February 2006

Copyright © 2006 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 - Technology

 4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment, competitiveness

6 – Journals

7 – Meetings




1 - International developments

Inside the Great Firewall of China Yahoo and Google are being pilloried for cooperating with Beijing ’s army of censors – filtering certain topics such as “democracy” and “human rights” from their China based search engines. Those defending the actions of such companies note that any company that wants to do business in China today has to operate according to Chinese laws. But, according to an article by Clay Chandler in the March 6th issue of Fortune, information wants to be free, even in China , and the firewall may be crumbling from within. One truth about the Chinese web is that citizens there today enjoy greater freedom of thought and access to information from outside China than at any time in history. Despite government efforts to impose a Great Firewall, there are an estimated 110-million Internet users in China today, and 16 million bloggers. (See

A perspective on Afghan higher ed The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a set of three articles written by Katherine Zoepf on higher education in Afghanistan .  The first is a summary of conditions in the universities after the rule of the Taliban then the war and reconstruction.  Demand for enrollment is very strong after enrollment had dropped to only 4000 students and the exodus of faculty under the repression of the Taliban.  Today enrollment has increase 900%.  Security on the campus of institutions such as Kabul University is still a problem, as gangs make trouble, especially for female students.  With not enough seats available in public universities to respond to demand, laws were recently passed to allow private universities to be set up.  Many of the faculty are not qualified with doctoral degrees, although with money from the World Bank faculty with doctorates were given a $300 a month bonus, and those with master’s a $200 a month bonus, this on top of the $60 per month base pay for academics.  (See A second article is entitled, "Women Fight for Opportunity and Respect at Afghan Universities," which reveals that teaching is such a low status occupation that women are reluctant to enroll in teacher training programs. (See A third article describes the new American University of Afghanistan which is set to open in Kabul this March. (See

Microsoft bares code to avoid EU fines – Microsoft Corporation has offered to allow rivals some access to the proprietary source code of its Windows operating system, in a move designed to head off large daily fines in Europe and to mollify increasingly impatient antitrust authorities in the US . Analysts say the move is a shrewd step – not only deflecting criticism that the company is defying legal orders to share programming information, but also to thwart the ambitions of software developers who advocate free or “open source” access. As described by Mary Jacoby in Wall Street Journal articles on January 26th and 28th, however, European regulators have warned Microsoft that offering access to proprietary source code for Windows would not solve all its problems. Experts have told the EU regulators that the documentation being provided by Microsoft does not allow even simple programming tasks to be accomplished. The European Commission is to hold a hearing on the matter, and daily fines could go into effect by late March if it concludes that the company is still failing to comply with its orders. (See

Irreparable change to climate debated – Now that most scientists agree that human activity is causing the Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that within decades humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend. According to an article in the January 29th Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin, the “tipping point” scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While uncertain when such a point might occur, scientists say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible. The debate has bee intensifying because Earth is warming faster than some researchers had predicted – with 2005 the warmest year on record. (See

U. of Tokyo closes lab in case of suspected research fraud – The University of Tokyo closed the lab of a chemistry professor in the Graduate School of Engineering citing accusations of research fraud.  A university committee sent to investigate says that a dozen of the experiments cited in Kazunari Taira’s articles, published in prestigious journals, could not be replicated.  Taira’s work had been heavily supported by the Japanese government, who had spent $12 million on it in six years.  Taira has denied any responsibility, suggesting that one of his assistants may be implicated, writes Alan Brender in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

$1 billion foundation to begin new Indian research university – Indian industrialist Anil Agarwal has created a $1 billion endowment to found a world-class university dedicated to graduate teaching and intensive research.  The institution would aspire to educate tomorrow’s Nobel laureates and community leaders, according to an article in the Khaleej Times on February 23.  Sites under consideration for the new university include Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Rajasthan.  Management consulting firm A. T. Kearney India Ltd. has been engaged to advise Agarwal and to move the project forward.  When completed, the plan is for the university to enroll 100,000 students. (See

