9 January 2001


Copyright © 2000 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved


A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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






International developments


Substantial investments in Russian higher education and scientific research by the U.S. are imperative to nurture the roots of democracy there, according to a 52-page report issued last month by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As described by Bryon MacWilliams in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the report states that financial support for the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences is a prerequisite for successful political and economic developments in that country, which is wavering between authoritarianism and democracy. The report, “An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations”, states that supporting higher education and research in the former USSR offers the U.S. and the West an opportunity to leverage relatively modest investments today into significant long-term payoffs. The report recommends a slate of activities, both institutional and financial. See


The European Union is planning to assist scientists in the war-torn Balkans through the funding of collaborative research efforts. As reported by Richard Stone in the 22 December 2000 Science, the EU plans to issue a call for proposals in March for collaborative work between two Balkan areas – Albania and the former Yugoslavian countries – and two EU member states. Likely themes are environmental degradation and public health issues linked to war and refugee migration. Funds being committed are modest, some 4.3 million Euros. See


Chinese applicants to U.S. universities often resort to shortcuts or dishonesty, according to an article in the Chronicle by Daniel Walfish. Study in the U.S. is seen in China as a ticket to a bright future, and for the year ended September 30th the U.S. embassy issued more than 24,000 visas to Chinese students and scholars. According to the Chronicle article, a significant portion of those students use shortcuts or dishonest practices to gain admission, including ghostwritten essays, forging degrees and transcripts, or using stand-ins to take standardized tests. The article describes how commercial companies in the U.S. provide services such as ghostwritten applications. Admissions officers in the U.S. are on guard against such practices, and may call applicants to determine whether their English skills are consistent with the statements sent in. But of the 55,000 Chinese now studying in the U.S., most are seen as excellent students – hard working and high achieving. See


The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has approved a new national guideline for engineering practice covering the environment and sustainable development issues, according to a notice in the January 2001 issue of Engineering Times. The guideline establishes core principles of environmentally friendly engineering and the environmental responsibilities of engineers. It is based on four tenets: education, awareness and competence; integration and protection of the environment in engineering work; cooperation and compliance; and leadership and responsibility. See


Several countries belonging to the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation have taken a major step to assist engineers in cross-border practice, according to an article by Jennie Ganz in the December 2001 Engineering Times. APEC is an international organization that promotes open trade and economic cooperation among 21 countries of the Pacific Rim and the United States. In November it introduced the APEC Engineer Register, with the goal of having each member country develop a registry that complies with international standards in several areas: engineering education, professional experience, meeting home jurisdiction requirements, a verified record of responsible charge, and a commitment to continuing education. The United States, which is represented by the U.S. Council for International Engineering Practice, declined to approve the standards adopted to date by APEC. See



U.S. developments


A study by the American Council on Education shows that a majority of Americans believe that colleges provide high-quality programs and support important scholarly research, according to an article by Jamilah Evelyn in the Chronicle. But many overestimate the cost of tuition, think that most institutions overemphasize intercollegiate athletics, and say that they seldom hear from college presidents about important issues. Sixty percent of the respondents do not believe that colleges try to keep tuition to an affordable level for families like theirs. A majority of respondents also said that colleges should play an active role in their communities. With respect to online courses, 43% worried about whether quality was as good as those offered in person, with 83% preferring that their children take traditional courses. See


IEEE-USA recently released the results of a study on attitudes about the employability of mid-career and older engineers in the U.S. workforce. Results of the study indicate that only 10% of older electrical and electronic engineers said that they had experienced age discrimination at work in the last five years. The low percentage appears to be a result of a tight labor market in the field. The most common complaint by engineers over 45 was being denied a request for support of technical training. Supervisors of engineers and HR personnel listed problem solving, technical knowledge, communications, and teamwork skills as most important in the evaluation of engineers. Older engineers were generally rated as good as younger ones in these categories, but were found to be weaker in adaptability and ability to keep up with new developments. A PowerPoint summary of the study can be found at


The bar for tenure is rising at major research universities and at teaching institutions alike, according to an article by Robin Wilson in the Chronicle. Decisions are still based on three components – teaching, research and publishing, and service. But today, most departments demand more published research – either articles or books or both. The process of judging a tenure candidate varies from place to place and from discipline to discipline, but whatever an institution expected 10 years ago, it now expects more. A depressed job market in some disciplines has made it easy for universities to demand more. Besides demanding that young scholars produce more, some universities are weeding out those who do not look promising well before the traditional seven-year tenure decision. One observer criticized these trends as follows: “We are forcing 27-year-olds, who really don’t know much yet, to generate publications they’re going to be embarrassed by later – only to keep a job. Ninety percent of the tenure decision rests on the production of articles, most of which shouldn’t have been written in the first place.” See


