue that to compete with the US and Japan , a fund to support investigator-driven basic research across all disciplines is needed. (See 

China seeks to nurture creativity – China ’s university system has long has been criticized for lacking the capacity for academic originality, and excelling only in imitation rather than innovation. According to Ted Plafker writing in the October 21st International Herald Tribune, factors leading to the situation include an emphasis on hierarchies and deference to elders, the complex writing system that relegates young students to learning by memorization and rote rather than nurturing creative and analytical thinking, a highly bureaucratic education system, and a high degree of academic inbreeding. Some Chinese universities are now trying to change the situation, by hiring junior faculty members from other institutions rather than keeping on the graduates of their own programs under their faculty mentors. Also, new junior hires will no longer enjoy the expectation of a permanent job in the traditional hierarchy, but will instead have to gain a merit-based promotion within six years. (See

Nobel (and Ig Nobel) prizes conferred – Three physicists, two Americans and one Russian, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in superconductivity and superfluidity: Alexi A. Abrikosov, of the Argonne National Laboratory, Vitaly L. Ginzburg, formerly at the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, and Anthony J. Leggett, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report was written by Richard Monastersky for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to two American biochemists for discoveries on how water and salts move in and out of cells: Peter Agre is at Johns Hopkins University , and Roderick MacKinnon is at Rockefeller University , reports Lila Guterman for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an Iranian lawyer and human-rights activist (Shirin Ebadi) who teaches at the University of Tehran .  Ms. Ebadi has been a strong advocate for women’s right, and has been imprisoned several times in the past for her views, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

In a lighter vein, this year’s Ig Nobel prizes, awarded for “achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think,” included one given to three engineers, John Paul Stapp, Edwin A. Murphy Jr., (both deceased) and George Nichols, for their articulation, in 1949, of Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  Lila Guterman of the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote on these prizes. (See

Russian swords-to-plowshares program scrapped – The US has decided to stop funding of a program intended to help steer Russian weapons scientists and engineers into civilian work, according to an article in the October 10th Science by Paul Webster. A 5-year agreement with Russia on the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which has funneled $87-million into business development in once-secret cities devoted to nuclear weapons R&D, is not being renewed. The stated reason for non-renewal is that the two governments have been unable to agree on blanket liability immunity for US contractors running the program. Some observers feel, however, that the underlying reason is that the program has created too few jobs and sustainable business ventures in the three nuclear cities. (See

Elections in Ottawa ( Canada ) favorable to higher education – Karen Birchard’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a recent victory of Liberals over the governing Conservatives was strongly influenced by a coalition of students, faculty and administrators who made support of higher education a prominent issue in the election. University officials look forward to improved funding, in the form of a freeze on tuition, increased student aid, greater access, and more faculty positions.  The new Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty, holds degrees in biology and law, and is the father of three university-aged children.  (See

100 top R&D spenders listed – The October 2003 issue of IEEE Spectrum contains a special report listing the top 100 R&D spenders in the world. The top 10, in order, are Ford Motor Company, Daimler Chrysler AG, Siemens AG, General Motors Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Pfizer Inc., International Business Machines Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, and Microsoft Corporation. Captains of industry have long known that a healthy R&D operation provides competitive advantage. Microsoft has boosted its R&D spending by 20% over 2002, and GE has raised its by 12% this year. (See

Europe moves to slow brain drain – The European Science Foundation, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, has taken the lead in creating attractive scholarships designed to stem the brain drain in Europe . Twenty-five young scientists from any nation will receive research grants of up to 1.25 million euros over five years as an inducement to establish their labs in Europe .  Applications must be submitted by December 15, 2003 , with awards beginning in October 2004. (See

Is China starving its schools? – China is spending much of its newly developed wealth on building ‘things’, perhaps to the detriment of needed investments in people, according to an article by David Wessel in the October 23rd Wall Street Journal. Construction cranes punctuate the skylines of each city, a mag-lev train connects Shanghai with its airport, China is now the third nation to put a man in space, etc. But China spends less on education than other developing countries – 2.2% of its gross domestic product in 1998-99, compared with 2.9% in Turkey , 3.2% in India , and 4.2% in the Philippines . The US spent 5%. Observers note that China ’s recent economic success is impressive, but that it can last only if resources are shifted away from public works projects and skyscrapers toward schools. (See  