European Institute of Technology takes form – The European Union took one more step toward the creation of a European Institute of Technology by revealing a proposal to be debated in March by the union memberships’ heads of state. The EUT is meant to prevent brain-drain by providing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology look-alike focused on research, innovation and graduate studies in strategic areas. The Institute is scheduled to open in 2009, although it has not yet been decided whether it will be a research center or a virtual organization formed from a network of existing institutions.  The proposal has received some support, although there has been strong opposition from those who believe that it will siphon off much needed funding from universities already short of money, writes Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

President of International Council for Science denied US visa – Goverdhan Mehta, president of the International Council for Science, an organization of national scientific academics around the world, was denied an entry visa into the US by a consular office in Chennai, touching off strong protests from the US scientific community, writes Shankar Vedantam in the Washington Post on February 23, 2006.  According to Mehta, not only was he denied his visa, but his research was questioned as a threat to security.  Under new US visa regulations, applicants are required to travel long distances to apply in person, and then are subjected to intense scrutiny if their research touches on certain high technology areas. Mehta, a former visiting professor at the University of Florida , was invited to return there to give a presentation at an international conference.  The US Embassy in New Delhi , in an unusual move, issued an apology, and the State Department attempted to resolve the matter before President Bush's trip to India . (See

South Korean education ‘Blitzkrieg’ – The president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Nobel physics laureate Robert Laughlin, has plans to make KAIST an academic powerhouse to compete with the likes of MIT. Now, according to an article in the January 20th Science by Richard Stone, he has a war chest from the South Korean legislature to make that happen. The legislature has approved the first installment of a $97-million “globalization package” for KAIST. Increased funding will allow the institution to raise the fraction of foreign faculty to 15%, and aim to teach all graduate courses in English by 2010, among other changes. The fund will also strengthen the institution’s R&D, allowing awards of seed money for innovative projects and the luring of talent with handsome start-up packages. (See

Some surprise winners in German funding competition – In an effort to strengthen its public universities, the German government is conducting a multi-tiered competition for funding.  The first round of competition is now over, and 90 out of 319 applications have been certified as qualifying for the next round.  Universities had to compete in three categories. The first involved the design of new graduate programs or schools.  Twenty-one institutions had their proposals approved, and will now submit proposals for ultimate funding. The second competition involves designing partnerships for research with a university at the center.  Of the 39 finalists selected, about 15 will be funded at a level of $7.8 million annually.  The third category of competition will be open only to institutions which have won at least one award in each of the two other competitions.  Five universities will be selected from the 10 already qualifying, and each will be given $25.2 million annually. The competition will be held again next year.  A process of this sort is a distinct departure from past funding plans in Germany , but supporters think it is a way for German universities to regain some of their lost stature.  When the results of the first round were announced, there were some major surprises.  While the well-known Humboldt University failed to qualify for the third competition, the Free University of Berlin did, along with the University of Bremen, which does not the have prominence of some other universities.  (See

France ’s basic science agency in turmoil - The leading basic research agency in France, CNRS, is struggling to get back on course after the loss of two top managers. According to an article by Barbara Casassus in the January 20th Science, the departure of the top two officers resulted from a standoff between them over the selection of department directors. The president resigned in early January, and the number two officer was fired by the government a few days later. At the heart of the issues is the government’s science reform bill that is currently being implemented. Moving quickly, the government installed a new president – a physicist who had been a CNRS director from 1997-2000. (See

Internet TOEFL raises major concerns – A major storm has brewed up in Europe around the decision by the US Educational Testing Service to administer the well-known Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) via the Internet at specific testing centers.  When the new system was introduced last fall, there were many reports of students unable to take the test in a timely fashion because of lack of centers and sufficient seats, reports Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  In some notorious cases, students traveled to other countries in order to take the test where seats were available.  This test is essential to the application process for foreign students aspiring to study in the United States . ETS says it has been responsive to criticisms by increasing its capacity, but criticisms continue, and the news that the ETS is also planning to shift the administration of the Graduate Record Exam to an Internet base has sent fright waves through the academic communities on both sides of the Atlantic.  (See

