4 November 2000


Copyright © 2000 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved


A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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






Information technology


Over the past ten years, the typical U.S. college has doubled its spending on information technology services, according to an article by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Based on a survey which was weighted toward liberal arts colleges, institutions are spending some 3.5% to 5.2% of their total budgets on I.T. support services. Of those expenditures, P.C. replacement costs accounted for 14 to 24 percent of the total annual amounts. A typical call to a help desk was reported as costing between $11 and $13. See


What is next after the Internet? A panel of science and engineering experts, co-sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society, see the current Internet as only the beginning of what could be an even larger technological revolution. The roundtable, called “The Internet…What’s Next” will be shown via a satellite broadcast on 10 November from 11am Eastern Time on the U.S. PBS Business and Technology Network, and also by an on-demand Webcast program from now until 17 April 2001. A streaming video version will be shown at


Helping faculty to integrate technology to support instruction continues to be the main priority for academic computing administrators, according to an article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle. According to data released by the Campus Computing Project, incorporating technology into the classroom is the single most important issue they expect to deal with over the next 2 to 3 years. This issue ranked ahead of user support, replacing outdated hardware and software, providing distance education online, and integrating e-commerce into university web sites. The survey also reported that this year over 60% of college courses use e-mail as a tool for instruction – up from 10% in 1994. However, only 14.1% of respondents agreed that “technology has improved instruction on my campus”. The survey results indicate that academe is far behind the private sector in e-commerce, with only 18.8% of the responding colleges having set up services such as accepting tuition payments with credit cards through web sites. See


A growing number of colleges are requiring students to have their own computers, according to a pair of articles in the Chronicle. For example, this fall all 3400 freshmen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were required to purchase their own laptop computers. While less that 10% of colleges have required students to own their computers up to this time, according to data from the Campus Computing Project, many more have instituted such a policy this fall or plan to do so for 2001. This requirement would add about $1000 a year to the cost of attending college. See  A similar article by Florence Olsen provides details on the plans of one state, Massachusetts, to require all public college students to own computers. The computer requirement would be part of a three year information technology plan that would guarantee the state “the kind of high-quality, industry responsive, I.T. education programs it needs to keep the economy growing” according to the system chancellor. At the flagship campus of the Massachusetts system, at Amherst, some 85% of incoming students already bring their own computers. See


Holding meetings via video-conferencing has not turned out to be popular in the mainstream business world to date, according to an article by Steve Ditlea in the October Issue of Technology Review. Drawbacks to video conferencing include the shortage of space for groups to exchange ideas, the lack of face-to-face visibility due to camera constraints, and the inconvenience of needing special room requirements. The author suggests that a new virtual technology being developed for Internet2, called tele-immersion, may solve these problems.  Tele-immersion will be able to create real-time, three-dimensional duplicates of the area around the scattered participants, so that it appears that all are together in one room. Participants, however, must wear special glasses and a tracker on their heads – and seven video cameras and two special cameras to retain distance information are required at each location. These drawbacks of awkwardness and expense, and some technical problems, remain to be solved. Advocates of the system think it can be in lab or office use within 10 years.


A wireless network at Carnegie Mellon University is making computers more invisible and pervasive, according to an article by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle. The network allows students to check their e-mail wherever they may be on campus, but also allows small groups of robots to roam the campus and allows a class of computer science students to conduct an on campus people locator service. Research scientists at the school’s Robotics Institute say that using a campus with wireless infrastructure rather than building one for each research project saves much research time and dollars. See


The November/December issue of the online journal TechKnowLogia has as its theme Teacher Development and Technology. Several articles deal with teacher training, supporting teachers with technology, and case studies on what works and what does not in this area. The issue is posted at



International Developments


Delivery of higher education in Mexico, and what costs should be borne by the students, is a major point of discussion in Mexico as president-elect Vicente Fox prepares to assume office as president. According to an article by Marion Lloyd in the Chronicle, a proposal to expand distance education as an alternative to traditional classroom instruction has raised controversy. Critics see the proposed increased use of technological delivery as a ploy to limit the social costs of higher education, and accuse the new president of abandoning the country’s tradition of free public education. A previous proposal to raise tuition fees from a few cents a year to $150 sparked a 10 month strike by students last year, and the conflict continues with almost daily confrontations between students and university officials. As governor of a province, Mr. Fox promoted private and Internet education, with the support of businessmen who support his National Action Party. See


