2 December 2002

Copyright © 2002 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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


International developments

  1. India gets World Bank loan for technical education
  2. EU encourages universities to increase women in technical fields
  3. Study documents student pirating of Internet information in Australia
  4. UNESCO holds UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs conference
  5. New mechanism for distribution of $5-billion in US foreign aid
  6. India is largest exporter of students to US schools
  7. Record number of foreign students attending US universities
  8. London merger of universities off
  9. Foreign-born technology personnel returning to homelands from US

U.S. developments

  1. Foreign students experiencing long US visa delays
  2. FBI seeking data on faculty and students
  3. Department of Homeland Security created
  4. “Sensitive but unclassified” information category being defined
  5. Current state of education research criticized
  6. US students studying abroad increase
  7. Number of US doctorates awarded is down
  8. Congress targets doubling of NSF budget in five years
  9. US colleges under financial pressures may seek merger

Distance education, technology

  1. Online advanced placement courses for Wisconsin high school students
  2. Kitchen labs for distance education science students
  3. Colleges try to stem unauthorized copying of media files
  4. Congress targets increased funds for research on computer networks protection
  5. Internet “grids” enhance high performance computing

Students, Faculty, Education

  1. UVA completes plagiarism investigation
  2. Transfer students less involved in college life
  3. Students rally against war
  4. Bleak labor market for class of 2003
  5. Sustainable development academic program development
  6. Technical faculty lack training in teaching
  7. Web site allows students to complain about faculty political bias
  8. Minority students want to be eager and ambitious too
  9. Class rank admissions alone do not guarantee diversity


  1. Teaching Entrepreneurship to Engineering Students
  2. SEFI 2003 annual meeting call for papers
  3. Australasian Association of Engineering Education call for papers


  1. IEEE Transactions on Education




International developments

1) India has received a $250-million loan from the World Bank to improve technical education, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Martha Overland. The funds are aimed at revamping the country’s engineering colleges, technical universities, and polytechnics by modernizing facilities, upgrading curricula, and training faculty members. More than 100,000 students attend the colleges that will benefit from the funds. World Bank officials hope that the loan will allow India to enrich its economy with technical professionals who can foster greater economic competitiveness and productivity. India has a large number of software engineers, but concerns about the quality of their training raise questions about their ability to compete in the global market. See

2) The European Commission has encouraged universities to increase the number of female graduates in mathematics, science and technology by 2010, according to a note by Alan Osborn in the November 29th Times Higher Education Supplement. While the EU produces more technical graduates than the US or Japan, fewer of them go into research careers – and officials believe that a better gender balance could correct this. The commission says that efforts to motivate girls to choose science/technology subjects are needed throughout initial, upper secondary, and higher education. There are two male students for each female in these subjects in the UK, compared to 4.7 in the Netherlands – with the best current ratio of 1.6 male students to each female in Ireland, Portugal, and Italy. See

3) A study suggests that up to 14% of Australian university students may be pirating material off the Internet for their essays, according to an article in the Chronicle by Andrea Foster. The study used a plagiarism service to analyze 1925 essays provided by six Australian universities. The software detected that 166 of the essays, or 8.6% of the total examined, had more than a quarter of their material pilfered from electronic sources. Fourteen percent of the essays had 5% or more of the material plagiarized. The material was plagiarized from hundreds of Internet sites, including five well-known cheat sites. Plagiarism from other student’s electronic papers was also detected. The group conducting the study recommended that universities establish education programs to help students understand what cheating and plagiarism mean. One observer noted that students are referred to Web sites so often that they lose sight of the difference between honest research and plagiarism. See

4) A world forum of UNESCO chairs took place in mid-November with about 1000 participants from all over the world, including heads of universities. The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs program was established in 1992 to boost co-operation between universities around the world. The chairs program was developed in order to promote inter-university networks as a way to boost research in higher education. Starting with just 17 such networks a decade ago, the program now has more than 500 networks in 113 countries. As an example, one of the networks – the Global Education Network Initiative – teaches people to live in accordance with sustainable development principles. See

