2 September 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. Floods in Central Europe
  2. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg
  3. Bombing at Hebrew University
  4. Chinese students protest US visa process
  5. Extra security checks on US visas for visiting technologists
  6. Iran’s religious leader warns students
  7. Intellectual property rights debate at Cambridge
  8. ETS warns of inflated GRE scores due to cheating in three countries

U.S. developments

  1. Reading assignment about the Koran inflames a North Carolina campus
  2. Tracking foreign students in the US
  3. Role of S&T research in proposed Homeland Security Department
  4. White House rules on publication of sensitive research
  5. More funds for NSF Cyberfellows program
  6. More funds recommended for S&T research
  7. Engineering schools struggle with budget cuts
  8. Engineering unemployment rises in US
  9. Discontent among employed engineers

Distance education, technology

  1. Technology makes teaching a 24 x 7 job         
  2. Comprehensive Web portals grow on campuses
  3. New protocol for Internet
  4. E-book technology not fully embraced by students
  5. Web based expert systems assess campus maintenance
  6. AllLearn offers courses to general public 

Students, Faculty, Education

  1. Freshman mind-set, 2002
  2. Students turn away from computer science
  3. College enrollment increases projected
  4. CampusCares coalition created
  5. Women outnumber men in colleges
  6. Best paid faculty include Chemical Engineers
  7. “Voices of Innovation” radio spots launched
  8. Increased pay in lieu of tenure?


  1. SEFI annual meeting at Florence
  2. ASEE/SEFI/TUB conference at Berlin


  1. ASEE Journal of Engineering Education
  2. International Journal of Engineering Education
  3. IEEE-USA’s Today’s Engineer
  4. Change Magazine


International Developments

1) Record-breaking floods in central Europe have damaged some technical institutes – such as the Technical University of Dresden – but have spared many others. According to an article in the 23 August issue of Science by Gretchen Vogel, the main science institutes in Prague escaped damage, as did the Max Planck Institute in Dresden. The Rector of the Technical University of Dresden has made public appeals for help in the restoration of university property – where damage estimates are $20-million (see  Television images of flood damage to historic cities have triggered a new interest in climatology throughout Europe, where climate changes are suspected to be linked to global warming due to human impacts. See http://www,

2) The World Summit on Sustainable Development, being held this week in Johannesburg, South Africa, has become the venue of political and intellectual clashes between the have and have-not countries, and various environmental groups. Tens of thousands of officials, environmentalists, and advocates for the poor gathered to devise an ambitious blueprint to promote development while protecting natural resources, according to an article by Rachel Swarns in the August 27th New York Times. More than 100 presidents and prime ministers are attending the summit meeting to show their commitment and to work out new pledges and plans. But many participants doubt the sincerity of the developed nations, and are particularly critical of the fact that President Bush – leader of the world’s biggest economy and largest polluter – has decided not to attend. Ten years ago, the world’s leaders left the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro with an ambitious agenda, but the intervening years have seen mostly broken promises and squandered opportunities. Negotiators at Johannesburg are focusing on the link between poverty and environmental degradation, and how to spur growth in poor countries while protecting the environment. See The August 26th issue of Time magazine contains a major special report on “How to Save the Earth”, detailing many of the challenges faced by the participants in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

3) The president of a Palestinian university has condemned the recent deadly bombing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Daniel del Castillo. Hanna Nasir, president of Birzeit University in Ramallah, wrote in an Arabic-language daily paper “There is no way one can consider justifying the latest attack on the Hebrew University campus”. Noting that the attack had followed Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets, he said, “We should in no way respond to our oppressor’s barbaric attacks with similar actions”. His message was intended for his Palestinian colleagues: “The Palastinian national struggle should remain unblemished and pure, and should reflect the justice of its cause”. See

4) Chinese students who have been turned down for visas to study in the Unites States have staged public protest rallies at the American Embassy in Beijing, according to a note in the Chronicle by Jen Lin-Liu. The embassy issued 16,651 student visas in the nine months ending on August 6th, down from 18,637 during the same period in 2001 – just prior to the attacks of September 11th. The demonstrations were not anti-American in nature, but instead reflected the strong desire of many Chinese students to study in America. See