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to fund a $210 million endowment at the University of Cambridge to create merit based scholarships, similar to the University of Oxford’s Rhodes Scholarships, for graduate students from around the world to study there. According to a report by Jon Cohen in the 20 October 2000 issue of Science, the program will fund at least 225 students from outside the United Kingdom each year. The University will select Gates Cambridge Scholars on merit, not need, focusing on academic ability and leadership potential. Scholars will receive about $40,000 per year, and will live together in what will be called Gates House. Graduate students may apply now for entry in the fall of 2001, at http://www/ The Gates Foundation currently has about $21 billion in assets, making it the largest philanthropy in the world. See


Despite outdated equipment, poor facilities, and meager salaries, computer programming in Russia remains first-rate, according to scholars and students. According to a report in the Chronicle, Russian teams performed very well in this year’s International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, held by the Association for Computing Machinery. Russian computer science students differ from similar students in the West in that they have much more emphasis on basic mathematics and science in their educational programs – often leading to more flexibility in crafting software. Russian programmers sometimes fail to grasp the realities of producing commercial software, however. Russian programmers are in high demand, with several international companies setting up Russian based operations to utilize them. Many are also getting jobs abroad, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted with concern that some 30,000 of them now work abroad. See


In early October, the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., sponsored a day long Seminar on Science and Technology Education, a Europe – USA Exchange. The keynote presentation was presented by Bruce Alberts, President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He stressed that science education needs to be focused on inquiry, not on memorization of facts. Several panels followed: Perception and awareness of science and technology among youth and the public, Improving science and engineering education programs in light of the new economy, and Recruitment and education of science teachers. Panelists came from several countries, including the Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, USA, Belgium, and Germany. Full transcripts of the meeting are now available at


Austrian universities and students are protesting new plans by the government to introduce tuition payments, but apparently have little chance of overturning the decision. According to a report by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle, the government plans to introduce a 5,000 shilling (approximately US$ 300) tuition payment per semester, starting in the fall of 2001. Apparently the government did not consult with student, faculty, or administrative groups, and the Austrian Rectors Conference has sent a letter of protest. The government has promised to increase spending on facilities and equipment for universities and to increase stipends for students from poor families. The move is expected to result in a drop in enrollment, particularly among foreign students who will be required to pay double the fees charged to native students. See


Will English squeeze out other languages, as it is becoming a common second language for much of the world’s population? According to an article by Barbara Wallraff in the November issue of The Atlantic Monthly, it is unlikely to do so. Although English is widely spoken and taught, the author notes that the world has nearly three times as many native speakers of Chinese as there are native speakers of English. And she adds that languages like Arabic, Hindi, Spanish, and Urdo are likely to become as widely spoken as English during the next 50 years. She exhorts Americans to do what others in the world are doing to exchange ideas effectively – become bilingual. See


The number of foreign students enrolled in Australia’s universities has jumped 26% over the past 12 months, according to a report by Geoffrey Maslen in the Chronicle. This growth in foreign students is attributed to the recovery of the Asian financial markets – some 85% of foreign students studying at Australian universities are from Asia. An additional factor is that Australian universities have become more affordable because of the relative strength of the American dollar and the Euro compared with the falling Australian dollar. See


“The UN’s Role in the New Diplomacy”, an article by Calestous Juma in the Fall 2000 Issues in Science and Technology, asks whether the United Nations risks being relegated to the sidelines as a new form of international diplomacy develops to deal with emerging issues in which science and technology play a central role. The author states that the influence and effectiveness of diplomats and international civil servants will increasingly depend on the extent to which they can mobilize scientific and technical expertise in their work. Although many UN activities rely on such expertise, they are not designed to receive systematic science advice as a key component of effective performance. The author suggests that the scientific community needs to explore ways in which it can contribute more effectively to international discussions, and recommends that the organizations of national academies of science forge closer relationships with the UN. See



U.S. developments


Space Station Alpha is at center stage, with the arrival of the first manned mission on board as of this week. A review article in the November issue of IEEE Spectrum, written by James Oberg, reviews NASA’s big push for the Space Station. The author notes that glitches persist in getting the Station operational, and that with no time for delay ‘workarounds’ are the accepted procedure. The most serious problems to date have been electric power shortages, electric shock dangers, degradation of optical fiber data lines, late and error filled control software, and inadequacy of trained personnel. NASA has decided to fly its missions to the Space Station “with risk”, since they involve no life-or-death short term urgent decision points – the station is in stable orbit, giving engineers time to recover from system crashes and even design flaws. See To probe further, see the NASA web site at


