June 2004

Copyright © 2004 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

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



1 - International developments

·        The de-Russification of higher ed in former soviet countries

·        Airport terminal collapse in Paris

·        Iraqi universities left in decline by US and  international community

·        Doing the sums on Africa

·        Koreans select US physicist to lead Advanced Institute

·        Mexico fails to make link between investment in research and economic strength

·        Four Thai technical colleges form basis for new university

·        Microsoft fined in Canada

·        Strikes close down all schools in Nepal

·        Sudanese universities used as part of peace plan

·        MBA programs under pressure in US and abroad

2 - US developments

·        Former US President Reagan dies

·        Studies question assumptions about foreign scientists in the US

·        US state aid increased to offset higher tuition, lower appropriations

·        Call for ‘human culture of invention’

·        Budget cuts US for research and student aid predicted for 2006

·        SEVIS info now in hands of first line border officials

·        Boeing hires ethics watchdog

·        Indian elections point to greater university autonomy

·        Congress slams NIH consulting plan

·        Report: too many US students fail to graduate from college

3 - Distance education, technology

·        Virtual border contract let

·        Face recognition technology questioned

·        Video conferencing appears here to stay

·        Supercomputer competition heats up

·        Ruling due in battle over patents on streaming technologies

·        New option for the Hubble telescope?

·        High-speed network goes national

·        Spyware on the web

·        Software to block nosy neighbors

·        Linux losing counterculture aura

·        Retooling GPS

·        Monsanto drops genetically modified wheat

4 - Students, faculty, education

·        Carnegie Corporation head argues for integration and synthesis of knowledge

·        The many faces of mentoring

·        Mentors grow along with protégés

·        Why care about women role models?

·        Protection for pregnant drivers

·        Educating the world’s children

·        Frank Newman, US higher education leader, dies

·        ’04 Graduates are practical in job seeking

·        US student group ejected from Cuba

·        Say what?

5 – Employment

·        How engineers can fight back

·        Indian industry consolidates

6 – Journals

·        European Journal of Engineering Education

·        Engineering Trends Quarterly Newsletter



1 - International developments

The de-Russification of higher ed in former soviet countries – A set of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education outlines the state of higher education in former soviet-dominated countries which are struggling to sort out a myriad of problems related to their past.  Bryon McWilliams attempts to sort out the language policies in countries such as Kazakhstan , Latvia and Belarus .  Each has taken a different approach to promoting higher education while attempting to implement language policies which are sensitive to their troubled national and ethnic histories. “Russification” policies have left large percentages of people in each of the former Soviet republics who do not speak the local language, and yet those speakers of the local language, now that their counties are free of Soviet domination, do not want their public higher education to be Russian language dominated.  At Karaganda State University in Kazakhstan , officials have adopted a dual system, with nearly every course taught in both Russian and Kazakh, even when the teaching materials are available in Russian only.  Latvian has been declared the sole language of instruction in Latvia , despite the lack of materials in that language.  Belarus , by contrast, has focused entirely on teaching in Russian.  Colin Woodard surveyed the fate of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and Romania , where efforts have finally led to the opening of Hungarian language universities in each country.  Opponents see these institutions as potentially fostering inter-ethnic tensions, while proponents argue that they will correct the severe under-representation of Hungarian-speaking students in higher education in countries where they are a minority. Burton Bollag, in addition to writing the introduction to this set of articles, looked at the struggle to offer higher education in Albanian to students in Kosovo and Macedonia . After years of fighting, Albanian higher education is now offered in both places, but the fight for quality must now be engaged.  And everyone agrees that politics even now prevent progress. (See

Airport terminal collapse in Paris A 30-metre section of the glass- and steel-roof at terminal 2F at Charles de Gaulle airport collapsed on May 23rd, crushing everything below it, according to an article in the May 27th The Economist. At least four people were killed, but police had evacuated many more when cracks appeared. Opened less than a year ago, the terminal’s dashing architecture and engineering were widely seen as a showplace of French design flair. Early theories about the collapse range from design faults to construction errors to a rush to finish the job and budget constraints. In addition to a large financial blow, the collapse crimps the planned capacity to service the Airbus 380, the giant 555-seater aircraft scheduled to begin flights in 2006. (See

