June 2007

Copyright © 2007 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. Jones, Ph.D.



1 - International developments

2 - US developments  

3 - Technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 - Employment, competitiveness

6 – Journal

7 - Meetings



1 - International developments

Saudi Arabia creating graduate university – Saudi Arabia is using some of its vast oil wealth to create a graduate research institution which it hopes will be world-class. According to an article in the June 8th Science by Jeffrey Mervis, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will have a $10-billion endowment, and will open to students in the fall of 2009. Scholarships will be awarded to some 500 undergraduate students who will form the inaugural class. A $100-million-a-year global research partnership program is also being launched, to fund work by scientists who agree to become affiliated with the new university. The university will be organized around multidisciplinary research institutes, with initial ones focused on energy and the environment, biosciences and engineering materials, materials science and engineering, and applied mathematics and computational science. (See

Does Africa need technology or aid most? Africa currently presents two faces: images of drought, famine, disease and civil war; and a continent that is newly entrepreneurial, increasingly wealthy and tech savvy, and largely politically stable. An article by Jason Pontin in the June 17th New York Times explores these two images and discussions about what Africa needs more at this time: direct foreign aid aimed at current problems, or foreign investment aimed at long term economic development. The author concludes that the continent needs both investment in entrepreneurialism and aid intelligently directed toward education, health and food. (See

Epidemic of corruption seen around the world – “Corrupt Schools, Corrupt Universities: What Can Be Done?” is a new UNESCO report prepared by the International Institute for Educational Planning, and written by Jacques Hallak and Muriel Poisson.  It presents data collected since 2001, writes Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Corruption in universities takes such forms as bribery, plagiarism, cheating, on-line diploma mills and term papers dealers.  Universities in developing countries are particularly afflicted by comprehensive corruption, for example in admission processes at universities in the former Soviet Union .  The report points out that in India , students even assert their right to cheat.  (See

Vietnam plans higher education reform – The president of Vietnam was in New York recently to discuss plans for strengthening higher education in his country.  His dream is for a Vietnamese university to be among the top 100 world wide by 2020, although he did not detail how that will be achieved.  Currently, about 10% of high school graduates go to college, the professoriate is aging, and too few Vietnamese universities offer doctorates to replace those who will soon retire.  Discussing higher education with President Nguyen Minh Triet were leading US scholars such as Bob Kerrey, president of the New School, who warned that top universities require critical thinking and dissent, both of which might be uncomfortable to a government, reports Paula Wasley for The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

French universities in line for overhaul – Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has listed higher education reform among his top four initiatives to be brought to parliament this summer, writes Marco Chown Oved in the on-line version of the International Herald Tribune on May 24.  He and others cite severe problems such as a mismatch between economic needs and program offerings, huge drop-out rates, outdated facilities, open admissions, onerous bureaucracy, and overcrowding as preventing quality.  Outside measures of quality show how seriously the once famous institutions have declined: only 14.2% of adults in France have a university education, the Sorbonne has no alumni association, no cafeteria, no place to plug in laptops in classrooms, and no ability to seek outside funding.  The grandes écoles which are free to charge tuition and remain rigorously selective, educate the elite, leaving the other universities to educate the rest, virtually for free.  (See

US universities form cluster in Doha Qatar , the emirate on the Persian Gulf , now has five US universities offering degrees in its Education City in Doha , part of its strategic investment in higher education and training.  Virginia Commonwealth (arts and design), Weill Cornell Medical College (medicine), Texas A & M (engineering), Carnegie Mellon (business and computer science) and Georgetown (foreign service) are all operational, and will soon be joined by the University of Calgary , offering a bachelor of nursing.  Northwestern University reportedly will open a journalism program.  Complementing these changes in higher education is the Rand-Qatar Policy Institute, which is planning and implementing vast reforms in the nation’s primary and secondary school system. The comprehensive report was written by Michelle Pollock for World Education News and Reviews, May, 2007. (See

A profile of candidates for study abroad – A survey of 11,000 students from China , Germany , India , Japan and Nigeria conducted by Hobsons, student recruitment company, confirmed many insights that international education professionals have.  Students all aspire to study abroad in order to improve their career prospects both overseas and at home, and to have access to higher quality education, although those from less developed countries emphasized the importance of getting a better education.  The US and the UK are top destinations because of the perceived quality of their education systems, and because they prepare students well for careers, while Australia also has the advantage of a pleasant life style and a perceived more welcoming attitude toward foreign students.  Returning students are the best salespersons for study in a particular location, and costs, not the availability of visas, are the most frequently cited barriers, reports Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Education.  (See