New rules favor Alberta in competition for international students – The Canadian government recently passed legislation granting unique privileges to the province of Alberta which should enhance its ability to attract international students. Beginning next year, students from India, China and Vietnam will be guaranteed to receive their visas within 28 days, rather than being subjected to waits which are currently between three and nine months.  Alberta was also given authority to permit foreign students to work in their field of study for two years, rather than one, after graduation.  While 105,852 foreign students are now enrolled in Canadian colleges and universities, only about 7000 of them are in Alberta , reports Janice Paskey for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Saving the Space Station – Decisions made in the next few months will determine the future of the international space station, and dictate the future of human space exploration for a generation, according to an article in the October 2003 IEEE Spectrum by James Oberg et al. The publication of the Columbia accident investigation report has provoked a searching debate on human space exploration. There are those who believe that human space exploration is pointless, and that we should send only robots to the planets. But for those who feel that manned exploration of the planets is appropriate, the Space Station is a vital stepping stone. The countries involved – particularly the US – must provide significantly more funding if the momentum of the Space Station is to be regained. (See  

Arab academics issue second critique of Arab higher education – For a second year in a row, a report sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development has been critical of Arab higher education, and blamed repressive governments for its failings.  The 40 academics who participated in writing the report urged governments to invest in higher education, which in turn should improve government.  One recommendation is that an independent accreditation program be instituted for all Arab higher education programs.  The report notes the severe under funding of science research, which is currently at an average of 0.2% of GNP.  Only 5% of Arab students are studying sciences, compared to South Korea , where 20% are enrolled in science.  Computer literary is also reported as low, with only 18 computers per 1000 population in the Arab world.  Only 1.6% of the population has Internet access, as compared to 79% in the US .  Cultural exchange between the Arab world and the US has been hampered because there has been a 30% drop in the enrollment of Arab students in US schools.  Censorship has the effect of limiting the number of books available in Arabic, according to Daniel del Castillo, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See


2 - U.S. developments

University of Phoenix gains New Jersey approval – After nearly five years of struggle, mostly with private and public colleges, the University of Phoenix recently received permission to offer degrees in New Jersey , according to Jeffrey Selingo writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The first actions should be opening a campus near the Holland Tunnel, connecting New Jersey and New York , and the offering of a degree program in business.  Still, some higher education officials feel that the rules were bent to permit the University, a for-profit organization, to gain entry into the state.  (See

State school tuition up 14% - The College Board has reported that tuition and fees at public universities now averages $4694 a year, up 14% from a year ago, according to an article in the October 22nd Wall Street Journal by June Kronholz. But the College Board report points out that after taking into account scholarships and other grants, the average state college student’s out-of-pocket tuition bill has barely increased. But parents and legislators are still upset about increases in tuition this year such as the 11% in Maryland and the proposed 13% in Texas . State universities argue that they have no choice because of flat allocations or rollbacks from state governments, which are suffering from falling revenues due to the economic downturn. Congress is considering legislation that would penalize schools whose tuition increases too much too fast. (See  

US Treasury regulations constrain IEEE editorial process – The argument is whether the process of editing a research article adds content or merely facilitates communication.  Some officials at the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control say that editing is providing a service currently deemed illegal if the article’s author comes from one of the countries under US trade embargo, Cuba , for example, or Iran , or Iraq .  .  (Editor’s note: for a complete list of countries currently under US sanctions, see  The IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has over 350,000 members around the world, including 1700 in Iran .  Since 2001, the IEEE has limited benefits provided to members residing in embargoed countries, closing access to online journals, for example.  It has also stopped editing papers submitted from embargoed countries, but will publish articles that require no editing. The IEEE says that these decisions stem from consultation with Treasury officials.  Other scientific and engineering societies have no such restrictions, however.  In a recent letter sent by the Treasury Department to IEEE, it reaffirms that editing provides an illegal service, and that IEEE would have to apply for a special license to resume it.  If that process is a lengthy one, some researchers fear that the effect will be to restrict the vital exchange of ideas.  The article was written for the Chronicle of Higher Education by Lila Guterman. (See