The legislation increasing the number of H1-B visas, which almost doubles the number of skilled foreign workers eligible for high-tech U.S. jobs, also will provide funds to tackle what many policy makers say is the real problem – the need for more homegrown scientists and engineers. According to a report by Jeffrey Mervis in Science, the legislation provides more than $ 100 million to help the National Science Foundation tackle the long-term challenge of ensuring that there are enough Americans with the necessary skills to fill such high tech jobs. The fees paid by industry to apply for the visas are expected to generate some $ 275 million per year, with 55% going to the Labor Department for worker training programs. NSF will receive 38.2%, with an expected annual take of $ 105 million. The bill directs NSF to spend 60% of its allocation on elementary and secondary school activities, with the rest going to enlarge its existing college scholarship program. See


The National Science Board has released its biennial report on the status of the U.S. in science and engineering. According to an article in Engineering Times, the two-volume edition of “Science and Engineering Indicators 2000” reports that the U.S. economy approached the end of the 20th century with ‘unprecedented real growth, miniscule inflation, low unemployment, and strong consumer and investor confidence’. The report projects that the expected demand for science and engineering workers overall will increase greatly in the decade between 1998 and 2008, growing at almost four times the rate of all other occupations. The report notes that the number of homes with computers rose from 24% in 1994 to 42% in 1998, and that Internet access in the home rose from 2% to 26% over that same time period. In reviewing the public’s understanding of science, the report found that while American confidence and interest in science and technology was very high, their understanding of basic science facts and principles remains quite low. See Or to download the full volumes of Science and Engineering Indicators, see


President Clinton has named 59 recipients of Early Awards for Scientists and Engineers, from eight federal agencies. According to a report by Karolina Augusynowicz in the Chronicle, federal agencies nominate young scientists from their staffs for this recognition program – now in its fifth year. Each recipient receives a five-year research grant, and will be honored in a White House ceremony. For a listing of recipients, see


In the annual budgeting process, Congress has given both NASA and NSF significant hikes for 2001. Writing in the 27 October 2000 issue of Science, Andrew Lawler and Jeffrey Mervis report that NSF got $ 4.42 billion, a $ 522 million increase – nearly matching the agency’s 17% request. NASA received $14.3 billion, with an increase nearly twice the 3% requested by the White House. See


Nearly a year after promising more partnerships with universities on research projects, NASA has proposed some ways to accomplish such collaborations. Writing in the Chronicle, Ron Southwick reports that NASA plans include developing 10 new science centers based at colleges, and doubling the number of internships and research stipends for graduate students. NASA currently spends about $ 1 billion on research at universities annually, but NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin says “$ 1 billion is nowhere near the amount” that the agency should be spending on campus-based studies. See


The Clinton Administration is working hard toward obtaining complete funding for advancing scientific research in nanotechnology, according to an article by William Schulz in the 16 October 2000 issue of Chemical and Engineering News. The administration’s National Nanotechnology Initiative is trying to raise $495 million for funding in various agencies. Goals for the NNI include nanotechnological applications for space exploration, energy conservation, health care, transportation, and national defense. Other potential applications include materials that are more durable and lighter, sensors that can detect biological and chemical hazards, instruments with advanced readouts for use on battlefields, biomedical materials for implants, and devices for early detection of diseases.



Students, teaching


“Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation”, a new book by Neil Howe and William Strauss, is reviewed in the Chronicle by Andrew Brownstein. The book’s authors define the “Millennials” as the generation of college students who are currently freshmen, extending into the near future. This generation is seen as team oriented, optimistic, and poised for greatness on a global scale. The Millennial’s views are diametrically opposed to those of their parents, according to the authors. They trust political leaders to do what is right most of the time, and feel that ‘selfishness’ is the major cause of problems in the U.S. The Millennials are a generation accustomed to following rules, and they have been programmed by their parents to an extraordinary degree – with ambitious schedules of homework and extracurricular activities. Many students and administrators say that they can already see indicators of the trends predicted by the authors. See


