February 2005

Copyright © 2005 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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


1 - International developments

2 - US developments

3 - Distance education, technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment

6 – Journals

7 – Meetings



1 - International developments

Global Tsunami Warning System – The Director General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, has announced that his organization will build a global tsunami warning system, starting with a $30-million network in the Indian Ocean . As reported in an article by Eli Kintisch in the January 21st Science, the US has also made a commitment to expand its current system – increasing the number of detectors in the Pacific from six to 24, and deploying another seven in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. US officials expressed hope that the proposed UN and US systems would be connected, through an American-led Global Earth Observation System of Systems. (See

Anti-AIDS drugs distributed by University of Zambia – According to UN estimates, 16.5 % of Zambians are HIV-positive.  Thus, it was welcome news when the University of Zambia recently began providing free anti-AIDS drugs to HIV-positive students and faculty.  Most of the funding for the program is coming from the United States , writes Henk Rossouw in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Fundraising for African Institutes – A group of African scientists, engineers and educators are planning  a network of four regional schools that will train 5000 scientists and engineers per year, according to an article by Dennis Normile in the January 28th Science. The planned African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST) would address a dearth of technical graduates in sub-Saharan Africa, which has only 83 scientists and engineers per million residents – one-fifth the ratio for North Africa and one-sixth that for all developing countries. The plan is for four institutes, one each in east, west, central and south sub-Saharan Africa . The first, on land provided by the Tanzanian government in Arusha, seeks to open its doors in 2007. Some $5-billion in endowment will be needed to fund the four institutes, with $500-million needed for the first phase by 2007. Undergraduate and graduate degrees will be offered in science, engineering, economics, and management. (See

UK institutions using foreign students to shore up budgets – British universities are playing a dangerous game, according to an article that appeared on January 26, 2005 , in  They are increasingly relying on foreign students, and their high tuition rates, to shore up flagging institutional budgets, but they are frequently finding that they lack the follow-up to retain these students, and to compete successfully with European universities on the continent and with American universities which are expanding their overseas operations.  (See

Important report recommends huge infusion of money to Ontario universities – In Ontario, which is home to the highest number of colleges and universities in Canada , a report has called for the infusion of one billion dollars by 2007-2008 in order to increase quality.  In addition, the government was also urged to ensure that all students have an opportunity to attend college, regardless of their economic status.  The report, known unofficially as the Rae Review, calls for hiring 18,000 new faculty by the end of this decade, doubling the number of graduate students, and creating a council to monitor progress, writes Karen Birchard in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

NSF planned for Arab scientists – A Saudi millionaire has endowed the first pan-Arab science fund, according to an article in the January 28th Science by Richard Stone. Promising a million dollars a year to the Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), the Saudi businessman will support a new peer-reviewed research competition. The fund will select 20 proposals a year based on merit, backing each at $50,000. Observers hope that the donation will spur Arab governments to strengthen their own support for science. Arab countries spend an average of 7% of gross domestic profit on defense, but less that 0.2% on research and development. (See 

German universities allowed to charge tuition – German universities were generally rejoicing over a decision by the courts to overturn a ban on tuition.  The decision will permit universities in the various German states to decide how much to charge students, and to impose differential tuition scales in different programs.  Tuition of 500 euros per semester appears to be the dividing line between acceptable and outrageous, but for students accustomed to paying nothing, and spending, unchallenged, long years earning degrees, $660 times two appears a heavy price to pay for a year at university, writes Aisha Labi for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Microsoft launches European research project – The Microsoft Corporation is about to increase its research presence in Europe , according to a note by Gretchen Vogel in the February 11th Science. Chair Bill Gates has told government leaders there that Microsoft plans to fund several research centers, graduate scholarships, and scientific meetings across Europe , focusing on the interface between computer science and biology, agriculture, and engineering. The initiative’s first site will be a Center for Computational and Systems Biology in Trento , Italy . That center will receive up to €15-million over the next 5 years, 60% from national and local governments and 40% from Microsoft. The company is reportedly in discussions with universities in Germany , France and the UK , and plans to announce more centers later this year. (See