In a Viewpoint article in the January 2001 issue of Engineering Times, William Wulf – President of the National Academy of Engineering – describes engineering ethics to be a major challenge for the 21st century. While stating that most engineers are quite ethical, Wulf believes that two intertwined issues will make engineering ethics challenging in the future: 1) engineering is changing in ways that raise new ethical issues, and 2) these new issues are ‘macroethical’ issues that are different than those that the profession has dealt with in the past. He points out that the Earth is a humanly engineered artifact, and that the ability of humans to do projects large enough to have major impact on our planet has increased greatly. He also cites the current ability of humans to create genetically modified organisms as an example of a venture into unknown ethical space. For this Viewpoint article, see For the speech on which this article was based, given at the 2000 NAE Annual Meeting, visit


A final version of a guidebook on the use of standardized tests in admissions and other student placement decisions has been released by the U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights. According to an article in the Chronicle by Sara Hebel, the 92 page document is significantly altered and toned down from original guidelines drafted in April 1999.The guidelines are aimed at giving colleges and schools technical assistance and practical guidance on how to use high-stakes tests in educationally sound and legally appropriate ways. The document urges colleges to weigh whether the standardized tests they use accurately and reliably measure the skills, knowledge, or abilities they want to evaluate. The guidelines also say that education and state officials should determine whether high-stakes tests have a disparate impact on any particular group of students. See



U.S. Politics


College leaders and lobbyists do not know quite what to expect from President-elect George W. Bush, according to an article by Stephen Burd, Sara Hebel, and Ron Southwick in the Chronicle. They are pleased by his campaign rhetoric about the importance of education and scientific research, and that he has proposed increasing spending on Pell Grants. But they worry that Bush will have trouble carrying out his promises if he sticks by other major pledges, such as increasing defense spending and enacting a massive across-the-board tax cut. They also fear that he will try to eliminate some popular Clinton administration programs, such as direct lending, and restrict areas of research that are unpopular with conservatives. Other Clinton administration programs appear to be safe: Hope and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits, and the AmeriCorps national-service program. On affirmative action, observers say it is too early to tell how Mr. Bush’s fondness for the Texas policy that he calls “affirmative access” will translate into any changes at the federal level. Many science and research lobbyists are cautiously optimistic about Mr. Bush’s pledge to continue a five year plan, begun in 1998, to double the budget of the National Institutes of Health. However some researchers fear that he will not allow the government to support embryonic-stem-cell research, a field they say could lead to cures for heart disease, diabetes, and spinal-cord injuries. Besides increasing support for NIH, Mr. Bush has said that he will pump more money into research programs of the Department of Defense – which could lead to increased university research funding in several areas. See


The 107th Congress will include 15 lawmakers with engineering and science backgrounds, according to a summary in the January 2001 Prism. John Warner (R-VA) is the only Senator with a technical background. Among eight engineers in the House are several veterans: Joe Barton (R-TX), Michael Bilrakis (R-FL), and Joe Skeen (R-NM), all with more than 15 years of Capitol Hill experience. Other engineers in the House are Ernie Fletcher (R-KY), John Hostettler (R-IN), Bill Luther (D-MN), Clifford Stearns (R-FL), and John Sununu (R-NH). See


As many state legislatures begin their 2001 session, higher education officials in some states are asking for smaller budget increases or are preparing to defend their requests against lawmakers who want to balance state budgets on the backs of higher education, according to an article in the Chronicle by Sara Hebel, Peter Schmidt, and Jeffrey Selingo. Some college officials are taking a more aggressive approach, however, arguing that new research funding and support to lure students into high-demand fields could drive state growth even as the nation’s economy slows. This article provides a summary of developments in several states and regions. See


President-elect Bush has nominated Roderick R. Paige, the superintendent of schools in Houston, to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. According to articles in the Chronicle by Stephen Burd, the former college football coach is likely to focus on accountability in elementary and secondary education and on providing parents with more choices among public schools. College leaders were pleased that Mr. Bush had not selected a conservative ideologue that would use the department as a bully pulpit to attack higher education. But with his expected focus on elementary and secondary education, college lobbyists are unsure what kind of leadership he will bring to issues important to colleges. College groups are now awaiting the President-elect’s selection for the next assistant secretary for postsecondary education, the chief policymaker for higher education. See