5) The U.S. State Department has begun performing extra security checks on visa applications from scientists and technologists around the world, according to an article in the August 23rd issue of Science by Richard Stone. Delays in visa decisions by weeks have led to the cancellation or rescheduling of several recent meetings by U.S. organizations. Most heavily affected have been scientists from the former Soviet Union and China who are involved in research on weapons or other areas deemed sensitive to national security. The visa crackdown is a late response to last fall’s terrorist attacks, according to a State Department official. Among other areas impacted, the changes have hampered plans by the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation to bring together select groups from the former Soviet Union and the United States to discuss how to protect civilian populations from terrorist attacks. See

6) Iran’s supreme religious leader has warned university students in that country to be vigilant against threats from ‘enemy’ plotters, according to a note in the Chronicle by Daniel del Castillo. In a nationwide address, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned students that an unnamed foe was focusing on Iran’s universities: “The signs of cultural and political plots are before the eyes of the public. Faithful and aware youth can nip these plots in the bud and settle the dust when it is raised”. The Ayatollah has worked to control Iran’s potent student movements and guide them away from the influence of his chief political rival, Iran’s reformist president Mohammad Khatami. See

7) Academics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom are protesting an administration plan to claim all intellectual property generated by campus researchers, according to a note in ScienceScope in the August 9th issue of Science. Currently the University lays claims only to research findings generated using external funds, allowing staff to independently patent and control ideas produced from university grants. But the governing council has proposed that the university control all intellectual property created after January 2003, with any patent profits to be shared among the inventor, the department, and the university. University administrators say that the new approach would bring Cambridge in line with most other UK universities. Critics say the change will stifle innovation and harm the development and growth of university-spawned high-tech companies. See

8) The Educational Testing Service has told graduate schools in the U.S. that scores from students taking the Graduate Record Exam in China, South Korea and Taiwan may be inflated by cheating. Apparently some students in those countries were able to raise their scores substantially last year on the verbal part of the exam by logging onto web sites in those countries that post questions and answers memorized by previous test takers, according to an article by Jacques Steinberg in the August 8th New York Times. After uncovering the web sites and assessing their effect on scores, test administrators suspended the electronic version of the GRE – which has been taken by some 55,000 students annually since the late 1990’s. Now the tests will be given in those three countries only two days a year, in November and March, and on paper – to guard the security of the questions. See


U.S. developments

9) A reading assignment for incoming freshman students at the University of North Carolina, a book about the Koran, has raised a tempest in that state. According to an article in the August 20th New York Times by Kate Zernike, the assignment has led to demonstrations, courtroom challenges, possible funding cuts by the legislature, and votes about academic freedom by the university’s governing board. The book, “Approaching the Qur’an: the Early Revalations” by a professor of religion at Haverford College, was the summer reading assigned to North Carolina’s 3500 incoming freshmen. The Chancellor of the University defended the assignment, saying that ‘”this is the first step toward understanding a culture we don’t know anything about and to get students to ask their own questions”. Critics from a conservative Christian group argued in court that it was ‘forced Islamic indoctrination’. Legislative critics argued that equal time should be given to ‘all known religions’. Having earlier declined to pass a resolution affirming academic freedom for faculty members and students, the governing board later did take such a stand, according to articles in the Chronicle by Eric Hoover. See and

10) A series of articles on the Chronicle have followed developments in federal government moves to better track foreign students in the U.S. A cutoff of easy part time student access from Mexico and Canada threatened by the Immigration and Naturalization Services has been delayed until the end of the year, according to an article by Jeffrey Selingo. ( The INS has also softened the deadline for colleges to participate in the new national database for tracking foreign students in the U.S., according to an article by Michael Arnone. While colleges must start using the system by January 30th, they need not have entered information on all foreign students by then. ( PeopleSoft and other companies that provide student information systems are scrambling to help institutions meet those deadlines, according to an article by Florence Olsen. Final work on the software cannot be completed, however, until the INS issues a complete set of technical and data requirements, promised for the end of October. Major campuses have large numbers of such students – 4000 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, for example. (