5) US President Bush has proposed setting up a competition among the world’s poorest countries for portions of a new $5-billion foreign aid fund, according to a article by David Sanger in the November 26th New York Times. To get funds, countries would have to demonstrate that they are curbing corruption, spending more on education, and following free market economic principles. Under the plan, a new federal corporation will be set up to administer the aid – rather than have it funneled through existing Agency for International Development mechanisms – and a Cabinet-level panel will distribute the money. The proposal has yet to be submitted to Congress, but has a good chance of passing. Organizations aiding developing countries generally praised the proposal, saying that if executed well it could begin to solve the problem of wasted or misallocated foreign aid. See

6) India has become the largest exporter of foreign students to the United States, according to statistics from the Institute of International Education as cited in the Chronicle by David Wheeler. In the 2001-02 academic year, the number of Indian students in the US shot up by 22.3%, compared with only 5.5% among students from China, which had previously held the first spot in the statistics. India now has 66,836 students in the US, compared with 63,211 from China. IIE attributed the rapid growth to an increasingly large and prosperous Indian middle class, with parents who regard American higher education as the best available. See

7) Other highlights from the IIE Open Doors 2002 report include statistics on the total number of international students attending colleges and universities in the US: a 6.4% increase, bringing the total to a record high of 582,996. Asian students comprise over half (56%) of all international enrollments, followed by students from Europe (14%), Latin America (12%), the Middle East (7%), Africa (6%), and North America and Oceania (5%). The most popular fields of study for international students in the US are business and management (20%) and engineering (15%). Thirteen percent of international students in the US are studying mathematics and computer sciences, the fastest growing major – with a 13% increase from last year. See

8) Mounting resistance to a plan to merge London’s two leading research universities -- Imperial College and University College London – have forced administrators to call off the proposed merger, according to a note by Keri Page in the November 22nd Science. The vision for the merger portrayed the combined university as a world-beater that would attract more research funding and new blood, and one that would operate more efficiently by eliminating duplication. But many academics balked, arguing that the merger was too slanted toward business interests. Many faculty expressed fears that the merger would narrow the range of subjects taught and studied, triggering staff cuts and a reduced scope of research. See

9) Many foreign-born technology personnel who migrated to the US to work during the technology boom are returning to their homelands, according to an article by Erin Brown and David Kirkpatrick in the November 11th issue of Fortune. They are returning either because they were laid off and no longer have visas, or because they are so disheartened by the economic downturn in the US that going home is a better option. The number of H1-b visas issued has fallen from 163,000 last year to an expected 90,000 this year. In addition to being concerned about this outflow of technical talent, high tech industry representatives are concerned about domestic production of engineers. The US graduated approximately 70,000 engineers last year, compared to 600,000 in China. And 54% of US engineering doctorates went to foreign students, many of whom returned home after graduation. See


U.S. developments

10) Many foreign students trying to reach the US are experiencing delay after delay, and a lack of information about what is causing the delays, according to an article in the Chronicle by Daniel Walfish. And the American universities that seek to attract foreign students, including graduate assistants to assist in teaching and research, are reporting empty slots. The delays are the result of an intensified scrutiny of student visa applicants by the State Department, in light of the September 11th terrorist attacks. While the list of 26 countries affected is classified, immigration lawyers report that students from the Middle East and Asia – including China – and Russia are experiencing delays. Those students who do obtain visas say that delays have lasted as long as six months. The State Department says that delays will soon be down to a month. See

11) FBI agents have asked some colleges and universities for help in amassing extensive electronic dossiers about their faculty and students, according to an article by Ann Davis in the November 25th Wall Street Journal. Such requests come as schools are struggling to gather data for a new system the Immigration and Naturalization Service plans to launch in January to electronically track information about foreign students. The FBI requests are raising delicate questions for schools about how much to divulge voluntarily. Many educators contend that schools cannot release some of the requested information without a court order. The FBI says that its requests are legal, because schools can refuse them – and some have refused. See

