June 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

Scientific diasporas – In industrialized countries, a high percentage of foreign born residents are from the developing world. According to an article in the June 16th Science by Beatrice Seguin, Peter Singer and Abdallah Daar, some of these migrants are highly skilled scientists and engineers who constitute a “brain drain” from their countries of origin. But they also represent a scientific diaspora with enormous potential, and may provide part of the solution to the often crippling economic and social effects of emigration on the developing world. The article reports on a study by the authors of such emigrants in Canada . The general sentiment of participants was a feeling of moral responsibility or need to “give back” to their country of origin. (See

Florida law bans research in Cuba – Faculty members at Florida’s public universities are being banned by a new state law from having any contact with Cuba, according to an article in the June 9th Science by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. Although Cuba is on the list of the US State Department as a sponsor of terrorism, US scholars can travel there for research if they first obtain a government license. The Florida measure, which passed the state legislature unanimously, closes that opportunity by disallowing state-funded institutions from using public or private funds to facilitate travel to any of the six countries on the State Department list. (See

Vietnam ’s higher ed lags behind – Higher education in Vietnam is outdated, writes Martha Ann Overland in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Despite a fast growing economy, universities there are beset with problems ranging from mandatory political education, low faculty salaries, rote learning, outmoded curricula, and lack of leadership.  The situation is so critical that many believe that the economic growth cannot be sustained in the absence of a steady flow of skilled workers coming from universities.  For decades Vietnam has been slow to send students to the west for higher education, preferring old Soviet institutions.  Students are not seen as likely to take to the streets in protest, as they did in France , but their dissatisfaction is evident.  (See

Scandals shake Chinese science – For more than a decade, the Chinese government has been heaping money and prestige on its academic community in a bid to gain ground in a global technological race. But according to an article in the June 9th Science by Hao Xin, an unprecedented number of researchers now stand accused of cheating – from fudging resumes to fabricating data – to gain fame or plum positions. Buffeted by scandals and an urgent appeal for action from expatriate scientists, top scientific leaders in China now acknowledge the need for change in a system notorious for its high expectations and scant oversight. Part of the problem is that only a small percentage of R&D funding is awarded after peer review, so success often depends on how well a scientist cultivates support from grant managers and politicians rather than on the quality of research. The central government is taking first steps at addressing these concerns. The Ministry of Education, which funds and oversees the nation’s universities, has issued ethics guidelines and formed a panel to police conduct in the social sciences. (See

Mexico is pumping out engineers – The headlines are about low-wage illegals, but according to an article in the May 22nd Business Week by Geri Smith , Mexico is swiftly upgrading its workforce. For years the Mexican workforce has meant one thing to multinational companies: cheap, reliable labor, perfect for assembling cars, refrigerators and other goods in the maquiladoras lining the US border. More complex engineering and design work were better done elsewhere in the global economy – usually at company headquarters in the US, Europe and Japan. But as assembly work migrated to cheaper locales, and India and China grabbed more sophisticated design and engineering assignments, Mexican officials recognized they had to do something to stay in the global race, so quietly and steadily they have been building up enrollment in four-year degree programs in engineering, developing a network of technical institutes that confer two-year degrees, and expanding advanced training programs. The result is a bumper crop of engineers. Currently 451,000 Mexican students are enrolled in full-time undergraduate engineering programs, compared with just over 370,000 in the US . The Mexican students benefit from high-tech equipment and materials provided by foreign companies, so most know how to use the latest CAD software – and speak fluent English. (See    

International group tackles the college rating wars – Some education leaders from around the world have drawn up guidelines designed to be adopted voluntarily by any group attempting to rank universities in the way made famous by U.S. News & World Report.  The purpose is to encourage them to take responsibility for the accuracy of their data and reports.  Rankings are now published in twenty countries, writes Burton Bollag in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Some of the guidelines promote the need to be transparent about the methodology behind the rankings, and recommend that outcome measures be used rather than inputs.  A meeting is planned for 2007 at which time it is expected that a certification process will be drafted.  (See

