October 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

2 - US developments

3 - Distance education, technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment

6 – Journals

7 – Meetings


1 - International developments

UK universities change admissions timetable – Aisha Labi, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, says that the British government has proposed to change university admissions by deferring decisions about acceptances until the results of students’ A-level exams are in hand.  Currently, university admissions are based on a prediction of how they will do on the A-levels, thus increasing the last-minute scramble which occurs as students who do not do as well as predicted attempt to find a place at lesser institutions.  The report also suggests the utility of an SAT-like examination for all students.  Reaction has been mixed: some opponents fear that a common entrance exam would give an advantage to students wealthy enough to purchase coaching, while others are concerned that disadvantaged students who score well would not be rewarded from having overcome the barriers of poverty.  (See

Collaboration in European R&D – A trend toward collaborative innovation will help Europe to revive its R&D, according to an article by Andy Reinhardt in the October 11th Business Week. Europe has long been a leader in innovation, from the printing press centuries ago to a 600-seat Airbus today, but its place as a technological leader is far from assured. Overall R&D spending in the 15 pre-enlargement European Union countries was just under 2% of gross domestic product in 2002, compared with 2.7% in the US and 3% in Japan . And venture capital investment in European tech startups was less than a quarter of that in the US last year. To overcome these obstacles EU policymakers are pushing to boost spending by governments, universities and corporations to a total of 3% of GDP. And governments are promoting “technology clusters” where companies can collaborate on innovation, even across national borders. (See   

Russia hopes to inhibit corruption with national entrance examination – Bryon MacWilliams wrote a major article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Russia ’s efforts to rein in corruption in higher education, which, according to some reports, is the most corrupt sector of Russian society.  Currently university admissions are dominated by bribery and rigged in favor of students living in the major cities where the largest and most prestigious universities are located.  Estimates of the amount of money that changes hands in the admissions process go as high as $5-billion.  A solution to these problems may lie with the Unified State Exam, known as the EGE.  Starting in 2005, after several years of pilot efforts, these exams are expected to be mandated by the government in all regions of the country.  Students will be able to take these examinations in their home regions without having to travel long distances.  (See

Kerry is widely favored abroad – Surveys and interviews conducted in 20 countries indicate that President Bush is widely unpopular as a candidate for reelection, according to an article in the September 29th Washington Post by Keith Richburg. Senator Kerry is the runaway favorite abroad, even though few people outside the US know much about his positions on foreign policy issues. Kerry’s foreign fans like his attitude about consulting allies and respecting their views. Bush does have strong support in such places as Israel and Singapore for his stance against radical Islamic groups, and in some countries that are benefiting from world trade, such as India . In one recent poll in nine European countries, 76% of respondents disapproved of the way President Bush is handling international policies, 80% felt that invading Iraq was not worth the costs, and 73% said that the military action in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism around the world. (See

Japan opens its door (slightly) to foreign higher ed – Despite a severe decline in the number of college-age students in Japan (a 25% drop  in 18 year olds over the past decade), foreign universities were pleased to finally see a slight opening of Japan’s higher education structure to branch campuses of overseas schools.  The education ministry recently announced that Japanese universities could accept both credits and students from such branches, writes Alan Brender for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Pressure from the WTO is assumed to be at least partially behind this change. (See

Canadian PM declares support for research, access, tech transfer – In a broad based speech lacking details, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin reaffirmed that he is committed to increasing support to university research, making access to higher education easier, pursuing tech transfer from university labs to market, and upgrading workers’ skills.  The speech generated enthusiasm in the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, although some student leaders expressed disappointment that Martin did not mention a previous promise to increase support for higher education in the provinces, writes Karen Birchard for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Australian higher ed  loses part of its competitive advantage – A report on the cost of studying in Australia indicates that the competitive advantage enjoyed by that country’s universities has rapidly dissipated, due to unfavorable currency fluctuations, large tuition increases, and higher food prices, writes David Cohen for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  As a result, the cost in US$ for living as a student in Australia is higher than for the US , and second only to living costs in the UK .  Australia remains competitive, however, in terms of tuition cost, except when measured against similar costs in Asian institutions.  (See

