INTERNATIONAL ENGINEERING EDUCATION DIGEST

February 2004

Copyright © 2004 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.

 

CONTENTS

1 - International developments

2 - US developments

3 - Distance education, technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment

6 – Journals

·         International Journal of Engineering Education

·         Issues in Science and Technology

·         European Journal of Engineering Education

7 – Meeting

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

1 - International developments

Bigger role for science proposed to UN – Two reports recently submitted to United Nations Secretary Kofi Annan make a strong pitch for developing nations to build up their science and technology bases to improve conditions in their countries, according to an article in the 6 February Science by Jeffrey Mervis. The two independent reports underscore the importance of improving universities, funding the best scientific research through peer review, and providing government leaders with impartial technical advice. One report was written by the InterAcademy Council, and the other (still in draft form) by the UN Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the Millenium Project. Both reports maintain that countries cannot overcome myriad food, health, environmental and other problems without help from the scientific and technical communities. The UN task force advocates “entrepreneurial universities” that would encourage faculty members to tackle these pressing problems at the same time as they pursue excellence in teaching and research. In the 13 February Science, an editorial by Kofi Annan reiterates the importance of the role of science and technology in addressing the critical needs of developing countries, citing the two reports. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)  For the InterAcademy Council report, Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology, see http://www.interacademycouncil.net/streport  

Blair raises tuition - Britain ’s Prime Minister Tony Blair narrowly prevailed in a parliamentary vote to revamp the country’s higher education system, according to a 28 January New York Times article by Patrick Tyler. He had to fight a revolt in his own Labor Party to pass legislation which substantially increases tuition rates, which will go from nominal to as much as $5000 a year starting in 2006. The legislation on university finances had become a referendum on Mr. Blair’s hold on his party after six and a half years in power, and a reflection of deep discontent both with his Iraq policy and with his style of governance. Supporters of the tuition increase said that Britain could no longer rely on the taxpayers alone to finance university education as more students entered the system. (See http://www.nytimes.com) 

Emirates universities critiquedA report commissioned by the government of the United Arab Emirates blames the public institutions of higher education in the country in part for the high unemployment among recent graduates.  Two universities and eleven colleges of technology were the focus of the report, which found that roughly half of the students majored in arts and humanities, while most of the jobs in the UAE were in engineering, medicine and business.  Graduates arrived at university deficient in critical skills, and then received an education which too often was substandard.  Recommendations included better funding for higher education, a mechanism for student job-placement, and expansion of science and technology education for first year students.  This report was written by Daniel del Castillo for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/01/2004012704n.htm)

India and Pakistan hold science talks – The science ministers of India and Pakistan met recently for the first time in the countries’ 57 year history, according to an article in the 6 February Science by Pallava Bagla. The two countries are nuclear powers who have fought three wars, and continue to threaten one another along a tense border. The science ministers are attempting to warm up relations between scientists across their border, however, and are setting up expert panels to explore interactions in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, natural product chemistry and information technology. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)

European Commission proposes fine for Italian universities – For only the second time in history, the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, has proposed a substantial fine on a country for failing to correct a practice which the European Court of Justice has pronounced to be illegal.  The Court of Justice ruled in 2001 that Italy had denied non-Italian lecturers in its universities the same compensation and benefits accorded to Italian citizens.  Italy ’s government had written legislation to correct the situation, and that legislation was under debate in the Italian Parliament, but the Commission found that bill to be defective and thus proposed the $388,000 a day fine, according to Francis X. Rocca in the Chronicle of Higher Education. This event is the latest skirmish in a battle which began in 1984.  (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004020507n.htm)

Japan embraces ‘Made in China’ label – Top end Japanese electronics manufacturers are moving operations to China, building immense new plants and research centers there to take advantage of abundant lower cost Chinese labor. According to an article in the 17 February International Herald Tribune by Ken Belson, cost pressures are forcing them to forget old fears of having their best technology stolen or of harsh publicity at home about moving high paying jobs overseas. One executive says, “We have to overcome our fear or we won’t be able to survive in the market.” Another observed: “Comparing Chinese and Japanese engineers on a cost-performance basis, Chinese are superior. They are hungrier. Most Japanese are no longer hungry.” (See http://www.iht.com)