Iraqi universities left in decline by US and  international community – John Agresto, a former college president now responsible for restoring Iraq’s higher education, charges that the US has actually accomplished little and has invested only a fraction of what it was estimated would be needed.  He lays part of the blame on the international community, which has not join in US efforts, with a few exceptions.  The damage done to Iraqi universities includes the consequences of persecution by Saddam Hussein, intellectual isolation for almost two decades, then the US invasion.  Some progress has been made, though, reports Burton Bollag for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Enrollment in Iraq ’s universities is growing, favoritism in admissions is diminished, Internet access is improved, and faculty can travel freely.  Mr. Agresto is scheduled to complete his assignment just prior to the handover of control to the new Iraqi government.  (See

Doing the sums on Africa Africa ’s importance for global security has risen dramatically in recent years, according to an article by Jeffrey Sachs in the May 20th The Economist. It has served as a staging ground for terrorist attacks, Al-Queda has reportedly tapped into the illicit diamond trade, and insurgencies abound. West Africa ’s prospects have brightened with the discovery of offshore oil and gas reserves, yet the development of those reserves is threatened by violence and instability. Poverty, hunger and disease leave the region vulnerable to security and humanitarian disasters. The author states that in each of these aspects, an ounce of prevention will be worth a ton of treatment. He observes that US foreign aid to Africa , for example, will be less than $1-billion this year, for more than 700-million Africans. He argues for more aid from the US and its allies, particularly to those several countries that are well governed, where investments on a meaningful scale would fuel regional economic development rather than corruption and misrule. (See

Koreans select US physicist to lead Advanced Institute – KAIST (the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) recently appointed Nobel Prize winner Robert B. Laughlin as its new president.  KAIST is the only Korean university not under the control of the Ministry of Education, having been founded by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1971.  Laughlin, an American physicist now at Stanford, was selected over two other Korean candidates, in a deliberate effort to break ties with the current structure and politics at the institution, according to Alan Brender of the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Mexico fails to make link between investment in research and economic strength – Despite efforts by President Vicente Fox to promote science and technology and to reward researchers whose work produces marketable results, Mexico lags significantly behind other developing countries in understanding the critical link between investment in research and economic prosperity, according to Marion Lloyd, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  And not only is research support lacking, but when practical discoveries are made, scientists have difficulty persuading Mexican businesses to adopt them and reap the profits.  As a result, they sell their discoveries overseas, as did Jesús González Hernández, who along with three other scientists, developed a more efficient way to produce tortillas, a staple in the Mexican diet.  When local industry refused to make the investment needed to use the new process, the scientists sold their patent to a US company.  Some of the multiple problems plaguing the country are lack of incentives for engaging in marketable research; a shortage of government funding for research; lack of entrepreneurship support; excessive emphasis on publication and citation as a measure of scientific achievement; industry refusal to make needed investment in home-grown innovations; the current economic decline; a persistent brain-drain of productive scientists. (See

Four Thai technical colleges form basis for new university – Four technical colleges in the southern part of Thailand will become part of a new university designed to stem the tide of Islamic militancy in that country, according to an article by Martha Ann Overland in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Government officials believe that much of the violence which has appeared in Thailand is linked to militants educated in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt, who then return to the impoverished Islamic sections of the country and incite unrest.  (See

Microsoft fined in Canada Professional engineers in Canada won a symbolic victory over Microsoft Corporation when a Quebec court assessed a $1000 fine for misusing the title “engineer”. According to an article in the June Engineering Times, the company was fined for violating the professional engineering code of the Order of Engineers of Quebec , by calling its IT professionals “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers”. In Canada , only registered professional engineers are authorized to use the title “engineer”. Microsoft, which had previously dropped the title in 2001, started using it again in 2002. The company says that it will appeal the ruling. (See

Strikes close down all schools in Nepal – All education in Nepal has been closed down again in a strike called by student supporters of Maoist rebels in that country, writes Shailaja Neelakantan for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  As a result, seventeen days of study have been lost just in the past two months, according to a faculty member from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu . The students claim that the government had failed to live up to promises made. In addition to the strikes, rebels have taken to kidnapping students and teachers for the purposes of brain-washing.  Well-off students are increasingly leaving the country to pursue higher education elsewhere.  (See