2 - US developments  

US financial aid scandal detailed – US Senator Edward Kennedy joined New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in reporting on a pattern of unethical practices on the part of colleges and universities in their relationships with lenders in student aid.  “Report on Marketing Practices in the Federal Family Education Loan Program” issued by Kennedy’s office, provides a spreadsheet listing violations and unethical behavior on the part of financial aid officers at institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the University of Texas at Austin, Arkansas State and UCLA, writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. The comprehensiveness of the report is in direct contradiction to the financial aid community’s position that the scandal was limited to a few “bad apples.”  Typically, lenders either offered gifts or benefits to university employees in order to be treated as favored lenders in materials given to students and their families, or else the institutions themselves solicited services and favors from the lenders outright.  (See  See also “Higher Ed’s Conflict of Interest Problem,”, and “ U.S. Puts Limits on Lender’s Ties to Universities,” The New York Times, June 2, 2007 ,

Colleges pledge to cut greenhouse-gas emissions – A Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to forge ahead with concrete steps at making their campuses “climate neutral”, has been signed by some 284 college presidents and chancellors. According to an article in the June 13th Chronicle of Higher Education by Richard Monastersky, the colleges involved are located in 45 states and have a total enrollment of 2-million students. The college leaders are committed to reducing the “carbon footprint” of their campuses, as well as incorporating such efforts into teaching and research. The Commitment pledges academic institutions to complete an inventory of all greenhouse-gas emissions within a year, and to develop a plan to become climate neutral within two years. (See

Do higher ed funds help the economy? – Conventional wisdom is that the best way to create jobs and foster economic growth is to make investments in higher education and high-tech research. But according to an article by Andy Guess in the June 22nd Inside Higher Ed, a recent study casts doubt on that wisdom. The study conducted by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity asserts that increased state appropriations for higher education actually correlate with lower economic growth. Looking at all 50 states over more than 20 years, the study found that more state funding to higher education does not necessarily lead to higher growth. The methodology used in the study, and the conclusions drawn, are being criticized by other scholars. (See

Report documents inadequate understanding  of privacy laws – In the “Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy,” participants from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Defense concluded that there is a crying need for clarification about the constraints on information sharing mandated in the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) Privacy Rule and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as well as other privacy laws.  These constraints have emerged as a major issue in the Kaine panel investigating the shootings.  Advocates for increasing mental health services are pleased that emphasis is shifting away from calls for less privacy and toward more understanding of current laws, which contain, in their opinion, adequate provisions for communication in situations where patients are considered serious threats to themselves or others.  The report makes recommendations on increasing information about current laws as well as on considering whether there is need for a better balance among them.  This story was written by Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Education. (See

Textbook costs being examined – The federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance has released “Turning the Page: Making College Textbooks More Affordable,” in which it recommends the creation of a National Digital Marketplace” which would allow professors and students to access both free and for-pay materials from a variety of publishers.  While many colleges and universities are taking steps to reduce the price of textbooks and to increase the use of technology, the ACSFA believes that only a radical approach, such as the one it has designed, will be needed to ensure the quality of text materials into the future, according to this article from the American Council on Education on June 5. (See


3 - Technology

Cyberwar in the Baltics – An editorial in the on-line version of the June 2 edition of The New York Times described what it calls a “the first real war in cyberspace,” waged in Estonia, a technologically advanced country.  In April, a bronze statue of a Soviet soldier was moved from its place of honor in central Tallinn to a less prominent site.  Russians and Russian-related citizens took offence and begin rioting and looting.  Then the attacks on Estonia ’s government and industry computers began, with data dumps closing down networks in a kind of “electronic blockade.”  Vladimir Putin’s government said it was not responsible.  (See

Microsoft and Apple battle in parallel over the future of computing –John Markoff, along with Daniel D. Turner, in the June 5 on-line edition of The New York Times, compare and contrast the battle between Microsoft and Apple over how their companies deal with the relationship between PC-based operating systems and the Internet.  There are those who believe that operating systems such as Vista will disappear in favor of modularized web-based components accessed by hand-held hardware.  Steven Sinofsky of Microsoft is running a forced march toward creating a more web-based operating system, while Apple’s Bertrand Serlet is reportedly orchestrating more gently the efforts of his programmers and is more tolerant of a bit of chaos.  In both cases, the corporations are struggling to keep control of these operating systems, and to not let them fade into oblivion under the onslaught of the Internet.  (See