Status of UN’s Millennium Development Goals – The United Nations has published its annual assessment of progress toward its Millennium Development Goals – targets established in 2000 for advancing welfare in the developing countries. According to an article in the September 9th issue of The Economist, the record is mixed, with some things improving and some not. The targets cover eight areas, calling in most cases for specified improvements by 2015 measured from 1990: reduce the incidence of extreme poverty and hunger by half; provide universal access to primary education; promote the equality of women; reduce infant mortality by two-thirds; reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters; halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria; achieve environmental sustainability; and form a global partnership for development. But according to the article in The Economist, there is a fundamental weakness in the UN’s approach – it wills the ends without willing the means. For the most part, progress in the substantive indicators of improvements in welfare is highly correlated with economic growth – which suggests that foreign aid in itself is not a cure-all. (See 

Costa Rican university teaches eco-friendly entrepreneurship Earth University in Costa Rica teaches students to become rich while conserving the fragile eco-system of the tropical region.  The university teaches sustainable agriculture and finds useful internships so students can observe the real life application of their courses.  About 400 students attend, coming from all parts of the world which share this complex environmental condition.  One of the unique characteristics of the university is its admission process, which involves faculty traveling to where applicants live to better observe their talent and their commitment to environmental concerns. Eighty-five percent of the graduates have returned to their home countries, many to start their own businesses, says Marion Lloyd, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See


2 - US developments

US college drop-out rates exceed those of other countries – A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that while almost two thirds of young people in the USA enter into higher education, the dropout rate exceeds that of other countries, where the entrance rate is lower.  The bottom line is that other countries are closing the gap between themselves and the US in graduation numbers in the younger generations.  Sara Lipka, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, reports that the entire study is available on the OECD website.  (See

US legislators squabble over science funding – The US National Science Foundation would receive an increase of $5.75-billion to its budget under legislation passed by the Senate.  Also in the legislation is $300-million to keep the Hubble Space telescope working.  These figures are in contrast to a bill passed by the House of Representatives that would give the NSF an additional $5.5-billion, and no money for the Hubble telescope.  Kelly Field reported for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

NASA budget strained by Shuttle and Hubble – The rising costs of the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Telescope could break the NASA budget, according to an article by Andrew Lawler in the September 24th Science. NASA officials are trying to cut $400-million from other projects in order to get the Shuttle flying again by 2005, and are seeking a similar amount for a robotic mission to the ailing Hubble Space Telescope. The crunch comes only seven months after President Bush proposed an ambitious new trajectory for the space agency that officials said would not strain NASA’s budget. The White House rebuffed a recent plea from NASA’s Administrator for additional funds, and Congress also appears unresponsive as it deals with the massive costs of the war in Iraq . (See

US higher education suffers from states’ neglect, leadership deficit – A report on the progress made in higher education by each of the states in the US over the past ten years shows bleak results.  “Measuring Up 2004” was released by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.  Student preparation, college participation, college completion, college affordability and the economic and civic advantages associated with an educated citizenry were graded.  The results show that college was less affordable in 2002 or 2003 than it was in 1992, that financial aid has not kept pace with inflation, that it has become increasingly unlikely that a ninth grade student would enroll in college by age 19, and that college completion rates had not progressed.  By contrast, most states had made significant progress in improving their primary and secondary education systems.  Higher education, it appears, has suffered from neglect by state officials and too much attention paid by university leaders to institutional, rather than society-wide, benefits.  Peter Schmidt writes this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See http://chronicle/daily/2004/09/2004091601n.htm)

NSF Director nominated – Failing to locate a candidate that it liked better than the acting Director, the Bush Administration has nominated Arden Bement to stay on as Director. According to an article in the September 24th Science by Jeffrey Mervis, uncertainty over the outcome of the November election, combined with a gloomy federal budget outlook, scared some away. Bement has been acting as Director for seven months, while continuing his full time position as Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He will continue in that dual role until confirmed by Congress as NSF Director, then presumably will drop the NIST role. He is a 72-year-old materials engineer. (See