Re-engineering Iraq US and Iraqi officials have spent billions on restoring Iraq ’s electrical system – so why is Baghdad getting just 6 hours of electricity a day? An analysis by Glenn Zorpette in the February 2006 IEEE Spectrum states that never before has so vast a reconstruction program been attempted in the face of enemy fire or managed in the shadow of geopolitics. Engineers involved in the reconstruction estimate that between $20- and 40-billion is needed to provide electricity throughout the country, and that level of money is not available. (See

US academic canned in Emirates for showing those cartoons – A US English professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates was fired for showing her students the cartoons which have set off riots and protests in Muslim countries around the world.  This was within the context of a discussion about freedom of expression, reports Katherine Zoepf in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  One student complained to the university administration, then parents became angry as well, resulting in the firing by the chancellor.  Zayed University is reportedly considering running sensitivity training for its expatriate faculty.  (See


2 - US developments

US State of the Union In the traditional annual address by the President of the US , George W. Bush focused heavily on American competitiveness in the global economy. As reported by various writers in major coverage in the February 1st Washington Post, President Bush outlined a litany of domestic initiatives to make the US more competitive overseas. He declared that “America is addicted to oil”, and vowed to push for alternative energy sources allowing the US to replace three-quarters of the petroleum now imported from the Middle East, by 2025. He also vowed to steer more funding into scientific research and education. The President proposed a ten year $136-billion initiative that would double the federal commitment to basic scientific research, and train tens of thousands of new math and science teachers. (See

American competitiveness initiative – In his State of the Union Address, President Bush announced the American Competitiveness Initiative to encourage American innovation and strengthen the US ability to compete in the global economy. As described in a White House release, the initiative will increase federal investment in critical research, ensure that the US continues to lead the world in opportunity and innovation, and provide American children with strong foundations in math and science. Elements of the initiative include doubling the federal commitment to basic research in the physical sciences over the next 10 years, encouraging a favorable environment for additional private sector investment in innovation, improving math and science education for American children, supporting universities to provide world-class education and research opportunities, providing job training to improve the skills of American workers, attracting and retaining the best and brightest immigrants, and fostering a business environment that encourages entrepreneurship. (See

2007 US budget – big winners and losers – A promised 10-year doubling for NSF, NIST and energy research would be offset by no growth for NIH and NASA in President Bush’s spending request for 2007, according to an article by Eli Kintisch and Jeffrey Mervis in the February 10th Science. The proposed budget answers fervent wishes by the scientific community for a boost to the physical sciences, more attention to science and math education in the public schools, and a focus on applied energy research. But in trying to balance the costs of two wars and additional tax cuts, and a desire to trim spending, the President’s budget would flat-line NIH and NASA budgets for the next 5 years. Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger notes that the proposed 14% rise for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the 7.9% boost for NSF represent high priority areas that are most likely to generate the sort of results that will create technologies to improve US competitiveness. The boost for NSF would provide an estimated 500 new research grants across all disciplines and a $5000 increase in the annual grant size, to $148,000. (See

It’s all in how you look at it: new US Engineering Indicators report – The US National Science Board released its biennial report, “Science and Engineering Indicators, 2006,” (available at on February 23, reports David Epstein in Inside Higher Ed.  While the figures related to student achievement in math and science have in some cases improved, in others they have only held steady or were a bit lower, leading the authors to express concern about the long-term strength of US leadership in engineering and science. Nearly 25% of science teachers and 20% of math teachers are not fully certified in the subject matter they are teaching.  Overall, US students remain in the middle of the pack in achievement among industrialized nations.  The report emphasizes the importance of primary and secondary education in science and math, and makes recommendations for strengthening teacher competency in these subjects by recruiting people with graduate degrees into the schools as an alternative to a strictly research oriented university career. (See

Restrictions on foreign researchers loosened – The US Commerce Department has abandoned a plan that would have restricted foreign students’ and other scholars’ access to sensitive technology based on their countries of birth, according to an article in the January 17th Chronicle of Higher Education by Kelly Field. The plan could have required American colleges and universities to obtain export-control licenses for thousands more of their foreign students and researchers.  After hearing from dozens of researchers in industry and academe, the Commerce Department concluded that there was little evidence that its plan would improve national security. Another provision of the plan, still being proposed, would require colleges to obtain licenses for foreigners to work with equipment that is subject to export controls, even if the underlying research is exempt from licensing. (See