Afghan university entrance exams invalidated Daniel del Castillo reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education that entrance examinations administered in Kabul , the capital of Afghanistan , were invalidated on the basis of evidence indicating widespread corruption in the system.  These examinations are the sole determining factor of admission into the most selective programs, including engineering.  The higher education minister is committed to improving the system.  (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004020402n.htm)

Digital divide challenged – Many policy makers, academics and non-governmental organizations believe that the difference in availability of information and communication technologies between rich and poor countries will enable the rich to get richer while the poor are left behind. A new paper questions the notion of a worsening digital divide between rich and poor, however, according to an article in the 24 January The Economist. Two economists at the World Bank, Carsten Fink and Charles Kenny,  have concluded that the divide’s size and importance have been overstated, and that current trends suggest that it is shrinking rather than growing. They point out that, for example, telephone penetration and internet usage have been increasing faster in low and middle-income countries than in high income countries. The authors conclude that the most striking feature of the per-head divide in access to information and communications technologies is not how large it is, but how rapidly it is closing. (See http://www.economist.com)

Wanted: retired profs for overseas assignments – The Association of Commonwealth Universities, representing 480 universities primarily in former British colonies, has created a database of retired university professors and administrators who would be willing to accept short-term positions in universities in underdeveloped countries in Africa , Asia and the Caribbean .  Positions range from three months to two years, and the hiring countries pledge to provide salaries comparable to those in the host institution. So far, 700 people have expressed interest, according to Henk Rossouw writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i22/22a03203.htm)

French researchers issue ultimatum – French researchers are forcing a showdown with their government over poor funding and scarce opportunities for young scientists, according to articles by Barbara Casassus in the 6 and 13 February issues of Science. Claiming that the government has severely cut funding for research, hundreds of lab directors have threatened to stop doing administrative duties en masse on 9 March if the government does not release funds owed to research institutes from the 2002 budget and reinstate 550 permanent research jobs abolished in favor of short-term contract positions. Researchers are also incensed over a shortage of positions for young scientists. An Internet petition from the protestors has accumulated more than 42,000 signatures since its launch on 7 January. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)    

New international technology university announced – Alan Brender reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education that Japan and Malaysia will jointly open a technology university in Malaysia .  While many of the specifics have yet to be worked out, the emphasis is likely to be on engineering and information technology. By 2012, 5,000 students will be enrolled.  (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i24/24a03502.htm)

Hungarian science on the chopping block – The Hungarian Scientific Research Fund has been forced to put on hold all grant payments in the wake of a staggering 27% cut proposed for its $33-million budget, according to an article by Richard Stone in the 13 February Science. Less than three months before it joins the European Union along with nine other countries, Hungary is in financial crisis; the finance ministry is seeking ways to shrink the country’s $5-billion debt in accordance with strict EU rules. The cuts also threaten to take the wind out of the Research and Technological Innovation Fund, a new source of financing that aims to foster joint research between industry and academia. In a recent speech, Hungary ’s prime minister said that R&D is crucial to competitiveness – but its future now is uncertain. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)

2 - U S developments

NSF director resigns – Rita R. Colwell, director of the US National Science Foundation, has resigned her position, effective February 21.  During her tenure in office, she oversaw the growth of the NSF budget from $3.4-billion in 1998 to $5.58-billion last year.  Arden Bement, current director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology will replace her on an interim basis. Dr. Colwell will assume the position of Chairman of Canon US Life Sciences, and will also serve as Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Anne Marie Borrego reported for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004021102n.htm)