Cuban scholars denied visas at last minute – Sixty-five Cuban scholars who were scheduled to participate in the Latin American Studies Association meeting in Las Vegas in October were denied visas shortly before they were to come to the US .  Officials at the US State Department claim that the fault lies with Cuba ’s repressive government, which grants exit visas only to citizens who will reliably support Fidel Castro’s policies.  Representatives of the LASA claimed that previous communication with the State Department had led them to believe that the US visas would be granted, and in a timely way.  So the last-minute denial of all applications suggests a deliberate effort to make entry into the US stressful and complicated, reports Sara Lipka in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Risky business – Researchers who seek funds from the large US government sources, NSF and NIH, have learned the hard way not to send in high-risk ideas, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the October 8th Science. Reviewers penalize researchers for trying something that no one else has attempted – that is for proposing the kind of cutting-edge research that the federal agencies profess to welcome. So researchers are encouraged to tone down their proposals to request funding for something they are certain to be able to do. But a new program at NSF is trying to change that; the Director’s Pioneer Awards are meant to allow researchers to pursue innovative ideas. And NSF and NIH are working together on another initiative, mandated by Congress, to foster interdisciplinary research with long horizons. Together, these efforts represent a small but potentially significant move to alter conventions in grant reviewing. (See

US creates six nanoscience centers – The US National Science Foundation recently gave six universities a total of $69-million to create research centers in nanoscale science and engineering.  The universities are Northeastern, Ohio State , Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley , the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin at Madison , according to Kellie Bartlett in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

US National Science Foundation eliminates cost-sharing – The US National Science Foundation has issued a new regulation, effective immediately, that eliminates cost-sharing by institutions for proposals which are submitted for solicited research.  This cost-sharing has averaged 6.8% of the awards in 2004.  Universities were pleased with this long-sought move, although it will mean that fewer projects will be funded in total.  Rumors had abounded that cost-sharing had become bidding wars in the past, writes Kelly Field in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

AAAS establishes security center – The American Association for the Advancement of Science, with a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, has established a new Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy. The Director of the new Center is Dr. Norman Neureiter, former science advisor to the US Secretary of State. The mission of the Center is to serve as a two-way portal between the academic/think tank community and the policy community to facilitate the process of getting objective science and technology considerations on security fully encompassed in the policy process. The Director says that although the Center’s work will be largely domestic, it will have strong implications for the rest of the world. (See

FBI to have access to SEVIS data and more – Kelly Field, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation will be given access to the SEVIS system (Student and Exchange Visitors Information System) which tracks foreign visitors and to the US Visit program which contains biometric data on foreigners crossing US borders.  Terry Hartle, an officer at the American Council on Education, says that this adds to signals that the US does not welcome international visitors.  (See

Bush and Kerry views on science – The two candidates for US President have differing views on science and technology issues, as reflected in recent interviews by Science. The top three priorities in science and technology listed by Bush are broadband access for every American, hydrogen research, and using science and technology to combat terrorism. For Kerry the priorities are to restore and sustain the preeminence of American science and technology, ensuring that Americans are prepared for jobs of the future, and ensuring that government decisions are informed by the best science and technology advice. In a wide-ranging article, the candidates’ positions on topics such as climate change, stem cell research, public health, space policy, security issues, the environment, creationism, nuclear power, energy policy, and managing science are explored. (See 

Engineers win genius awards – The Chronicle of Higher Education published the names of the 23 recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 2004 MacArthur Fellowships, popularly known as the “genius” awards.  At least four of the awardees of the five year, $500,000 prizes are identified as engineers.  (See

Teaching tech in India In an article in the September 27th Wall Street Journal, Shailaja Neelakantan explores why so many Indian engineers succeed around the world – and suggests that the Indian Institutes of Technology may be the answer. The government sponsored institutes are considered among the most demanding engineering schools anywhere, and their alumni can be found in top executive positions around the world. At present about 25,000 IIT graduates are working in the US .  The IITs have graduated about 2500 engineers per year recently, but an increase in spaces by 2000 this year will lead to about 4500 graduates a year by 2008. One element in the quality of the engineering programs is a stiff entrance exam – the Joint Entrance Examination. In 2004, only 2.6% of the 175,000 aspiring students who took the exam were admitted. Unlike engineering schools in the US which offer courses in the arts and humanities, the IITs focus on technical education and engineering basics to the exclusion of nearly anything else. (See

