September 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. Jones, Ph.D.


1 - International developments

2 - US developments

3 - Technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment, competitiveness

6 – Journals

7 – Meetings



1 - International developments

India connects to wireless Internet – High speed Internet connectivity is an elusive luxury for most Indians, with just over a million broadband subscribers in a country of more than a billion people. According to an article by Seema Singh in the September IEEE Spectrum, the new WiMax standard for wide area broadband connectivity could be coming to the rescue – allowing skipping over DSL links and cable modems that are standard in other places. According to proponents of the new technology, WiMax offers the best answer to last-mile broadband connectivity in a country like India . Vendors and carriers are rushing in with products and services which utilize WiMax technology. But Indian regulators have been slow to allocate spectrum for WiMax, dampening the technology’s prospects. (See

Saudis fund 15,000 scholarships for US higher education – The royal family of Saudi Arabia is offering 15,000 full scholarships for Saudi students to earn their degrees in the US , in a program designed under the leadership of President George Bush and King Abdullah.  After 9/11, the large numbers of Saudi students studying in the US disappeared, says the article from the September 9 International Herald Tribune.  This initiative is an attempt to rebuild the academic relationship between the two countries.  Supporters see the program as a way to increase US students’ understanding of Arabs and Muslims. Some personnel at the Department of Homeland Security are concerned that the rapid expansion of the program has not given enough time for security checks to be carried out. (See

Iranian president initiates purge at state universities – Iranian President Mahmoud Admadinejad recently called for a purge of all liberal and secular professors from the country’s universities, an attempt which his critics say is designed to distract attention from his failure to fulfill campaign promises to improve the economy and strengthen equality.  According to Nazila Fathi, in the September 5 edition of The New York Times, the purge is part of a succession of moves against social freedom, which include the confiscation of 110,000 illegal satellite dishes, suppression of local media, and the intimidation of intellectuals and students. (See

Germany launches a high-tech initiative – The German government wants to make it easier for entrepreneurs to translate research discoveries into products, according to an article in the September 8th Science by Gretchen Vogel. It is increasing support for programs to help spin scientific findings into commercial ventures by committing €14.6-billion in the next three years to boost technology-based research and enterprises. The government wants to ignite ideas with a combination of new programs, funding schemes, and legislation. Researchers who collaborate with small and midsized companies, for example, will qualify for 25% premium funding from the government. The plan also includes several new funding schemes, with the largest investments going for aerospace research (including satellite communication and navigation systems) and energy technologies (including biofuels and nuclear energy). (See

European science agency gets tag-team leadership - Europe has selected two leaders as successive heads of its new basic science agency, the European Research Council. A German biochemist will start the initial 5-year term, but he will be succeeded by a Spanish economist halfway through the term. The ERC board created the unusual arrangement to recruit executives with different skills, according to an article by Gretchen Vogel in the September 8th Science. The first CEO, Ernst-Ludwig Winnaker, brings experience in overseeing a large granting organization. The successor CEO, Andreu Mas-Colell, will bring expertise in seeking increased funding and dealing with politicians who may be unhappy with grants awarded on the basis of excellence without regard to geographic distribution. The ERC is designed to fund cutting-edge research for all of Europe , with a $9.6-billion budget over 7 years. (See

Mexico gets in gear – Mexico currently enrolls over 450,000 engineering students and may become a major player in the global economy, according to an article by Jeffrey Selingo in the September ASEE Prism. The number of enrolled engineering students is up 20% since 2000, and Mexico is attracting more industry as a result. Known more these days for generating conversations about illegal immigration, the country has quietly been building up its infrastructure over the past decade to educate more engineers and attract companies with advanced engineering design work. Observers note that there is more interest in improving the quality of life in Mexico , while the US by comparison has had a flattening of the speed of innovation and technical education. As a result more Mexican students, including engineering majors, are staying home rather than trekking to the US . That trend has in turn improved the quality of Mexico ’s engineering schools and increases the likelihood that students will want to remain in the country after graduation. (See