12) Congress has passed, and the President has signed, legislation creating a Department of Homeland Security. According to an article by David Malakoff in the November 22nd issue of Science, the Department will combine 22 existing federal government agencies and will spawn an array of new science-related programs. It will take at least a year to set up DHS, which will have more than 150,000 employees and a budget of $37-billion. It is estimated that nearly $1-billion of those funds will go to R&D efforts, under the management of a new undersecretary for science and technology who will take advice from a 20-member advisory panel. Lawmakers opted not to give DHS control of some major research programs originally proposed by the President, such as a $1.5-billion bioterror research program that will stay under the control of the National Institutes of Health. See

13) The National Academy of Sciences has offered a provisional answer to how to cope with “sensitive but unclassified” information, according to an article by Martin Enserink in the November 22nd Science. In dealing with a recent report on agricultural bioterrorism which it prepared for the Department of Agriculture, NAS excised a chapter which could have become a terrorist’s cookbook. And the entire report is available only in hard copy by individual requests from people who have a ‘need to know’. But the growth of the “sensitive but unclassified” category is worrisome to the academy. In an October statement, NAS's three president urged the government to affirm the general principle that there should be no restrictions on reporting nonclassified research. In a statement to Congress last month, presidential science advisor John Marburger said that this new information category is still in the informative stage and is being shaped by listening sessions with many parties, including scientific societies. See

14) The National Center for Postsecondary Improvement has issued a report highly critical of the current state of education research, according to an article by Richard Morgan in the Chronicle. The report asserts that colleges and universities use obsolete operating models that have provided no substantial reform to how and what students learn, have made little headway in building a diverse faculty, and have fallen short of fostering an engaged citizenry. The report, titled “Beyond Dead Reckoning: Research Priorities for Redirecting American Higher Education” also states that colleges have increasingly abandoned their social missions for the sake of profit and market cachet. The authors of the report argue for a major study of higher education to help college leaders, legislators, and others figure out how to improve the effectiveness of higher education in serving the full range of the country’s student populations. See

15) The Open Doors 2002 report of the Institute of International Education reports a 7.4% increase in US students abroad in 2000-01, following four years of double-digit growth. Since 1991-92, the number of US students studying abroad has more than doubled – from 71,154 to 154,168, an increase of 116%. While Europe (with 63%) continues to be the most popular region, the percentage of US students studying there has decreased while other parts of the world – such as Latin America, Oceania, Africa and Asia – have seen increases. The number of students going to Canada has declined, and those going to the Middle East are down sharply. The leading fields of study for Americans abroad were social sciences (20%), business and management (18%), humanities (15%), fine or applied arts (9%) and foreign languages (8%). The physical sciences comprised only 7%, engineering only 3%, and math or computer science only 2%. See

16) The number of doctorates awarded by US research universities in 2001 fell to a level last seen in 1993, according to an article in the Chronicle by Piper Fogg. A study by the University of Chicago shows that after reaching an all-time high of 42,654 in 1998, the number of doctorates granted by US institutions fell to 40,744 last year. The decline has affected almost every science and engineering field, perhaps as a reaction to what some viewed as an oversupply of doctorates in the job market in the mid-1990s. Of the doctorates awarded in 2001, 22,769 went to men and 17,901 to women. The number of doctorates earned by black US citizens dropped slightly in 2001 (to 1604), and those earned by Hispanics also dropped (to 1119). See

17) Congress has passed legislation that would set a path to doubling of the budget of the National Science Foundation in 5 years, according to a report in the November 22nd Science by Jeffrey Mervis. President Bush is expected to sign the bill, which allocates $5.53-billion to NSF for the 2003 fiscal year. That allocation would grow to $9.8-billion in the fifth year , contingent on a review by the Office of Management and Budget to certify that the agency had made progress toward improving its management. The reauthorization bill does not actually provide the funds to double NSF’s budget, but sets recommended spending levels for the House and Senate committees which allocate federal funds each year. See

18) Standard and Poor’s has warned that due to the financial problems in higher education, colleges and universities might consolidate in large numbers or close. According to an article in the Chronicle by Martin van der Werf, the report “Weak Equity Markets Hurt US Higher Education Endowments” raises concerns about the stability of colleges as they struggle against stagnant levels of financial resources and substantially higher levels of debt. For a relatively small college with a large endowment, a swing in the value of the endowment from year to year can be larger than the college’s operating budget. At least 31 colleges have closed since 1997, 18 of them four-year undergraduate institutions. There have also been nine mergers of colleges since November 2002. Standard and Poor’s rates about 450 colleges and universities. See