US publishers attempt to clarify prohibition on editorial activities – A suit has been filed by a group including the Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, attempting to clarify regulations requiring publishers to obtain a special license to edit works by authors in countries embargoed by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.  The issue has been simmering since the end of 2002 when the OFAC ruled that the process of editing a manuscript constituted a violation of trade embargoes against such countries as Cuba , Iran and Sudan , writes Lila Guterman for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See


3 - Distance education, technology

A laptop in every locker – High school students in Alexandria, Virginia have been given state-of-the-art laptop computers to use free for the current academic year, according to an article in the October 13th Washington Post by Tara Bahrampour. Joining a handful of other high schools in the country with such a program, T.C.Williams High School has passed out 2100 laptop computers for its students to use for research and homework. The computers will have wireless Web access on campus, and can be used off campus for non-Internet work. The idea is to make sure students of all socioeconomic backgrounds have the latest equipment in an increasingly computerized world. (See

Spyware firms sued – The US Federal Communications Commission has made a first assault against spyware, according to an article in the New York Times by Tom Zeller. Spyware is a term for bits of computer code that surreptitiously install themselves on the computers of Internet users to track their activities, push them to selected web sites, barrage them with advertisements, and otherwise wreak havoc with their machines. Stating that federal law prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce”, the FCC seeks an injunction against companies that exploit vulnerabilities of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web Browser to seize varying amounts of control over users’ computers. The magnitude of the spyware problem is hard to estimate, but representatives of software and hardware suppliers indicate that it is eclipsing all other problems on their technical help lines. (See

Doubts about interceptor systemPresident Bush is about to claim fulfillment of a 2000 presidential campaign pledge – to build a nationwide missile defense for the US – according to an article by Bradley Graham in the September 29th Washington Post. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to activate a site in Alaska with six rockets designed to soar into space and intercept warheads headed toward the United States . But what the Administration had hoped would be a triumphant achievement is clouded with doubts, even within the Pentagon, about whether the $100-billion system will work. Several key components have fallen behind schedule and will not be available until later, and flight tests have yet to advance beyond elementary, highly scripted events. The Pentagon’s chief weapons evaluator has estimated the likely effectiveness of the system at less than 20 percent. Senior officials at the Pentagon and the White House insist the system will provide protection, although they use terms such as “rudimentary” and “limited” to describe its initial capabilities. (See

Group seeks new structures for copyright of research results – Science Commons is a new project of Creative Commons, and is attempting to develop alternative ways to copyright scientific and technical research.  The leaders have an alternative view of the way university research should be sponsored, a view not shared by most current university tech transfer officials.  Science Commons aims at creating ways for universities, companies and researchers to give up some ownership rights to enable other researchers to build on the most up-to-date discoveries and results.  Another of their efforts would be to set up a “patent pool” for research results focused on rare diseases whose treatment, even if effective, would not result in great profits for pharmaceutical companies.  Under a patent pool, research results would be aggregated, a health foundation or public agency would take the lead in commercialization, and then any profits would be shared across contributors to the knowledge base.  The Bayh-Dole legislation, according to Science Commons advocates, while having its advantages, has resulted in slowing down the dissemination of findings, writes Andrea L. Foster, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Articles focus on decline of US as higher ed magnet – The October 8 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education included a set of articles on the weaken of US higher education as a magnet for international students. 

