6 January 2003

Copyright © 2003 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. Italian research budgets cut
  2. All of Italy’s rectors resign in protest
  3. Kuwait University returns to separation of men and women
  4. Canadian government funds foreign credentials initiative
  5. Evidence of brain-drain reversal
  6. Middle East scientists plan Arab-Israeli conference
  7. British universities confront race issue
  8. Canada attracts top scientists
  9. Nepal shuts down colleges due to rebel threat
  10. British polytechnics may lose research role
  11. Greek students opt for practical educational programs
  12. Canadian universities and government strike a deal
  13. More European programs in English

U.S. developments

  1. NAS complains about security reviews for entering foreign researchers
  2. US Supreme Court to review affirmative action
  3. INS delays tracking system start
  4. Class to educate foreign students about immigration laws
  5. Engineering R&D fared well in 107th Congress
  6. NSF urged to spend more money on research infrastructure
  7. Judge rules University of Missouri collected tuition illegally
  8. State spending on higher education is down
  9. ‘Open Access’ electronic journal to start
  10. MIT investigation alleged problems with antimissile system

  Distance education, technology

  1. Wireless technology for computers gets a boost
  2. Military concerned about interference with radar
  3. Faculty concerns about wireless computers in the classroom
  4. Companies contribute CAD software
  5. US Army renews University of Maryland contract for classes abroad
  6. Government plans to monitor Internet
  7. New Stanford distance education program in Korea

Students, Faculty, Education

  1. Globalization questioned by some faculty
  2. Faculty lured to industry
  3. Responsible assessment mechanisms
  4. New program in Engineering for Developing Communities
  5. Canadian multimedia site to attract students to engineering


  1. ASEE/WFEO conference prior to ASEE annual meeting
  2. ICEE 2003
  3. Coalitions workshop


International developments

1) Italian researchers are distraught about 2003 budget levels approved by legislators, according to an article in the December 20th issue of Science by Alexander Hellemans. The planned budget could force the closing of some national research facilities, and could threaten Italy’s contributions to major international research centers. The budget passed by the Senate cuts funding for public research institutions by 1.6%, and less than level funds universities. The chamber of deputies is expected to rubber-stamp the Senate levels. Administrators are concerned because inflation and already negotiated labor contracts will force cutbacks in program funding. Researchers are concerned that such cuts will underscore Italy’s low status in research within the European community. Italy currently spends less than 1% of its gross national product on research, about half of the European average. See

2) All 77 of Italy’s university rectors resigned last month to protest projected budget cuts that they say threaten the future of higher education in the country, according to an article by Daniel Del Castillo in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The government has made tax cuts to try to stimulate a contracting economy, and is making expenditure cuts to try to balance the budget. The rectors say that that unless funding for higher education is restored, they will be unable to cover basics such as salaries and utilities. Protests and student strikes have been occurring for several months, and are likely to accelerate after this wholesale resignation of university heads. Italian universities have long struggled for adequate funds and resources. A recent study shows that two out of three Italian university students drop out before graduation. See

3) Kuwaiti Universities are returning to separating men and women students, in response to a mandate from the emirate’s parliament, according to an article in the Chronicle by Daniel Del Castillo. Kuwait University – the only public university in the country of 2 million people -- is doing its best to prevent members of the opposite sex from attending classes, socializing, or studying together anywhere on campus. Nearby Saudi Arabia has always had rigid segregation of men and women in universities and elsewhere in public life, but Kuwait had allowed men and women to study together since the early 1970’s.  How to handle the mixing of men and women in university life has long been a source of controversy in the Arab world, and educators in other countries are watching the Kuwait developments as a sign of the spread of political Islam. See

4) The Canadian government is providing new funds to help the engineering profession better assess and recognize foreign engineering credentials, according to a note in the January 2003 issue of Engineering Times. The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and its constituent provincial regulatory boards will use the $215,000 grant to develop new models for quickly and efficiently integrating qualified foreign-trained engineers into the profession as licensed professional engineers. Motivation for the project is tied to recognition of the contributions that such engineers can make to helping Canada to remain at the forefront of innovation. See

5) Evidence is mounting of a brain-drain reversal, with engineers going back to India, according to an article by Seema Singh in the January 2003 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Engineers who have succeeded in US high tech companies are migrating back to their homeland, utilizing what they have learned abroad to harness India’s high quality engineering workforce in a low-business-cost environment. Further motivation for the trend is the lack of high-tech jobs in the US, and increased downsizing. Many multinational companies (such as Microsoft, Intel, SAP, Oracle, Texas Instruments, Hewlett Packard, Cadence, Analog Devices, and Cisco) have a strong and growing presence in the country. See