Over the past eight years, respect for President Bill Clinton has grown in the scientific community, according to an article by David Malakoff in the December 22 issue of Science. Respect grew as Clinton, and his science-savvy vice president, faced down Republican congressional leaders who tried to slash science budgets, and instead pumped major funding into basic research. Clinton also gets high marks for policies that promoted everything from information technology to the use of human fetal tissue in research. Some give his administration low marks in several areas, however – efforts to coordinate the government’s science bureaucracy, efforts to get faster and cheaper results from stagnating space and military budgets, and international scientific issues. See For a December 6 interview with President Clinton by Science, reported in the same issue, see



Information technology


Universities are moving toward the paperless campus, according to an article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle. Schools such as the University of Texas at Austin are exploring whether official announcements, bulletins, and form letters that it regularly sends to its 50,000 students could be sent by e-mail instead. But all students are not on line, and there are security and access concerns. One concern is finding a way to authenticate messages, so that a student knows that it was sent by the college and not a mischievous friend. Another concern is how to get students to look at electronic bulletin boards, so that individual messages do not have to be sent to each. Although e-mail messages are fast and accurate, it is not clear that extensive use to replace other forms of communication on campus would result in major cost savings. See


In a perspective article in the December 22 issue of Science (page 2269), three Georgia Tech authors describe new developments in chip packaging technology. They point out that electronic packaging plays an important role by supplying power to chips, distributing signals between chips and among devices through interconnects, providing heat dissipation, and protecting components from environmental impact. Conventional electronic packaging uses wire bonding technology, in which the active side of the silicon chip faces up and interconnection is made by drawing wires to the substrate. They go on to describe flip chip packaging, in which the active side of the silicon chip faces down and is directly connected to the substrate or printed wire board. This technology, first developed some 40 years ago at Bell Labs, has many advantages, according to the authors – higher input/output density, shorter signal paths, better heat dissipation, and more efficient interconnection assembly. Currently only 1% of all integrated circuit chips are assembled by flip chip technology, but given rapid advances in microelectronics and electronic packaging, this percentage is expected by the authors to increase dramatically. See



Distance education


In an innovative use of distance education techniques, videoconferencing is letting students from three countries take one product design course. According to a report by Jessica Ludwig in the Chronicle, students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, and Seoul National University in South Korea are participating in a course “Challenges and Solutions for Global Product Realization”. The course teaches students about product design, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing, using case studies of real world companies. Students meet in classrooms on the three campuses, with lectures transmitted using dedicated ISDN connections. Students see and communicate with each other via live video feeds projected at the front of each classroom. Six member design teams include two students from each country. At the end of the semester, students meet and present their complete product designs. See


Oakland University is opening an online MBA program for students in Lebanon. According to an article in the Chronicle by David Cohen, the MBA program will combine distance learning with Beirut-based seminars. Oakland University is located just north of Detroit, which is home to a large concentration of Arab-Americans who trace their roots to Lebanon. The course is being conducted by the University in tandem with an advisory board of Lebanese-born business executives. See


In passing the final appropriations bills for fiscal 2001, the U.S. congress funded a Department of Education request for an important distance-education grant program. The ‘Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships’ program will get $30-million to continue it into its third year. According to an article in the Chronicle by Dan Carnevale, LAAP grants help institutions to experiment with educational technology to create innovative distance-education programs. Some institutions get as much as $3-million over the life of a LAAP grant. See


An article in the January 2001 issue of Prism describes a unique distance education program – delivery of engineering courses from Old Dominion University to students on a submarine under the ocean. Written by Dionne Walker, the article describes how CD-ROM technology is being used to provide the sub’s officers with course materials while they are deployed off the coast of South America. Each course takes about 90 hours to complete, including interactive lessons, homework assignments, and tests. See


Italy’s National University Consortium for Telecommunications is making final preparations to deliver courses for a pilot Ph.D. program in telecommunications to students at some 20 university sites around Italy, according to an article by Burton Bollag in the Chronicle. The courses will be transmitted by satellite, starting with 17 10-hour interactive video seminars in which about 200 graduate students are expected to participate. The program includes self-learning material provided over the Internet and e-mail communication with distance lecturers. All teaching and materials are in English. If deemed successful, the program is scheduled to be expanded in two years to deliver doctoral programs in telecommunications to students all over Europe. See