Nepalese students reported under attack by army – Reports from Nepal , where the king dismissed the government, declared a state of emergency, and severely curtailed communication with the rest of the world, indicate that the Royal Nepal Army fired on student protesters from Prithvi Narayan College in Pokhara.  This report was written for The Chronicle of Higher Education by Shailaja Neelahantan. (See

UN Goals require aid fund increases – The United Nations has issued a report calling for big increases in development assistance, according to an article in the January 19th Washington Post. The report, “A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millenium Development Goals”, was spearheaded by Columbia University ’s Jeffrey Sachs. It calls for donor countries to give 0.7% of their gross domestic products by 2015, and gives advice on how to make the utilization of such aid funds more effective: donors should not dictate development projects from afar; they should support plans that enjoy political legitimacy in each developing country; aid should be targeted at a long list of obstacles to growth; and there are no silver bullets. (See 

University students in Nigeria riot – Two Nigerian universities were recently shut down in the face of student riots over the decision to outsource the management of residence halls.  The University of Lagos and the University of Ibadan both were witness to acts of violence, which included vandalism and looting, directed at university administrators.  Students are pressuring the government to support higher education to the level recommended by UNESCO, writes Wachira Kigotho for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Taiwan spending plan for universities triggers debate – Taiwan has adopted a $1.6-billion plan to strengthen its research universities, reigniting a debate over how much of the money should go to a handful of leading institutions. According to an article by Dennis Normile in the February 4th Science, Taiwanese legislators have voted to allocate $315-million a year for 5 years to refurbish university facilities and boost faculty salaries. Under rules set out by the outgoing cabinet, the bulk of those funds would go to only two institutions: the National Taiwan University in Taipei , and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan , with the rest going to research centers affiliated with a dozen or so universities with active research programs. Part of the government strategy is to reduce the number of universities on the island, currently over 100. The Ministry of Education has supported the concentration on top research institutions by publishing statistics that Taiwan is not keeping pace with its neighbors in supporting its leading universities. Critics of the current plan hope that a new cabinet, currently being formed, will rethink the directions currently set. (See


2 - US developments

Budget squeeze for ’06 – President Bush has sent his proposed budget for FY06 to the US Congress, and its projected impact on areas of interest to engineers and scientists is analyzed by Jeffrey Mervis in the February 11th Science. Many US science agencies would have to make do with less under the 2006 budget request, which aims to cut the deficit, boost military and antiterrorism spending, and make tax cuts permanent. Most science policy analysts are wringing their hands over the tiny increase sought for the National Institutes of Health, a small rebound for the National Science Foundation after a cut in 2005, and reductions in the science budgets at NASA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the departments of energy and defense. At a time when other countries are ramping up their scientific efforts, they say, the United States should not be resting on its laurels. One proposed cut of great concern is the significant shrinking of the National Science Foundation’s role in improving science and math education – particularly programs to improve the skills of elementary and secondary school science and mathematics teachers, develop new teaching materials, and evaluate whether those activities are working. (See

High profile CEO out at Hewlett Packard – The turmoil that has surrounded CEO Carly Fiorina at Hewlett Packard has come to a head with her dismissal by the corporation’s Board. A major cover story in the February 7th Fortune by Carol Loomis detailed “Why Carly’s Big Bet is Failing”, noting that buying Compaq three years ago has not paid off for H-P investors. Wall Street pundits have been clamoring for a breakup of the company, separating the lucrative printer business from the computer and other technology areas – but Ms. Fiorina had resisted and to date the Board has indicated that it will stay with her strategy, but without her at the helm. Fiorina was the highest-ranking woman in corporate America and one of the boldest gamblers in the high-tech world. Even critics note her skills, one saying “She’s a very smart, talented executive”. The cover story in the February 21st Business Week by Ben Elgin details the challenge of turning the company around as it seeks new leadership. (See, and

US Secretary of Education says no price controls on higher ed – Shortly after Margaret Spellings took over as US Secretary of Education she granted an exclusive interview to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Jeffrey Selingo, in the summary article, reported her assurances that President Bush does not plan to impose price controls on higher education, but rather would work through her to provide better information to people about institutions of higher education so they could make better decisions.  This put to rest some of the concerns that Ms. Spellings might carry over into higher education the mandatory testing and controls which characterized the No Child Left Behind Act for primary and secondary schools which she played a predominant role in drafting.  Spellings also reassured her interviewer that the federal government, in her view, had no role in policing the political leanings of various colleges and their professors.  (See