Bush vision for NASA - The US now has a vision for space exploration with a White House seal of approval, according to an article by Andrew Lawler in the 23 January issue of Science. President Bush has announced his intention to retire the aging shuttle, redefine the purpose of the half-built space station, and design and build a vehicle to take humans to the moon and then to Mars. NASA is to begin testing a new launcher in 2008, and the shuttle is to be retired in 2010 after hauling up the last pieces of the space station. Work on a lunar base could begin as early as 2015, and the space station would be abandoned the following year. A manned trip to Mars would follow much later. The bulk of the funding for the new initiative will come from reshuffling and cutting existing NASA programs. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)

NSF budget wins, loses – In the budget proposed by US President George Bush, the National Science Foundation would receive an increase of 3%, but lose its Math and Science Partnership, which would be transferred to the US Department of Education.  Graduate fellowships would increase in number but remain constant in dollars.  In a similar change, the average amount of research grants would increase by $3000 but the number of such grants would decrease by about 70.  Under this budget plan, the NSF would invest in streamlining its operations, but at a cost of 26% more than it spent on such operations in the current fiscal year.  Five areas which would receive priority are biocomplexity in the environment, human and social dynamics, math sciences, nanoscale science and engineering, and a new initiative, the workforce for the 21st century.  Reporting on this budget for the Chronicle of Higher Education was Anne Marie Borrego.  (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004020304n.htm)

California budget cuts deepen – California ’s new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has proposed a state budget that requests an 8% cut for the University of California , according to an article by Robert Service in the 30 January Science. The largest cut in four straight years of cuts to the UC system would result in fewer students, open faculty positions left unfilled, and an end to outreach programs to spur math and science achievement among minorities. The budget proposal aims at digging California out of a $14-billion deficit. The Governor’s proposals include a 40% rise in graduate student fees and a hike in out-of-state tuition, which faculty members fear will make them less competitive in attracting research grants. The state legislature will make final decisions this summer, and university leaders will be lobbying hard to minimize cuts. (See http://www.sciencemag.org)

U of California agrees to fine – Two weeks after the US Department of Energy announced an open competition for the management of its five national laboratories, the University of California and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab agreed to pay back the federal government $3.9 in overcharges, interest and investigation fees related to research conducted at the lab.  The laboratory maintains that there was no “malice” in the inappropriate charges, writes Thomas Bartlett for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and blames a new accounting system for creating confusion in the minds of some managers.  A former lab employee, Michelle Doggett, says she was fired after reporting accounting problems in 1996. This year she settled her claim against the University of California in an out-of-court settlement worth $990,000.  The university responds that there was no retaliation against Ms. Doggett, and that this inquiry and settlement will not harm the university’s bid to retain management of three of the five national laboratories in the up-coming competitions. (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004020905n.htm)

Management of US national labs up for bid – The US Department of Energy published a notice in the Federal Register inviting bids for managing five national laboratories.  This is the first time in almost a half a century that such competition has been held.  Iowa State University is expected to bid for the Ames Laboratory, which it now manages.  Similarly, the University of Chicago will likely bid to retain its direction of the Argonne National Laboratory.  Bidding for Los Alamos will be particularly competitive: the University of Texas System and the Battelle Memorial Institute are planning to bid against the University of California system, which has until now held the management contract, according to Anne Marie Borrego of the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/01/2004012802n.htm)

US image abroad needs repair – A US State Department official in charge of public diplomacy has acknowledged that America’s standing abroad has deteriorated to such an extent that “it will take us many years of hard, focused work” to restore it. As described in an article in the 5 February New York Times by Christopher Marquis, the State Department has assigned Margaret Tutwiler to try to address rising hostility toward the US in much of the Muslim world. A bipartisan Congressional report issued last October identified systemic problems, including a lack of Arabic speakers in the State Department – where only five Americans are fully fluent. One congressman cited polls showing that only 15% of Indonesians, 7% of Saudis and 15% of Turks have a favorable image of  America . (See http://www.nytimes.com) 

 