11) Science and technology groups have raised the awareness of Congress about the critical role of research in the proposed new U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to an article in the August 9th issue of Science by David Malakoff. The proposed department will be assembled largely from existing border-control and security programs, but it is also expected to start life next year with as much as $2-billion budgeted for science and technology. Bills working their way through the two branches of Congress differ considerably on how the new department, and its research activities, should be organized. Both bills, however, call for using merit-based competition for research funding, and encourage the new department to keep the fruits of research unclassified. See According to an article by Anne Marie Borrego, President Bush’s science advisors have urged him to create a new position within the new department for an undersecretary for science and technology to oversee research and development for the agency. The science advisory panel also recommends that most homeland-security research and development be performed at universities and businesses, with the new department awarding contracts and grants to support it. See

12) The White House has interacted with university representatives as it drafts new rules on disclosure of some sensitive research, according to a note in the Chronicle by Anne Marie Borrego. New guidelines are being drafted to limit the publication of some federal government funded research and other data that would be classified as “sensitive homeland security information”. This new type of information would be different from classified military or national-security research, but would not be open to the public. It could include information potentially useful to terrorists in conventional or biological warfare. See

13) Congress has added funds to the budget of the National Science Foundation to expand its Scholarship for Service program, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the August 16th issue of Science. The program offers two-year full scholarships to students to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in return for at least two years of government service. The increased funding is aimed at filling a years-long shortage of scientists, engineers and policy professionals in computer security and information assurance – dubbed Cyberfellows. See

14) The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has drafted a recommendation asking Mr. Bush to increase federal funds for research in the physical sciences and engineering, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Brainard. The action follows calls from many scientists and engineers in academe and industry who feel that research funding in the physical sciences has grown too slowly, compared with the budget of the National Institutes of Health, which has been doubled in the past five years. The council did not explicitly endorse a proposal now making its way through Congress to double the budget of the National Science Foundation. See

15) Engineering schools around the U.S. are cutting back on programs and handing out pink slips as states struggle with budget shortfalls, according to an article by Warren Cohen in the September 2002 issue of ASEE Prism. The pinch is being felt in teaching, where experienced faculty are being lost, and in research programs. Schools forced to cut faculty size are offering buyouts to senior faculty members. Some engineering schools are also being forced to curtail enrollments in programs that attract and prepare potential students. Cuts in capital budgets are leading to outdated labs and facilities. The catch-22 is that an economy ever more dependent on high-tech jobs may be putting its supply of quality science and engineering graduates in jeopardy. See

16) Although the overall U.S. unemployment rate fell in the second quarter, it increased significantly for engineers and computer scientists, according to the IEEE-USA. The unemployment rate for all engineers increased from 3.6% to 4.0% in the second quarter, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The rate for computer scientists jumped fro 4.8% to 5.3%. Overall employment fell from 5.9% to 5.4%. IEEE-USA is asking Congress to investigate the impacts of increased hiring of non-U.S. guest workers, the greater use of temporary workers, and the outsourcing of engineering work overseas as causes for the unemployment problem, in addition to the economic downturn. See

17) An article in the August-September IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer by Todd Yuzuriha asks ‘Is Discontentment in Engineering Becoming Epidemic’. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal indicate that current engineers feel frustrated and expendable. Among other concerns is that salaries start high, but stagnate quickly, and that they are treated as expendable labor when economic times are bad. The number of students graduating from engineering programs with bachelor’s degrees has declined steadily for the past 17 years, perhaps indicating a vote of no interest by some of the nation’s brightest college students. See


Distance education, technology

18) Technology seems to be turning college teaching into a 24-hour job, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jeffrey Young. The growth of e-mail, course Web sites, instant-messaging software, and online courses has forced many professors to rearrange their daily routines and has made them more accessible to students than ever before – morning, noon and night, seven days a week. Although critics of distance education have worried that virtual classrooms mean less contact between professors and students, many professors say the opposite is true. To compensate for face-to-face interaction, students are often promised a quick response to personal correspondence by e-mail, often pledging to answer within 24 hours. Technology experts are divided on how available professors should make themselves to students over the Internet. Some say that quick responses are key to making students feel part of a virtual class. Others worry that the best professors may avoid virtual teaching if they think it will chain them to their computers seven days a week. The AAUP has issued guidelines calling for online office hours to take no more time than traditional ones. See