The first article, by reporter Burton Bollag, describes concern among US educators that American colleges and universities may be witnessing a permanent decline in the attractiveness of their programs to the brightest students from overseas.  They cite US visa processing problems, competition from universities in other countries, and improving educational offerings in places such as China .   Engineering programs, highly dependent on large numbers of Asian graduate students, have been particularly hard hit.  One bright note is that the crisis in US visa processing appears to have peaked last year: indicators point to improved efficiency and fewer delays.  However the negative impression given by the US to potential international students and scholars over the past several years will be difficult to erase. (See

Robin Wilson focused on the University of Louisville ’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering in his article, pointing out the overall positive spin put on the drop in foreign applications by some university administrators, and the more negative view of some engineering educators.  Applications to Louisville’s engineering school dropped by 61% this year over last, and graduate school enrollment is down 25%.  GRE scores of those admitted, however, have not dropped.  Despite this, engineering professors perceive that they no longer have the first pick among the brightest students, and in addition, they fear that their own research, in which graduate students play a vital role, will suffer, threatening their promotion, tenure and professional advancement. (See

Another article, by Paul Mooney, Shailaja Neelakantan and their associates, describes the competition to US higher education elsewhere in the world, where Australia , the UK and Canada are leading competitors, while other institutions are aggressively seeking to become regional leaders in attracting foreign students.  Some countries are providing one-stop shopping for foreign students, rather than leaving universities to recruit individually.  Some countries emphasize the lower cost of living outside of the US, more efficient degree structures, better job markets for graduates, and less restrictive work regulations, all in an effort to attract new students.  China and India represent rather unique situations.  China has recently invested heavily in its top universities in an attempt to retain strong students.  And India ’s booming economy is a strong incentive for Indian students to stay home for university studies.  In the big picture, however, the US retains its overall dominance, enrolling 600,000 international students this year, while the UK has less than half that number.  Financial aid and the better reputation of US universities play a predominant role in this attraction.  And the numbers of foreign students showing interest in US higher education in the future have begun to rebound.  (See

Gender gap at Harvard – Women faculty members at Harvard have complained to President Lawrence Summers that his policies have led to a dramatic decrease in the percentage of tenured slots offered to women, according to an article in the September 17th Science. The percentage of women offered tenured slots in the Faculty of Arts and Science has shrunk by half in the last five years, from 37% to 16%. Summers blames departmental search committees for not looking harder for strong women candidates. The women who sent a letter of concern to the President noted that most members of search committees are men, and said that Summers needed to lean harder on them to find and recommend qualified women to tenured positions. (See

Engineering schools given guidance on affirmative action – The American Association for the Advancement of Science has on its website ( the full text of a report “Standing Our Ground: A Guidebook for STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] Educators in the Post-Michigan Era,” reports Elizabeth F. Farrell in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The guidebook was drafted in response to concerns that challenges to affirmative action in university admissions might dampen recruiting efforts in these specific programs, where women and minorities were already substantially under-represented.  The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded the project, which includes eight principles for advancing diversity legally and recommends that institutions take innovative and creative approaches.  (See

Why still few women – Engineering’s image problem is driving down enrollment of women in engineering schools, according to an article by Jill Tietjen in the October IEEE Spectrum. Currently in the US , women earn about 20% of engineering degrees and constitute about 11% of the workforce – the lowest percentages of any professional field. The author believes that these low percentages are due to the image of the field – the US public does not understand the value that engineers bring to everyday life. The public image of the engineer is probably close to that of the cartoon character Dilbert – a hapless white male who labors away in cubicle row with dysfunctional co-workers. Not the kind of image to which a young woman would aspire. In addition, the author feels that engineering’s image has been tarnished by the environmental movement, which often portrays technology as bad. She states that engineering must make itself visible, showing the world its value, in order to attract higher numbers to the field – including women. (See