6) With the help of the US National Academy of Sciences, scientists from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine are planning to bring together young Middle-East scientists, according to an article in the December 13th issue of  Science by Jon Cohen. The Middle-East scientists are organizing a Mideast version of a US program that brings together bright young scientists under age 45 for three days to educate one another about their diverse specialties and backgrounds, using science as a common language. The US NAS has since 1993 sponsored meetings between Israel and its Arab neighbors to help fuel the peace process, with mixed results. See

7) British Universities, long focused on class issues, are beginning to confront race issues, according to an article in the New York Times by Kate Galbraith. Racial tensions have surfaced at British universities at both faculty and student levels, and self-examination of racial issues is beginning to occur on university campuses. British universities have previously been busy dealing with equity issues, but with a focus on class rather than race. There is a running debate about whether elite universities accept too many students from private high schools and not enough from state schools. One impetus for change is a race-relations law that went into force last May, requiring universities to develop racial-equity plans, keep racial statistics, and monitor minority group member’s concerns. Britain’s population is almost 90% white, with the largest minority groups coming from South Asia and Africa. See

8) Canada’s national program to hire 2000 senior scientists and rising stars is luring top talent to that country – including some expatriates – according to an article in the December 6th issue of  Science by Wayne Kondro. The government recently announced that 35% of the latest hires for Canadian Research Chairs – some 43 of 123 scientists (16 of them expatriates) – were hired from abroad. University officials initially used the program to retain their stars, but are now looking abroad to strengthen their faculties. See

9) Nepal shut its schools and colleges after rebels threatened violence, according to an article in the Chronicle by Martha Overland. Fearing attacks on students and employees after a rebel group called a strike against the country’s educational institutions, thousands of schools and colleges closed indefinitely, locking out half a million students. The rebels want free schooling for those up to age 16, and want private colleges to slash their tuition fees, among other demands. The government has issued a plan intended to placate the rebels, offering free schooling for members of low-caste groups up to the 10th grade and free tuition for a specified number of female and disabled students and members of low-caste groups attending technical-training institutes. See

10) Up to half of the former polytechnics in Britain may be effectively stripped of their research role, according to an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement. The government is concerned that millions of pounds are being wasted by supporting low-rated research, and is developing a strategy document to use its scarce resources more effectively. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is already planning to give only “core” funding to all universities, with selective aid for teaching, research and outreach activities. The government is now considering going further, possible removing the power to award research degrees from a number of universities. Critics of the plan resist any division between teaching and research institutions. See

11) Students in Greece are showing an increased interest in technical institutes over universities, according to a recent article in Kathimerini by Apostolos Lakasas. Students who have their eyes on the job market are opting for programs in information technology, economics-related fields, and military and police training, rather than heading for university departments that lead to overcrowded professions. Parents are slowly abandoning the mentality of wanting high-status studies for their children and are growingly reconciled to the notion of the technical professions. See http://www/

12) Canadian universities hope to strike a bargain with the government, getting increased research funding in return for doing a better job of turning academic research into commercial products. According to an article in the November 29th issue of Science by Wayne Kondro, universities hope for a doubling of research funds and the creation of a permanent fund to pay the overhead costs of conducting federally funded research. As part of the agreement, universities will formally acknowledge their responsibilities to help generate economic wealth for the country. In return the government will double research funding by 2010 and support the training of more graduate students. The parties have yet to iron out how to measure growth in academia’s contribution to the economy. See

13) Colleges and universities in continental Europe are offering more degree programs taught in English than 10 years ago, but such programs still account for fewer that 1% of enrollments, according to a note in the Chronicle by Francis Rocca. English-taught programs are a key element in the effort of continental Europe to internationalize their curriculums. In a recent survey, 30% of 1500 institutions in 19 European countries where English is not the native language offer programs in English – most established since 1990. European universities need more English-language programs in order to capture their share of the growing international-education market, and to capture many of those students to stay in Europe in order to ensure an adequate population of specialists, especially in the natural sciences. See


U.S. developments

14) The National Academy of Sciences has complained that security reviews are causing delays that threaten the health of US sciences, according to an article in the December 20th Science by David Malakoff. In an open letter the leaders of the National Academies called on the government to fast-track foreign researchers seeking to enter the country. They cited hearing ‘numerous’ reports of immigration problems from academic researchers, as well as the impact upon several Academy meetings. Recent enrollment statistics suggest that the delays are so far having little impact on foreign students coming to the US – a survey of 20 research universities showed a 4% increase this fall. But there has been a 10% decrease in the number of foreign faculty members and researchers on campuses. See