3 - Distance education, technology

New technology reduces web-surfing – RSS technology is gaining some converts among colleges and universities in the US as a way of sending out information to people who want and need it, according to Dan Carnevale writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. RSS (“really simple syndication”? “rich site summary”?) permits readers to indicate what new material they want to have delivered to them over the Internet from specific sites and how often they want updates.  This approach saves time traditionally used in surfing from one site to another searching for updates.  Administrative applications of the technology permit universities to get information to students about campus events, for example, but some researchers are also using it to share information.  (http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a03101.htm)

Hydrogen-fueled car plan questioned – The National Academy of Sciences has issued a report indicating that President Bush’s plan for cars running on clean, efficient fuel cells is decades away from commercial reality, according to an article in the 6 February New York Times by Matthew Wald. The Bush administration anticipates mass production of hydrogen cars by 2020, but the NAS study says that goal is “unrealistically aggressive.” The NAS notes that hydrogen is difficult to ship and store, that power from fuel cells is far more costly than that from a gasoline engine, and that the least-expensive methods of hydrogen production use pollution producing fuels like coal or natural gas. One of the authors of the NAS report says “Real revolutions have to occur before this is going to become a large scale reality.” (See http://www.nytimes.com)

Surf Africa – Africa lit a shiny new fiber-optic cable almost two years ago, but few Africans are using it, according to an article in the February 2004 IEEE Spectrum. The major barrier to connecting Africans to the broadband communications capability at their borders is the lack of development of communications within the countries, primarily due to barriers and restrictions by government owned and operated telephone monopolies. Lack of affordable, fast Internet access has a stifling effect on developing countries – on business, education, medical, social and cultural spheres. Currently only 0.2% of the world’s Internet traffic comes from Africa . (See http://www.spectrum.ieee.org) 

Engineers dispute Hubble decision – A pair of NASA engineers has disputed the basis for administrator Sean O’Keefe’s decision to abandon the Hubble Space Telescope, according to an article in the 7 February New York Times by Dennis Overbye. In light of the Columbia space shuttle disaster, O’Keefe felt that the shuttle should be used only for destinations where a ‘safe haven’ for astronauts was available in case of repair needs, and that the Telescope did not provide that feature. Using internal NASA documents, the two engineers argue that a Telescope repair mission could be launched just before a scheduled Space Station shuttle mission, so that the second shuttle could be diverted on a rescue mission to the Telescope if  necessary. The documents, sent anonymously, have found their way to the House Science Committee, which is looking into the decision to abandon the Telescope. (See http://www.nytimes.com)

Hubble huggers get reprieve – Under pressure from Congress, astronomers, and interested amateurs, NASA is taking another look at its recent decision not to send another shuttle flight to service and upgrade the Hubble telescope. As reported in the 6 February Science by Andrew Lawler, Senator Barbara Mikulski pressed NASA chief Sean O’Keefe to have an independent review made before a final decision. That review – expected to take two months --  will be conducted by Harold Gehman, the retired admiral who led the investigation last year into the Columbia shuttle disaster. (See http://www.sciencemag.com) 

 

4 - Students, faculty, education

Reports on “affirmative action” abroad – The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a major section on affirmative action policies in higher education around the world, with a focus on India , Brazil and Malaysia . In the introduction to the three part study, reporter Beth McMurtrie cites Philip G. Altbach, director for Boston College ’s Center for International Higher Education, as saying that most countries in Latin America , Europe and Asia do not have anything like an affirmative action policy in higher education.  Because until recently higher education was seen as the preserve of an elite, anyone outside that elite had no expectations of going to university.  Only countries with readily identifiable groups with enough political influence to push through preferential policies are likely to have affirmative action laws.  In Western Europe , according to Jurgen Enders, director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands , the population is generally racially homogeneous, and ethnic minorities growing with immigrant communities are usually young and lacking political voice.   (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a03801.htm)