NIH clamps down on consulting – The director of the US National Institutes of Health, under intense pressure from outside, has announced a ban on all industry consulting by its staff. Many staffers will also have to sell their stock in biotech and drug companies. According to articles by Jocelyn Kaiser in the February 4th and February 11th issues of Science, Congressional and other critics have been troubled by apparent conflicts of interest among some senior NIH scientists. Those critics are praising the new rules, which bar paid or unpaid consulting for drug and medical companies, and even nonprofit organizations. Many NIH staff members are outraged, calling the rules punitive and draconian. (See

Federal grant legalese set to be streamlined – The US government has proposed to streamline the legal environment surrounding federal research grants to universities, in response to complaints that inconsistencies and contradictions in terms make compliance difficult.  And acknowledging that multidisciplinary research was growing, the US science policy office has agreed that more than one person may be listed as a principal investigator on a federally funded project. Jeffrey Brainard wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Lockheed team to build presidential helicopters – After a contest that pitted US domestic pride against global politics, the Pentagon has chosen an international team, headed by Lockheed Martin, to build the next fleet of presidential helicopters, according to an article in the January 29th New York Times by Leslie Wayne. Losing out was Sikorsky Aircraft, which had positioned itself as the “all-American” choice, and had built previous generations of presidential helicopters. In choosing Lockheed the Pentagon signaled a new openness to foreign partners on sensitive military tasks – and also rewarded Britain and Italy , two of the US ’s staunchest allies in the Iraq war. The $6.1-billion contract includes $3.6-billion to build the fleet of 23 helicopters and the rest for research and development. (See 

NIH free access policy still controversial in final form – The US National Institutes of Health have released the final design of their free-access policy which has raised so much interest and concern.  Under the plan, researchers funded by NIH will be asked to send their articles to NIH once they have been accepted for publication in a journal, and to indicate a date, within one year of the publication date, when the article can be released for free access on a central website.  This is a compromise: NIH backed away from a plan to work for free access within six months of publication.  Proponents of free access are lobbying for immediate release.  Publishers, on the other hand, warned that this plan might raise the specter of copyright infringement, and point out, in any case, that many non-profit journals already make articles accessible free within twelve months, reports Lila Guterman in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

New US Education website aims at fighting diploma mills – On February 1, 2005 , the US Department of Education opened a new website with a searchable list of all “institutions accredited by federally approved organizations.”  This is an effort to combat the use of credentials from diploma mills as proof of degrees. The Department points out, however, that just because an institution is not on the list does not mean that it is a diploma mill: approved institutions are only those which participate in federal financial aid programs, thus excluding some legitimate foreign universities and religious colleges.  The list will be updated to include the names of institutions which were once accredited but have lost their status, so that previous graduates can legitimately claim to have obtained an authentic diploma.  Dan Carnevale wrote this article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See


3 - Distance education, technology

Open University ICT project in Africa – The British Open University is developing an ICT project in Africa to transform the quality of education in some of the world’s most impoverished areas, according to an article by Amanda Jordan in the February 2005 RSA Journal. The Digital Education Enhancement Project (DEEP) aims to improve the effectiveness of teaching in some of the most under-resourced schools in sub-Saharan and northern Africa . The project – currently based in some two dozen schools in South Africa and Egypt – is demonstrating that the careful deployment of new technology can make a huge difference to the impact and quality of education. The project initially was aimed at teachers, but has now broadened to include students. DEEP provides laptops, hand-held computers, video cameras, and a range of other technologies to teachers, empowering them by increasing their subject knowledge and awareness of new teaching methods,  improving their efficiency, and increasing their status in the community. (See, and  

Report on quality of on-line degree programs – Reporter Dan Carnevale of The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on a study that concluded that complete degrees offered on-line were more successful than sets of individual courses offered in the same mode. The author of the report, Rob Abel, says that complete on-line degree programs are more aligned with institutional mission and represent more substantial support by faculty and students.  The report, “Achieving Success in Internet-Supported Learning in Higher Education,” was released by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness. (See