Niger ’s students continue decade-long protests Niger provides students with free education, along with accommodations, health care, transportation and food, despite being one of the poorest countries in the world.  But Abdou Moumouni University , the only state controlled institution in the country, was closed after student protests broke out as they have over the past decade.  This time the issue was the students’ claim that their stipends had not been paid since January.  The protests became violent and engulfed virtually the entire campus and its students, writes Wachira Kigotho in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

UNESCO report shows sub-Saharan African students most mobile – A May 31, 2006 , report from UNESCO entitled “African students the most mobile in the world” shows that university students from sub-Saharan Africa are the most mobile in the world: 5.6% of them study abroad.  By way of comparison, 0.4% of North American university students study abroad.  Between 1999 and 2004 the number of students studying abroad world-wide increased 41%, reflecting the expansion of participation in higher education. The leading country in sending students abroad is China , which accounts for 14% of the world total.  Some sub-Saharan African countries send more students abroad than they educate at home, due to limited access or low quality.  In Botswana , for example, the gross enrollment rate of students in higher education would increase from 6% to 11% if the students studying outside of that country were counted.  The top destination for sub-Saharan African students is Western Europe , mostly France and the UK .  67% of the mobile students study in just six countries: 23% in the USA , 12% in the UK , 11% in Germany , 10% in France , 7% in Australia , and 5% in Japan .  (See

Oxford to consider some new governance structures Oxford University ’s Congregation, the 3,500 member governing group made up of faculty members, researchers and various other academic and administrative staff, rarely meets, but it will convene this fall to debate a proposal to change the governance structure of the 900 year old institution.  Some of the most potentially contentious proposals include giving more authority to outsiders, and the creation of an Audit and Scrutiny Committee with broad powers to investigate.  John Hood, the New Zealand business leader who came to Oxford as its first vice chancellor ever to be selected from outside of Oxford ’s own, led, but did not initiate, the process which resulted in these changes.  He emphasized that the objective was not to eliminate the complexity which characterizes Oxford , but to recognize more constituencies, and to facilitate communication between the various colleges and divisions of the university.  Aisha Labi wrote this report for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Swiss approve change in university oversight – The Swiss constitution has been changed with the approval of the citizens and the cantons, to make the Confederation and the cantons jointly responsible for the nation’s ten universities. This will ensure greater transparency and common standards of quality, and will support student mobility.  The changes are part of Switzerland ’s efforts to comply with the Bologna process underway across the European Union and elsewhere, according to Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Investments toward sustainable development – Sustainable development, meaning economic growth that is environmentally sound, is a practical necessity. According to Jeffrey Sachs and Walter Reid writing in the May 19th Science, environmental goals cannot be achieved without development. Poor people will circumvent environmental restrictions in their desperation for land, food and sustenance. The authors also argue that development goals – such as poverty reduction – cannot be achieved and sustained without sound environmental management. Based on the Millennium Development Goals, the authors recommend establishment of a Millennium Ecosystem Fund by rich countries to give poor countries the wherewithal to incorporate environmental sustainability into national development strategies. (See

Riots in Zimbabwe prompt police to arrest students – The computer lab at Bindura University of Science Education was burned down in early May in a riot by students protesting heavy tuition increases in Zimbabwean universities.  The violence has spread, and police have been hunting down, arresting and reportedly torturing students suspected of involvement.  Zimbabwe ’s universities are known to have graduated many of the boldest critics of President Robert G. Mugabe’s 26 year reign, which has been marked by high inflation and deteriorating universities, writes Megan Lindow in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See


2 - US developments

Keeping US leadership in engineering – A decade ago, close to 40% of total engineering work hours were based in the US; by 2010, it is estimated that only 10% of those work hours will be in the US. Writing in the April/May Chief Executive, Pradeep Kholsa of Carnegie Mellon University reviews the current situation of elements of this change, such as outsourcing, innovation, competitiveness, and globalization. He states that the US must concentrate on keeping the higher skilled engineering work stateside, thereby ramping up the US worker skill levels and continuing to attract the best and brightest from around the world. (See

