January 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

·                         Korean stem cell research confirmed as fake

·                         EU budget includes big cuts for research support

·                         Mexican lawmakers to root out “junk universities”

·                         Indian call centers at center of social changes

·                         Science foundations: a novelty in Russia

·                         New impetus for creation of European version of MIT

·                         Moving from BPO to KPO in India

·                         Corruption continues in former Soviet countries

·                         Conference proposed to examine scientific fraud

·                         Scholarships lift Saudi enrollments in the US

·                         International consortium to go beyond traditional collaboration


2 - US developments

·                         US R&D budget set

·                         US University Presidents Summit on International Education

·                         US administration proposes National Security Language Initiative

·                         States boost budgets for colleges

·                         US judge says intelligent design is not science

·                         U. of California retains management of Los Alamos

·                         US engineers proud of Iraq reconstruction

·                         National Academy of Engineering Awards

·                         NAS Medal to Augustine

·                         U. of Albany lands major center for nanotechnology

·                         US Commerce Department backtracks slightly on new research regs


3 - Technology

·                         2005: Year in Review

·                         EU launches commercially oriented GPS system

·                         Inventing an open-source model for tech transfer

·                         Life after silicon


4 - Students, faculty, education

·                         US engineers hold their own

·                         Women students more scarce in US computer science programs

·                         Former Harvard prez urges improved teaching practices

·                         Independent study links money, performance, in US higher education

·                         Panel created to propose new canon for entrepreneurship education

·                         Peace-oriented video captures the world’s interest

·                         B.A. degrees in engineering


5 – Employment, competitiveness

·                         Senator says offshoring is a fact of life

·                         What happened to American innovation?

·                         In defiance of creativity

·                         India vs. China

·                         India ’s skill shortage


6 – Journal

·                         Issues in Science and Technology


7 – Meetings

·                         E-conference call for papers

·                         ICEE 2006 call for papers



1 - International developments

Korean stem cell research confirmed as fake – A report released by the Seoul National University panel investigating the work of Dr. Hwang Woo Suk has concluded that the researcher who claimed to have cloned human cells fabricated evidence for all of his research.  As reported in the Times of India on January 11th by Nicholas Wade and Choe Sang-Hun, the findings strip any possibility of legitimate achievement in human cell cloning from a researcher who had been propelled to international celebrity and whose promise to make paralyzed people walk had been engraved on a Korean postage stamp. The panel did say that his one legitimate claim was to have cloned the dog he named Snuppy. Prosecutors said they will launch a criminal investigation. (See

EU budget includes big cuts for research support – Between 2007 and 2013 the European Union will cut its spending on research from $157.6 billion to $85.6 billion, writes Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The money instead will go to farm subsidies and development in the ten newest EU member countries.  This budget news came after earlier announcements about plans for creating new European Research Council with a $1.8 billion a year budget to function along the lines of the US National Science Foundation in supporting research.  (See

Mexican lawmakers to root out “junk universities” – Responding to concern over the lack of quality controls over higher education, the Mexican Senate has passed legislation that would require all Mexican universities to undergo external evaluations or lose their operating licenses. According to an article in the January 4th Chronicle of Higher Education by Marion Lloyd, the bill would for the first time make accreditation mandatory for all college-level programs. Currently only 82 of more than 2000 institutions of higher education in Mexico have accredited programs, and most of those are public universities. The bill is a response to growing concerns over the proliferation of “junk universities”, which critics say make up the majority of the more than 1800 private universities. The problem has its roots in the government’s failure to meet the rising demand for college degrees. While college enrollments have nearly doubled since 1993, from 1.3-million to 2.5-million, government spending on higher education has remained stagnant. So private institutions have filled the void, increasing their share of enrollments from 15% in 1985 to 33% today. (See

