7 July 2003

Copyright © 2003 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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


International developments

  1. Higher education as global private enterprise
  2. New rules for Japanese research funding
  3. Kenya decreases government control of universities
  4. New global ethic for engineers
  5. US visas for academics given priority
  6. India targets R&D leadership
  7. US rejuvenates UPADI relationships

U.S. developments

  1. US Supreme Court rules on affirmative action
  2. Class of 2003 faces challenging job market
  3. Congressman proposes free access to results of federally funded research
  4. US security depends on global science
  5. New Jersey delays University of Phoenix decision
  6. Americans support legislation limiting tuition increases
  7. Foreign language program support suggestion
  8. US Supreme Court refuses appeal on “research exception” principle

Distance education, technology

  1. Video conferencing results reported
  2. Lawsuit may cloud future of Linux
  3. Virtual global Internet research lab established
  4. New technologies pinpoint location, may threaten privacy
  5. Notebook computer sales top desktops
  6. Wi-Fi grows; will the bubble burst?
  7. School to train video game designers

Students, faculty, education

  1. Applying learning science to universities
  2. Support needed for students from low-income families
  3. US higher education seen as good investment
  4. Advice on becoming a global engineer
  5. ‘Being President’ vs. ‘Doing President’
  6. Improving quality while reducing costs


  1. European Journal of Engineering Education


  1. WFEO/ASEE International Colloquium, June 2003
  2. ASEE Annual Meeting, June 2003
  3. Frontiers in Education Conference, November 2003


International developments

1) Higher education as a global private enterprise has received extensive coverage recently, as both major and minor players have made strategic moves.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article written by Goldie Blumenstyk, on higher education companies which have stepped up their global presence. Sylvan International Universities Network ( USA ), for example, is established on four continents, enrolls 86,000 students, and expects to make US$100M in profits this year on revenues of US$410M. Apollo International (USA) is not nearly as large, but it is now aiming at the same market, Latin American, that Sylvan is targeting. Driving this attention is the exploding demand for higher education in rising middle classes throughout the world, and national governments’ inability to keep pace with demand. Brazil is an attractive target, as is India .  (See

The same Chronicle of Higher Education writer also reported another acquisition: Corinthian Colleges, Inc., (USA) said it plans to purchase CDI Education Corporation of Canada for about US$37M, thus gaining 45 colleges and about 6,100 students.  CDI, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, operates corporate training programs as well as post-secondary programs in business, allied health and information technology.  (See

Sylvan Learning Systems’ University of the Americas in Chile is the subject of a dispute.  Most of its students have grades too low to quality them for admission into other, more traditional, universities. According to its administrators, these students benefit from its remedial programs and are given a chance for an education that was previously unavailable to them. According to members of Chile ’s academic establishment, the University of the Americas is raising unrealistic hopes, might not be worth its high tuition, may not have high quality standards, and so on.  It doesn’t help that public universities in Chile traditionally run deficits while the University of the Americas , under Sylvan’s direction, grows fast and makes a profit. The article was written by Burton Bollag for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

For other coverage, see,, and

2) New rules are shaking up the system for basic research funding in Japan, according to an article by Dennis Normile in the June 27th Science. Proposals drawn up by the Council for Science and Technology Policy include opening funding up to private-sector researchers, giving institutions more flexibility to hire staff and manage funds, reimbursing institutions for overhead costs, and hiring scientists as grant administrators. Government officials will spend the next year drawing up guidelines to implement the reforms. (See

3) Kenya ’s President Mwai Kibaki decreased government control of his country’s universities by giving up his role as chancellor and instead appointing seven others to replace him.  He further promised to perpetuate this act by passing legislation prohibiting other presidents from controlling public universities.  The government also moved to permit faculty to create trade unions.  (See

4) A new global ethic for engineers is outlined by Joel Cuello in the Summer 2003 issue of The Bent of Tau Beta Pi. Paraphrasing a statement by the Chairman of Ford Motor Company, the author states that “A good engineering professional organization delivers excellent products and services, while a great one delivers excellent products and services and strives to make the world a better place”. This article details the need, the theory, and the practice for a new global ethic for engineers. Cuello develops a four point approach, dealing with unforeseen effects, best usage, high-level technology development, and position statements. (See  