University – Industry relations questioned – A major article in the October 2003 issue of ASEE Prism asks whether academic researchers are getting too cozy with industry. Author Thomas Grose describes how university based research over recent decades has led to many life-saving drugs and life enhancing products, to the benefit of our society – and also to the benefit of the researchers and their institutions. But he notes that critics fret that American universities’ long and fine history of basic research could be crippled if too many researchers focus too much on the kinds of applied research that industry needs. Cozy relationships between industry and university researchers have at time led to conflicts of interest, secrecy about results, and suppression of information. The growth in campus-corporate ties is easy to explain from the school’s point of view – it is a new and potentially huge source of revenue. But critics fear that academics will concentrate so heavily on applied research that basic, blue-sky research will be squeezed. (See

USAID awards grants for Iraqi higher education The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced its first three grants in support of the revitalization of higher education in Iraq .  A total of $11.7 million will be spent on archaeological and environmental research, legal education reform and agriculture.  Recipients are US based institutions and consortia partnering with Iraqi institutions. Kellie Bartlett wrote the report for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Digital divide exists on US campuses – A new report from Educause, says the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Florence Olsen, indicates strong similarities in the way the 621 responding institutions run their information technology, but also reveals at least one area where the “digital divide” exists.  There is a high level of similarity across institutions in areas such as the number of classrooms with Internet connectivity, and the spread of expenditures made on new administrative computing systems. But about 20% more students in private colleges own their own computers than students in public institutions.  The president of Educause, Brian L. Hawkins, urged universities not to use the data to engage in an IT “arm’s race.”  (See

Engineering pipeline trends – The lead article in the October 2003 Engineering Times is entitled ‘Engineering Schools Strive to Keep Students”. Written by Danielle Boykin, it quotes statistics from a recent ASEE report to show that engineering graduate numbers have increased recently: 67,301 in 2001-02, up 3.4% over the previous year. The increase since 1998-99 is 7.9%. The author also cites recent ACT data which predicts that engineering employment will increase between 3% and 9% by 2010. Engineering schools are seen as being on the front lines for recruitment for the profession, as they work to attract, prepare and retain students who show interest in engineering as a career. (See )

NIH panel recommends enhanced anti-terrorism screening – A panel of the National Research Council (USA) did not recommend the overhaul of the system already in place to prevent potentially dangerous biological information from getting into the hands of bio-terrorists or rogue nations.  Rather, it recommended strengthening the current system of review, including filtering research in its initial stages to prevent potential danger and to consider whether the work might raise any bioterrorism concerns.  This latter would require the addition of expertise at the level of the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC).  A new National Science Advisory Board for Biodefense would be created, under these proposals, to advise the RAC and the NIH director. The NIH declined to comment on the report when it was issued, according to Richard Monastersky of the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

NSF funds four new engineering centers – The National Science Foundation (USA) has given $68 million to four universities to create new engineering centers.  Colorado State University will open an Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology; the University of Kansas will operate the Engineering Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis; the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will run the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, and the University of Southern California will have the Engineering Research Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems.  The report was written by Kellie Bartlett for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Foreign students turning away from US schools – Anecdotal reports suggest that the number of new international students entering the US is declining, according to an article in the October 21st International Herald Tribune by Edward Fiske. Security concerns have prompted the US government to tighten the process for issuing visas and to impose rigorous new monitoring procedures for many international students once they enter the US . One international education official fears that recent events could undermine “50 years of efforts to educate successive generations of world leaders and to make the US into the destination of choice for people who want to pursue higher education outside their country”. Student exchange visas are 214,331 this year, down from 293,357 in 2001. Largest declines in foreign students coming to the US have been those from certain Middle Eastern countries. Applications by Arab and Muslim men and those of any student seeking to study science have to be sent to Washington for review. Many such students have concluded that dealing with US immigration procedures is too complicated, and have decided to go to Canada , Australia or the United Kingdom instead. (See

National Medal of Science recipients announced – The US White House announced the names of eight scientists and engineers who will receive the National Medal of Science in a ceremony on November 6.  Recipients are: Leo L. Beranek (engineering), John I Brauman (organic and physical chemistry), James E. Darnell (biology), Richard L. Garwin (physics), James G. Glimm (applied mathematics), W. Jason Morgan (geosciences), Evelyn M. Witkin (genetics), Edward Witten (physics). The report was written by Kellie Bartlett for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Foreign students could pay tracking fee – The US government plans to charge foreign students $100 to pay for a tracking system created to prevent possible terrorists from using student visas to enter the country, according to a note in the October 23rd Washington Post. An official of the Department of Homeland Security said that the one-time fee should generate more than $30-million annually for the program, known as the Student and Exchange Visa Information Service (SEVIS). About 800,000 students enrolled at 8000 schools are currently in the system. (See