Land lines at colleges nearing end – Across the US, wired phones for students are becoming obsolete, according to an article by Susan Kinzie in the February 12th Washington Post. A transformation of campus culture has cell phones keeping students closely tied to friends and family, making social life fluid, and even intruding on professor’s lectures. Campus administrators, who have for years relied on land-line phones as a revenue source, are evaluating whether it makes sense to maintain systems that students rarely use. Wireless computer access on campuses has also enhanced student communications. Some concerns remain about eliminating land-lines entirely, however – student safety, such as 911 calls; cost of international calls on cell phones by foreign students; and dead zones for cell phones. (See 

Will Google’s on-line library project violate copyright? – Google’s previously announced plan to digitize the contents of several major libraries has prompted some publishers to speculate that providing even brief passages might violate copyright provisions.  They also worry that some books assumed to be in the public domain because they were published abroad, might, in fact, still be protected under laws that vary greatly from those in the US . The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers is concerned that publishers have not been approached to determine whether they would object to Google’s plans, while the American University Presses wonders whether Google can legally scan materials, writes Jeffrey R. Young in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Is instructional video game an oxymoron? – About 81% of people age 12 to 17 who regularly use the Internet sometimes play games online, according to a recent survey reported in an article by Matt Richtel in the February 4th New York Times. Some web sites, like that of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, have had instructional online games since the late 1990’s, and the use of such games is growing exponentially as more organizations see interactive games as a way to capture and hold the attention of people bombarded with numerous competing messages. A shooting gallery game from the American Cancer Society lets players flip virtual rubber bands at passing cigarettes, players on the Greenpeace site can intercept harpoons fired from a Japanese whaling ship, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing lets youngsters color and design currency while learning to spot counterfeits. Instead of hitting audiences with loads of information, such games package messages in a fun format, palatable to a young and Internet-savvy audience. (See 

Drop in investment in information technology reported – For a second year in a row, US colleges and universities will spend less on information technology, dropping by about 4%.  While budget shortfalls might account for some of that decrease, increased quality and capabilities of hardware might be other factors in the decline, reports Vincent Kiernan in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The survey includes data from 1427 institutions.  Among institutions that have a preferred vendor, Dell is the choice of 59%, with Apple a distant fifth, at 2%.  Other findings were that there was a small decline in the number of institutions offering distance education programs and more classrooms are wireless than wired.  (See

New on-line program supports recycling, reselling of old computers – eBay has introduced a new plan to encourage people to resell or donate their old computers or to recycle their parts, reports The Economist on January 27, 2005.  A program can read the specifications of the hardware, thus making it easier to determine a fair selling price or the value of a donation.  (See

Second of MIT’s overseas media labs closes – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab Europe is being disbanded after only four years of operation, thus following the fate of a similar project in India .  While the lab in Dublin was supposed to spawn high-tech industries and attract corporate funding, Ireland ’s recent economic downturn prevented that from happening, reports Jeffrey R. Young in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  MIT personnel admit that while yet another iteration of the lab will be opened soon, this time in Taiwan , MIT will not be in charge of its management, leaving that to more knowledgeable locals. (See

High tech digital health network – Eight of the USA’s largest technology companies have agreed to embrace open, nonproprietary technology standards as the software building blocks for a national health information network, according to an article in the January 26th New York Times by Steve Lohr. The goal is to improve care and reduce costs by abandoning paper and moving to a digital system for handling patient records, clinical research, claims and payments. The Bush administration had said that creating such a network should be a national priority over the next several years. The industry group wants the government to provide seed funding and incentives to help doctors and hospitals buy the computer hardware and software to participate in the network. (See 


4 - Students, faculty, education

Influential panel recommends major changes in US tenure policies – A panel of higher education leaders from major universities and university systems has recommended that the tenure track be made more flexible to better reflect the demands of today’s world.  Specifically, they recommend that faculty be given up to ten years to achieve tenure, that faculty be allowed multi-year leaves of absence for personal and professional reasons, that faculty be permitted to step into part-time status for up to five years, and that ways be devised to provide for the re-entry into the academic life of faculty who stop out along the way, reports Robin Wilson from The Chronicle of Higher Education. “An Agenda for Excellence: Creating Flexibility in Tenure-Track Faculty Careers,” was sponsored by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. While many of the ideas have been discussed in other reports, this is the first time that presidents and chancellors have put their weight behind the implementation of such policies.  (See