Another initiative to proceed aPACE – Four US Senators have introduced legislation for the PACE Act, (Protecting America’s Competitive Edge), designed to support improved math and science studies in the US .  Faced with reports on the deficiencies of students in these areas, the act would include enhancing teacher preparation for primary and secondary schools, along with stipends for undergraduate and graduate students in math, science and engineering. This report was written by David Epstein in Inside Higher Ed. (See

US partner in Korean scandal accused of “research misbehavior” – The University of Pittsburgh (USA) released the report on its investigation of faculty member Gerald P. Schatten’s involvement in the fraudulent stem cell research of Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea .  Schatten was the lead author of a paper with Hwang that was published in Science.  The investigatory panel said that while Schatten did not commit research misconduct, he did commit “research misbehavior,” a term used in the university’s faculty handbook to cover sloppy practices.  It pointed out that Schatten benefited from his role as co-author, and stood to gain even more had Hwang been award the Nobel Prize for which a group which included Schatten nominated him. Disciplinary actions have not been announced, according to Lila Guterman reporting in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Panel explores standardized tests for colleges – A higher education commission named by the Bush administration is examining whether standardized testing should be expanded into universities and colleges to prove that students are learning, and to allow easier comparisons on quality. According to an article by Karen Arenson in the February 9th New York Times, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education has until August to report on issues that include accountability, cost and quality. Educators are wary, stating that to subject colleges to uniform standards is to trivialize higher education. But the Commission chair argues that public reporting of collegiate learning as measured through testing would be greatly beneficial to students, parents, taxpayers and employers by creating a national database that includes measures of learning. (See

Role of S&T in international development – The US National Research Council has released a new report, “The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the US Agency for International Development”.  It notes that science and technology capabilities are fundamental for social and economic progress in developing countries, and that international programs based on S&T are critical components of US foreign policy. Maintaining and strengthening the contributions of the science, engineering and medical capabilities of the US to foreign assistance programs administered by the US Agency for International Development are the themes of the report. Among other key recommendations, the report states that USAID should reverse the decline in its support for building S&T capacity in developing countries. (See

Harvard president resigns – Lawrence Summers has resigned as president of Harvard University , after a relatively brief and turbulent tenure of five years. As reported in the February 22nd New York Times by Alan Finder et al, his resignation was apparently nudged by Harvard’s governing corporation and by an impending vote of no confidence from the influential Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The announcement by Dr. Summers, an economist and former Secretary of the Treasury, disappointed many students on campus and raised questions about future leaders’ ability to govern Harvard with its vocal and independent-minded faculty. Summers’s well-known desire to change Harvard’s culture, which he saw as complacent, was accompanied by slights of some faculty members and missteps like his statement last year that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science. And some of his major decisions – including overhauling the undergraduate curriculum, appointing deans and mapping out a new campus – were hugely divisive at the 370-year-old university. Summers has been offered a sabbatical year and return to a university professorship, but friends say that he will be exploring other opportunities as well. (See 

Engineers Week 2006 – The annual US celebration of Engineers Week, held during the week that surrounds George Washington’s birthday, focused this year on spreading its message to those who can best reach young people – educators. One new program, Connecting Educators to Engineering, is the legacy project of the 2006 co-chairs, Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Society of Women Engineers. Engineers Week 2006 also introduced a DVD geared toward middle school students, called Ask an Engineer. It is a fast-paced introduction to the wonders of modern engineering and what engineers do. In addition, a major new book on women’s contributions to engineering – “Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers” (ASCE Press) – was unveiled during a National Press Club event. (See


3 - Technology

One-hour brainstorming gave birth to digital imaging – In a one-hour brainstorming session in late 1969, two Bell Labs researchers drew up the basic design for a memory chip they called the “charge-coupled-device”. As described in an article by Guy Gugliotta in the February 20th Washington Post, the device initially worked well for data storage – but its future clearly lay in its breathtaking potential for capturing and storing images. During Engineers Week ceremonies, the two researchers – Willard Boyle and George Smith – were recognized for their pioneering development with the award of the $500,000 Charles Stark Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering. The CCD allows images to be captured electronically, rather than on photographic film. It has revolutionized fields such as space exploration and earth based photography. (See     