New Orleans still at risk – After nearly two years of work the US Army Corps of Engineers has released a report that shows that despite considerable improvement, large swaths of New Orleans are still likely to be flooded in a major storm. Writing in the June 21st New York Times, John Schwartz summarizes the findings which include information that will allow residents, insurers and local leaders to determine the relative risk of living in the various neighborhoods of the city. The report shows that the high risk areas are much smaller than they were before Hurricane Katrina, thanks to the Corp’s substantial improvements to the 350-mile levy system, the floodwalls, pumps and gates. (See

Google expands its Library Project, despite publishers’ lawsuit – Despite the on-going lawsuit being led by the Association of American Publishers and others, Google recently announced an important expansion of its digitized library project.  Twelve more universities have joined the project and committed to permitting Google to digitize up to 10 million of their volumes, both works in the public domain and those still under copyright.  Included in this new group are Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Education. Much of the emphasis will be on preserving specialized collections which are in danger of deteriorating. Google will pay the approximately $100 to digitize each book.  According to Mark Sandler, speaking at the press briefing, in these days of on-line research, it is important to keep books, and the ideas they contain, alive in intellectual life. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Learning outcomes of study abroad documented – The annual meeting of NAFSA: Association of International Educators included presentations on assessment and accountability in study abroad programs.  Several interesting findings were discussed by researchers.  For example, the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative did not reinforce the common wisdom that the longer the experience abroad, the better for students.  Holding SAT scores constant, their data show that students who were abroad for eight weeks or less had higher four year graduation rates than students who spent more time overseas.  Study abroad does, however, vastly increase persistence to degree completion, according to Georgia data. The Council on  International Education Exchange presented findings that argue for more mentoring for male students abroad, who otherwise have noticeably lower scores in language learning and intercultural sensitivity than females, reports Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. (See

Seamless education in the STEM subjects  – Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of the City University of New York, is floating a new initiative which would have universities offer conditional admission to doctoral work in the STEM areas to exceptionally promising students as they are admitted into undergraduate studies.  This would serve as an incentive, reports Elizabeth Redden, especially to students from under-represented minorities, to work hard in secondary school and in college. While Goldstein is going to look for money to support this plan at CCNY, Carol Lynch, senior scholar at the Council of Graduate Schools, is not jumping on the bandwagon yet, reports Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed.  According to Lynch, professional graduate programs are so specialized that students who think they know, as freshmen, what they want to do graduate work in, might find as they complete their undergraduate studies that their focus has shifted.  (See

Could be right? – A study at the University of Maine has compared the ratings on with the formal student evaluations used by the university. According to an article in the June 5th Inside Higher Ed by Scott Jaschik, the key findings are that the two approaches have a significant correlation on questions about the overall quality of the course and the relative difficulty or ease of the course. Complaints about are widespread; among other concerns, the site does not seek representative samples of students, and does not even ensure that students are ranking professors whose courses they have taken. The Maine researchers make two recommendations as a result of this study: that colleges put their official student evaluations on line, and that colleges should encourage their students to post ratings and comments on RMP in order to get larger and more representative samples into the process. (See

Stereotypes negatively affect women’s academic performance – A recent study shows that women exposed to academic stereotyping demonstrate poorer academic performance than those not so exposed. According to a June 15th article by Sarah Morocco posted on the National Academies web site, a report from the National Academies concludes that women are underrepresented at higher levels of science and engineering academics because of the influence of gender bias and the disadvantages that such bias generates. The report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, claims biases cause women to be consistently underrated and men to be consistently overrated. (See

Is there hope for the rest of us? – The head of the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering has just been approved for an annual raise of about $140,000, making this the largest payroll raise in the history of New York, writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Education. Alain E. Kaloyeros, a professor of nanosciences, will now be paid around $667,000 per year, not including what he earns from research. (He accepts no money for consulting, etc.) The raise, which was approved by the university administration, reflects the institution’s determination to keep him at Albany , where he is seen as a key player in regional economic growth and development.  (See

A deliberate bore – A biology professor from the University of Copenhagen has composed a list of “10 recommendations for boring scientific writing,” according to a report in the May 31 on-line version of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Kaj Sand-Jensen’s first step toward boredom is to make sure that the article is completely unfocused, so that the author’s lack of originality will be hidden.  Another ploy is to pack an article with references, thus slowing down the reader.  (See

Terrible jobs Popular Science has published a list of the worst jobs in science, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education in its June 21 on-line issue.  Making this year’s list are Olympic drug testers, garbologists, Microsoft security grunts, the folks who pickle the specimens used by high school students in science courses, and elephant vasectomists. (See