Indian call centers at center of social changes – The social impact of India ’s success in running call centers has caught the attention of observers inside and outside of India .  S. Mitra Kalita, writing on December 27, 2005 , in the Washington Post, describes the young generation of call center agents who are earning good salaries and adopting the behaviors of their peers in the US , including shopping, hanging out with friends at clubs, and dating freely.  Critics worry that they are turning their backs on family traditions and values.  Others point out that in the past year the prestige factor originally attached to working at a call center has disappeared, with agents now being seen as greedy.  It is true that some agents have job hopped frequently in order to get better salaries.  (See Inevitably, such a social phenomenon is reflected in literature.  One of the top selling books in India now is One Night @ The Call Center by Chetan Bhagat.  The characters, call center agents, reflect the down side of call center work, with young people adopting fake American names and accents.  The author believes that call centers are sweatshops and rejects the notion that this is the best work India young people can do, writes Parul Gupta in an article appearing on December 30, 2005, in the Gulf News. (See

Science foundations: a novelty in Russia – The fall of the Soviet Union and the attempted creation of democracy and a free economy have led to a great debate in Russia over how science should be organized and funded. One result of the debates has been the creation of both government and private Russian foundations financing science. A comprehensive article in the December 16th Science by Irina Dezhina and Loren Graham describes the history of development of both public and private foundations in support of scientific research in Russia , and their current status. The authors note that such foundations play a very large role in the hopes and aspirations of Russian scientists. (See

New impetus for creation of European version of MIT – The leaders of the European Union are planning to discuss the establishment of a European MIT in order to slow brain-drain to the USA , writes Paul Ames in an article in the on-line version of The Boston Globe on January 13.  French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has proposed starting the institution in Paris with a $360 million budget.  Some are arguing that the “EIT” should not be patterned on MIT, for starters just because the established European research institutions do not want a new rival.  One proposal is to make the EIT into a network connecting universities and industry to facilitate technology transfer.  Current data show that Europe has not yet made any progress in becoming more innovative as compared with the US .  (See

Moving from BPO to KPO in India – Responding to criticism that jobs in business process operations (BPO) such as Indian call centers are monetarily rewarding but not professionally or intellectually challenging, India is now looking at KPO, knowledge process outsourcing.  While BPO involves customer care and technical support, KPO focuses on areas requiring specialized expertise, such as patent filing, investment research, legal claims, etc.  In an article appearing on December 20, 2005 , in the on-line version of the Hindustan Times, Chennai and Bangalore are noted as particularly attractive places for KPO because of the availability of educational institutions.  Areas where KPO has great potential include biotech, computer-aided simulation, engineering, and technology research.  (See

Corruption continues in former Soviet countries – The World Education Services recently published a substantial on-line article on “Education Reform in the Former Soviet Union” written by Nick Clark.  The article summarizes the state of education in the newly independent states, emphasizing that corruption remains a formidable problem, but that reforms in the processes leading to university admission offer significant hope at reducing the acceptance of bribes offered to and accepted by university faculty and administrators. The article also discuses the impact of the Bologna Process, which all the NIS have signed onto, with the exception of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  While there are many basic reforms which have to be made in the former Soviet system, and the NIS countries have by and large signed onto the major goal of adopting the two tier system of diplomas, curricular reform, one of the other tenets of Bologna reform, is lagging, due to the need to realize some more basic changes in governance, access, funding, etc. (See

Conference proposed to examine scientific fraud – In the aftermath of the discovery that researcher Hwarg Woo Suk had faked his work with stem cells, University of Michigan history of science professor Nicholas Steneck, who also consults for the US Office of Scientific Integrity, is seeking money for an international conference to look at fraud in scientific research. This article, which includes a discussion of the impact of scientific fraud, was authored by Rita Rubin and appeared in USA Today on-line on January 11. (See http://usatoday)

Scholarships lift Saudi enrollments in the US Urgently trying to improve relations with the US , the Saudi Arabian government is promoting a scholarship program that has already doubled the number of new Saudi enrollments at American colleges and universities since last year. According to an article by Joel Brinkley in the December 18th New York Times, the program has reversed a steady plunge in Saudi students in the US that started immediately after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The total number of visiting Saudi students in the US fell from 46,636 in 2001 to about 12,000 last year. The program is aimed in part at reducing widespread hostility in the Saudi public toward the US . (See