Marion Lloyd’s study on Brazil focuses on tension between those who advocate racial quotas and those who see poverty as the line limiting access to higher education.  Adding to the confusion is the problem of fitting racial identity into bureaucratic categories when the Brazilian culture has a richly differentiated pattern of linguistic descriptors for skin and hair color and facial features resulting from a long history of intermarriage. (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a03802.htm)

Martha Ann Overland writes about India , where quotas are not a dirty word, and where affirmative action has been operational for over a half century.  In fact, India ’s constitution guarantees that untouchables and members of indigenous tribal groups occupy almost one quarter of government jobs and places in higher education.  Despite aggressive attention to quotas, poverty and discrimination remain rampant for the lower-class population, and the number of groups demanding the protection of quotas is growing steadily.  (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a04001.htm)

Malaysia , reports David Cohen, has recently dismantled its system of “positive discrimination” which favored Malays in public universities.  The quotas, which were instituted to reverse a situation in which the great majority of university graduates were Chinese and fewer than 10% were Malay, have now resulted in an inversion of these figures.  A side effect of the quotas, however, has been a large outward migration of students to the US for their higher education, resulting in an estimated $1-billion economic loss to the country. (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a04201.htm)

Fewer US students graduating on timePolitical scrutiny is being focused on the proportion of US entering college students who obtain a degree in a normal period of time, according to an article in the 17 February International Herald Tribune by Edward Fiske. The Bush administration has indicated that it wants to build new accountability measures into the coming reauthorization of the Higher Education act. Also of concern is the proportion of US young people who enroll and graduate from colleges and universities. Only 39% of those aged 24 to 35 in the US have obtained a bachelors degree in 2001, compared with 40% in South Korea , 51% in Canada , 48% in Ireland , and 48% in Japan . Retention appears to be the major problem; only 55% of bachelor’s degree seekers who embarked on their studies at four-year institutions in 1995-96 graduated from that institution in six years. Much of the increased political scrutiny is motivated by changing demands in the US economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that new jobs for workers with a high school education or less will grow by only 12% from 1998 to 2008, while those requiring associate’s and bachelor’s degrees will grow by 31% and 22% respectively. Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country have responded to such research findings by building programs aimed at increasing their retention and graduation rates. (See http://www.iht.com)

US university restructures financial aid – Positioning itself as a leader in rethinking financial aid, the University of Virginia recently announced that it would replace loans with grants to some low-income students and cap the amount of loan debt of middle-income students by increasing grants.  Starting in the fall of this year, students from families with income below 151% of the federal poverty line will have their loans replaced by UVa grants.  By 2005 the university will enable any student who qualifies for any sort of financial aid to limit loan debt to 25% of the in-state cost of attending UVa for four years.  In addition to increasing grants, the university plans to increase the number of financial aid staff to work with students and their families, according to Sara Hebel for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/02/2004020902n.htm)

Jobs dicey for Chinese graduates – China is facing a problem of absorbing the growing number of university graduates into its white-collar job market, according to an article by Ted Plafker in the 17 February International Herald Tribune. The country has increased university graduates substantially since 1999, but job growth for the improved workforce is barely keeping up. Last year saw an increase of 46% in the number of graduates leaving Chinese higher education institutions, and this June officials expect a further 680,000 to push the total to 2.8-million. Most graduates will find jobs, but many will not be in their first choice of location – typically Beijing or Shanghai . Good jobs remain available in China ’s less-developed western region, but few graduates are willing to move there. This year’s graduation glut is compounded by a significant overhang from last year, when the job market was disrupted by the SARS epidemic. Those who do find appropriate jobs are settling for less money. Survey results indicate that starting pay for university graduates has dropped one-third in the past year alone. (See http://www.iht.com)