19) More colleges are creating Web services that can be customized to help students and professors, according to an article by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle. One approach is an institutional portal that consolidates crucial online services and information where information can be posted for everyone on the campus, or it can post individualized messages that appear when specific users or members of a group log on. One benefit of consolidating official information in one location is improved consistency and accuracy of information. No two portals are alike, although most provide a core of common student services, such as course registration, add/drop, grades, degree requirements, instant messaging, and book orders. One trend just emerging is extension of these services to pocket Web-enabled devices. See

20) Software designed to allow continued growth of the Internet is now running on Abilene, the Internet2 backbone network, according to an article in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is an improved version of the software used for packaging and routing data throughout the Internet. The version in use on the commercial Internet today, called IPv4, dates from the early 1970’s – before the tremendous growth of the Internet could be foreseen. The most glaring problem that IPv6 aims to solve is the threat of running out of public Internet addresses. About 4-billion addresses are available under the IPv4 standard – too few to allow every individual on earth to have at least one unique address, and many to have multiple addresses for different sensors and handheld devices. Under the new protocol, the number of available Internet addresses increases to 340-trillion! In addition, IPv6 does a more efficient job of routing packages of data throughout the Internet, and offers other technical benefits such as end-to-end network security and easier multicasting. See

21) E-book technology needs improvement before students will be willing to use it instead of textbooks, according to an article in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. Researchers at Ball State University found that students had various complaints about e-book devices. Navigating through digital texts was the biggest complaint, with users finding moving from page to page tedious. They also found it difficult to find specific chapters in texts and to find particular words. Students did appreciate the ability to change font size and screen contrast, but mostly wanted features that would allow them to use e-books the same way they would use printed volumes – such as highlighting text. Despite student concerns, the researchers have high hopes for the future of e-books – which can store four or five books along with reference tools, and be refreshed every semester. See

22) College officials in Connecticut are turning to Web-based expert systems to assess the condition of campus buildings and the cost of maintaining and renovating them, according to an article in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. State officials say they invested in the expert systems technology to help the state’s colleges get better data for their capital budgets, and to help them set maintenance priorities in an orderly fashion. To date engineers using the computerized system have identified $141-million worth of building maintenance that has been deferred for lack of financing but that should be done within five years to prevent more costly repairs or replacement in the future. The Connecticut system calculates a “facility-condition index” for each of the buildings it assesses. North Carolina officials say they used a similar system to provide data that helped persuade voters to pass a $3.1-billion bond issue for a construction and renovation program for 16 public universities and 59 community colleges. See

23) A distance education alliance backed by Oxford, Stanford and Yale will be offering courses to the public, as reported in the Chronicle by Scott Carlson. Previously offering courses only to alumni, ‘AllLearn’ will now offer courses to lifelong learners among the general public. About 50 courses in a dozen disciplines will initially be offered, at a tuition cost of $250. Each five to ten week course will include interactions with the professor who created the course, or with another expert on the subject. See


Students, faculty, education

24) Beloit College has released its annual guide for understanding a new group of freshmen, as reported in the Chronicle. Most freshmen enrolling straight from high school this year were born in 1984, and the annual ‘mind set’ list is intended to help college faculty and administrators understand their new students. This year’s freshmen remember only Southerners as presidents, have grown up with Fox television, and never experienced AT&T’s telephone monopoly. High on the list of 50 characteristics: South Africa’s policy of apartheid has not existed during their lifetime; cyberspace has always existed; Afghanistan has always been a front-page story; China has always been a market-based reforming regime; and a ‘hotline’ is a consumer service, rather than a phone used to avoid accidental nuclear war. See

25) College students are turning away from bits and bytes, according to an August 27th article in the Washington Post by Ellen McCarthy. The number of undergraduates majoring in computer science fell 1% in 2001, according to a report by the Computing Research Association, and the trend seems to be accelerating. The Labor Department predicts that software engineering and related fields will be the fastest growing occupations between 2000 and 2010, but that growth may be slowed as students choose other paths. The tech industry’s financial problems appear to be instrumental in such student choices. See

26) Enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S. is projected to increase to 17.7 million in 2011-12, up from 15.3 million in 1999-2000, according to a note in the Chronicle. The projections made by the U.S Department of Education for this time period also include the following: the number of high school graduates will rise to 3.1 million, a 9% increase; the number of bachelor’s degrees will rise to 1,437,000, a 16% increase; and the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women will rise to 850,000, a 20% increase. See