International consortium to go beyond traditional collaboration – Ten leading international research institutions have created the International Alliance of Research Universities in order to initiate joint degree programs and joint research projects. The future might see the Alliance seeking support from research in areas such as ageing and health, food and water, international migration, and security, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Education. (See


2 - US developments

US R&D budget set – Congressional support for boosting US academic research this year was curbed by other national priorities, such as defense and space, and a growing demand to limit federal spending. According to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the January 6th Science, the National Institutes of Health suffered its first budget cut since 1970, and the National Science Foundation got an increase that only regains some lost ground and mocks the recent rhetoric about the importance of a 7-year doubling of its budget. NSF was headed for a 3.3% increase until final negotiations, which reduced its increase to only 2% -- with the final $5.58-billion budget matching what the agency spent in 2004. Basic and applied research spending across all federal agencies inched up $1-billion to $57-billion, with the lion’s share of the increase going to NASA for its moon-Mars mission. Details of the final appropriations are available at For the Science article, see

US University Presidents Summit on International Education – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings co-hosted a summit on January 5-6 to engage leaders of US higher education in a renewed partnership to strengthen international education and emphasize its importance to the national interest. The summit was called to initiate a dialogue on the need for the US government to work collaboratively with the non-governmental sector on the future of US higher education in a global arena. At the opening session of the Summit , the new National Security Language Initiative was announced. (See  

US administration proposes National Security Language Initiative – At a meeting with US college and university presidents US President George Bush announced a new National Security Language Initiative costing the government $114 million. The program would include a major Pentagon-related effort to train military personnel in the use of critical languages including Arabic and Chinese, presumably through the military academies and ROTC programs.  The Defense Department would also create a Civilian Language Reserve Crops, requiring a four-year commitment to be available to accompany overseas missions when language assistance was required.  Also mentioned was the creation of “immersion centers” abroad, where US college students studying languages could go for intensive exposure.  One of the concerns expressed about these initiatives was that so much of the money would come through the Pentagon and the Defense Department, thus aligning foreign language instruction too closely with military objectives.  This review of the first day of the two day summit was written by Rob Capriccioso and David Epstein for Inside Higher Ed. (See On the second day of the summit, reports Rob Capriccioso again for Inside Higher Ed, the new International Fulbright Science Award of Outstanding Foreign Students in Science and Technology was announced.  This would be a worldwide competition for highly qualified foreign students with funding provided for several years of graduate study in the US .  Another new program would emphasize interaction between universities and primary and secondary schools to offer more and better foreign language training in the early years.  A third initiative would endorse SMART grants for college students studying math, science or critical languages.  (See http://insidehighered/news/2006/01/09/language)

States boost budgets for colleges – States have put more money into higher education this fiscal year in the biggest increase since 2001, according to an article in the January 19th Wall Street Journal by Anne Marie Chaker. Budgets for higher education have increased by 6% for the year ending June 30th, compared with a 3.8% increase for FY 2005 and a decline of 2.1% in FY 2004. As governors announce their budget proposals – particularly in states where they are up for reelection – education experts are predicting more funding for colleges and universities on the horizon. It is clear that college affordability in on the public’s mind, and the politicians are courting middle and upper class families who show up on election days. (See

US judge says intelligent design is not science – A US federal judge ruled in December that “intelligent design” is not science but a religious view and thus cannot be taught in public schools under the rule of separation of church and state, writes David Epstein in Inside Higher Education.  ID holds that a supernatural creator must have guided the development of life. In 2004 the school board in Dover , Pennsylvania , placed the teaching of intelligent design into the school curriculum, prompting a suit by a group of parents.  When the case reached US District Judge John E. Jones, he took the opportunity to write a 139 page decision, tearing apart the notion that ID was science, calling it a relabeling of creationism, which had already been decreed a religious belief by the US Supreme Court.  This recent ruling is seen as an important victory for science.  (See