Sudanese universities used as part of peace plan – Three public universities in Sudan which had previously been moved to the capital, Khartoum , will now be moved back into three southern provincial capitals as part of a peace agreement.  Students who served in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and with other rebel groups will be permitted to attend, according to Wachira Kigotho of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

MBA programs under pressure in US and abroad – On May 20 The Economist published an extended article on MBA programs, taking as a springboard the current concern about falling applications to such programs (minus 15 – 25% this year over 2003).  Evidence seems to point to wide-spread problems in management education at the post-baccalaureate level in the US and elsewhere.  Full-time, traditional MBA programs have experienced at best stagnating enrollments since the late 1990s.  Foreign student enrollments, making up 20-30% of MBA enrollments, are down in the US .  Competition is fierce from in-company “universities”:1,600 such institutions now operate in the US .  Executive education is difficult for universities to staff, since it draws faculty away from traditional teaching and research obligations.  Companies are increasingly demanding proof that executive education is worth the investment.  Many MBA programs are money losers for their universities.  Programs are criticized for being too theoretical, and too practical; for not concentrating enough on ethics; for not developing management as a profession.  The article concludes that it might be easier to have experienced managers learn to be professors and have them teach management, than to try to make management faculty capable of teaching real skills. (See


2 - US developments 

Former US President Reagan dies – Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States , died on June 5, prompting the higher education community to look back at his years in the White House.  Eric Hoover and Philip W. Semas, reporting for the Chronicle of Higher Education, listed as part of the Reagan era Terrel Bell’s “A Nation at Risk” report in 1983, which prompted US colleges to pay more attention to teacher preparation, and Secretary of Education William J. Bennett’s aggressive critique of graduate programs in the humanities.  For seven years as president, Reagan attempted to cut federal spending by reducing funds for education, but in his last year in office, he proposed increases.  During his time as president, concerns about the cold war prompted fights between the government and scientists over access to scientific information.  His Superconducting Supercollider project, announced in 1987, was shut down in 1993, and his Star Wars defense project never took off.  (See

Studies question assumptions about foreign scientists in the US – The May 28 issue of Science contains a section devoted to “Brains and Borders,” articles on foreign scientists working in the US interspersed with profiles of individual foreign scientists.  “Is the U.S. Brain Gain Faltering?,” by Jeffrey Mervis, looks at current concerns that US visa restrictions are preventing many foreign graduate students from coming to study here, and concludes that the concerns are largely unjustified.  It demolishes myths about the competitive lure of Australian universities, about the correlation between the number of foreign applications and the ultimate number of foreign graduate students on US campuses, about the barrier presented by current visa procedures, and about a decline in quality of foreign graduate students.  “Settling In on Campus,” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, is an account on the challenges for a graduate student coming to the US, including language and culture, and reveals the perceived dangers of labs employing too many foreign nationals from the same country. “Perceptions and Realities of the Workplace,” by Jeffrey Mervis, studies the increased numbers of foreign-born scientists in the US today, the higher numbers of foreign scientists who have received their doctorates outside the US, and the rising numbers of foreign-born scientists who remain in the US after they earn their doctorate.  “A Foot in Each Country,” by Adrian Cho, examines the links between foreign-born scientists in the US and their colleagues back home, and reveals how many reach back to insure that others share their success.  (See

US state aid increased to offset higher tuition, lower appropriations – Faced with declining state appropriations and higher tuitions, US states continued to increase student aid for higher education in 2002-2003.  A report by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) indicated that while the aid increased, the rate of increase appears to have slowed for a second year.  Need-based student grants rose 9.4% over the previous year, while non-need-based grants rose 21.9%. 93.8% of need-based grants went to undergraduates.  South Carolina was the leader in all grant aid on a per capita basis, while New York was the leader in the total amount of grant aid provided: $760.4 million.  A copy of the report is available at  This article was written for the Chronicle of Higher Education by Michael Arnone.  (See