UNDP is new partner in $100 laptop project – The United Nations and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( USA ) have joined in a project to design $100 laptop computers for children around the world.  The agreement reached between the two institutions will expand the scope of the previously announced project, which was aimed at seven large developing countries.  The UN Development Programme reaches smaller and poorer developing countries that might not have the ability to participate.  Jeffrey R. Young covered this story for The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

National LambdaRail complete: how will it be administered? – The new fiber-optic computer network known as National LambdaRail has been completed, writes Vincent Kiernan in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Now the challenge is to determine how it will be operated.  For over a year there have been discussions about linking National LambdaRail with Internet2, another academic research network, but decisions have been delayed.  National LambdaRail is run by a group of 30 large universities, while Internet2 has over 200 members, some of them quite small institutions.  (See

Last telegram marks the end of an era – Western Union has delivered its last telegram, 150 years after the company was started and revolutionized communications by zapping messages across the US in less than an hour. According to an article by Valerie Bauerlein in the February 3rd Wall Street Journal, the telegram business had withered to 20,000 last year, as other technologies displaced its effectiveness. The last telegram was sent on January 27th. Western Union has shifted its focus to wiring money. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Introducing engineering to children – The former dean of engineering at Tufts University who convinced the Massachusetts legislature to introduce engineering into the K-12 science and technology curriculum, Ioannis Miaoulis, is now pursuing his passion of introducing engineering to children as head of the Boston Museum of Science. As described by Alice Daniel in the January 2006 ASEE Prism, Miaoulis believes that engineering can be done at different educational levels, without a full knowledge of math and science. At the Museum of Science , for example, a new program called Design Challenges lets children solve basic engineering problems, such as building a proper habitat for a ferret with a variety of materials. Intent on spreading his approaches, Miaoulis has developed a National Center for Technological Literacy, headquartered at the Museum of Science , to develop and teach curricula, provide workshops for teachers, partner with universities and museums nationwide, and establish hubs in different states to work with teachers and legislators on introducing engineering into public education. (See

Female computer science students wanted – Colleges are working to attract and support women in technology majors such as computer science, according to an article in the January 13th Chronicle of Higher Education by Scott Carlson. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the proportion of women in computer and information sciences has dwindled in the last 20 years, especially compared with other fields in mathematics and sciences. The head of the Center for Women and Information Technology at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County , Claudia Morrell, says “Computer fields have a geeky image, and girls in particular don’t want to be perceived as geeks and nerds”. Several universities are developing programs to counter the childhood influences that steer girls away from the computer science field, and to build support programs for female students in the field. (See

Education from the factory floor – President William Wulf of the National Academy of Engineering says that for too long, engineering education has been in second place to actual engineering contributions. As reported in an article by Eva Kaplan Leiserson in the March PE Magazine, that observation explains the reason behind the Academy’s strategy to recognize major contributions to engineering education – including the $500,000 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. During this year’s Engineers Week, the 2006 Gordon Prize was awarded to a cross-institutional team that created the Learning Factory, a program in which multidisciplinary student teams face the challenges of real-world problems from industry. The Learning Factory is a hands-on laboratory where students can put engineering theory into practice by carrying their ideas through conception, design, and manufacturing. According to one of its developers, what the Learning Factory does well is to bridge the gap between the way professors want to teach and the way engineering really happens in the real world. (See

US students “derailed” from engineering careers – France A. Córdova, an astrophysicist who serves as chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, gave a major address at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting, saying figures indicate that American students have interest in engineering, technology, science and math, but that they are “derailed” somewhere along the way, including in college itself.  She said that one in three first year college students is interested in these areas of study, but in the end, only 5% graduate with degrees in those fields, reports Jeffrey Selingo in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Even special programs designed to attract and maintain student interest are frequently available only after a student has navigated through several gate keeping courses.  Among Córdova's recommendations is to admit all students into a core curriculum, offering them opportunities to consider subject areas before they declare their major. (See