U. of California retains management of Los Alamos – The US Energy Department surprised many recently by awarding a contract to the University of California to continue managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory write Stuart Silverstein and Ralph Vartabedian on December 22, 2005 , in the Los Angeles Times. After several years of management difficulties and security lapses, in 2003 the DOE put the management contract out to bids for the first time since the lab was created in 1943 with the cooperation of the University of California in order to create the atom bomb.  In this round of competition, the chief rival to the UC was a proposal from Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas .  The fact that Lockheed Martin has the management contract for the Sandia National Laboratories may have been a drawback: if it had also managed Los Alamos , then one company would have had control over the design of nuclear warheads.  (See

US engineers proud of Iraq reconstruction -  The $18.4-billion reconstruction package provided for Iraq by the US is peaking, aimed at completion by the end of this year, according to an article in the January 2nd Washington Post by Ellen Knickmeyer. US engineers involved in the 3600 projects being completed are proud of their work – citing a new communications center, youth centers, fire stations, power plants, hospitals, sewage systems, etc. International donors have yet to fulfill their pledges for additional funds for reconstruction, Iraqis have balked at the painful economic reforms necessary to win foreign loans to do the remaining work, and insurgents want to destroy the work done to date. But US engineers hope that the amount and quality of reconstruction work done so far will be a model for the future. (See

National Academy of Engineering Awards – The US engineering profession’s highest honors for 2006 have been announced by the National Academy of Engineering. The Charles Stark Draper Prize – an annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited mankind – will be awarded to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for the invention of the Charge Coupled Device. The Bernard M. Gordon Prize – issued annually to recognize innovation in engineering and technology education – will go to the team which created the Learning Factory, where multidisciplinary student teams develop engineering leadership skills and learn to solve real world problems: Jens E. Jorgensen, John S. Lamancusa, Lueny Morell, Allen L. Soyster and Jose L. Zayas-Castro. The awards, which carry significant cash prizes, will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington , DC , on February 21st.  (See

NAS Medal to Augustine – The US National Academy of Sciences is awarding its 2006 Public Welfare Medal to Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The medal honors his contributions to the vitality of science in the US in both industry and government, and to a better understanding of the role that fundamental research must play in its long term security and economic prosperity.

U. of Albany lands major center for nanotechnology – The US Semiconductor Industry Association and the Semiconductor Research Corporation have joined with public and private partners in creating the Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX) under the leadership of the University at Albany ’s College of Nanoscience and Engineering.  Partnering with researchers from Harvard, MIT, IBM, Micron and others, INDEX will focus on nanomaterials, nanochip design, and architectural integration schemes.  Total funding will reach $435 million, including support for construction of a 250,000 square foot facility, according to a January 2, 2006 , press release from the Office of the Governor of New York State. (See

US Commerce Department backtracks slightly on new research regs – The US Commerce Department announced recently that one of its proposed new regulations will not in fact be implemented.  Earlier, Commerce had indicated that foreign students and researchers in the US would be restricted in their access to certain technologies based on their countries of birth, rather than their countries of citizenship or permanent residency.  But it appears increasingly unlikely that university officials will persuade the Commerce Department not to implement its regulations requiring researchers to obtain export licensing for foreigners using equipment subject to export controls, even though the research itself is considered basic and thus exempt from licensing.  This article was written by Kelly Field for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See


3 - Technology

2005: Year in Review – The US National Science Foundation has released a summary of major scientific research achievement in 2005, in a January 11th press release. It starts by concluding that 2005 was another banner year in science. Breakthroughs cited include a new generation of walking robots, understanding of how hurricanes have become stronger and more numerous, a new era in scientific computing via the TeraGrid, and responses to the tsunami and Katrina. See

EU launches commercially oriented GPS system – The European Union launched a civilian global positioning system satellite system called Galileo which challenges the dominant US military GPS system. According to Molly Moore, writing for the Washington Post on December 29, 2005 , the EU system will give users real-time positioning accuracy of within a meter, an improvement to the information the US system makes available to civilians, currently about 16 feet.  This will enable the EU system to provide information of commercial and social value, and enable users to switch GPS systems as easily as they switch cell phone service providers as they move around the globe.  Galileo is expected to be operational in 2010 and will involve thirty satellites.  (See