The role of the humanities in a technological world – In an extended article entitled “A Manifesto for the Humanities in a Technological Age,” Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, argue for a place for the humanities at the interdisciplinary table of problem solving.  Taking economist Jeffrey D. Sachs’s 2002 advice that world problems must be solved by bringing the earth sciences, ecological science, engineering, public health, and the social sciences together, the authors state that a sixth chair is missing: the humanities must be represented in global problem solving, to bring their skills in “historical, comparative, and critical analyses.”  “A world without the humanities would be one in which science and technology knew no point of social reference, had lost their cultural compass and moral scope.” (See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23b00701.htm)

Engineering education, the four year degree, and the liberal arts – The February issue of Prism, a publication of the American Society for Engineering Education, contains an article by Thomas K. Gross about the role of the liberal arts in the engineering curriculum.  The article, “Opening a New Book,” quotes William A. Wulf, president of the US National Academy of Engineering, as predicting that eventually engineers will be required to have a graduate degree to practice the profession.  This, suggests Gross, would open the undergraduate curriculum to non-technical courses. Kellie Bartlett wrote this piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2004/02/2004021601j.htm)

 

 5 – Employment

Workforce changes reported – A recent study from the National Science Board recommends that technical workforce changes require Federal government attention, according to an article in the February 2004 Engineering Times. Using data from the 2000 census, the NSB found a larger than previously known percentage of degree-holding, foreign-born professionals working in the US in science and engineering occupations. According to the study, 2000 census data shows that foreign-born workers with bachelor’s degrees represented 17% of the total science and engineering positions held by people with bachelors degrees. The foreign-born proportion rose to 29% among those with master’s degrees, and 38% among those with doctorates. The report calls for the Federal government to address how to meet the security needs of the US while supporting policies that attract foreign-born talent that the nation needs, desires and appreciates. (See http://www.nspe.org) To obtain the full NSB report, “The Science and Engineering Workforce – Realizing America’s Potential,” go to http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/documents/2003/nsb0369.nsb0369.pdf

Engineering degrees again most lucrative – According to the most recent report on starting salaries issued by the US National Association of Colleges and Employers, majors in computer engineering and chemical engineering are the most lucrative college degrees.  Although civil engineers and electrical engineers are still relatively high on the list, starting salaries in both have declined somewhat over the past year, according to Jeanne Sahadi, writing for CNN/Money.  (See http://money.cnn.com/2004/02/05/pf/college/lucrative_degrees/index.htm)

Bush’s annual economic report unleashes political firestorm re:offshoring A firestorm erupted with the release of the annual Economic Report of the President on February 9. In the report, N. Gregory Mankiw, chair of the While House Council on Economic Advisers, defended off-shoring of jobs as an essential component of lower-priced goods offered to the US consumer, and stated that Chinese exports to the US are not “a primary factor in the displacement of American manufacturing workers.”  The report also contained predictions of strong economic growth and job creation in the coming years, with unemployment, now at 5.6%, falling to 5.4% in 2005, accompanied by payroll expansion. Mankiw and his boss, President Bush, immediately incurred the wrath of candidates for the Democrat nomination for US president, and from executives and political leaders across the country, who see job loss as a direct result of ill-advised, even traitorous, decisions to take jobs overseas.  Jonathan Weisman wrote this article on February 10 for the Washington Post. (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

Job seekers form group – Frustrated with unsuccessful job searches, some unemployed Americans have turned to groups that use the Internet and other marketing tactics to get their members back to work, according to a 6 February story on AOL News. Not traditional outplacement or networking groups where members discuss interviewing techniques, these new groups operate like small companies: selling workers, using the Internet, fliers and meetings with business and political leaders to promote themselves. One such group in New York City has had two dozen of its members find jobs in the year it has been in operation. (See http://aolsvc.news.aol.com)

Outsourcing helps world economy – International software experts and government officials meeting in Bombay have concluded that outsourcing information technology-related jobs to developing countries such as India will boost competitiveness and slash costs, according to an article in the 4 February New York Times by the Associated Press. One speaker argued that more jobs in developing countries would build “larger middle classes and create a larger market for US products in the future”.  However, Indian software companies have been battling a backlash from the US and some other countries which fear that India is stealing jobs. The US Senate recently passed a bill that would prohibit government contractors from shifting work overseas – but such legislation would have little impact since only 2% of India’s US$10-billion annual software export revenue comes from government-related projects. (See http://www.nytimes.com)