US not lagging in engineering education – Despite a number of recent articles and stories about the threat to US engineering presented by the new waves of engineering graduates from China and India, an article by Paul Mooney and Shailaja Neelakantan in the September 8 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education presents evidence that the reality is quite different.  P.V. Indiresan, for example, the former director of the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras , says that beyond the top-tier institutions in India , the quality is low. And a report by McKinsey & Company reports that only about 10% of today’s Chinese college graduates would be competitive for jobs in a multinational company in areas such as engineering, finance and the life sciences.  A study by faculty and students at Duke University even questions the data used to count the number of engineering graduates.  In both countries, expansion of higher education has taken place so rapidly that quality has been seriously compromised, in the eyes of many observers.  (See

Italy’s universities being scrutinized by ministry – Fabio Mussi, the new Minister of Universities and Research in Italy, has called the university governance system he took over from the previous administration a “big bordello,” and has taken rapid steps to raise standards by closing down one new institution and promising increased funding for university research.  The previous government had expanded rapidly, recognizing 14 new universities in two years, 10 of those on-line institutions, writes Francis X. Rocca in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Mussi has proposed an independent look at hiring of faculty and the distribution of research funds. (See


2 - US developments

NCEES approves BS + 30 - At the 2006 Annual Business Meeting of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), delegates voted to modify the NCEES Model Law requirements for licensure to require additional education for engineering licensure. The approved language states that an engineer intern with a bachelor’s degree must have an additional 30 credits of acceptable upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level coursework from approved providers in order to be admitted to the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination. A master’s degree or PhD from an approved institution would also qualify. The change, to be effective in 2015, is a recommendation to each of the state jurisdictions, which individually will have to adopt it for it to be implemented. (See 

DOE tightens monitoring of collaborators - In an effort to safeguard sensitive and classified information, the US Department of Energy has implemented a rule that requires researchers who want to access the agency’s computers to first give DOE permission to do electronic snooping. According to an article by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in the September 1st Science, anyone accessing information on computers owned by DOE and its contractors must first provide “written consent” for investigators to monitor the computer user’s habits for up to 3 years in the future. Researchers are complaining that complying with the rule will pose an unnecessary financial burden due the amount of paperwork involved. (See

Academic earmarks – An unusual inquiry from a “pork busting” US Senator has revealed an uneasy ambivalence among university presidents toward academic earmarks. According to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the September 8th Science, a survey of 110 US universities indicated that such directed spending on research is now part of the fabric of higher education. Senator Tom Coburn asked the universities to describe any federal research dollars obtained in the past 6 years through the good graces of their congressional delegations rather than by competitive review. He also asked whether the universities had hired lobbyists to help obtain earmarks, and the impact of the found money on their campuses and on science. Respondents offered varying views of earmarking, but even major university presidents who stated that they abhorred the practice acknowledged occasional dalliances. Some universities see earmarks as a way to simultaneously move up the academic food chain and strengthen the local economy. (See

NAE nominates next president – The US National Academy of Engineering has nominated Charles M. Vest, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to be its president for a six-year term to begin next July 1st. According to an NAE news release, if elected Vest will succeed William A. Wulf, whose second term as NAE president will end next June 30th. Wulf, who is not eligible to run for a third term under NAE bylaws, will return to his previous position as a Chaired University Professor at the University of Virginia . Vest, age 65, served as MIT’s president from 1990 through 2004. During that time he worked to strengthen federal-university-industry relations, and undertook a number of initiatives to bring education and research issues to broader public attention. Vest was elected to the NAE in 1993 for “technical and educational contributions to holographic interferometry and leadership as an educator”. (See

Visa issues five years after 9/11 – An article by Geoff Brumfield and Heidi Ledford in the September Nature, discusses how US visa issues have affected visiting scholars and scientists since September 11. Five years after the terrorist attacks foreign scientists are reporting fewer problems entering the US , with waiting times down and applications increasing. Lengthy visa delays and persistent security checks have turned foreign scientists away from the US , but now the country is striving to woo them back. Many US universities are now reaching out to the international community, beefing up international student offices and even opening recruiting offices in countries such as China . The increase in recruitment and drop in waiting times seem to be having a positive effect, with numbers of visas climbing steadily and the number of visa complaints dropping dramatically. (See

Predictions for US higher ed in 2015 – The US Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics has released its projections about the year 2015, saying that enrollment in degree-granting higher education institutions will grow by 15% between now and then, slower than the 25% growth rate between 1990 and 2004. Between 2004 and 2015 undergraduate enrollments will increase by 14% and graduate enrollments by 19%.  Women will continue to increase their lead in participation, with, for example, the number of doctoral degrees projected to be awarded to women increasing by 31%, as contrasted to 12% for men, reports Elia Powers in Inside Higher Ed.  (See