US House passes controversial area studies bill – The strongly debated bill affecting federally funded international studies programs at US colleges and universities was passed by the House of Representatives, and gave the federal government more authority over those programs.  According to Stephen Burd, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, action on the bill by the US Senate is not expected until after the winter recess of Congress.  HR 3007 calls for a new advisory board to have oversight for Title VI programs.  This board was created as a result of complaints about an anti-American bias in some area studies programs, especially those focusing on the Middle East .  Opponents of some of the provisions of the bill point out that there is still time to modify it before it becomes law.  In other action, a graduate education bill (HR 3076) calls for increasing fellowships for students preparing to teach math, sciences and special education. (See


3 - Distance education, technology

Carnegie Mellon leads study of Internet architecture – The US National Science Foundation has given $7.5 million to conduct a five year study of the architecture of the Internet.  Carnegie Mellon professor Hui Zhang will lead a group of universities and research labs, beginning by designing glass-fiber networks, then move on to testing small-scale prototypes to learn whether they could be used to implement a national network.  Computer scientists, engineers and economists will work together, and will consider the economic and social implications of such a network, conceivably 100 times faster than current DSL connections.  Brock Read wrote the report which was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Wi-Fi popular at the office – Spurred by the spread of public wireless ‘hot spots’ and by the sale of laptops with wireless Internet capability, companies increasingly are installing wireless networking technology in their offices to augment traditional wireline networks. According to an article by Daniel Nasaw in the October 23rd Wall Street Journal, about 45% of American enterprises have implemented some manner of wireless networking. Hospitals and manufacturing have been early adaptors, providing increased mobility and productivity for workers. Corporate wireless networks also allow visiting business associates to access the Internet readily. The main barrier to even more rapid expansion of wireless networks in companies is the perception that the networks are not secure. Security concerns are being addressed by a variety of encryption and security schemes. (See

Survey reports progress in information technology on US campuses – Florence Olsen of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes that the survey conducted by the Campus Computing Project provided much significant data about information technology on US campuses.  Of the 559 institutions responding, 75% had their own wireless networks; 14% were entire wireless; 53% can process credit card transactions on their Web sites; 41% had endured budget cuts that affected academic computing; money for security increased in almost half the institutions; over 75% conduct registration on-line; and two-thirds had policies about illegal downloading of music and videos.  Nearly every institution had policies aimed at stopped illegal copying of software.  (See

Child’s play at MIT – Researchers at MIT are aiming to replace keyboards with pinwheels, globes, and what resembles a hockey game, according to an article in the November 3rd Business Week by Faith Arner. The Tangible Media Group there is working to engage computer users in more physical ways than those currently utilized for human interactions with the machines. One project is an IP Network Design Workbench which aims at making it easier for engineers and nontechnical executives to collaborate in designing telecom and computer networks. (See

Is the PDA passé? – Despite high hopes for handheld computers, which some firms expected to become ubiquitous, annual sales of PDAs have leveled off at around 11-million units worldwide – compared to 130-million PCs and 460-million mobile phones. According to an article in the October 16th Economist, almost everyone who wants a PDA now has one – and the market for them will never be a mass market. In contrast, sales of high-powered mobile phones capable of doing most things PDAs can do are rising fast. The new phones can store addresses and phone numbers, download software such as games, browse the Internet, store and play music, and jot down brief messages. Some 4-million smartphones were sold in 2002, with 12-million expected to be sold this year. (See

Online educational opportunities booming – As more people seek to expand their knowledge while juggling a career and other time-consuming life responsibilities, the education industry is catering to their needs with online learning opportunities. According to an article in the October 2003 Engineering Times by Danielle Boykin, nearly 3.1-million people were enrolled in distance education programs offered by degree-granting post-secondary institutions during the 2000-01 school year – double the number in 1995. In addition, the US Distance Learning Association reports that corporations are using distance learning to help retrain nearly 50-million Americans. Students are attracted by the ability to take courses on their own time and at their own pace, and the ability to access courses that may not be available locally. Those seeking appropriate courses are warned to do so carefully, checking on whether the continuing education provider has state or national approvals. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