27) A coalition of higher-education associations has announced the creation of CampusCares, which will seek to promote community-service activities by college students and to publicize such activities. According to a note in the Chronicle by Richard Morgan, the organization will initially highlight up to 50 college programs that serve as examples of volunteerism and civic engagement. Going beyond ‘alternate spring break’ service activities, the group will spotlight year-round activities that illustrate what millions of college students and employees are doing to serve their communities. See

28) Higher education experts have noted in recent years that women have begun to outpace men in college enrollments, according to an article in the Chronicle by Jamilah Evelyn. More girls than boys in junior high school expect to attend college later, according to a new survey by researchers at Florida State University, and the differing expectations contribute to the growing gender gap in college enrollments. 56% of college students were women in 1999, compared with 41% in 1970. See

29) Professors of law, financial management, and chemical engineering were the best-paid faculty members in 2002-02, according to a recent survey reported by Sharon Walsh in the Chronicle. The average salary for all fields was $60,893 at public institutions, a 3.6% increase over the prior year, and $60,298 at private colleges, an increase of 3.7%. The survey does not include medical faculty. Chemical engineering faculty were paid an average of $85,577 at private colleges and $84,748 at public ones. See

30) A new daily radio program will air engineering ‘voices of innovation’, according to an article in Engineering Times. A new two-minute radio program designed to inspire awareness about the engineering profession through the voices and stories of engineers is making its debut this September through the efforts of the American Association of Engineering Societies. The AAES program is in response to a 1997 survey that indicated that the public thinks scientists rather than engineers add to the quality of life, and ranked the prestige of engineers about midway in a list of 20 professions. See To hear audio segments, visit

31) Some universities have begun offering faculty members increased compensation as an alternative to tenure, according to an article by Jennifer Jacobson in the Chronicle. A typical pattern might offer a five-year renewable contract that would pay an extra 15% rather than have a faculty member go up for tenure. Other patterns allow faculty to choose between tenure and a contract system that allows them to apply for more frequent sabbaticals. Critics of such approaches, such as the AAUP, claim that such patterns endanger academic freedom. Other critics worry that quality may be sacrificed, if long-term faculty are not subjected to the rigorous tenure process. See



32) The annual meeting of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) is about to take place in Florence, Italy. SEFIrenze2002 is scheduled to take place from September 8th to 11th, with a theme of “The Renaissance Engineer of Tomorrow”. Full information on the extensive program is available at One session of interest is a Monday evening plenary session, “Are Engineers Employer’s Commodities”, a panel chaired by the editor of this Digest.

33) Also upcoming shortly is the ASEE/SEFI/TUB International Colloquium “Global Challenges to Engineering Education” to be held in Berlin on October 1st through 4th. Three conference topics are featured: Educating engineering students for entrepreneurship, National accreditation/global practice, and Technology and learning systems. For details see



34) The ASEE Journal of Engineering Education has published its July 2002 issue, containing 14 peer reviewed archival papers, plus a book review on Team Teaching. Topics covered include the use of video-streaming technology in teaching, assessment of online engineering courses, design adventures for middle-school students, socially relevant design, and engineering writing. See

35) The International Journal of Engineering Education has issued a special issue on Women in Engineering, with 11 articles on the theme topic. Papers include attraction of women to engineering education, experiences of women in the engineering workforce, and discussions of what can be done to improve both situations. In addition, this issue of IJEE includes three papers on engineering education, assessment and research. See        

36) The August-September issue of IEEE-USA’s Today’s Engineer is live on its website, Several article focus on building careers, and several more on shaping public policy. 

37) The September-October issue of Change magazine is dedicated to a review of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education: “FIPSE – 30 Years of Making a Difference”. Articles include one on reforming science and mathematics teaching, and one on learning anytime and anywhere. See


     To unsubscribe from this newsletter service, please respond to with the         word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line. Send address changes to the same e-mail address.

To contribute information to this electronic newsletter, please send it by e-mail to

This Digest provides summaries of published articles, both printed and electronic. World Expertise does not endorse or corroborate the information in these articles. Some publication web sites may require user registration before access is granted to articles via the links provided above.

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