Call for ‘human culture of invention’ – A group of leaders convened by the Lemelson-MIT program has issued a report calling for a new approach to invention and innovation that would serve social end environmental goals as well as market demand, according to an article in the June Engineering Times. The report, “Invention: Enhancing Inventiveness for Quality of Life, Competitiveness, and Sustainability”, advocates a humane culture of invention to address problems such as unemployment, poverty, political instability, and environmental damage that are plaguing the developing world. The proposed global community of invention would bring together individual inventors, corporate stakeholders, government agencies, educational institutions, community leaders, and citizen groups. For the report, see For the news article see  

Budget cuts US for research and student aid predicted for 2006 – The administration of President Bush has warned of federal cuts in funding for research and student aid when the 2006 budget is drawn up, says Jeffrey Brainard, reporting for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The National Science Foundation, for example, would see a 2% decrease in its budget, and the US Department of Education would take a 2.6% cut.  Although this sort of gloomy signal is frequently given at this time of year, critics of the administration’s plans say that this sounds more serious than usual.  (See

SEVIS info now in hands of first line border officials – US customs officials who review the great majority of foreign students coming to the US now have access to SEVIS, the federal database that tracks these students, according to an article by Michael Arnone in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  A previous Chronicle article had drawn attention to the fact that only second line customs officers had such access, and that they saw only a fraction of the students.  College officials were angry because mandated compliance with SEVIS requirements had been costly.  (See

Boeing hires ethics watchdog – According to an article in the June Engineering Times, the Boeing Company has hired an ‘ethics watchdog’ organization to help it deal with several scandals related to federal contracts for defense work. The company is being investigated for obtaining and using proprietary documents of a competitor, and for hiring a former US Air Force procurement officer to do business for the company before she ended her military responsibilities. The unnamed watchdog group is responsible for overseeing the company’s ethics and compliance programs and alerting it to any future offenses. (See

Indian elections point to greater university autonomy – Shailaja Neelkantan, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, described the consequences of India ’s recent elections for higher education in that country.  While much of the world was focused on the message sent by Indian voters when they turned out the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party that had been responsible for the impressive economic growth in that country, the new government was making welcomed moves to modify the previous government’s controversial efforts to gain increased control over public universities.  Arjun Singh, the new Minister of Human Resource Development, will have charge of higher education, and is considered by many educators as a good choice.  (See

Congress slams NIH consulting plan – The consulting policies of the National Institutes of Health have been under fire by Congress, according to an article by Jocelyn Kaiser in the May 21st issue of Science. It has been reported in the media that NIH scientists have served as paid consultants to industry, some earning $300,000 or more since 1995. A blue-ribbon panel had recommended that such consulting be allowed in order to help the agency attract and retain good scientists. Members of Congress feel that such consultants have crossed the line of conflict of interest. Consulting arrangements for other federal agencies are also being reviewed in Congressional hearings. (See

Report: too many US students fail to graduate from college – The Education Trust, an advocacy group, just published a report criticizing US colleges and universities for allowing so many minority students to drop through the cracks and not graduate.  The report comes at a time when some members of Congress have advocated punishing and rewarding colleges on the basis of their retention and graduation rates.  Officials from the US Education Department believe that this would be dangerous, given the unreliable nature of the data.  Currently, for example, a student who drops out of one college to attend, and ultimately graduate from, another, is counted against the first college as a drop-out. According to Stephen Burd, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Education Trust recommends making it in the interest of the individual colleges and universities to take drop-out rates more seriously, for example by withholding public funding until students actually graduate.  (See


3 - Distance education, technology

Virtual border contract let – The US Department of Homeland Security has awarded a $10-billion contract to bolster US borders against terrorist attack, according to an article by Robert Black et al in the June 2nd Wall Street Journal. The contract, one of the largest federal technology contracts in history, was awarded to Accenture Ltd., a Bermuda based business consultancy. The project is to help manage the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT), which was launched earlier this year to strengthen the screening system for foreigners entering and leaving the US . It will take the current system of checking names and fingerprints to a higher level, integrating more databases and using more complex scanning systems. The contract award drew criticism ranging from the unproven nature of the technology to the fact that Accenture is an offshore company. (See 