Katrina Mea Culpa – The US Army Corps of Engineers has issued a 6,113-page report to explain why its hurricane protection system in Louisiana failed during Katrina. A brief summary in the June 12th Time indicates that the levy system failed due to faulty design based on outdated scientific data, that the backup pumping system worked at only 16% of capacity during the storm and was quickly overwhelmed once electricity was lost, and that engineers failed to account for sinking soil that left levees lower than they were meant to be. On the question of whether the system has now been fully repaired, experts indicate that much of the damage to the 350-mile protection system has been fixed, but that the levees may still be at the subpar pre-Katrina state. The report recommends that the Corps must dramatically strengthen backup systems, keep up with latest scientific developments, and do a better job of risk assessment. (See

Harvard scientists begin human cloning projects Harvard University has announced that two groups of scientists will begin human cloning research aimed at treating some specific illnesses such as diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Their research uses a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer, the same used by Woo Suk Hwang, the Korean scientist who made claims of success which were subsequently revealed as fraudulent. Human cloning research in the US must be privately funded, reports Richard Monastersky in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

NSF funds consortium to attract women into computer science – The US National Science Foundation recently gave $2 million to the Stars Alliance, a consortium of ten institutions attempting to attract more women and minorities into computer science by breaking the stereotype of the profession being made up exclusively of awkward boys.  One of their approaches will be to put fun courses at the front end of the undergraduate curriculum, rather than dull coding courses.  Another strategy will be to send out undergraduates into middle and high schools to mentor students and explain the attraction of a career in computer sciences, reports Dan Carnevale in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

US Commerce Department takes different tack to stem tech leaks – Over a year ago the US Commerce Department proposed new rules to control foreigners’ access to new technologies.  Those rules, according to many universities and businesses, would have imposed severe compliance burdens by requiring them to arrange export-control licenses for an increased number of foreign students and researchers.  The last of these rules have now been withdrawn, and instead, an advisory committee including representatives from universities, industry, intelligence and national security, will be asked to propose new rules, reports Kelly Field from The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Women’s participation in US higher ed continues to grow Each year the US Education Department issues a comprehensive report on “The Condition of Education.”  The 2006 edition reveals a continuation of a trend already noted, increasing numbers of women enrolled as both graduates and undergraduates in the nation’s colleges and universities.  In fields once dominated by male students, such as business, medicine and law, women earn half of the degrees.  The sections of the report which compare US primary and secondary school students with their counterparts in other countries are “distinctly unflattering,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Harvard’s School of Engineering to be part of Arts and Sciences – In a deliberate and significant move, Harvard University ’s new School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, an expansion of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is staying in its original organizational home, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  University officials and others argue that the engineers needed in today’s world must be both technically competent and broadly educated, without compromise.  David Epstein, writing in Inside Higher Ed, describes Harvard’s initiative in the context of other engineering schools which have made similar decisions, such as Georgia Tech and Stanford.   Stanford’s engineering dean, James D. Plummer, talks about the T-shaped engineer who has strong and refined technical skills, but also the broad cross-bar of interdisciplinary knowledge required of engineers in today’s world.  Georgia Tech has had an Office of Interdiscipliary Programs since the 1980s, and they are now deliberately educating their students to prevent them from having jobs that can be quickly outsourced.  Norman Fortenberry, director of the US National Academy of Engineering’s Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education says that this emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to engineering education is in response to industry demand. (See

Opinion: make US law schools more international – An opinion piece by David Fontana published in The Chronicle of Higher Education makes the case for internationalizing US law schools.  After describing the recent history of legal education in the US and how it has largely ignored globalization trends that have become so important in other parts of US campuses, Fontana examines law school curricula, research, and textbooks.  He concludes that US students are insulated from comparative or international law, and are not being exposed to global issues as part of the bread and butter courses that make up a large part of every legal student’s course of study.  The author argues that international issues need to be infused across the entire law curriculum because more US law firms are working for foreign clients, more international issues such as child custody are becoming prevalent, and because topics such as Abu Ghraib and the Geneva Convention show that US law is not untouched by the legal systems of other countries.  (See