5) Reporting a step in the right direction, Michael Arnone of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes that the US State Department has instructed its overseas consular offices to put students, professors and researchers first in line for the in-person interviews that are now part of the visa application process.  The four groups which had advocated a postponement of the new procedure, pointing out the serious impact which delays would have on higher education, were the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, the Council of Graduate Schools, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. They expressed their appreciation for this latest development.  (See

6) India is taking steps to reposition itself as a global R&D leader, according to an article by K. C. Krishnadas in the May 19th EETimes. Currently seen as a source for low cost technical labor and services, India is planning to revamp its image as a center for technological excellence and innovative engineering. Its Department of Information Technology is studying how to promote the country as a global research and development destination for IT. The scientific advisor to the country’s prime minister says that in order to be a global competitor, India will have to design, develop and produce its own hardware. These moves are driven by national security concerns as well as economic motivations. (See

7) The National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers have recently teamed up to rejuvenate the US relationship with UPADI, the Pan American Union of Engineering Associations, according to an article in the July 2003 Engineering Times. The purpose of the partnership is to further the interests of US engineers throughout the Western Hemisphere , and to strengthen ties among engineering societies and individual engineers in the region. The two US societies have appointed a joint task force to promote increased activity in UPADI, including involving US engineers in its several committees. (See


U.S. developments

8) On Monday, June 23, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the use of affirmative action in the selection of students for admission into college, but rejected the specific admission policy used by the University of Michigan ’s College of Literature , Science, and the Arts as not being narrowly tailored enough to its goal of achieving diversity.  This decision marked the first time that the court had directly addressed the contentious issues since 1978, when quotas for admission were struck down in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.  At that time, however, an opinion written by Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., expressing the majority opinion of the other members of the court, stated that it was legal for colleges to afford special consideration to race in efforts to achieve diversity in their study body.  The initial report on the court’s finding was written by Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

As expected, both sides of the intense controversy claimed victory.  Because the court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions policy, which takes into consideration race and ethnicity of applicants, supporters of affirmative action are claiming that a huge victory has been won, and that consequently, affirmative action can continue to be used in college admissions.  On the other hand, because the court rejected the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts’ practice of assigning an automatic 20 bonus points to black, Hispanic and American Indian applicants, (amounting to the difference between a 3.0 or B grade average and a 4.0 or A average), opponents of affirmative action claim that the system has suffered a serious defeat.  Peter Schmidt was again writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

What may not be apparent to readers less familiar with US higher education is that the Supreme Court rulings will have little effect on the majority of US college and universities which are not selective in their admissions policies.  Relatively few institutions receive more applications than they have openings.  But for those institutions which are covered by this decision, both public and private, the court decisions will cause soul-searching, legal wrangling and a look at staffing levels in admissions offices.  Jeffrey Selingo wrote this for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

One predicted result of the court’s decisions on affirmative action is likely to be a return to consideration of race in the award of financial aid, a practice that was either quietly or loudly abandoned during the 1990s under pressure from state officials wrestling with ambiguous laws and lower court findings.  In Texas , in particular, the result of the recent decisions could be important, since the institutions in that state had turned to private donors and various other independent organizations to provide money for race-conscious awards.  Sara Hebel wrote this for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

9) The graduating class of 2003 faces a challenging job market, according to an article by Danielle Boykin in the July 2003 Engineering Times. With the unemployment rate above 6%, many of this year’s graduates are finding that the days of multiple job offers, high salaries, perks, bonuses and dream jobs are gone. About 42% of employers responding to NACE’s ‘Job Outlook 2003 Spring Update’ indicated that they were going to cut college hiring. And although over half of the firms surveyed indicated that they would hire about as many graduates as last year or more, last year’s hires were down 36% from the previous year. The survey did show that people with degrees in business, engineering and education had the best prospects for finding jobs, however. (See

10) Although he lacks the required co-sponsor, US Representative Martin Olav Sabo of Minnesota has introduced a bill into Congress stipulating that research papers produced with “substantial” federal funding would be ineligible for copyright protection.  This would allow free public access to these works.  The bill is consistent with the approach being taken by a group called the Public Library of Science, headed by Harold Varmus, former director of the US National Institutes of Health. Jeffrey Brainard, reporting for the Chronicle of Higher Education, said that Sabo’s staff expects the bill to receive co-sponsors and to stir up debate.  (See