Young engineers work abroad on local projects – Engineers for a Sustainable World, formerly known as Engineers Without Frontiers USA, held its second national conference recently at Stanford University .  Students and faculty, along with professional engineers, traveled to developing countries to work with partners on local projects.  This year students went to countries such a Mexico , Honduras , India and China , and worked on water quality and information technology, writes Sara Lipka for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Air Force Academy stronger after sex scandal – In the wake of a sexual assault scandal that led to widespread reforms and a leadership shakeup, the US Air Force Academy has emerged as a stronger institution, according to an article by Robert Weller in the October 19th USA Today. Among other changes, the Air Force has assigned the first woman to be dean of the faculty – Brig. Gen. Dana Born. Nearly 150 women came forward last year to say that they had been assaulted by fellow cadets from 1993-2003, with many alleging that they were punished, ignored or ostracized by commanders when they spoke out. Outside investigators concluded that the academy’s culture created the conditions that contributed to the scandal – including lingering resistance to having female cadets at all. The focus of the new approach is “changing the moral basis” of cadets and staff. (See

Surprise!  While European institutions were diligently “harmonizing” their degrees in order to increase student mobility across the member states of the European Union, they neglected to consider the implications of the changes they were making for trans-Atlantic mobility.  The result is that the first graduates of the new three year baccalaureate degrees in Europe now find themselves shunned by many graduate admissions officers in US institutions, who insist on a four year undergraduate preparation for masters level education.  So now higher education groups such as the European Association for International Education and NAFSA: Association of International Educators are meeting to sort out the issues.  Problems abound: three year undergraduate degrees from the UK have long been accepted in the USA , but they have also been earned after thirteen years of primary and secondary education.  Under the new systems coming on-line in Europe , many of the thirteen year college preparation curricula are being replaced by twelve year cycles.  European educators claim that the general education curriculum offered in the first year of college in the US is accomplished in the final year of secondary school in Europe . Some US institutions buy that, some don’t, according to Burton Bollag’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Japan creates new program to promote active learning – The Japanese government hopes that its graduate students will learn to be more creative as a result of a new program designed to promote active learning, to increase research opportunities for students, and to retrain faculty. A $110 million package has been created, according to Alan Brender for the Chronicle of Higher Education, to be spent on two year grants aimed at masters and doctoral programs.  (See

Report shows US students still not adequately prepared for college – The ACT, the organization which administers one of the two major college entrance examinations in the US, recently released a report that indicates that despite a decade of concerted effort, no more than 22% of US high school students are prepared for college level studies of mathematics, science and English.  Only about 50% are prepared in two of the three subjects.  Predictions about the future are equally gloomy.  Over the past ten years the number of students taking a core curriculum of four years of English and three each of math, natural sciences and social studies has increased only two percentage points.  Minority students are particularly under-prepared for college, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education article written by Jennifer Jacobson. (See

University of Phoenix accused of inappropriate recruiting tactics – A report from the US Department of Education reveals details of claims that the University of Phoenix , with its 212,000 students, engaged in illegal recruiting practices such as intimidation of recruiters and bonuses for meeting enrollment goals.  Goldie Blumenstyk, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, said the report was obtained after the UOP agreed to pay a $9.8 million penalty, while not admitting any wrong-doing.  Phoenix officials say the report is misleading, and is the result of complaints by a few disgruntled former employees.  The University’s success, they say, should be based on such indicators as the 90% of UOP graduates who are pleased with their education and would recommend the program to others.  The article concludes with a summary of for-profit higher education programs which are currently being investigated by US agencies. (See

5 – Employment

Is outsourcing on the outs? – A commentary in the October 4th Business Week by Steve Hamm indicates that companies are taking a closer look at whether outsourcing is worth it. Even for true believers, control has become an issue. The nation’s second largest bank, J.P.Morgan Chase, recently terminated a seven-year, $5-billion technology outsourcing deal with IBM because it determined that its tech operations were too strategically important to be left to an outsider. While many companies are continuing to outsource their IT operations, others are taking a harder look at the need to better control such operations, and taking them back in-house. In some cases, companies are diversifying their outsourcing so that when something goes wrong, there are alternate paths. (See

Keeping out the wrong people – Last year, the number of exceptionally skilled immigrants to the US fell by 65%, according to an article in the October 4th Business Week by Spencer Ante. Three years after the terrorist attacks in the US , tens of thousands of foreigners who are trying to get into the country to study and work have been caught in a thicket of new rules and regulations. The number of student visas issued by the US dropped 8% last year, after falling 20% in 2002. The total number of immigrants – those granted the right to stay in the US permanently – tumbled 34% in 2003. There are complaints that the US government is doing a poor job of discriminating between potential terrorists and legitimate travelers. Skilled workers have been hit hard in the declines, as have professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. Other countries are taking advantage of the situation – for example Canada and Australia are stepping up efforts to woo foreign students. (See   