Faculty should be fired, says latest report on plagiarism scandal – In the latest developments surrounding the plagiarism scandal at the engineering college of Ohio University, a two person faculty committee has recommended that the chair of mechanical engineering and one of the faculty be fired, and that an additional faculty member be suspended from the university for two years.  The report blames both the students who plagiarized and the faculty who were supposed to be supervising their work, but holds the faculty more culpable for over twenty years of lax supervision.  The situation came to light when a former graduate student began investigating in 2004.  This update was written by Paula Wasley in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Community college role in preparing engineers is demonstrated – The National Science Foundation’s 2001 “Survey of Recent College Graduates” shows that 40% of students earning undergraduate engineering degrees took at least one class at a community college, indicating to some observers that these colleges may be key players in efforts to broaden the pool of applicants to more women and minorities, writes David Epstein in Inside Higher Ed.   Facts such as these come as a shock to most people and add to the frustration of community college administrators who suffer from chronic underfunding of their institutions.  (See

The Interstate highway system at 50 – The June 2006 issue of Civil Engineering contains a major special report on the US Interstate highway system, marking the 50th anniversary of a triumph of modern engineering that revolutionized the nation by ensuring safe, fast and inexpensive travel from city to city. Separate articles cover the past (Paving America from Coast to Coast), present (Inventive Maintenance) and future (Moving On) of the system. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the framework and funding mechanisms for the creation of the system of high-speed freeways. Challenges today include keeping performance levels high by innovative maintenance and management approaches, such as intelligent transportation system technologies. (See


3 - Technology

Nuclear power revival – Political interest in nuclear power is reviving across the world, thanks in part to concerns about global warming and energy security. Currently some 441 commercial reactors operate in 31 countries and provide 17% of the planet’s electricity, according to a US Department of Energy report cited in the June 3rd The Economist. Until recently the talk was of how to retire these reactors gracefully, but now it is of how to extend their lives. And in addition another 32 reactors are being built, mostly in India , China and their neighbors. The new ‘third generation’ reactors are considered by their creators to be safer than their predecessors. Further into the future, engineers are developing designs for so-called ‘fourth generation’ plants that could be built between 2030 and 2040. Work on these designs is being undertaken by a ten-nation research program whose members include the US, Britain, China, France, Japan, South Africa and South Korea. (See

National Research Council weighs in on global warming claims – A panel of the U.S. National Research Council has issued a report saying that it supports Dr. Michael E. Mann’s finding that the average surface temperature of the globe was higher at the end of the last century than it had been in the last four centuries, but declined to endorse Mann’s claims that that elevated temperature was the highest in the past millennium. In addition, investigators found no evidence of serious errors in Mann’s research.  U.S. Representative Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas , last year accused Mann of calculation errors and said other scientists had been unable to verify his findings.  The National Research Panel investigation was requested by another US representative, Sherwood L. Boehlert, chair of the House Science Committee, who strongly objected to Barton’s accusations.  Still, the battle continues, with both sides claiming some victories in the panel report, writes Richard Monastersky in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See 

Tools for the Third World From Internet antennas bolted to trees to pedal-powered laptops, innovators are bringing 21st century advances to those who need them most. An article by Bob Marsh, Mark Summer and Kristen Peterson in the May 29th Time describes several case studies of positive impact on third world needs via applications of innovative technology: wireless Internet in Uganda to help farmers get products to the best markets; satellite coverage of Nigeria to monitor disasters and provide Internet access to remote villages; a simple water pump to make small scale farming more profitable; a solar powered electric lamp to allow students in villages to do homework; and a $100 laptop computer for use in poor, remote places. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Educating engineers for 2020 and beyond – The Summer 2006 issue of the National Academy of Engineering’s The Bridge includes a major article by Charles Vest, recently retired president of MIT. Looking back over his 35-plus years as an engineering educator, and looking ahead about 15 years, Vest discusses how developments such as globalization, the scale and complexity of engineering undertakings, systems engineering, and delivery and pedagogy will shape the education of future engineers. He notes that engineering educators will need to tap into student’s passions, curiosity, engagement and dreams. And from a US perspective, he notes that the country can thrive only on brainpower, organization, and innovation. From the author’s perspective, information technology is the pencil and paper of the 21st century, and he describes how that development will shape the educational process. He concludes that American research universities, with their integration of learning, discovery and doing, can still in the future provide the best environment for educating engineers. (See