Siemens software jobs moving east – The German firm Siemens will move most of the 15,000 software programming jobs from its offices in the US and Western Europe to India, China, and Eastern Europe, according to a 16 February story on NYTimes.com. The company stated that it has realized that such jobs need to be moved from high cost countries to low cost countries. About 3000 of the 30,000 software programmers that Siemens employs are already in India . (See http://www.nytimes.com) 

Anxious about outsourcing – State and federal lawmakers in the US concerned about the impact of outsourcing on American jobs are finding little success in efforts to stop technology companies from sending jobs overseas, according to an article in the 30 January Washington Post by Greg Schneider. But a paragraph buried in the giant federal spending bill signed by President Bush on 23 January could allow state laws to deal with preventing the export of white-collar jobs to cheaper foreign markets. The paragraph prohibits the federal government from awarding certain contracts to companies that will perform the work overseas. The measure expires at the end of September, however, and industry officials say few contracts are likely to be affected. But the provision sets a precedent that information technology companies say could stoke a national backlash against them. Some are concerned that the clause in the federal spending bill sends a signal to the rest of the world that it is okay to become protectionist. (See http://www.washingtonpost.com)   

Education is no protection – A conference in New York City last month, entitled “Offshore Outsourcing: Making the Journey Work for your corporation”, was designed to help US corporate executives learn about the shipment of higher paying whiter collar jobs abroad to countries with well educated but lower paid workers. According to an article in the 26 January New York Times by Bob Herbert, the conference was a success, and it drew few protestors. One of the conference organizers said that companies have come to realize that although offshore outsourcing is painful for their current employees, if they do not do it they will lose more jobs in the future and will not have the ability to grow. Countries such as India , China and Russia have strong education heritages, and when combined represent a well educated pool larger than the entire US workforce. (See http://www.nytimes.com) 

 

6 – Journals

International Journal of Engineering Education – A special issue of this journal (volume 20, number 1) , on Trends in Electronics Education, has been edited by guest editors Ahmad Ibrahim and Aleksander Malinowski. A guest editorial introduces the eleven theme papers that follow. In addition, there are five papers on a variety of engineering education topics. (See http://www.ijee.dit.ie)

Issues in Science and Technology – The Winter 2004 issue includes seven major papers in addition to features on activities on Capital Hill and recent developments in science and technology. Paper topics include problems with America ’s coral reefs, pornography and the internet, the GM food debate, global public health, the politics of coal, climate change policy, and challenges to the US semiconductor industry. (See http://www.issues.org)

European Journal of Engineering Education – The March 2004 journal is a special issue on Information and Communications Technologies in Engineering Education. Nine related papers cover such topics as lifelong learning, distance education, electronic mentoring, web-based learning, virtual project rooms, and multimedia in design education. In addition, six regular papers discuss the Bologna Declaration, accreditation, project based learning, and getting students involved in engineering. (See http://tandf.co.uk/journals)    

 

7 – Meetings

2004 International Conference on Engineering Education – A conference on “Global Excellence in Engineering Education” will be held at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville during 17-21 October 2004. The conference is being co-sponsored by the University of Florida and the International Network for Engineering Education and Research (iNEER). Abstracts of papers proposed for presentation at the conference are due April 1st, through the conference web site: http://succeednow.org/icee/

7th UICEE Annual Conference on Engineering Education – The annual conference of the UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education was held in Mumbai , India , from 9-13 February 2004. In observance of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Centre at Monash University in Australia , Russel Jones presented a keynote paper on “UNESCO-based efforts at capacity building from UNESCO’s ICEE to WFEO.” Over 40 papers on various aspects of engineering education were presented, and published in the conference proceedings. (See http://www.eng.monash.edu.au/uicee)

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