UT Austin reform provokes engineering faculty – The University of Texas at Austin (USA) is now debating the merits of a proposal to standardize the first year undergraduate curriculum, which includes the establishment of University College into which all freshmen would be admitted before proceeding into specific colleges.  The College of Engineering is strongly opposed, insisting that engineering students are recruited directly by its faculty and thus should be able to join the college immediately upon admission.  To do otherwise would delay graduation and weaken the link between the students and their major faculty, writes David Epstein in Inside Higher Ed.  Supporters of the proposal like the required “signature course,” large sections of interdisciplinary study taught by full-time faculty and then divided into small discussion sections. (See

New US college students are seasoned volunteers – The University of California’s Higher Education Research Institute released its annual national survey of incoming first year students in US college and universities, reports Eric Hoover in The Chronicle of Higher Education. One exciting finding was that two thirds of the students said they wanted to help others who are in difficulty.  A record number of the students (83%) also said that they had done some volunteer work during their last year in high school.  And over a quarter of the students said that they would probably volunteer while in college.  While almost equal percentages of men and women students said they went to college to get a better job, more women than men saw getting a good overall education and learning to appreciate ideas as an important reason for enrolling.  More students are more interested in politics these days, fewer want to increase military spending, and although beer consumption in high school dropped, that was not reflected in their campus drinking habits.  (See

College ranking systems show distressing trans-global similarities – Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed addresses the issue of college rankings by taking an international perspective.  He found that the characteristics that irritated US college administrators were found as well in similar rankings in other countries.  Most ranking systems are compiled by for-profit publishing companies, and attempt to provide consumers with a single, easily understood, number which indicates quality.  But it is the ones who design the ranking systems who select the indicators of quality and thus define quality itself.  One German system avoids this distortion.  The Center for Higher Education Development produces a ranking of academic departments, placing them into the top, middle or bottom of the separate indicators, then leaves it to the reader to determine which of the indicators is of interest, thus freeing the consumer to define quality.  (See

US college students still deficient in math – The Washington based American Institutes for Research recently published a study indicating that not even half of US college students graduate with proficiency in math, reports Sara Lipka in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Students were queried on three skills: quantitative literacy, prose literacy and document literacy, the latter designed to determine whether students could fill out a form or read a label.  Fewer than half of the students graduating from four year institutions were rated as proficient in all three categories, and one fifth of those students were at or below basic quantitative literacy.  (See

Study claims AP courses don’t contribute to college achievement – While record numbers of US high school students are taking Advanced Placement courses and receiving college credit for their high scores, a study just released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests a dark side to this seeming achievement.  In a study of 18,000 students who took introductory courses in biology, chemistry and physics in college,  the achievement of students who had previously taken AP courses in those subjects, and did well, was only a little better than that of students who had not taken AP.  The bottom line for the researchers who conducted this study, Philip M. Sadler of Harvard and Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia , is that AP courses do not make a significant contribution to student academic success in college.  The College Board, owner of the AP exams, is disputing their findings, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed.  (See http://insidehighered/com/news/2006/02/20/ap)


5 – Employment, competitiveness  

Entrepreneurial advantage – Responding to signs that the US is losing its monopoly on high technology, policymakers are calling for new measures to increase the number of science and technology graduates and increase R&D investment. A new report, sponsored in part by the Kauffman Foundation, argues that policymakers are failing to recognize distinctive aspects of the emerging global economy. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the Urban Institute studied engineering in multinational corporation home countries and in emerging economies. Their findings suggest that the US cannot expect to match the numbers of engineers being trained in India and China , so the US should seek “collaborative advantage” by developing a new role in the global technology system by training “global engineers”, supporting research where there is true comparative advantage, and developing mutual-gain partnerships. (See