May I help you? – More and more engineering schools are looking to service learning as a way to prepare students for the challenges of the real world, according to an article in the Summer 2006 Prism by Jeffrey Selingo. Today’s engineers often operate in teams, with engineers and non-engineers alike collaborating on projects and communicating regularly with clients. Service learning opportunities provide engineering students with experiences that allow development of the “soft skills” they need for their careers – teamwork, communications, project management and customer service. This article describes service learning programs at several institutions, and points out one additional benefit: such programs are popular with women, and help to draw them into the engineering pipeline. (See

Women chemists speak out strongly about gender discrimination – Three women chemists were featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s report on one of the most male dominated academic disciplines. Robin Wilson wrote the introductory essay, saying that the US federal government has been supporting studies on the climate for women in academic science: the three interviewees are all leaders for change. (See

Dr. Donna Nelson, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma , was the first to gather national data to show that women chemists were graduating with doctorates at a rate higher than they were being hired for academic positions.  This research has made her increasingly popular as a speaker around the country, but she says she is largely ignored in her own department.  In a culture which tolerates discrimination, she had to craft her career in ways that required heroic sacrifice and effort. (See

Dr. Debra R. Rolison, head of the Advanced Electrochemical Materials Section of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, is not shy.  She gives a talk entitled, “Isn’t a Millenium of Affirmative Action for White Men Sufficient?” and says change is “glacial.” She recommends using Title IX as a battering ram to “reshuffle things,” saying that shutting down money to research projects is an effective way to precipitate change.  She speaks of establishing a consumer-report index for departments which would tell prospective graduate students which groups are most helpful in furthering the professional careers of women chemists. (See

Dr. Geraldine L. Richmond is professor of physical chemistry and materials science at the University of Oregon .  “I think the value system in the sciences is really set up against someone coming out and saying that the people they nurture are as important as the scientific results,” she stated. “As if there’s some constant amount of devotion you give to your science and if you give part of it to your students you don’t have as much to compete or do good science with because there’s only so much.” (See

What price college admission? – Parents are spending tens of thousands of dollars on advisers to shape their kid’s college admission game plans, according to an article by Anne Tergesen in the June 19th Business Week. Parents may pay as much as $36,000 for advice from college counselors on everything from what courses to take in high school to how to spend summers. A growing number of families are seeking advice both on completing applications and on the raw material that goes into them – courses and extracurricular activities. Such advisors are brought on board as early as the eighth or ninth grades. College admissions officers take a dim view of these unregulated advisors, but it is estimated that some 22% of the freshmen at private, four year colleges this year have used them. With the nation’s most selective colleges receiving record numbers of applications, advisors say they must help their clients stand out. (See

New bi-modal system of peer review to be studied Nature, a leading science journal, is beginning a three month trial of a new system of peer reviewing.  Authors willing to participate will have their articles posted on-line in pre-print form, and at the same time, have their article submitted to the more traditional anonymous peer reviewers.  Anyone who provides their name and an institutional e-mail address will be permitted to submit comments.  Editors will take into consideration both sets of comments when making publication decisions.  This approach is a first in scientific publishing, but the publisher clearly is not preparing to do away with anonymous peer reviewing.  The British Medical Journal compared open and anonymous peer reviewing back in 1999 and found it made no difference in the quality of the reviews, reports Lila Guterman in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Patents and commercialization find their way into tenure dossiers – Faculty employed in the Texas A&M University System will now be allowed to present patents and commercialization agreements as part of their case for tenure, writes Sala Lipka in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Evidence of this sort will be added to the existing five criteria which are now included in tenure consideration: “teaching effectiveness; scholarly or artistic endeavor; professional growth; public and university service; and quality of patient care.”  The American Association of University Professors sees this as one more example of the commercialization of higher education. (See

Women for science – The InterAcademy Council, an organization created by 90 science academies across the globe, has issued  an advisory report pointing out that the disproportionately small number of women in the science and technology enterprise is a major hindrance to strengthening science capacity worldwide. Released on June 24th, “Women for Science” urges its member academies to formally commit to the full inclusion of women in their organizations, in any research institutes they manage, and throughout the science and technology community. Currently women typically make up less than five percent of an academy’s members, and many research institutions around the world have resisted fully opening their doors to women in science and technology or eliminating barriers they often face after they do gain entry. Given their prestige and alliances with governments, universities and nongovernmental organizations, the report says that academies should also play advocacy and leadership roles beyond their own doors. (See