Face recognition technology questioned – Often touted as a promising tool in the fight against terrorism, face recognition technology has failed recently in some well-publicized tests for picking faces out of a crowd. According to an article in the May 31st New York Times by Barnaby Feder, though, the technology has worked in some simpler situations such as spotting card sharks at casino blackjack tables. Current face recognition systems use cameras and computers to map someone’s facial features, and collect the data for storage in databases or on a microchip on documents like passports. Technology developers are seeking improvements such as using three-dimensional images taken by multiple cameras and using software to compensate for poor lighting and to take shadows off a face. (See

Video conferencing appears here to stay – After 9/11, video conferencing as an alternative to travel took off in popularity.  Now that some of the pressure is off, however, it appears that it will still remain strong, according to “Being there,” a May 13 article in the Economist.  Supporters say that they like virtual meetings as a time saver, not primarily because they save money.  And these meetings are increasingly seen as appropriate second encounters, after participants have met once in person.  A popular format is “web conferencing,” where participants are link by audio-conferencing while viewing web-based materials.  No new equipment is needed for this format.  However, Microsoft’s entry into the arena might threaten the market depending on the approach it takes.  (See

Supercomputer competition heats up – Two years ago a computer funded by the Japanese government trounced America ’s mightiest computers – in fact packed more number crunching speed than the top 20 US supercomputers combined. According to an article by Otis Port and Hiroko Tashiro in the June 7th Business Week, though, US competitors are closing in. The US Energy Department plans to establish a new supercomputing center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, using two or three monster Cray computers, which will dwarf the top Japanese machine. Unlike the Japanese machine, the new US supercomputer will be available to remote users through a high-speed network. (See  

Ruling due in battle over patents on streaming technologies – An important legal battle is engaged between Acacia Research Corporation and hundreds of higher education institutions, reports Scott Carlson for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Acacia claims that it holds the patents to all online audio and video streaming technologies and has written letters claiming that many colleges, universities, pornography companies, mainstream companies and distance education providers have infringed on those patents.  Several of these have signed licensing agreements, but until recently, no colleges had done so.  When Capella University signed an agreement, this set a bad precedent, according to the universities which are fighting Acacia’s moves.  A key court case between Acacia and some pornography companies has ended: a ruling is expected in July.  (See

New option for the Hubble telescope? – A piece of good news for supporters of the Hubble telescope: it appears that a robot might be able to extend the Hubble’s life, according to Guy Gugliotta, writing for the Washington Post on June 2.  NASA has asked for proposals to service the telescope in a robotic mission (not a shuttle mission, which has been canceled), but at the same time, any proposals must include a plan for ending the Hubble’s mission by safely bringing it back to earth to be destroyed upon impact.  (See

High-speed network goes national – The National LambdaRail will now be truly national, following the announcement that six new members had joined the consortium.  The network will cover most of the US , providing four national computer networks each of which is equal in capacity to Internet2, according to Vincent Kiernan, reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The new members include state education agencies such as the Louisiana Board of Regents, and individual institutions such as Cornell, which plans to make the required $5m investment but recoup some of that by selling access to other colleges in its region.  (See

Spyware on the web – According to an article in the June 3rd The Economist, spyware software that sneaks onto a PC and tracks online activities is a growing threat. Such software can harvest personal information such as credit card details, and can trigger advertisements in response to Internet use patterns. One study indicates that spyware is present in over 4% of computers. It typically enters through bundled programs, such as peer-to-peer file trading software used to swap music. Spyware that monitors every keystroke a user types is currently illegal, and is relatively rare. Much more common is advert-triggering software, or ‘adware’, which operates in a legally gray area. (See

Software to block nosy neighbors – PC users who work in public areas, such as on planes or trains, have a new tool to keep nosy neighbors from reading their computer screens. According to an article by Marcelo Prince in the June 2nd Wall Street Journal, a new software program is available to darken the screen and reduce the viewing angle. People not seated directly in front of the screen see only a grayish screen, without seeing the underlying text or images. Until this development, the best way to shield a computer from wandering eyes was to attach a plastic filter to the front of the screen. (See 