US Senate examines unionization of teaching assistants – Are teaching assistants employees or students? The subject was argued at a recent US Senate hearing on the subject of a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that prohibited teaching assistants at Brown University from unionizing.  Critics of the Brown decision say that it was too partisan, but it is doubtful that federal legislation will be passed to settle the issue, writes Scott Smallwood in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (See


6 – Journals

International Journal of Engineering Education – A special issue on Manufacturing Engineering Education, with guest editors Thomas Kurfess and Paul Shiue, comprises the bulk of volume 20 number 5 of IJEE. Papers include education by re-engineering products, learning CAD/CAM and CNC through projects, web based resources planning, manufacturing in a global context, and business skills needed by manufacturing engineering graduates. An additional ten articles on engineering education research, web-based learning, control engineering, strength of materials and chemical engineering are also included in this volume. (See

Issues in Science and Technology – The Fall 2004 issue features a pair of articles on “Ocean Policy: Time to Act” – one on saving the oceans and one on US fishery policy. In addition there are major articles on the need for scientists and policy makers to work together, meeting the challenges of US economic competitiveness, and building a transatlantic biotech partnership. (See


7 – Meetings

UPADI2004 at Mexico City – The twenty-second Pan American Congress on Engineering Education was held in late September as part of the biannual convention of the Pan American Union of Engineering Associations (UPADI). Two half-day sessions described best practices in current engineering education throughout the hemisphere. Covering North America , leaders of three of the NSF funded coalitions – Gateway, Succeed and Foundation – described the results of their multi-year activities. The current effort of the US National Academy of Engineering to project the needs for engineering education in 2020 was also reported. Best practices in engineering education from Latin America were described by speakers from Mexico , Brazil Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Chile . Also included in the Congress were half-day sessions on Technical Capacity Building in Developing Countries for Economic Development, and Distance Education. The editor of this Digest, Russel Jones, chairs the UPADI Committee on Engineering Education, and organized this Congress. (See

ASCE annual meeting – The annual meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers was held in Baltimore in late October, attracting civil engineers from around the world to hundreds of technical and professional sessions. The keynote speaker was Marsha Johnson Evans, President of the American Red Cross. She drew parallels between the Red Cross and ASCE in disaster situations over the years, from the Johnstown flood to the World Trade Center collapses. A major presentation by John Banyard of the United Kingdom – “Water for the World – Why is it so Difficult?” was a key technical highlight of the convention. The International program heard from US Army Corps of Engineers former Chief, Robert Flowers, on Capacity Building – and an afternoon roundtable of representatives from over a dozen countries further discussed technical capacity building in developing countries. (See  

ICEE2004 – The 2004 International Conference on Engineering Education was held at the University of Florida in Gainesville in mid-October. One major focus of the conference was technical capacity building for economic development in developing countries, with the keynote presentation made by Digest editor Russel Jones. Particular focus on capacity building in Latin America was featured through presentations and meetings on the “Engineer of the Americas ”. Some 200 participants from around the world presented papers on a broad spectrum of engineering topics. (See

BSUN Congress - The Black Sea Universities Network held its 2004 Congress in Chisinau , Moldova , on October 6 – 9, around the theme of “Education and Technology Transfer as Prerequisites of Sustainable Development of the Black Sea Region.”  Hosted by the Technical University of Moldova, which celebrated its 40th anniversary as a prelude to the Congress, the meeting drew together rectors and representatives from the 100 member institutions. The editors of this Digest, Bethany Oberst and Russel Jones, gave presentations on entrepreneurship education for engineering students and capacity building.  At the conclusion of the Congress, Acad. Prof. Dr. hab. Ion Bostan, Rector of the Technical University of Moldova, was elected president of the BSUN for the next two years. (See



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