Planning early for careers in science – Young adolescents who expected to have a career in science were more likely to graduate from college with a science degree, according to a study reported by Robert Tai et al in the May 26th Science. The authors note that concern about US leadership in science and engineering has captured the national spotlight, and that recommendations focus on improving education in the primary and secondary schools. Using public data, the authors conducted a longitudinal study of the likelihood that life experiences before the eighth grade and in elementary school may have an important impact on future career plans. Their study suggests that to attract students into the sciences and engineering, close attention should be paid to their early exposure to science at the middle and even earlier grades. Encouragement of interest and exposure to sciences should not be ignored in favor of an emphasis on standardized test preparation. (See

Giving a crash course in careers – Recent college graduates who have little idea how to parlay their education into a job may now seek out an intensive eight-week course in job hunting from a career-coaching firm. As described in an article by Anne Fisher in the May 29th Fortune, human resources managers say that 85% of new grads are woefully unprepared to be interviewed, much less hired, for real, grown-up jobs. Thus a new mini-industry is springing up to take kids raised on test-prep tutoring and teach them interviewing skills. An increasing number of established career-counseling firms that used to cater only to people in mid-career are aiming at the 1.4-million new grads this year as potential customers. (See

Diversity remains elusive for NSF program – Since 1998, the US National Science Foundation has spent more than $300-million in its Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program, which has as a major goal to attract more minority students and women into science and engineering doctoral programs. But according to an article in the June 9th Science by Jeffrey Mervis, minorities and women were underrepresented in the first three classes on IGERT students, compared with the national graduate pool in science and engineering. The IGERT program has supported 2900 students with 5-year, $3-million grants to 125 institutions. An external evaluation of the program has identified poor recruitment as one problem leading to the low minority participation in the program; research faculty are so focused on their work that they do not have much time to spend on recruitment. (See


5 – Employment, competitiveness

Big Blue shift IBM is reorganizing its global workforce to lower costs without skimping on service, according to an article by Steve Hamm in the June 5th Business Week. For IBM, globalization is about reorganizing its 200,000-strong services workforce along skill lines, not just geography, and about coordinating operations worldwide to deliver services that are better as well as cheaper. In essence, the company is revamping its people supply chain. The aim is to provide to customers the right skills in the right place at the right time. IBM has devised a mathematical model to tell it just who should be plucked from its various centers, including low-cost operations in India , China , Brazil and Eastern Europe , to work on any given contract. Its project “Professional Marketplace” helps put together teams from among 70,000 resumes. (See 

Apple walks away from India – Apple Computer has shelved plans to build a sprawling technical support center in Bangalore, according to an article in the June 19th Business Week by Manjeet Kripalani and Peter Burrows. Apple only says that it has reevaluated its plans, and decided to provide support from other countries instead. Another source familiar with the situation says the decision was cost driven – India is not as inexpensive as it used to be, turnover is high, and the competition for good people is strong. The reversal in plans by Apple highlights concerns about the sustainability of India ’s fast-track economy, which grew 9.3% last quarter and is home to the world’s largest and fastest-growing outsourcing sector – which last year generated some $17.3-billion in revenues and employed nearly 700,000 people. (See

The problem with solid engineering – Saddled with some of the highest labor and tax costs in Europe , German companies compete at the top end of the market by devising excellent technical solutions, supplying reliable goods, and building long-lasting relationships with their customers. But according to an article in the May 20th The Economist, the very qualities that enable this – over-engineering, obsession with detail and an extreme emphasis on safety and durability – come at a price. Expensive products built to last do not bring much repeat business and tend not to spin off many new firms to create additional jobs. Fast-moving, mass-consumer markets ruled by simplification of products and dramatic innovation are much more of an entrepreneurial free-for-all. (See   