Inventing an open-source model for tech transfer – A group of US research universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Stanford and the University of Texas at Austin have joined with big-name technology companies to create a new model for technology transfer, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed.  In this new model, universities would forego attempting to negotiate complicated patent rights for work coming out of their labs, and instead would look for other ways of obtaining support from companies that profit from university research.  It has become clear that huge amounts of money are being spent by universities in negotiating patent rights, when in fact only a few institutions have ever made substantial sums of money from products coming from their labs.  In addition, high tech companies, which work in an environment where time to market is critical, are increasingly turning to overseas universities to partner research in order to avoid the lengthy and costly process of dealing with US universities seeking financial gain. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation took the initiative to coordinate this new plan with the participating universities, under the terms of which intellectual property coming from some research projects would be made open source. Supporters of this move say that it brings universities back to their focus on teaching and research, rather than on corralling patents rights in hope of future financial gain.  (See

Life after silicon – A handful of futuristic chip-making technologies at the atomic scale have been added to an industry planning effort that charts the future of the semiconductor manufacturing industry every two years, according to an article by John Markoff in the December 29th New York Times. A transition to a post-silicon era is forecast, with the technology moving to nanotechnology – but probably a decade away. The urgency in moving to molecular electronics is propelled in part by a recognition that currently conventional technologies will not be able to sustain Moore ’s Law that projects a doubling of computer power every two years. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

US engineers hold their own – Writing in the January 8th Philadelphia Inquirer, Dean Kristina Johnson of the Duke University school of engineering comments on comparisons of engineering student numbers in the US, China and India. Reporting on a study done by a Duke class in its Master of Engineering Management Program, she indicates that comparing the number of US engineering graduates with the 350,000 in India and the 644,000 in China may be like comparing apples and oranges. When all relevant US graduates in engineering, technology and computer science and information technology at all levels are added up, the number is about the same as the similar number in India, according to the Duke study. And the issue of quality vs. quantity needs to be examined. Dean Johnson cites a recent McKinsey study that states that many graduates of Indian and Chinese universities are not competitive for employment in the global high-tech outsourcing environment. While hopeful that the US is holding its own in graduating well-qualified engineers, she does express concern about the pipeline, and whether entering college students are prepared to compete in the ever more globalized and ever more technological society. (See

Women students more scarce in US computer science programs – In 1985 the percentage of computer science undergraduate degrees awarded to women in the US peaked at 37%, then declined, and today remains at about 28%.  Computer science, once seen as free from the legacy of male domination, now demonstrates some of the characteristics of older, established science and engineering areas such as physics, writes Marcella Bombardieri in an article published in the on-line version of The Boston Globe on December 18, 2005 .  When students were flocking to enroll in computer sciences in the 1980s, overwhelmed departments increasingly used introductory courses to weed out excess numbers, focusing their curricula on highly technical aspects that would attract and retain stereotypical geeks (mostly men) and repel students who wanted big picture approaches and applied issues (mostly women). The misconception grew that computer science was the same as computer programming.  Today efforts are underway to steer computer science back to an emphasis on the excitement of the discipline, and several initiatives have begun to attract women back to undergraduate and graduate studies.  (See

Former Harvard prez urges improved teaching practices – Derek Bok, the former president of Harvard University , wrote on op ed piece which appeared in the Boston Globe on December 18.  In it he criticizes faculty for not taking an interest in pedagogical research that might inform their teaching techniques.  He points out evidence that some students make little if any progress in their writing or math skills during their college experience, that few students take languages at an advanced level, and that critical thinking skills do not improve greatly as a consequence of an undergraduate education.  Bok notes that US students are competing with hordes of bright, well-educated students from around the world for jobs, as a consequence of outsourcing, and that they deserve the best education in order to succeed.  Faculty have a responsibility to examine what teaching techniques work and which do not, and to toss out those ineffective approaches, however familiar and comfortable, in the interest of their students. (See