Is the nation’s top talent opting out of science and engineering? In a brief update in the Fall 2000 issue of Issues in Science and Technology, Eleanor Babco, William Zumeta and Joyce Raveling analyze recent data on quality issues at the graduate level. They state that there was a notable decrease during the 1990’s in the number of U.S. citizen and permanent resident students with high GRE scores who indicated their intent to pursue graduate study in the natural sciences and engineering, in all fields except the biological sciences. The number of students with a GRE quantitative score of 700 or above indicating intent to pursue graduate S&E studies fell 22% between 1992 and 1998. The decline was 37% in mathematical sciences, 34% in engineering, 18% in computer science, and 11% in the physical sciences. Thus, while the supply of top students going into S&E at the undergraduate level is not declining, the evidence indicates that fewer of the best and brightest U.S. students are entering graduate level S&E programs. See


According to a recent survey, diversity education is required at more than half of U.S. colleges. A survey by the Association of Colleges and Universities, reported in the Chronicle by Elizabeth Greene, indicates that 62% of the 543 responding universities have a diversity requirement or are in the process of developing one. Some colleges – 17% 0f those with diversity requirements – ask all students to take a single course with a common syllabus. But at most colleges that currently have such a requirement, students can choose from a list of courses that may or may not have been designed as diversity education, See


ABET’s implementation of its new accreditation Criteria 2000 is evaluated by George Peterson, ABET Executive Director, in the November issue of ASEE Prism. He notes that full implementation is still underway, but says that the new approach of outcomes assessment seems to be working well to date. He also observes that the requirement for continuous improvement seems easier to implement at the course level, rather than at the program level. While stating that the change process is not far enough along to draw sweeping conclusions, Peterson feels from anecdotal evidence that schools of all sizes are beginning to explore new mixtures of curricular topics. See


A nationwide virtual college fair, organized by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, crashed recently when too many students tried to sign on as it started. According to Scott Carlson writing in the Chronicle, the fair was to have connected prospective students and some 160 schools in a chat room format, to provide information on programs, admissions, and financial aid. It crashed when too many students tried to sign on in the opening minutes of the scheduled session. The computer glitch was corrected later, but by then most students had given up on connecting. NCAC has scheduled two online fairs for every month through April. See


The magazine that provides annual rankings of colleges and universities in the US, always controversial with educators, is considering an extension of that activity. According to a Chronicle article by Andrew Brownstein, U.S. News and World Report is considering a 48-foot tractor-trailer vehicle full of computers which would travel to high schools throughout the country offering admissions and financial aid services to students. High school guidance counselors asked to review the idea were quite critical of it, saying that it would focus on the already overserved (wealthy suburban schools) at the expense of the underserved. U.S. News officials are still considering whether to go ahead with the concept – putting their brand name behind it. See


A recent British report on science education aims at providing a new vision for an education in science for young people. “Beyond 2000: Science Education for the Future” attempts to answer four basic questions: successes and failures in science education to date, what science education is needed by young people today, content and structure of a suitable science curriculum, and how to implement such a new approach. The report contains ten recommendations on the role of science in the curriculum, designing a new science curriculum, assessing results, and how to effect needed changes. It is available on the web at


An organization founded to offer the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for international education, the Global Alliance for Transnational Education, has come under criticism over conflict of interest concerns. An article in the Chronicle by Goldie Blumenstyk and Beth McMurtrie cites concerns in the education community that GATE has become a marketing vehicle for other enterprises owned by its founder, Glenn R. Jones, rather that the independent international accreditation vehicle that it was earlier designed to be. See



Distance learning


A study called “Criteria for an Excellent Online Course” is being completed, and will be released this month. Writing in the Chronicle, Dan Carvale reports on the efforts of World Class Strategies Inc. to determine what students, faculty and administrators of distance education courses find most important. Students look for some of the same things found in traditional courses – like a knowledgeable professor who interacts with the students – plus additional features that create a community among students taking the course. Administrators are most concerned about the number of such courses offered, and enrollment statistics – with less concern about quality assurance. Faculty want to use mechanisms to keep the time demands for student interaction to a reasonable level – such as having students interact with one another on an online bulletin board. See


The World Bank is using distance-learning techniques to deliver programs to key officials in developing countries. The Bank has led a number of initiatives to help bridge the digital divide by improving access to information and communication technologies, building the hardware and software base, as well as developing the human infrastructure to be able to tap the potential benefits of the knowledge economy. The Bank houses the infoDev program, a consortium of 22 donors, which funds projects in telecom, Internet, education, health, environment, government, and e-commerce. For more information on Bank initiatives in this area, see the following web sites: Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), Global Development Gateway (GDG), Global Development Network (GDN), Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), World Links for Development (WorLD), infoDev, and African Virtual University.