15) The US Supreme Court has agreed to revisit the diversity efforts of colleges and universities, ending a decades long wait for its return to the heated topic of affirmative action in admissions. According to an article in the December 3rd New York Times by Linda Greenhouse, the justices have announced that they will review two cases challenging the University of Michigan’s consideration of race to ensure a diverse student body for its law school and undergraduate program. Coming a generation after the Baake decision in 1978 invalidated the use of fixed racial quotas but upheld diversity as a goal, the new cases are certain to attract enormous attention and to renew a debate that has never died down. The court could prohibit the use of race in admissions, allow its current widespread use to continue, or set new standards for evaluating affirmative action. See

16) The Immigration and Naturalization Service has delayed its deadline for tracking of foreign students in the US to 1 August 2003, according to a note in the Chronicle by Michael Arnone. The previous deadline had been the beginning of the first term that starts after 30 January 2003. But institutions must still sign up for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System by 30 January, or else lose their INS authorization to accept international students. See

17) Colorado State University is offering a class to educate foreign students about immigration laws, after six Middle Eastern men students enrolled in Colorado schools were arrested for not taking enough courses to satisfy their visa requirements. According to a short note in the December 29th Washington Post, the INS said that none of the men were suspected of any other violation. See

18) Engineering R&D got a late boost from the 107th Congress, according to an article by Bill Williams in the December 2002 issue of IEEE/USA Today’s Engineer. While the recently adjourned Congress was less than productive in passing appropriation bills – getting only 2 of 13 out – the 107th ended on a high note for engineers. It passed several R&D related bills in the ‘lame duck’ session, and authorized record spending levels for Defense R&D in 2003. The most significant bill passed was the Homeland Security Act, which integrates many federal agencies into a new cabinet level department. This act is expected to have a major impact on federal R&D, through its Directorate of Science and Technology – which will be headed by an Under Secretary. The R&D budget for this new department could be as high as $800-million. Another important bill passed was the Cybersecurity R&D Act, which authorizes $978-million over five years to enhance computer system security research. Also passed – and signed by the President on December 19th – was the National Science Foundation Reauthorization act, which puts NSF on a track to double its current funding level over a five-year period. Finally, the Defense appropriations bill, which was signed into law in October, contains record levels of funding for the military’s R&D program. See

19) A new report from the National Science Foundation’s oversight body says that the Foundation must spend a larger share of its $5-billion budget on research infrastructure, in order to maintain US leadership in science. An internal survey of NSF’s disciplinary offices yielded a wish list of almost $2-billion a year through 2012 for scientific equipment ranging from computer networks and research vessels to telescopes and synchrotrons. That is double the current spending level for such equipment by NSF. The top spending priority, according to the NSF Board, is cyberinfrastructure to benefit the entire scientific community – including more powerful computers, and better storage, analysis, visualization, and distribution tools. NSF now spends 22% of its budget on tools, and the Board would like to see that grow to 27%. The Board hopes that the projected doubling of the NSF budget will allow such an increase without negatively impacting funding of traditional ‘principal investigator’ type projects. See

20) The University of Missouri has been stunned by a judge’s ruling that state law entitled some 200,000 past and present students to free tuition, according to an article by Tamar Lewin in the December 17th New York Times. University alumni who brought suit hope to have some $450-million refunded to the students. The suit was based on an 1889 law providing that “all youths, resident of the state of Missouri, over the age of 16 years” could attend the university without paying tuition. Several agrarian states had such laws in the late 1880’s, but all but Missouri changed them by the 1930’s. Missouri changed its law to allow tuition payments only last year, while this suit was pending. The university stated during the trial that payments made by students were ‘educational fees’, not tuition. University fees were nominal until 1986, when charges based on credit hours taken were instituted. Current students carrying 16 credit hours pay about $3200 per semester. The Judge ruled that the university’s charges had violated the law since that change in 1986. The university is considering an appeal. See http://www/

21) State spending on higher education is increasing at the lowest rate in a decade, according to an article by Michael Arnone in the Chronicle. In spending plans that states have adopted for the 2002-03 fiscal year, aggregate appropriations for higher education rose only 1.2 percent. That is about a quarter of the increase in the previous year. These statistics show how vulnerable higher education is to economic downturns. They also reflect a pessimistic assessment of state’s overall economies. With many state economies in trouble, budget allocations may change from week to week – so the projected 2002-03 appropriation expected may in fact be overstated. State by state statistics can be found at The Chronicle article is at