Distance education, technology

19) The University of Wisconsin at Madison is developing online advanced-placement courses for Wisconsin high-school students, according to a note in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale. The online courses are aimed at rural and inner-city students who go to high schools that do not offer advanced-placement courses. The courses will be available next fall, and prior to their introduction high school teachers will be trained to administer them. The program plans to offer 12 different online advanced-placement courses, enrolling a total of 500 to 700 students. About a quarter of the state’s public high schools do not offer advanced placement courses, and others provide only one or two courses. See

20) Professors at two colleges have developed a way for distance-education students to fulfill their science lab requirements, according to an article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle. The basic approach is to turn the kitchen into a chemistry lab, using measuring cups and saucepans instead of test tubes and beakers. The experiments, which the professors say are safe, use items found in a typical household kitchen – milk, nuts, vinegar, baking soda, and matches. Students also need a good quality scale. Faculty members at the University of Colorado at Denver and at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington developed the course. See

21) As colleges seek to stem the flood of unauthorized digital media files flowing across their campus computer networks, students are devising increasingly sophisticated countermeasures to protect their free supply of copyrighted entertainment. According to an article by Amy Harmon in the November 27th New York Times, colleges are imposing a combination of new technologies and new policies in an effort to control the pervasive copying. In the most severe crackdown yet, the US Naval Academy has seized 100 computers from students who are suspected of having downloaded unauthorized copies of music files over the Internet. Colleges are also providing educational sessions on copyright law and electronic etiquette. But some students are developing skills at burrowing through network firewalls and spreading their downloading activities across multiple computers to avoid detection. Universities have stepped up efforts to curtail unauthorized file swapping at the urging of entertainment industry organizations. See

22) The US House of Representatives has passed a bill authorizing greater spending for research on protecting computer networks from potential terrorist attacks, according to an article by Brock Read in the Chronicle. The Senate also passed the bill, and added a provision which prohibits certain foreign students from participating in the research. The President is expected to sign the authorization bill, which has a price tag of $902.8-million – but the real test will come in the appropriations process. The funds would be administered by NSF and NIST. Colleges and universities would use the funds to initiate or expand research projects, develop collaborations, and create undergraduate and graduate programs in computer security. See

23) After Internet 2, “grids” may be the next big advance in high performance computing, according to Florence Olsen writing in the Chronicle. A grid is a network of computational research centers whose supercomputer clusters, databases, and specialized programs form a pool of resources that is more powerful than any single research center on the network. Universities that have acquired computing clusters in recent years are moving to this next stage. Grids are expected to make searching remote data bases or running programs on a distant computer over the Internet as easy as using a utility service. See


Students, faculty, education

24) The University of Virginia has completed action on a plagiarism investigation started 19 months ago when a physics professor used a computer program to seek matching passages in 1500 term papers. According to an article in the November 26th Washington Post by Michelle Boorstein, UVA has expelled 48 students for violation of its 160 year-old honor code. The University pointed out that the vast majority of student’s don’t copy, and that the ones expelled represented only 2% of those enrolled in the course over the period examined. The honor system is student-run, and it was quantitatively challenged by the allegation that as many as 158 students may have cheated in the physics course. See

25) Transfer students are less engaged in academic work and college life, according to results from the latest National Survey of Student Engagement. As reported by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle, transfer students reported consistently lower levels of engagement than students who enrolled as freshmen. For example transfer students were less likely to work with classmates outside of class to prepare assignments, or to talk with a professor or advisor about their career plans. Some colleges have been setting up programs to try to improve student engagement. such as offering workshops for faculty members on how to increase student involvement in the classroom. See

26) Hundreds of students at more than 25 colleges across the country walked out on classes or participated in rallies as part of a “National Student/Youth Day of Action” to protest a possible US war with Iraq. As reported by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle, organizers hoped to make a large show of opposition to war before students departed campuses for the holidays. Organizers said that the threat of war was only one concern, and that they also found fault with much of the US foreign policy that has emerged since the terrorist attacks of September 11th. See