Virginia changes structure of higher education – Three leading Virginia public institutions have been granted legislative authorization for increased autonomy, primarily in the areas of purchasing, construction and personnel.  Under bills passed by both the Virginia house and senate, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary will be allowed to operate more independently, in return for promises to work closely with primary and secondary schools, to assure access to low-income students, to serve the needs of Virginia students, and to increase research.  The three institutions originally proposed to become even more autonomous, as state-assisted charter universities, but that change was denied, reports Sara Hebel for The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Difficult crossing – The cover story in the February 2005 ASEE Prism, written by Jeffrey Selingo, analyzes the post 9/11 pattern of foreign graduate student applications to US schools. The author cites statistics on the decrease in overall US graduate school applications between 2003 and 2004: China, -45%; India , - 28%; Korea , -14%; and Middle East, - 4%. He also cites changes by field, with engineering taking the largest hit: -36% in applications, and -8% in first time enrollments. Visa delays and rejections have been part of the problem, as have limitations on the appointment of foreigners to research assistant positions using government funds. Competition from schools in other countries has also increased substantially, as they have seen the opportunity to attract students that would previously have considered only US schools. Engineering schools are scrambling to replace the traditional flow of foreign graduate students with US students, but that is not easy given the large percentages of foreign students that have until recently been the norm. (See

Tax proposed on tuition benefits – A US congressional panel recommended recently that college employees be taxed on tuition benefits, writes Jeffrey Selingo in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Other proposals included lower the amount that students could earn without paying Social Security taxes.  Supporters of the change in laws regarding tuition benefits say that it is justified because the benefit accrues to only a few, mostly employees at rich institutions that can afford to offer this perk.  A similar proposal was killed in 1997. Another proposal would affect donations of land to colleges, limiting the tax write off to the cost paid for the property rather than the current fair market price.  (See

Texas Austin prez recommends tuition increases pegged to median incomes President Larry R. Faulkner of the University of Texas at Austin made a major address at the recent annual meeting of the American Council on Education, in which he emphasized the need for colleges and universities to control academic costs and set targets for tuition as a percentage of median wages.  Without this, the cost of attending college will continue to spiral up and the public’s confidence in higher education will continue to erode, writes Jeffrey Selingo in the February 14 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Harvard creates two panels in support of women faculty – In January, President Lawrence Summers of Harvard outraged some audiences by remarks taken to suggest that women have innate differences from men in areas related to science and mathematics.  Harvard has created two panels now to develop plans for advancing female faculty members.  A position will be created in the central administration to work on increasing gender diversity in the faculty.  A second panel, the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, will examine career choices made by women and work to remove barriers to advancement, writes Piper Fogg in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Why few girls choose science and math – Many articles about the status of women in math and science have followed the uproar about the topic started by Harvard’s president. One comprehensive article, by Virginia Valian, appeared in the January 30th Washington Post. She introduces the wealth of data about men and women in science, about cognitive sex differences, about the effects of expectations on people’s behavior, and about unintended misjudgments of women and men. (See A forum for discussion of the facts, research and studies related to women pursuing careers in the sciences has been established by MentorNet founder Carol Muller. MentorNet was founded to support women who face and are influenced by stereotyping and misguided conclusions about their abilities in science and technology. (See 

New US students expect to work, assume debt – In the annual survey of incoming freshmen at US colleges it was revealed that increasing percentages of those students expected to work in order to pay tuition. 47.2% indicated they thought they would have to work.  Over 29% of students will owe at least $3000 by the end of their first year, and nearly 9% expect to borrow over $10,000 in their first year.  Elizabeth F. Farrell, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, points out that students who work over 20 hours per week have a greater chance of dropping out.  Also in this respected survey was evidence that today’s students are less interested in racial and ethnic diversity, and that more of them than before believe that racial discrimination is no longer a problem.  Perhaps as a result of the survey being conducted in a US presidential election year, students showed more evidence of interest in politics.  While 42.8% reported that they were “frequently bored” in high school, 47.5% reported that they earned A averages.  (See