5 - Employment, competitiveness

Too few German engineers – According to a recent study by the German Association of Engineers, there are about 23,000 engineering job vacancies in Germany . According to an article by Tom Hundley in the June 12th Chicago Tribune, another study put the number at 48,000, and stated that 1 in 6 companies are having trouble filling vacancies. Experts say that unfilled jobs are costing the German economy $4-billion a year in lost productivity. Many factors contribute to the shortfall in engineering talent, and German universities and engineering organizations are taking actions such as focusing on attracting youngsters to the field to address the shortfall. (See

Immigrants create high-tech firms - A new study shows that there is a strong correlation between educational attainment in the STEM disciplines and innovation among immigrant founders of US-based engineering and technology companies. According to an article by Shilpa Banerji in the June 12th Diverse Education, immigrants are helping to create more jobs in the high-tech business in the US , instead of taking away jobs from American workers. Researchers looking at data from 1995-2005 found that of 2054 high-tech companies founded, 25.3% were founded by immigrants. More than half of the immigrant founders completed their highest degrees from US universities. (See

Aerospace companies recruit on Internet – The US aerospace industry is rapidly graying, with the average age of an aerospace worker 45 in 2005. According to an article in the May 24th Arizona Daily Sun, by next year roughly one out of four will be eligible to retire. Faced with this looming talent loss, companies are using creative ways to lure and keep talent, from chatting with students online to fast-tracking young workers to be future leaders. While many companies still consider face-to-face contact best, more are experimenting with virtual connections such as Facebook. (See

The real cost of offshoring – Official US data show that moving jobs offshore has not hurt the economy: America ’s economic output has grown at a solid 3.3% annual rate since 2003. But writing in the June 18th Business Week, Michael Mandel argues that those statistics are wrong. According to the author, the growth of domestic manufacturing has been substantially overrated in recent years, leading to overstating of productivity gains and overall economic growth. The rush to globalization has brought about fundamental changes in the US economy, and methods for measuring the economy need to change to provide an accurate picture. (See 

New graduation skills – According to an article in the May 12th The Economist, enrollments in business schools are climbing again as they focus more on teaching practical skills and ethics. At Yale, for example, instead of teaching functional subjects such as marketing, strategy and accounting, business students are taught courses that address themes such as the customer, the employee, the investor, competitors, business and society, and innovation. Changes at many business schools have been stimulated by the blame that was directed toward them after the corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom. Resulting decreases in MBA enrollments and the difficulty of graduates to find work got the attention of business school faculties, leading to changes. (See


6 – Journal

 European Journal of Engineering Education – The current issue, volume 32 issue 3, contains several articles on information literacy for engineering students. In addition, there are articles on accreditation of engineering programs in Europe , promoting interdisciplinarity in engineering teaching, student group presentations, and the engineering graduate of the future. (See  


7 - Meetings

ASEE Annual Conference – The American Society for Engineering Education held its annual meeting in Honolulu , Hawaii , during 24 – 27 June 2007. Keynote speakers were Philippe Forestier, Executive Vice President of Dassault Systems, and Leah Jamieson, Dean of Engineering at Purdue University . Forestier described current developments in industry (global sourcing and integration, paperless engineering and manufacturing, collaboration in product design, etc.) and the need to evolve engineering education to prepare graduates to effectively use the high technology tools now available to deal with such developments. Jamieson cited the need for multidimensional engineers, noted workplace trends as drivers for changes in engineering education, quoted current calls for action (NAE 2020 studies, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”), recommended turning the engineering curriculum inside-out (using experience as the core, supported by engineering science), and closed with a series of unanswered questions (e.g., how to teach innovation, decision making, etc.). (See

WFEO Colloquium on Women in Engineering – The World Federation of Engineering Organizations hosted an International Colloquium on “Empowering Women in Engineering and Technology” in Tunis , Tunisia , during 6 – 8 June 2007. The conference was co-chaired by Kamel Ayadi, President of WFEO, and Claudia Morrell, Executive Director of the Center for Women in Information Technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County . Keynote speakers included: Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director General of UNESCO; Claudine Hermann, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Ecole Polytechnique Paris; Johanna Levelt Sengers, Scientist Emeritus at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology; Nancy Pascall of the European Commission; Karima Bounemra Soltaine, Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa ; and Julie Hammer, President-elect of Engineers Australia. Presentations are on the WFEO web site. (See


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