Independent study links money, performance, in US higher education – The US-based National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has developed a model to examine the money that goes into higher education and the institutions’ performance in certain areas in order to determine which states are getting the most return from their public investment in higher education.  The study shows that Utah , Massachusetts , Colorado , California and North Dakota rank the highest, and Alaska , Maine , West Virginia , Hawaii and Vermont the lowest.  The study also factored out performance of public research universities (where Colorado topped the list), bachelor’s and master’s institutions (where Washington was ranked highest), and community colleges (where South Dakota had the highest score). Academic leaders were ambivalent: being listed at the top could persuade state legislators to be increasingly parsimonious since their state’s institutions seem to be performing so efficiently.  The quality measures used included the number of undergraduate degrees relative to enrollment, timely completion of degree requirements, and the number of doctoral degrees expressed as a percentage of all degrees awarded.  Scott Jaschik wrote this article in Inside Higher Ed.  (See

Panel created to propose new canon for entrepreneurship education – The newly appointed Kauffman Panel on Entrepreneurship Curriculum in Higher Education has been charged with creating a framework for the expansion of entrepreneurship programs in US higher education, according to an online article posted on January 17 by Ascribe, the public interest newswire. It will review best practices and develop a set of common skills and principles that would form the basis of a curriculum.  The panel will be chaired by Richard Newton, Dean of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley , and will be sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.  One goal will be to expand entrepreneurship education outside schools of business, noting that fewer than 18% of the founders of the 2002 Inc. 500 companies had MBAs. (See

Peace-oriented video captures the world’s interest – In an unlikely development, a peace-oriented video game, offered free on the Internet, has become a cult favorite.  “Food Force” was designed by the UN World Food Program for a cost of $350,000 and introduced in April 2005.  The game requires players to tackle such challenges as airdropping food to a stricken island, piloting a helicopter, navigating a truck through land mines, coordinating shipping and prices on the world market, and designing appropriate menus for the hungry.  Since being launched, it has been downloaded ( over 3,000,00 times: it now is being translated from its original two languages, English and Japanese, reports Tina Rosenberg in the December 30, 2005, on-line version of The New York Times.  (See

B.A. degrees in engineering – An article in the December ASEE Prism by Anna Mulrine describes a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering degree at Johns Hopkins University, aimed at people who want to be conversant in technology but not necessarily engineers. The degree program, which has been in place for nearly a decade, attracts students who want to be more technically literate while pursuing interests in other fields as well. The B.A. engineering students bring a depth to classes they take with B.S. students, for example discussing ethics and regulations as they relate to engineering. Similar programs are found at other institutions, including Yale, the University of Arizona , Texas Tech and the University of San Diego . (See  


5 – Employment, competitiveness

Senator says offshoring is a fact of life – The top Democrat on the US Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, has said that outsourcing white-collar jobs to low-wage countries such as India has become a global fact of life, and that America must learn to live with it. As reported by the Associated Press in the January 13th Wall Street Journal, Baucus – traveling in India – noted that he is concerned about job loss in the US, but that the appropriate response is to retrain its citizens to be more competitive in the flat world of globalization. (See

What happened to American innovation? – Writing in the December issue of Chief Executive, William R Brody expresses concern about the national commitment of the US government to provide the sustained financial support of scientific research and discovery across all branches of knowledge that has characterized recent decades. He notes that at the 2005 World Economic Form at Davos , Finland – not the US – was named the most competitive economy. Through government and private industry, the Finns dedicate 3.5% of their gross domestic product to R&D – almost a full percentage point above that of the US , currently at 2.6%. The lesson in Finland is the same lesson the US taught the world in the last 50 years: investment in education combined with investment in research and discovery pays enormous returns. Part of the reason that the US is losing its lead is the skills race: about one-third of the jobs in the US require science and technology competency, but currently only 17% of Americans graduate with degrees in science or technology. (See