11) The June 20th issue of Science contains an editorial entitled “Global Science and US Security”, written by David Galas and Henry Riggs. The authors state that while the US scientific enterprise is currently superb, we must recall that in virtually every field it has been leveraged by the global scientific community. In a tight-knit relationship, global science has been fueled by US initiatives: money for research, competition for funding, an emphasis on innovation, and a powerful scientific culture. But the US is fully dependent upon the international scientific community for its own technical strength in areas such as commercial, educational, and defense research and development. The authors are concerned that moves by the US such as immigration restrictions, limits on who can do research in sensitive areas, and government imposed restrictions on publication of research results will limit international collaboration – and blunt the US technology edge. (See

12) In a surprise move, the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education decided to delay until September 26 a vote on an application by the University of Phoenix to open a campus in that state.  Higher education officials had so strongly opposed a similar move in 1998 that the University of Phoenix withdrew its application.  In the intervening years Phoenix arranged for library resources, strengthened the general education component of its curriculum and increased faculty-student contact.  This most recent delay will force Phoenix to comply before the final date with requirements they intended to fulfill after receiving approval.  Both stories on this topic were written for the Chronicle of Higher Education by Will Potter. (See, and

13) The US Educational Testing Service recently released results of a survey which indicated that Americans in large numbers support their system of higher education in all aspects but one: its cost. Almost 75% of those surveyed supported the notion of the federal government limiting college tuition increases to around the cost of living, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Elizabeth Crawford. (http://chronicle/com/daily/2003/06/2003061906n.htm)

14) Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow from Stanford University ’s Hoover Institution, recommended to the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Select Education that US$20M given to Title VI programs in the aftermath of September 11 be reallocated to the Defense Language Institute.  Federally-funded Title VI programs are foreign-language and areas studies.  According to Mr. Kurtz, they are biased against US foreign policy and discourage students from working for the US government. He also recommended that an oversight committee for Title VI programs be created to manage the programs and eliminate this anti-US bias. Rebutting Mr. Kurtz, Terry Hartle from the American Council on Education said that the real heart of the controversy was not Title VI programs in general, but the 15 Title VI programs that focus on the Middle East .  He claimed an oversight committee would be subject to political influence. This report was written by Elizabeth Crawford for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

15) The US Supreme Court’s refusal to consider an appeal in a patent case left Duke University very disappointed. At issue is the “research exception” principle which allows researchers to use tools or procedures freely if they are engaged in non-business investigation. Duke and the other institutions that supported Duke believe that this decision to let stand a lower court decision seriously threatens the conduct of university research, according to an article written by Goldie Blumenstyk for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See See also an article in the June 13th Science, entitled ‘Academia gets no help from the US in patent case’, which quotes the US Solicitor General as saying that academia’s worries about the patent ruling are overblown. (See


Distance education, technology

16) In a comprehensive report, Florence Olsen of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about the University of Arizona ’s four years of experience with video conferencing at its Eller College of Business and Public Administration. Two groups of students have now graduated from its “electronic-classroom M.B.A. program,” all residents of the Silicon Valley in California , where they attend classes in the 3Com Corporation’s headquarters in Santa Clara . The TeleSuite system used by the University of Arizona is known as immersive videoconferencing, a far cry from earlier systems.  Its high cost – US$17,000 per month – buys the university high resolution, a customized classroom, and a nearly life-sized screen.  University officials say they want to use the program to serve more California students.  Other US universities have made substantial investments in videoconferencing for other reasons.  Duke University uses videoconferencing not for instruction, but for meetings between faculty and staff on the home campus and in Germany .  The University of Pennsylvania uses it to enrich the programs at its Wharton School with guest speakers from distant locations.  Ohio State uses videoconferencing to obtain a critical mass of students for specialized graduate programs.  Many questions remain, however, about the value, in terms of actual learning, of the high priced videoconferencing facilities as compared with lower priced versions.  (See

17) An obscure Utah software company is pursuing a legal dispute with IBM over the Unix operating system, which may impact the future of Linux. According to an article in the June 19th The Economist, the SCO Group has accused IBM of illegally copying code from Unix to Linux, and is claiming $1-billion in damages. IBM denies any wrongdoing, and claims that its 1980’s contract with AT&T (which originated Unix) is irrevocable and perpetual. The rights to Unix eventually ended up in the hands of SCO. The SCO lawsuit seems to have done little to hamper the adoption of Linux by large firms. See (