Large numbers of US high school grads unprepared for college, work – “Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?” is the title of a report issued in February by Achieve Inc.  The answer given for about 40% of those graduates is “No.”  College professors who participated in the survey pointed out the greatest problems with writing and math, and students agreed, giving their approval to graduation tests in English and math.  Significant numbers of students thought that they would have applied themselves more had they been pushed harder, writes Michelle Diament for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Cato Institute report recommends elimination of federal student aid – The Cato Institute (USA) identified US federal student aid of being the primary driver of higher tuition costs.  The author of the report is a faculty member from Hillsdale College , one of the very rare institutions that do not accept federal support.  The report includes a recommendation that federal financial aid be phased out in twelve years, writes Silla Brish in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Visa rules relaxed by US State Department – Responding to concerns that onerous visa requirements are discouraging foreign students and scientists from coming to the United States , the US State Department has extended the time many of them can remain before renewing security clearances. According to an article by Kristen Lee in the February 14th New York Times, clearance is required for foreigners working in areas the government deems “sensitive”, such as chemistry, engineering and pharmacology. The security clearance program was established in 1998 to prevent scientists from illegally transferring technology out of the country, and after 9/11 the caseload increased and the process became more time-consuming. The change will lengthen the validity of clearances to up to four years for students, and two for working scientists – rather than requiring annual reapplications. (See 

TV program sheds light on for-profit higher education – A report broadcast on the popular “60 Minutes” program about the for-profit higher education industry has drawn attention to some practices that have already caught the eye of critics.  Practices such as providing false information on graduation rates and making misleading statements about job prospects were highlighted in the show, which focused on the Career Education Corporation, reports Goldie Blumenstyk in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Textbook publishers accused of overcharging US students – An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education written by Thomas Bartlett outlines a report, “Ripoff 101,” which accuses textbook publishers of issuing new editions of books when none are needed, and overcharging US students for the same materials sold abroad at lower prices.  The study was made by the State Public Interest Research Groups: an earlier report on the same topic led the US Congress to hold hearings on the subject in 2004.  The Association of American Publishers calls the methodology flawed.  (See

New score: Chinese government, 0: marriage and children, 1 – Paul Moony, reporting for The Chronicle of Higher Education, says that the Chinese government has lifted its ban on students marrying and having children while at university.  (See


5 – Employment

Engineering salaries top the charts – College graduates with engineering bachelor’s degrees have among the highest annual earnings of any field of study, according to a note in the February issue of Engineering Times. Based on a recent book on employment trends by researchers at Northeastern University , “College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs”, engineering disciplines capture seven of the eight top fields for graduates with only a bachelor’s degree. Mean annual salaries are: Chemical engineering, $75,579; Aerospace engineering, $73,605; Computer systems engineering, $70,084; Physics and astronomy, $69,612; Electrical/electronics engineering, $68,977; Mechanical engineering, $68,806; Industrial engineering, $68,411; and Civil engineering, $66,126. (See  

German data reveal significant off-shoring of R & D – DIHK, the umbrella organization of German chambers of commerce, reported recently that about 20% of German companies planned to move R & D jobs abroad in the next three years.  Further, according to a February 1, 2005, report in the on-line version of the Financial Times, companies that have off-shored production are more likely to move R & D functions out of Germany.  Thus evidence is being presented that low-level off-shoring is a predictor of the migration of higher-level jobs as well.  Not all of the off-shored R & D functions went to low-wage countries, however: nearly half were confined to the 15 countries that made up the European Union prior to the 2004 expansion.  See

Gay engineers gain acceptance – Tech companies are increasingly accepting of gays and lesbians, according to an article by Prachi Patel Predd in the February 2005 issue of IEEE Spectrum. At a time when engineers and the organizations that employ them accept the need to diversify the profession in terms of race, gender, religion, and physical abilities, sexual orientation remains a prickly topic. But according to an index published by the Human Rights Campaign which scores firms on their treatment of gay and lesbian employees, almost all high tech firms in the Fortune 500 were rated “above average”. There is still room for improvement, however, such as in the area of  health care for domestic gay partners. (See