Linux losing counterculture aura – The free operating system once seen as a symbol of  a computing counterculture, Linux, is becoming a mainstream technology and is being forced to behave more like one, according to an article in the May 25th New York Times by Steve Lohr. A step down that road came recently when Linus Torvalds, its creator, announced that software developers making contributions to the operating system would have to sign their work and vouch for its origin. This development is in response to concern among corporate users that procedures for adding new code to the evolving operating system have been too informal and lacking in documentation. Analysts say that tracing the origin of code is vital to avoiding legal challenges that Linux pilfered software. (See

Retooling GPS – Current Global Positioning System technology allows civilian users to perform geolocation to within 5 to 10 meters, while military users can get to within half a meter. According to an article by Per Enge in the May Scientific American, beginning next year GPS satellites will broadcast new signals designed to make the systems more robust and eliminate errors caused by ionospheric particles to refine accuracy. This will be followed about three years later by additional civilian signals with four times as much power as current signals. The civilian upgrades should benefit the farming, mining, transportation, telecommunications, electric power, mapping and construction industries, while military gains will include automatic landing of aircraft in zero-visibility conditions. (See 

Monsanto drops genetically modified wheat – Herbicide-resistant wheat has become the latest casualty in the GM wars, according to an article in the May 21st Science by Erik Stokstad. It is one of a string of new genetically modified products, such as insect-resistant potatoes, that have been shelved because of fear of consumer objections. This cancellation is not a huge setback for the company – in 2003 68 million hectares in 18 countries were planted with GM crops, a 15% increase from 2002. But the decision reflects an industry trend, shying away from risky projects and sticking with tried-and-true moneymakers such as varieties of corn, soybeans, canola and cotton. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Carnegie Corporation head argues for integration and synthesis of knowledge – Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York , made a strong plea for the integration of knowledge in a speech published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. His conclusion is that higher education must emphasize the integration of knowledge, the breaking down of barriers between compartments of learning, rather than engaging in arguments between the value of basic vs. applied research. His presents David Billington’s teaching of engineering as a liberal art as a model for the type of interconnected learning he advocates.  (See

The many faces of mentoring – Everyone benefits when engineers teach and counsel their younger (and older) colleagues, according to an article by Erica Vonderheid in the June IEEE The Institute. The author notes that mentoring today is more than job training – it involves counseling, guiding and teaching students and young professionals how to become successful engineers. Mentoring can take many forms, from a casual conversation about a project during a coffee break to formal programs that match mentors with protégés who are not at the same company or even in the same city. Mentoring is not only a one-way street, and the more senior engineer may learn about technological advances and trends from the younger one. Some current engineering mentoring programs even reach down to the high school level, providing guidance for high school students interested in a technical profession. (See

Mentors grow along with protégés – An article in the June MentorNet News chronicles the experience of a senior engineer in mentoring an engineering student. Taking part in a corporate program to nurture and support highly motivated female students in science and engineering, senior engineers note several benefits for themselves: enhanced professional skills such as communication, management, and coaching; and increased job satisfaction and commitment. (See    

Why care about women role models? – Writing in the May issue of ASCE News, current ASCE President Patricia Galloway cites famous historical women such as Emily Roebling and Emilia Earhart whose contributions to engineering were extraordinary. She points out that young people – particularly girls – need role models and mentors to give them hands-on guidance and encouragement. Several engineering societies have formed a coalition to inspire young women to choose engineering as a career, and give them the help they need to remain in that career. (See

Protection for pregnant drivers – A recently graduated female mechanical engineer has designed a computer-modeled crash-test dummy to better protect pregnant women and their unborn babies, according to an article in the June 7th Wall Street Journal by Miriam Jordan. Now an employee of Volvo, Laura Thackray began her work as an engineering student at the University of Idaho , and continued it as a graduate student at Sweden ’s Chalmers Institute of Technology. Her research is influencing vehicle development at Volvo, leading to possible modifications in seat belts, steering wheels and interior surfaces to provide a higher level of safety to pregnant women and their unborn babies in crashes. (See

Educating the world’s children – In an article in the May Today’s Engineer, Dr Sylvia Wilson-Thomas provides a call for action to address the needs of some 100-million children worldwide who are deprived of an education. She notes that economic, intellectual, and innovative prosperity depend on worldwide implementation of high-quality education – particularly for girls in developing counties. The UN millennium development goals of attaining education for all and promoting gender equity are applauded by the author, and she reviews current programs aimed at meeting them. (See    