At least six teams of corporations and colleges have submitted bids for a U.S. Army project to deliver distance-learning courses to soldiers all over the world, according to a report in the Chronicle by Sarah Carr. Each bid includes an “integrator” that would coordinate most aspects of the project, including the technology and recruitment of colleges to offer courses. Bids were due last week, and it is estimated that as many as 20 companies or teams have submitted bids. Some teams include hundreds of academic institutions of many types. The Army plans to award a contract on December 15, and hopes that the chosen integrator will have a system in place at a few selected Army bases early in 2001. See


A new lobbying group to tell federal policymakers about web-based education has been set up by two of the biggest players in the distance education market – University of Phoenix and Capella University. According to an article by Jeffrey Selingo in the Chronicle, the Online Learning, Research, and Training Association is seeking other members in order to make it the most substantial association for e-learning that exists. The association aims to help federal lawmakers understand how the growth of distance education could be hindered by some regulations, such as the 12-hour rule which requires students to be enrolled in 12 hours of coursework per week in order to receive federal financial aid. See





A new book by Kevin Bower, “Ethics in Computing: Living Responsibly in a Computerized World” (second edition) promotes awareness of major issues and accepted procedures and policies in the area of ethics and computers. It uses real world companies, incidents, products and people to explore such problems as e-mail messages that may contain viruses. For more information, visit the IEEE Online Catalog and Store at


The National Society of Professional Engineers has announced a new ethics reference guide, “Selected References & Resources on Engineering Ethics & Professional Practice for Practicing Engineers”. The publication, developed by the Professional Engineers in Education Sustaining University Program and the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers, provides access to information on ethics related web sites, courses, video products, study guides, books, software, games, and other publications. The reference guide can be found at under “Ethics”.



Engineering education journals


The International Journal of Engineering Education has published a special issue on Trends in Mechanics Education, prepared by guest editor Renata Engel. Volume 16, Number 5 of IJEE contains a dozen papers covering a range of topics on mechanics education including experiential learning with multimedia, use of computers, design based course sequence, and innovations in freshman curricula. See


The European Journal of Engineering Education has published its September 2000 issue, with a focus on Biochemical Engineering Education. In addition to three articles on developments in biochemical education, Volume 25 Number 3 of EJEE also has eight articles on various topics, including one on International Dimension in Postgraduate Education, and one on Evaluation and Accreditation of Engineering Programmes in Latin America. See



Positions of possible interest


From the 3 November 2000 Chronicle of Higher Education:


Ø      Dean, School of Engineering, University of Southern California

Ø      Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tulane University, LA

Ø      Department Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering, North Carolina State University

Ø      Chair, Civil Engineering, University of Akron, OH

Ø      Vice Chancellor, University of Alaska – Anchorage

Ø      Associate VPAA, California State University – Long Beach

Ø      VPAA, Florida Institute of Technology

Ø      Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Illinois – Chicago

Ø      Provost and VPAA, Eastern Michigan University

Ø      Associate VPAA, University of North Carolina

Ø      Vice Chancellor, University of Nevada System

Ø      Provost/VPAA, State University of New York – Cortland

Ø      Dean, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University

Ø      President, University of Toledo, OH

Ø      VPAA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


And from the 10 November 2000 Chronicle:


Ø      Dean, College of Engineering, University of California – Davis

Ø      Dean, School of Engineering, Clarkson University, MA

Ø      Provost, University of Missouri – Rolla

Ø      Associate Provost for Information Technology, Rutgers University, NJ

Ø      VPAA, University of Wisconsin System

Ø      President, International College, Lebanon

Ø      President, Princeton University, NJ

Ø      President, Gannon University, PA

Ø      President, Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates




From the November 2000 ASEE Prism:


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

Ø      Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Oakland University, MI

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

Ø      Department Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering, San Diego State University, CA

Ø      Dean of Engineering and Applied Science, University of New Haven, CT






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