22) Biologists who are intent on publishing an ‘open access journal’ in their field via the Internet have received a $59-million grant to pursue it, according to a note in the December 20th Science. The aim of the organizers is to create a new economic model in scientific publishing – a low-cost operation that would pay its way with author’s fees (estimated at $1500 per article initially). In 2000, these same scientists initiated an effort to advance open-access publishing by threatening to boycott journals that do not make their content available for free. That threat was not carried out because authors did not have an alternative journal to go to. The new journal is intended to provide that alternative. See   

23) MIT is looking into accusations that its premier laboratory lied to cover up serious problems with the technology at the heart of the administration’s proposed antimissile defense system, according to an article in the January 2nd New York Times by William Broad. A tenured MIT faculty member who is a prominent critic of the antimissile plan alleges that the MIT lab is hiding evidence of serious flaws in the ground-based rocket meant to destroy incoming enemy warheads by impact. Officials at the institute deny any wrongdoing. See


Distance education, technology

24) Wireless technology, which allows users of personal and hand-held computers to connect to the Internet without cables, got a boost as three major companies – AT&T, IBM and Intel – formed a new company to create a nationwide network. According to an article by John Markoff in the December 6th New York Times, the new company – Cometa Networks – plans to deploy 20,000 wireless points by the end of 2004. The service is intended to provide a seamless high-speed wireless access to the Internet without the user having to give credit card numbers or other additional information. Initial service will be in the 50 largest metropolitan areas. Cometa executives said that the development of the national network would combine with Intel’s planned inclusion of wireless Internet capability in all its mobile microprocessors to spur a fundamental shift in the way Americans access the Internet. Industry analysts have said that growing WiFi use could steal valuable subscribers from cellular companies. See

25) In a related article in the December 17th New York Times, John Markoff writes that the Defense Department is concerned that expansion of wireless Internet access could interfere with military radar. The Pentagon is seeking new limits on the WiFi technology through the global overseer of radio frequencies. Industry officials are trying to stave off that effort, saying that WiFi is a rare bright spot for the communications industry. The debate, which involves low-power radio emissions that the Defense Department says may jam as many as 10 types of radar systems used by the US military, presents a thorny policy issue for the Bush administration. See

26) Universities are already rushing toward a wireless future, installing networks that allow students and faculty to surf the Internet from laptop computers in the classroom, in the library, or elsewhere on campus. But according to an article by John Schwartz in the January 2nd New York Times, professors say the technology poses a growing challenge for them: retaining the student’s attention. Students write or read e-mails, play computer games, and otherwise busy themselves on their laptops while faculty members lecture. One faculty member tried to ban Internet access in the classroom, only to have the students revolt. He now has compromised by requiring that any student using a laptop to access the Internet sit in the back rows of the classroom, so that other students are not distracted. Some students argue that such multi-tasking is stimulating, and keeps them more alert to what is going on in the classroom. See

27) Three companies interested in computer-aided design, engineering and manufacturing programs in colleges are giving $313.8-million worth of technical software to Brigham Young University, according to a note in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. Electronic Data Systems, General Motors Corporation, and Sun Microsystems are providing 2275 software licenses and technical and training support. The licenses are principally for Unigraphics, a software package that automates design and engineering processes for a wide variety of tasks. The companies have made similar, but smaller, to 20 other universities. See

28) The US Army has awarded a $350-million contract to the University of Maryland University College to offer courses to American military employees in Europe for the next 10 years, according to an article in the December 5th Washington Post by Eugene Meyer. The competitively bid contract extends a relationship that the Department of Defense and the university have had since 1949. Last year 47,000 American service members and dependents were enrolled in UMUC classes, with 27,000 of them in Europe. The contract for offering courses in Asia is also up for renewal, with an announcement expected in February. While there may be an online component to some of the classes, they are primarily face-to-face education in regular classrooms on military bases. See

29) In a pair of articles in the New York Times (December 20th and 23rd), John Markoff and John Schwartz describe Bush administration plans for a system to monitor the Internet. A centralized system would enable broad monitoring of the Internet, and possible surveillance of its users. The proposal is part of a report on “The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace” which is to be released in early 2003. The report is intended to create public and private cooperation to regulate and defend the national computer networks from everyday hazards such as viruses, and also from terrorist attack. Experts say that most of the technology needed to mount such a centralized effort is already in place. The types of computerized data sifting and pattern matching that might flag suspicious activities to government agencies and coordinate their surveillance are not much different than programs already in use by private companies. Such programs spot unusual credit card activity, for example. See