Frank Newman, US higher education leader, dies – Frank Newman, a leader in US higher education policy for the past several decades, died recently, leaving a legacy which includes proposing solutions to problems of access to college and the financing of higher education.  Newman chaired the panel formed in 1969 to study federal support for higher education.  What resulted came to be known as the Newman Reports, which included such radical suggestions as flexible schedules to fit the needs of older students.  Newman served as president of the University of Rhode Island , then as president of the Education Commission of the States, where he created what is now known as the Campus Compact, promoting volunteer service among students. Although Newman held a Ph.D. in history, his undergraduate education included a B.S. in engineering from Brown University .  This article was by Jeffrey Selingo and Goldie Blumenstyk for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

’04 Graduates are practical in job seeking – Corporate recruiters going to college campuses this spring have noticed a new maturity among applicants, according to an article by Eduardo Porter and Greg Winter in the May 30th New York Times. Job candidates now often come on like hard-nosed investors, with questions about the company’s layoff prospects and its plans to combat foreign competition. Thorough preparation for careers after college is shaping up as a defining characteristic of the class of 2004. The days are gone when a college graduate could expect to go to work for a paternalistic employer and spend an entire career there, with a set of generous benefits and a comfortable pension upon retirement. Today, fears are growing about job instability and increasing competition, here and abroad, for the best white-collar jobs. University officials say that this year’s graduates are the most prepared they have ever seen. (See   

US student group ejected from Cuba – On May 24 students and faculty from Goshen College were ordered to leave Cuba , where they were into the second month of a three month study program.  Joshua Karlin-Resnick, reporting for the Chronicle of Higher Education, says the Cuban government told them their visas would not be renewed, forcing the group to leave three days later for Puerto Rico to complete their program.  Goshen College , a Mennonite institution, claims the participants were not engaged in missionary work.  As experienced organizers (the college had run the program for the past three years, and were cooperating with the University of Havana ), officials had received all the needed prior approvals from both Cuba and the US .  (See

Say what? – The University of Kent at Canterbury (UK) is being sued by a student who claims that the school never informed him that plagiarism was wrong, and thus could not legally withhold his diploma, as it is prepared to do.  The student admitted that he had plagiarized, according to Aisha Labi who wrote this article for the Chronicle of Higher Education: for three years he supplemented his own ideas with pieces copied directly from the Internet, and now claims that he never dreamed it was a problem.  (See


5 – Employment

How engineers can fight back – Well known engineering writer Samuel C. Florman has written an article in the June Technology Review on the negative impact of outsourcing on engineers’ careers, and how engineers might resist. He cites traditional engineers’ complaints about low pay, layoffs, and age bias, and notes the negative impact that these issues have on potential engineering students. Then he notes two new phenomena – the outsourcing abroad of ever more complex intellectual work, and the importing of tens of thousands of technical workers to the US through the granting of special visas. Among other references, Florman cites papers by the editors of this Digest which recommend that the major US engineering societies take on this challenge on behalf of the profession – for example, by recognizing companies for meritorious employment practices, and steering engineers away from companies that treat their employers in a nonprofessional way. (See

Indian industry consolidates – In India ’s thriving software and remote services industries, bigger fish have been gobbling up small fry. According to an article in the May 20th The Economist, a new phenomenon may be developing – cross border global services companies with roots in India . Four trends are converging in an industry-wide consolidation: some multinational firms with captive offshore operations in India are thinking of selling them; young, fast growing India-based firms, flush with cash, are thinking of acquisitions as a way to sustain growth; big western IT consulting firms are reversing the process, buying firms in India; and Indian firms are extending their wares. (See   


6 – Journals

European Journal of Engineering Education – The June 2004 issue is focused on assessment of learning results, with some 16 articles on the topic. (See

Engineering Trends Quarterly Newsletter – The Spring 2004 issue reviews engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded by state, changes in disciplinary preferences by graduates, and undergraduate enrollments. It also describes new studies underway: US citizen graduate enrollments in engineering over three decades, undergraduate engineering student retention, and recent trends in foreign national enrollments in US engineering programs. (See



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