In defiance of creativity – Protect your bright idea with intellectual property rights and you are either the champion of individual effort or the enemy of public progress. Writing in the RSA Journal, Kenneth Neal Cukier examines the modern system of IP rights as seen from these two disparate perspectives. According to a recent study, intellectual property constitutes about 45% of the gross domestic product of the US . Furthermore, three-quarters of the value of publicly listed companies is comprised of intangible assets, of which IP is a significant part. Today, however, many people believe the intellectual property system has run amok, providing too much power in favor of private enrichment and against the public interest. For example poor countries argue that they are being denied access to vital medication by western pharmaceutical firms that refuse to license the techniques to local manufacturers who could make it more cheaply, and e-commerce companies are granted patents on rudimentary things that block rivals from using the technique. Cukier believes that intellectual property rights are important as an incentive for people to invest in innovation and creativity, but that the rules governing it must evolve to keep up with the pace of technological change. (See 

India vs. China The economic race between China and India is changing the way the world does business, according to an article by Diana Farrell in the January/February Foreign Policy. It is estimated that by 2050 these two countries will account for nearly half of the world’s gross domestic product, up from only 6% today. But whose model is better – China ’s low cost factories or India ’s low-cost financiers? In the judgment of the writer, for all the benefits of China ’s swift rise, India ’s brain power will finally give it the tools to catch up. According to a survey of local recruiters, only 10% of China ’s engineers have the skills necessary to work in a multinational corporation, compared to 25% of engineers in India . By 2008, India ’s total pool of qualified graduates will be more than twice as large as China ’s. (See A contrasting analysis is presented by an article by Nicholas D. Kristof, printed in the January 18th issue of The Asian Age. This author notes that the boom in India has added few jobs, leaving the country’s poor behind, and that India has been pathetic in upgrading its infrastructure – compared with China . His overall bet is that China will grow faster and win the race of the century – and he is advising his kids to keep studying Chinese rather than switch to Hindi. (See

India ’s skill shortage – In a pair of articles in the Wall Street Journal - by John Larkin on January 4th and by Salil Tripathi on January 5th - writers note that India is having an increasingly difficult time finding qualified workers to fuel its booming services sector. The crunch is particularly worrisome in the technology industry, where wages are rising at 15% a year as call centers and software firms throw money at an increasingly shallow pool of youngsters who can hit the ground running. The emerging talent deficit is giving rivals such as Russia space to compete with India for high-end outsourced work such as software design and solutions, and allows aspirants such as the Philippines – where English is widely spoken – to better compete for call-center business. Unless India aggressively deregulates higher education and boosts the skills of prospective outsourcing workers, it risks facing looming shortages that will shatter expectations of an inexhaustible pool of talent there. (See


6 – Journal

Issues in Science and Technology – The Winter 2006 Issues in Science and Technology focuses on New Horizons for a Flat World. Four papers on that theme are: Will Government Programs Spur the Next Breakthrough, Is the Next Economy Taking Shape, A Forgotten Model for Purposeful Science, and Collaborative Advantage. Additional featured papers cover rebuilding New Orleans , restoring rivers, and distributed electric power generation. (See


7 – Meetings

E-conference call for papers – An exclusively electronic conference will be conducted in conjunction with the 5th ASEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education – scheduled for October 2006 in Rio de Janeiro . The e-conference will be conducted through web posting of papers, followed by electronic interactions between participants over a two month period in the summer and autumn of 2006. Posted papers and subsequent discussions will be summarized at a major plenary session at the Rio colloquium. Abstracts are due by April 30th, with accepted papers due by August 1st. Engineering educators in developing countries who seldom have the opportunity to participate in face-to-face conferences are particularly encouraged to participate in this e-conference. Submit all inquiries and abstracts of up to 500 words (in English) to

ICEE 2006 call for papers – The 2006 International Conference on Engineering Education will be held in San Juan , Puerto Rico from July 23 to 28. Abstracts are being accepted through February 28th. Information on topics and abstract submission can be found at



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