A federal commission has sent out a message to state and federal agencies that rules and regulations governing distance education are out of date and must be revamped. According to an article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle, the panel specifically mentioned two federal financial aid policies that need revision – the 12 hour rule that requires that students take at least 12 hours of instruction a week to be considered full time, and the 50-percent rule that requires that an institution participating in federal financial-aid programs teach no more than half its courses at a distance. The Education Department is currently conducting a demonstration program that allows a select group of institutions to ignore the two rules and still provide federal financial aid. The report called “The Power of the Internet for Learning” (See outlines recommendations to improve education at all levels. See



Upcoming meetings


Three of the NSF funded Engineering Education Coalitions – Succeed, Gateway, and Foundation – have scheduled a working conference at Clemson University from 18 to 20 March 2001. Titled “Share the Future – II”, the planners invite engineering educators to experience some of the latest engineering education innovations. Workshops will be organized around six themes: assessment, curricular innovations, innovative classrooms, managing change, student success and development, and technology in education. For conference details see


To celebrate National Engineers Week 50th anniversary, the National Society of Professional Engineers and its partner societies and companies have created “A sightseer’s guide to engineering”. This state-by-state guide to engineering achievements and activities will launch on the first day of National Engineers Week 2001, February 18th-24th (see sights/). Many other E-Week activities and programs are also planned. “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” is a joint project of NSPE and IBM, its industry partner for E-Week – scheduled for February 22nd. The annual Future Cities competition, involving 30,000 seventh and eighth graders across the U.S., will culminate with a national competition in Washington on February 20 and 21 (see This year’s national engineering design challenge, sponsored by JETS, culminates with its national competition on building devices to help people with disabilities. A web based site targeted at students in middle school (see uses the intricacies of nine things such as roller coasters, CD players, and cars to pique the interest of young people. The “Discover E” program will send 40,000 engineers into schools during E-Week to help millions of students learn about practical applications of the math and science they are learning through hands-on engineering activities. The 11th annual National Technological University “Discover Engineering” telecast on February 20 will feature the new Jimi Hendrix acoustical hands-on museum, as well as the Future Cities Competition. See the January 2001 Engineering Times ( or the E-Week website ( for more details on E-Week.





The online journal TechKnoLogia has released its January/February 2001 issue, with a theme of Technology for Management of Education and Learning Systems. Theme papers include “Education Management Information System”, “Technology and the Management of Learning”, and “Education and ICT’s”. There are several additional papers on technologies at work, planning for technology, technologies today, technologies tomorrow, and profiles in development. See


The January/February 2001 issue of Foreign Affairs contains several papers on Challenges for the Next President: Tensions with China, Bioterrorism Dangers, Free Trade Hurdles, Military Shortcomings, and Regional Security in Asia. It also has a major section on Bridging the Globalization Gap: the rich-poor divide, the democratic deficit, universal human rights, perilous hegemony, the importance of private property, and the fate of the nation-state. See



Positions of possible interest


From the January 2001 ASEE Prism:


Ø      Dean, School of Engineering, Clarkson University, NY

Ø      Faculty positions, School of Engineering, the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Ø      Dean, College of Engineering, West Virginia University

Ø      Dean, School of Engineering and Engineering technology, LeTourneau University, TX


From the January 5th Chronicle of Higher Education:


Ø      Dean, School of Engineering, University of Alabama – Birmingham

Ø      Dean of Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, AZ

Ø      Founding Dean, College of Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio

Ø      Provost/EVC, University of California – Davis

Ø      VPAA, University of New Haven, CT

Ø      Provost and VPAA, Indiana State University

Ø      Dean, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland – College Park

Ø      Provost and VPAA, Northern Michigan University

Ø      VP for Research, Clemson University, SC

Ø      President, Tufts University, MA


And from the January 12th Chronicle:


Ø      Dean, Engineering and Computer Science, California State University – Fullerton

Ø      VPAA, Arkansas State University

Ø      VPAA, University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana

Ø      Provost, New Mexico State University

Ø      Dean, School of Information Studies, SUNY Buffalo, NY

Ø      Dean of the Graduate College, Oklahoma State University

Ø      Provost, Washington State University

Ø      President, Northern Arizona University





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