Offshoring, then nearshoring, now homeshoring – The online report Newsfactor reported in February 8 that virtual call centers provide some important advantages over “cubicle bullpens,” including reduced absenteeism, more reliable workers, and greater staffing flexibility to respond to seasonal demands.  “Homeshoring” is the name given to these virtual call centers, reports Kimberly Hill.  The downside is that workers tend to migrate to other jobs more quickly, there is a challenge to making technical support and training available, and equipment security is an important issue.  (

Jobs are few in Silicon Valley Four years after the technology bust, Silicon Valley has evolved into a bifurcated economy: many large tech firms and their workers are doing well, but hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to rebound after losing jobs in the nation’s worst regional economic downturn in 60 years. According to an article in the January 24th Wall Street Journal by Scott Thurm, the region has lost one of every six jobs in the last four years, some 211,000 total. Job losses were highest at well-paying technology firms, and the challenge for the region is finding high-paying positions for those who have lost such jobs, a difficult task when companies are shifting ,many of their routine operations overseas. (See

H-1B visa holders become more expensive – As of March 8, 2005 , US colleges will have to pay all H-1B foreign faculty, including medical residents and researchers, 100% of the actual or prevailing wage for their job, rather than the current 95%, reports Kelly Field in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center estimates that this will cost $60,000 each year.  In addition, for each H-1B petition filed by an institution, the institution will be charged $500 to fund antifraud measures.  This is on top of a $1000 fee that institutions pay to fast-track H-1B requests through Labor Department review.  (See

Europe aims to draw highly skilled immigrants – The European Commission has unveiled a plan to attract highly skilled immigrants needed to rejuvenate Europe’s aging work force and faltering growth rates, according to an article in the January 12th Wall Street Journal. It is the first time the EC has proposed common rules governing migrants, in an effort to create a single permit system to make it easier for computer technicians, scientists and others to legally migrate. The Commission would also oversee a centralized database that would match companies with would-be immigrants. The proposal requires approval by the European Parliament and all 25 EU member nations. The plan is expected to be opposed by labor unions, which want governments to protect jobs at home, and from anti-immigrant political parties. (See 


6 – Journals

Journal of Engineering Education – The January 2005 issue concentrates on the art and science of engineering education research. Sixteen papers cover topics such as assessment in engineering education, research on engineering student knowing, the ABET professional skills, diversifying the engineering workforce, engineering design, online engineering education, integrated curricula, and quality assurance through accreditation. (See

International Journal of Engineering Education – Volume 21 Number 1 is a special issue on Virtual Instrumentation: Integrating LabVIEW with Modern Engineering Education Tools, with guest editor Jay Porter of Texas A&M University . The focused portion of the issue contains a dozen papers. The overall issue also contains nine additional papers on various engineering education topics, including teamwork, engineering projects in community service, and internationalization of the undergraduate engineering program. (See

IEEE Transactions on Education – The February 2005 issue contains over two dozen papers on electrical engineering education. One broader paper, “The Olin Curriculum: Thinking Toward the Future” describes the broad outlines of the curriculum of the newly created engineering school that admitted its first freshman class in the fall of 2002. (See


7 -- Meetings

ASEE annual meeting – The annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education will be held from 12-15 June 2005 in Portland , Oregon . Keynote speakers will be G. Wayne Clough of Georgia Tech on “The Engineer of 2020”, and Dwight C. Streit of Northrop Grumman Space Technology on “Engineering Education Requirements in a Rapidly Changing Global Environment”. For details on the program and registration information, see

ASEE/AaeE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education – The fourth in a series of international meetings by the American Society for Engineering Education will be held from 26-30 September 2005 in Sydney , Australia , co-sponsored by the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Themes will be the K-12 Pipeline, Transformation of Disciplines, and Globalization of Engineering Education. For more information see

International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists – The 13th annual conference will be held in Seoul, South Korea, from 26-29 August 2005, with the theme “Women Engineers and Scientists: Main Force to Reshape the Future World”. Information and registration can be found at


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