30) The Stanford Center for Professional Development and South Korea’s Gangnam-Gu district government have signed an agreement for the online delivery of Stanford University graduate and professional engineering, science, and engineering management   courses to industry students working at companies in Korea’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. The Korean partner will market the program, register students, and coordinate Stanford alumni serving as tutors. Over 250 online courses representing 10,000 hours of new content annually will be available. See


Students, Faculty, Education

31) Globalization is getting a mixed report card in US universities, according to an article by Jon Hilsenrath in the December 2nd Wall Street Journal. For the past three decades, US universities have been schooling an ever increasing proportion of foreign students, many of whom go on to be become business leaders, government ministers, and even presidents when they return back home. Earlier generations of such students embraced the globalization that came to characterize the 1990’s, believing that it would lead to widespread prosperity. After the economic and financial distress that hit Mexico, Asia, Russia, Argentina and Brazil in the past decade, however, the current generation off students is absorbing a sobering new message about globalization and the tradeoffs and turmoil that can come with it. Some professors now question whether capitalism, American style, is readily transportable to developing countries – and express concern that trade liberalization often has worked to the disadvantage of developing countries. See

32) The December 2002 issue of ASEE Prism has an interesting article by Bruce Auster on the lure of industry for engineering faculty members. In several key fields, such as computer science and engineering and electrical engineering, industry continues to steal prized professors. For many professors, the desire to leave the university for industry has less to do with making more money than with stretching themselves professionally. Fearful of losing their top minds to corporate America, some universities are letting their educators straddle the fence between industry and academia. Mechanisms for allowing faculty to try to have the best of both worlds include consulting agreements, launching a company, and sabbaticals. But it is often hard for a faculty member and the university to strike a bargain, with issues such as who will carry the teaching load while the faculty member is away being difficult to work out. See

33) An article by Richard Shavelson and Leta Huang in the January-February issue of Change addresses the issue of responding responsibly to the frenzy to assess learning in higher education. The authors believe that by linking knowledge and various kinds of abilities to a single framework, faculty can develop coherent understandings about assessing different kind of learning with different kinds of tests. They state that instruction and abilities interact in complex ways to yield learning, and that this interaction evolves over time in a fashion that calls forth different abilities at different times. What is needed are clear distinctions between achievement in a domain-specific area of study and demonstrations of more general abilities, and that tests of each ought to be included in the assessment of learning. See

34) Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing a new certificate undergraduate program in Engineering for Developing Communities. The goal of the program is to educate globally responsible students who can offer sustainable and appropriate technology solutions to the endemic problems faced by developing communities worldwide. The program is designed to serve as a blueprint for the education of engineers of the 21st century who are called to play a critical role in contributing to peace and security in an increasingly challenged world. See

35) A consortium of Canadian engineering groups has launched a multimedia campaign to show secondary students the importance of engineering and that the field requires a diverse field of knowledge, including math and science skills. As described in an article in the December 2002 issue of Engineering Times, the program is intended to draw a broad cross-section of Canadian youth to the profession. The campaign web site is anchored by a female cartoon character who leads young student into the world of engineering through interactive exploration. A teacher resource kit is available to try to lure teachers and guidance counselors into using the program in their classrooms and counseling. See



36) The American Society for Engineering Education and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations have invited papers for the Sixth WFEO World Congress on Engineering Education and the Second ASEE Global Conference on Engineering Education, to be held June 20-23, 2003 in Nashville, TN. Conference topics will be: continuing education, international qualifications, and teaching and learning. Prospective presenters are invited to submit an abstract (200-300 words long in English) to, by January 15th. Abstracts will be reviewed by the program planning committee, and accepted authors will be asked to submit a paper for publication on the ASEE web site. All accepted authors will present their papers in a poster session on Sunday, June 22nd, at the conference.  

37) The 2003 International Conference on Engineering Education, sponsored by iNEER, will be held in Valencia, Spain from 22 to 26 July 2003. Abstracts for papers to be presented at the conference are invited by January 15th. The main emphasis of ICEE conferences is international cooperation, and papers for the upcoming conference on topics such as teaching innovations, university-industry collaboration, and international partnerships are sought. For more information see

38) Three engineering education coalitions—SUCCEED, Greenfield, and Foundation – are sponsoring the fourth in a series of workshop-based conferences on engineering education, 16-18 March 2993 at Tempe, Arizona. For details see


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