US Engineering enables the nation to perform – Writing in the Fall 2003 issue of the Bent of Tau Beta Pi, NSF’s Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna argues that engineering education is a decisive component for the future of the United States . He states that engineers are the members of society responsible for getting things done and out the door – making things right, and making the right things. He describes the modern day engineer as a holistic designer, astute maker, trusted innovator, harm avoider, change agent, master integrator, enterprise enabler, knowledge handler, and technology steward. In this major article he describes the components of a holistic engineering education, and outlines what he expects 21st century changes in engineering education to be. (See

Princeton to act on gender equity issues In 2001, representatives of nine research universities met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and drew attention to the scarcity of women in the sciences.  That same year one of the universities present, Princeton , under the leadership of President Shirley M. Tilghman, established a Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty in Sciences and Engineering.  In a report issued recently, the Task Force reported positively on salaries and tenure rates when men and women faculty at Princeton were compared.  On the downside, the number of women faculty in science and engineering remains low, few women hold leadership positions in these areas, some departments have not increased the proportion of women faculty in their ranks for the past ten years, and in molecular biology the proportion of women has actually declined.  Overall, women faculty in science and engineering at Princeton are less satisfied professionally than their male counterparts.  Princeton psychology Professor Joan S. Girgus has been appointed special assistant to the dean of the faculty to address these issues, according to Robin Wilson writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Inside the new SAT – The cover story of the October 27th issue of Time is an article by John Cloud describing dramatic changes occurring in the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The new version of the exam includes advanced algebra, an essay, and the return of a grammar test. Two types of questions used in previous exams are disappearing – analogies and quirky math items. It appears that the College Board is attempting to influence school curriculums with this new test, in addition to its traditional role in helping colleges to predict how well applicants would do if admitted. The Board has undertaken an unprecedented effort to push local school districts to alter their curriculums to produce better writers, and to prepare their students better in advanced math and in grammar. The new test will have three sections – reading, writing and arithmetic – and a perfect score will go from 1600 to 2400. (See

Benefits of study abroad are long-term, study concludes – The Institute for the International Education of Students, a nonprofit that has been running study abroad programs since 1950, recently surveyed former participants and concluded that the experience of studying abroad lasts for years, to the benefit of the students.  Of the 3000 people who responded, 90% said the experience influenced them to have more diverse friendships, 59% had returned to the country where they studied, 69% of those who had internships while abroad said the experience had influenced their career choices, over 33% said their foreign language skills were still a valuable asset, and 96% said that study abroad increased their self-confidence.  The report was written by Alice Gomstyn for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Entrepreneurship for engineering students – The Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and its academic director Tom Byers, are described in an article by Alice Daniels in the October 2003 ASEE Prism. The program aims to prepare students to navigate the complex world of entrepreneurial business, from writing a business plan to securing funding for a startup. Many young people are interested in entrepreneurship, with polls indicating that over two thirds of high school students hope to operate their own business someday. The program at Stanford uses case studies of successful startups, and exposes students to real life entrepreneurs. Other dimensions of the program include a club to manage campus wide business plan competitions and a work/study program that includes a summer internship at a startup company. (See

New minority track to higher education – Special high schools are grooming poor kids for higher education, through new ventures with colleges, according to an article in the November 3rd Business Week by Brian Grow. An alternative to affirmative action, 19 new early-college high schools have opened this fall. Private foundations have provided $60-million to seed the idea, which combines high school and the first two years of college in programs aimed at minority and poor students. Students get a better education than they can in traditional public high schools, and they can earn up to two years of college credit – thus increasing the chance that they will go to a university and complete a four year degree program. Most of these programs are run by local school districts and a partner college. (See

New guidance publication – The American Society for Engineering Education has produced a major new guidance publication, “Engineering – Go For It”. The 64 page magazine-format publication is an attractive, glossy presentation aimed at attracting young people to the wide world of engineering. It presents articles and illustrations aimed at generating enthusiasm for an exciting future in engineering, incorporating topics that are aimed at a diverse population of youngsters. It includes articles on racing cars, computer art, electronic music, the environment, and terrorism prevention. It describes what it takes to get into engineering school, and provides a comprehensive listing of over 400 engineering and technology schools. It is a very well done product, which should be useful as a guidance and recruitment tool for some time to come. Copies may be ordered at