Outsourcing is climbing skills ladder – The globalization of work tends to start from the bottom up. According to an article by Steve Lohr in the February 16th New York Times, the first jobs moved abroad are assembly tasks and manufacturing, and later skilled work like computer programming. At the end of this progression is the work done by scientists and engineers in research and development laboratories. A new study funded by the Kauffman Foundation suggests that more and more research work at corporations will be sent to fast-growing economies with strong education systems, such as China and India . In a survey of more than 200 multinational corporations on their research center decisions, 38% said they planned to “change substantially” the worldwide distribution of their R&D work over the next three years, with the booming markets of China and India, with their world-class researchers, attracting the greatest increase in projects. The report found that while lower costs and tax incentives play a role in such decisions, the primary driving force is the availability of talent. And a company that is going to be a global leader has to understand what is going on in the rest of the world. (See    

India set to outsource its outsourcing centers? India ’s BPOs are poised to move into Argentina and Eastern Europe , says an article posted on on February 21.  These companies are responding to the fact that language skills, with the exception of English, are not strength of the Indian population.  So these companies are looking at overseas locations where labor is relatively cheap and people can speak Spanish and other languages currently in demand by their customers.  An additional development in offshore outsourcing comes in a report from Nasscom-McKinsey, which says that only about 25% of technical graduates of India ’s institutions have sufficient skills to be employed in IT companies.  (See

Intellectual property wrangling -- Time-consuming wrangling over intellectual property issues is affecting the relationship between academia and industry, according to an article by Thomas Grose in the February ASEE Prism. Companies complain that too many university technology transfer administrators have an unrealistic view that they can make money off of all research. And research contract negotiations often get hung up between the parties such that a company may spend more on attorney’s fees than the value of the contract being negotiated. Corporate America has found one solution to this problem – taking its research proposals to foreign schools. One industry observer says “American universities will either have to modify their behavior or lose their industrial customers”. (See


6 – Journals

Journal of Engineering Education – The January 2006 issue of this ASEE journal includes seven papers on various aspects of research in engineering education. In a guest editorial, Norman Fortenberry of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education at the National Academy of Engineering outlines an extensive agenda for engineering education research. The lead article presents the 2005 Bernard M. Gordon Prize Lecture, written by the three Purdue University faculty members recognized for their development of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program. (See

European Journal of Engineering Education – The December 2005 issue of this journal of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) contains ten papers on two themes: Improving Engineering Education in Europe , and Gender Studies in Engineering Education. The six papers on the first theme are introduced by Claudio Borri, current President of SEFI, noting that the papers relate to the results and impact of the ERASMUS Thematic Network project “E4-Enhancing Engineering Education in Europe ”. The second theme of the issue is introduced by Susanne Ihsen, citing the development of gender studies in engineering education over the past 100 years. The lead paper in this section reports on a SEFI workshop about creating a women friendly culture in institutes of higher engineering education. (See  

International Journal of Engineering Education - The first 2006 issue of this journal includes a major section on a special topic: Agricultural/Biosystems/Biological Engineering Education, edited by Linus Opara and Joel Cuello. The nine papers in this section discuss biological engineering as a field of study and how it fits into the engineering education spectrum. The remaining five papers in the issue cover agricultural engineering education in developing and transitional countries. (See

IEEE Transactions on Education – The 22 papers in the February 2006 issue of this journal cover a wide variety of topics in electrical engineering education, including problem-based learning, first programming course, computer-aided teaching, wireless communications, engineering practice in a freshman course, information security, web-based instruction, and a K-12 nanotechnology program for teachers. (See

Journal of STEM Education - Two issues of this electronic journal from late 2005 have been posted on the web. Articles cover problem-based computer engineering education, a pre-engineering program for disadvantaged youth, and software design education. (See


7 – Meetings

Global Conference on Engineering Education – The fifth in a series of annual conferences sponsored by the UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education will be held at Polytechnic University , Brooklyn , New York from 17-21 July 2006. The congress will debate important global issues in engineering and technology education. It will concentrate on three themes: general issues in engineering and technology education, international collaboration in engineering and technology education, and academia/industry collaboration in engineering and technology education. Abstracts are currently being sought. (See

Sustainable Development in Africa An International Conference on Sustainable Engineering Development in Africa will be held in Yaounde , Cameroon , on 4-8 June 2006. The conference will explore how the engineering profession can implement sustainable engineering projects to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals through capacity building in rural communities in Africa . Proposals for papers to be presented are now being sought. (See



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