18) A group of researchers has launched a new virtual global Internet research lab, according to an article in the June 27th Science by Robert Service. Called Planet Lab, the collaboration consists of 60 researchers from 16 countries as well as from Intel and Hewlett-Packard. The new partnership aims to build a proving ground for applications that could enable the Internet to monitor itself for viruses and worms, recall Web pages long after they have disappeared, and develop other powerful new capabilities. Researchers aim to test a broad spectrum of applications with a network of 1000 computers. (See

19) New technologies can pinpoint your location at any time and place, according to an article in the June 2003 IEEE Spectrum by Jay Warrior et al. These technologies promise safety and convenience, but also threaten privacy and security. One example of the coming wave of wireless communications technologies is the RF-ID tag, which contains a chip that responds to an RF field from a scanner. They are small and inexpensive enough to be used in grocery store products for inventory management – but can contain unique identifying codes that allow them to be traced back to the store from which the item was purchased. Another application of wireless technology is Enhanced 911, where wireless carriers are required to be able to locate within 50 to 100 meters any wireless phone calling 911. Cell phone providers are currently scrambling to use the GPS satellite system to enable such pinpointing. (See

20) Notebook computer sales surpassed sales of desktop computers for the first time in May, according to a note in the July 3rd Wall Street Journal. Notebooks accounted for more than 54% of the $500-million in retail computer sales in May, as reported in a survey by the NPD Group. The surge in notebook computers is attributed to greater interest in being able to take your computer on the go. The survey also reported that May was the first time that liquid crystal display monitor unit sales volume surpasses cathode ray tubes. In May 2002 LCD’s were only 22% of total monitor sales, but by May 2003 LCD sales more than doubled to capture 52% of the market. (See

21) Is the ‘Wi-Fi’ wireless internet boom about to turn to a bust? An article in the June 26th The Economist asks this ominously familiar question. A research firm estimates that 15-million Wi-Fi adapters for computers were sold last year, and 4.4-million access points. Alongside this boom in private use of the technology, many firms have rushed to set up public ‘hotspots’ in airports, hotels, shops and restaurants – hoping to charge for Wi-Fi access. Public hotspots are expected to number more than 70,000 this year, even though there is little evidence of demand for them. The best known network of hotspots to date is operated by T-Mobile, a wireless operator, in over 2000 Starbucks shops in the US . But only some 25,000 people are accessing these hotspots each week, which averages out to less than two users per day per hotspot. The cost of connecting each hotspot to the Internet is several hundred dollars per month. And a subscription to one network of hotspots does not entitle you to use others. Wi-Fi will likely continue to spread and remain popular – but like other elements in the world, it may disappoint investors. (See

22) Southern Methodist University is starting the first school in the US to train video game designers, according to a note by Charles Haddad in the July 7th Business Week. Grads of the 18-month program could start out earning $48,000 in an industry that is adding 5000 jobs per year. The Dallas university expects some 40 students to pay $37,000 for the graduate program, which starts in the fall. (See


Students, faculty, education

23) Writing in the July/August Change magazine, Diane Halpern and Milton Hakel argue for applying the science of learning to the university and beyond. They observe that the preparation of virtually every college teacher consists of in-depth study in an academic discipline, but that very little of their formal training addresses topics like adult learning, memory, or transfer of learning. The authors state the first and only goal for colleges and universities: teach for long-term retention and transfer. They list ten basic principles, drawn from what is known about human learning, to enhance education in pursuit of this goal. (See

24) Admission to US universities is skewed toward rich kids, according to an article in the July 7th Business Week by Laura D’Andrea Tyson. To break the cycle, poor applicants deserve special consideration, according to the writer. In the information age, higher education is more and more important as the ticket to economic success. But unfortunately, access to this ticket depends on economic success itself. Children from low-income families are much less likely to graduate from college than those from high-income families. The author argues that students from low-income families must be helped to get a ticket to college. She says that colleges and universities should mount more aggressive efforts to identify and recruit qualified students from low income families, then provide adequate financial aid to allow them to study. (See