5 – Employment

Jobs abound in India ’s Tech Sector – A news report by CNN.COM on October 4th indicated that companies are slashing payrolls in the US and Europe to cut costs, moving software work offshore and creating thousands of jobs for India ’s low-cost engineers. India ’s software sector, including the back-office services industry, added 130,000 people to its workforce in the past year, bringing the sector’s total jobs to 650,000. Demand for new technical employees has led to some increase in wages, but rising costs are not yet a threat in the country that churns out about 200,000 engineers per year. Software workers with two years of experience are paid about $545 a month, roughly one sixth of what their US counterparts earn – but a princely wage in a country where the average per capita income is $480 a year. A fall in US employment visas for foreign workers is partly driving the Indian expansion plans of multi-national companies. Many Indians overseas are uncertain about their tech jobs and are returning home for employment. (See

US jobs that went overseas -  Hard statistics about the number of US jobs that have gone offshore are hard to get, according to an article by Louis Uchitelle in the October 5th New York Times. But experts estimate that at least 15% of the 2.81 million jobs lost in the US since the economic downturn started have reappeared overseas. Productivity improvements at home – sustaining output with fewer workers – account for the great bulk of job loss. While most of the jobs sent offshore are in manufacturing or in telephone call centers, lately the work sent abroad has climbed the skill ladder to include aeronautical engineers, software designers, and stock analysts. The trade-off in jobs is not one for one. The work done in the US by one person often requires two or three less-efficient workers abroad, but given low wages there an American company can often save 50% for each job shifted – even accounting for the extra costs of transportation and communication. Management consultants are encouraging their clients to look at offshoring, saying that if competitors are doing it a company will be at a disadvantage if it does not also do so. (See

Is the job drain China ’s fault? – An article in the October 13th Business Week by Rich Miller et al states that the major reasons for US manufacturing job losses to China are not easily explained by the currency exchange rate. Over the last decade the US and China have become increasingly intertwined and interdependent due to a rapidly globalizing world economy where cutthroat competition among multinationals is the norm. US companies have faced a simple imperative: invest in China to take advantage of its cheap labor and its fast growing economy, or lose out to rivals from Europe , Japan and elsewhere. Companies have found that it is hard to serve Chinese customers unless they manufacture in China . With scores of foreign companies opening factories in low-wage China , corporations around the globe are benefiting, and so are the consumers who buy their low priced, high quality goods. (See

H-1B Visa Cap drops – At midnight on September 30th, the H1-B visa cap dropped back to 65,000 for FY 2004, according to a news release from IEEE-USA. This visa mechanism has allowed more than 900,000 foreign high-tech workers to be imported by US companies since the beginning of FY 2000. With unemployment of electrical and electronics engineers running at 6.4% in the second quarter of the year – some 230,000 US workers in 12 engineering and computer job classifications unemployed – IEEE-USA had lobbied hard to have the cap lowered. (See


6 - Journals  

Issues in Science and Technology – The Fall 2003 issue contains several articles on ‘Flaws in Forensic Science’, as well as one on safeguarding the material used in dirty bombs, one on oil in the seas, and one on how science can combat forest fires. The theme articles cover topics such as court evidence, fingerprinting, polygraphs, and crime labs. (See

International Journal of Engineering Education – A special issue on Mechatronics Education, edited by Thomas Kurfess, contains some 19 articles on that topic – plus three articles on engineering education research and control engineering. The theme articles include topics such as mechatronics degree programs, design and manufacturing interactions, globally distributed teams, and focused laboratories. (See


7- Meetings

Accreditation in a Regional Context – The Pan American Academy of Engineering conducted a forum on accreditation of engineering programs on 9-10 October 2003 in Montevideo , Uruguay , in conjunction with the biannual meeting of the Pan American Federation of Engineering Societies (UPADI). The forum focused on development of accreditation programs for each country or region in the Western Hemisphere . (See At the associated UPADI Board meeting, the United States was selected to host the UPADI Committee on Engineering Education for the next several years.

Engineering and the Digital Divide – A world congress on the digital divide was held in Tunis from 12-19 October 2003, sponsored by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations. It was part of the preparatory process for the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held under United Nations sponsorship in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005. The major theme of the congress was exploration of how information and communication technologies can generate and distribute wealth, and how they can contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals and to the World Summit for Sustainable Development Plan of Action. (See At the associated WFEO General Assembly, a new WFEO Standing Committee on Capacity Building was established, with the United States engineering community as the host country for the international effort.


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