IBM to triple its investment in India – International Business Machines Corporation, the largest multinational company in India , is preparing to triple its investment in that country in the next three years, reports Peter Wonacott in the June 7 edition of The Wall Street Journal.  The investment will be directed to the creation of new software labs for product and service development.  While their initial interest in India was based on a desire to employ cheap labor, recently this has changed to a recognition that Indian workers are well educated, hard working and creative.  (See

Science and engineering’s human resource challenge – Writing in the June 2006 PE magazine, NSF Director Arden Bement reviews concerns about the economic competitiveness of the US in a flat world. He notes that the US has functioned well in the past by being “spikey” – being able to innovate so effectively that it stood alone atop an innovation spike with little or no competition in sight. He notes that three principal elements drive such a “spike growth process”: the world-class structure of US academic institutions, the broad and deep R&D infrastructure, and first-rate research scientists and engineers. Bement now feels that scientists and engineers need to find new ways to reach out to the public schools, which are the feeder system for the institutions of higher learning, in order to fill the pipeline with energetic, innovative future engineers and scientists who can keep the US technical community humming. (See


6 – Journals

Global Journal of Engineering Education – The current issue is a special edition on “The UICEE and its Pillars in Engineering Education”. It contains eleven papers describing the career achievements of engineering and technology educators who have been active in advancing the accomplishments of the UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education. (See  

IEEE Technology and Society – The Summer 2006 issue is a special edition covering engineering education in Bahrain, Egypt and Turkey. Guest edited by Juan Lucena and Gary Downey, it contains six papers on engineering education in an interesting and rapidly evolving area of the world. (See 

International Journal of Engineering Education – The current volume is a special issue on Learning and Engineering Design, with guest editor Clive Dym. It contains the papers from the Harvey Mudd Workshop V held in July 2005 – more than 30 contributions. (See  

European Journal of Engineering Education – The June 2006 EJEE is a special issue on Globalization and Its Impact on Engineering Education and Research. It contains nine papers including topics such as transnational recognition of engineering programs, engineers working in an international company, university-industry links, offshore outsourcing, and migration of graduates. (See


7 – Meetings

ASEE annual meeting – The annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education was held in Chicago during 18-21 June 2006, with a theme of Advancing Scholarship in Engineering Education. It attracted over 3000 participants, and had some 1500 papers submitted. The main plenary was an interesting approach – a Socratic session which brought together a panel of experts to discuss the key issues and concerns associated with advancing scholarship in engineering and technology education. Questions addressed included: Will the engineering community accept engineering education research as real research? What is needed beyond the Ph.D. to equip an engineering faculty member? Has the dominance of research in our universities diminished the respect for teaching? What is good engineering education research? Are coalitions needed for effective engineering education research today? (See 

African Solutions for African Problems – The Association of Engineers of Cameroon, in conjunction with the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and Engineers Without Borders International, conducted a conference on “Sustainable Engineering Development in Africa” during 4 to 8 June 2006. The program focused on technical capacity building, research and education initiatives in Africa, and meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals in Africa. A special feature was a site visit to a small, poverty level village to explore its needs and how they might be met. (See

Kuwait conference call for papers The second international conference on engineering education and training organized by Kuwait University and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences will be held 9-11 April 2007 in Kuwait. Focus of the conference will be preparing engineers to meet the challenges of the future. Abstracts are currently being reviewed, with accepted papers due in mid-October. (See

Ninth annual colloquium on international engineering education – The annual Rhode Island colloquium is designed for engineering and language educators, international program administrators, academic leaders, corporate leaders, and public sector representatives. It provides an interdisciplinary forum for discussing and sharing ideas and practices pertaining to the education of engineers for today’s global workplace. (See

World Computer Conference – The 19th World Computer Conference will be held in Santiago, Chile from 20-25 August 2006. Included are workshops on Emerging Computing Trends, and Women in the Information Society. (See




To contribute information to this electronic newsletter, please send it by e-mail to 

This Digest provides summaries of published articles, both printed and electronic. World Expertise does not endorse or corroborate the information in these articles. Some publication web sites may require user registration before access is granted to articles via the links provided above.

Back issues of this International Engineering Education Digest can be read on the Web at