25) US higher education is a good to very good investment, according to 96% of Americans, as reported in a survey cited in the June 19th USA Today. But more than half identify rising tuition costs as the major problem facing higher education, and about the same percentage say the nation falls short in ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to higher education. The poll, conducted by Educational Testing Service, also reports that 66% of respondents are willing to pay more taxes to increase financial support for college students, while 61% are willing to pay more taxes to increase support to colleges and universities. (See

26) Advice about becoming a global engineer is given to students by Terrance Malkinson in the June issue of IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer. The author states that to be successful in today’s global workforce, a graduate must be competent in both technical skills and in many other critical skills, including personal, social, business, and global literacies. He lists some 16 needed ‘soft’ skills, and offers advice on where to get assistance in developing them. (See

27) An engineer who has served as a university president for two decades, Steven Sample of the University of Southern California , offers advice to others interested in pursuing academic administration positions in the Summer 2003 issue of The Bent of Tau Beta Pi. He differentiates between ‘being president’ and ‘doing president’, noting that while many want the perquisites and deferential treatment which accompany high academic office, it is equally important for them to want to contribute something great and lasting to their followers and the organization they comprise. (See

28) Improving quality while reducing cost in higher education is a challenge explored by Carol Twigg in the July/August Change magazine. The author notes that US universities continue to be challenged by the need to increase access to higher education, to improve the quality of student learning, and to contain or reduce the rising costs of instruction. These elements are of course related, and in the past improving access or improving quality has meant increasing costs. But colleges and universities have not yet begun to realize the promise of technology to improve the quality of student learning, increase retention, and reduce the costs of instruction. The article describes redesign projects to make the teaching and learning process more active and learner centered, including projects that replace lecture time with individual and small group activities – often in computer labs. Applying technology is not beneficial without good pedagogy; but technology is essential to move good pedagogical practice to a scale where it can affect large numbers of students. (See



29) The September 2003 European Journal of Engineering Education contains two papers from the 2002 SEFI annual meeting in Florence, and ten additional peer reviewed papers on engineering education. One of the conference papers, “Are current engineering graduates being treated as commodities by employers?”, was written by the editors of this Digest. The other papers cover such topics as fitting engineering education into new patterns in European higher education, evaluation of engineering programs, engineering practice needs, project based learning, and active learning. (See 


30) The WFEO/ASEE International Colloquium was held from 20-23 June 2003 at Nashville , Tennessee . Planning committee chair Lyle Feisel opened the meeting with a plenary session featuring World Federation of Engineering Organizations President Jose Medem, who described several needs: continuous improvement in engineering education, lifelong learning for practitioners, public understanding of science and engineering, reversing the decline in engineering enrollments, international expertise for engineers, mutual recognition across borders, and consolidation of the many organizations concerned with engineering at the international level. This was followed by a presentation by Ernest Smerdon who dealt with global challenges for engineering education: how to broaden engineering education without losing technical strength, how to adapt to the learning styles of students, the cost of an engineering education, benefits of and issues with virtual universities, practice oriented degrees, etc. The colloquium proceeded with keynote presentations and breakout sessions on three tracks: Continuing Education and Its Delivery, International Recognition of Qualifications, and Developments in Teaching and Learning. It concluded with summaries of papers that had been submitted to an electronic conference held prior to the colloquium, and a briefing for international participants on The Current Status and Future Directions of Engineering Education in the United States . (See

31) The 2003 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition was held from 22-25 June 2003 in Nashville , Tennessee . Keynote speaker was Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She stressed that engineering students need more broadening, but that in order to accomplish that as well as to allow more technical depth in emerging fields, we must move to a graduate degree as the first professional degree. Also noting that engineering enrollments are down at a time when more engineers are needed, Dr. Jackson argued that we must attract a new clientele – women, minorities, handicapped – a group she dubbed ‘the new majority’. The meeting followed with hundreds of papers in breakout sessions sponsored by the various divisions of ASEE. Three distinguished lectures capped the presentations: Elaine Seymour on Knowing What Students Know, Joseph Bordogna on US Graduate Engineering Education, and David Billington on The Interaction of Engineering and Society. The conference ended with its traditional Awards Banquet, honoring the annual crop of deserving awardees. (See  

32) The next Frontiers in Education Conference, sponsored by IEEE and ASEE, will be held at the University of Colorado Boulder from 5-8 November 2003. Keynote speaker will be William Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering. Papers and panels will be offered in parallel tracks, covering dozens of topics in engineering education. (See


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