27) The class of 2003 faces a bleak labor market, according to a survey described by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. The national survey conducted by Michigan State University indicates that overall hiring will be down 1% from last year, but that the job market shows signs of stabilizing and of improving soon. The market will be uneven, with fields like engineering and computer science continuing to face slowdowns, while retail and some liberal arts fields improve. See

28) Environmentalists and liberal economists have been trying to get people interested in sustainable development for nearly two decades, according to an article in the November 25th Wall Street Journal by Jon Hilsenrath. Now universities are developing programs in the area, giving sustainable development new cachet. For example, Columbia University is putting major resources behind its Earth Institute – which is aimed at dealing with a range of issues important to the developing world, such as the environment, infectious diseases, and Third World poverty. The notion of sustainable development first appeared in the 1980s and was mostly related to a concern that rich countries were depleting the world’s resources and ruining its atmosphere for their economic growth. Current proponents want to marry the science which can address poor-country problems with economic solutions. See

29) Most professors of science, technology, engineering and mathematics receive little training in how to teach those subjects, according to a new report from the National Research Council. As described in the Chronicle by Thomas Bartlett, the report encourages universities to value good teaching as highly as good research. Professors in these disciplines need more instruction on how to tell if students are learning, as well as how to evaluate their own classroom performance. The report states that currently, few programs exist to help professors improve their teaching. See

30) A new web site allows students to anonymously accuse their professors of political bias. According to an article in the Chronicle by Thomas Bartlett, the site was set up by a disgruntled parent after her son took a writing course that she found objectionable. The web site allows students to rate the perceived bias of a professor as ‘noticeable’, ‘objectionable’, or ‘extreme’. Professors can write rebuttals to student’s accusations, but only one has so far. Some of the professors named in complaints call the site ‘silly’ and ‘cowardly. See

31) A recent survey has found that blacks and Latinos are as likely as whites and Asian Americans to be eager and ambitious students, refuting an assumption often used to explain the large achievement gap separating the races. According to an article by Michael Fletcher in the November 20th Washington Post, the survey by the Minority Student Achievement Network indicates that black and Hispanic students think it is very important to study hard and get good grades. But an achievement gap remains – which some researchers attribute to socioeconomics, such as living in single-parent households and having less well educated parents. See

32) State plans that guarantee public-college admission to students who rank in the top percentages of their high schools are not themselves adequate to improve the representation of minority students, according to a report from the US Commission on Civil Rights. As reported by Sara Hebel in the Chronicle, the report concludes that the class-rank policies put in place in California, Florida and Texas over the past several years generally have failed to improve the proportion of minority students admitted to public colleges, especially at the states’ most-selective campuses and in graduate and professional schools. The authors of the report urged that states and their public colleges complement admissions policies based on class rank with academic outreach and support programs, more aggressive recruitment of minority students, and greater use of holistic admissions standards. See



33) “Teaching Entrepreneurship to Engineering Students”, an Engineering Conferences International program, will be held in Monterey, California from 12-16 January 2003. Invited speakers will discuss the importance of entrepreneurs to the US economy, attributes of entrepreneurs, creating an entrepreneurial culture, interdisciplinary programs, and examples of successful academic programs. For conference details and registration information, see

34) The annual meeting of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) will be held in Porto, Portugal from 7-10 September 2003. The theme will be “Global Engineer: Education and Training for Mobility”, and papers are being sought in the following areas: accreditation, engineering curriculum, global education, world engineering systems, credits, lifelong learning and mobility, Bologna declaration and implications, professional recognition, and global trends. The call for papers requests abstracts by January 15th, sent to Full papers are due May 1st.

35) The annual conference of the Australasian Association of Engineering Education will be held from 29 September to 1 October 2003 in Melbourne, Australia. The theme will be ‘Engineering Education for a Sustainable Future’. Paper or workshop topics are due by December 13th. For details see



36) The November 2002 issue of IEEE Transactions on Education has been published, with twelve papers on electrical engineering education. One broad paper discusses Web-Based Learning: Effects on Learning Process and Outcomes, and another describes A Handheld Data Acquisition System for Use in an Undergraduate Data Acquisition Course. See


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