New guidelines for teaching math – A Wall Street Journal article by John Hechinger from the September 12 edition reports on the new guidelines for teaching math published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  The new recommendations are a significant departure for those given by the same group in 1989, and which led to “reform math” programs used all over the country.  Perhaps reacting to the steep declines in US students’ performance in math as compared to children in other countries, the Council is turning back to teaching more basics such as multiplication tables and long division.  Critics of reform math are pleased, believing that student math success in countries such as Singapore is a result of more focus on a narrow range of basic skills.  The article outlines in some detail the controversies over math instruction and the alternative curricula which have emerged over the past 15 years. (See

CEOs laud non-Ivy higher ed – About 90 percent of the CEOs of top US companies didn’t attend an Ivy-league school for their undergraduate education, reports Carol Hymowitz in the September 18th edition of The Wall Street Journal.  The title of the article, “Any College Will Do" repeats the message many business leaders give to students.  Bill Green, CEO of Accenture, was quoted extensively about his decision to attend Dean College , a two year community college, where he discovered faculty who were dedicated to their students and who taught him the skills needed to think and work well.  Some top CEOs never completed college – witness Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – but that strategy works well only for a brilliant few.  And many graduates of state universities ultimately earned a graduate degree from an Ivy-league institution.  (See

US is top destination for foreign students – OECD has issued its annual “Education at a Glance” report, which shows an overall 41% increase in the number of foreign university students worldwide between 2000 and 2004 – up to 2.7-million total. According to an OECD press release, Asian students comprise the largest group studying abroad, making up 45% on international students in OECD countries – with Chinese students accounting for 15% of this total. The US share of the international student market is still by far the highest, and the US remains the most popular destination among globally mobile students. Four leading destination countries host 52% of all international students: United States (22%), United Kingdom (11%), Germany (10%) and France (9%). The US share dropped from 25% to 22% in four years. Increases in market share were reported for New Zealand , France and South Africa . Although the US has the most foreign students, they make up a relatively low proportion of overall higher education students (3%), compared with countries like Austria (17%) and the UK and Switzerland (13% each). See 

Levine strikes out at teacher education programs – Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Program and former president of Teachers College at Columbia University , has issued a second report on teacher education, “Educating School Teachers, writes Elia Powers in Inside Higher Ed.  The report contains a number of strong criticisms of how teachers are educated in the US , based on visits to 28 colleges of teacher education and surveys of stakeholders.  Over 60% of teachers surveyed said they were not prepared adequately for coping with their jobs.  Too many teacher ed programs are in middle tier institutions where faculty were less qualified: Levine says those schools should be closed.  Levine recommends a five year model of teacher preparation, with students majoring in a discipline rather than in teacher ed.  He also says that the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s process is ineffective, noting that there is no difference between students who graduate from accredited and non-accredited institutions.  (See

US higher ed resting on its laurels, says report – The US National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education just issued a report showing that US higher ed is slipping in quality when measured against other countries, and in its affordability.  “Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education” grades each state on affordability, preparation, completion and other measures.  The area that came in for the most criticism is affordability, where tuition is rising faster than the availability of financial aid, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. (See

US Education Department collaborated with FBI on terrorist search – The American Council on Education pointed out on its website on September 1 that under an initiative called “Project Strike Back,” the US Department of Education allowed the FBI to look at the financial records of some hundreds of students in an effort to thwart terrorism immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The files accessed were the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) files, which number about 14 million each year. (See


3 - Technology

Desperate whistleblower turns to YouTube An engineer has accused the world’s biggest defense contractor of jeopardizing national security using a unique medium – a video posted on YouTube. According to an August 30th news story posted on AOL News, former Lockheed Martin engineer Michael DeKort aired his claims that the defense contractor had built and the Coast Guard has accepted a number of boats that fall short of government standards on the video site after getting no satisfaction by going through the chain of command in his company and in the government. Although DeKort’s video received only some 8000 hits during from its posting on August 3rd until the end of the month, his story has now appeared in print, on radio and on TV – indicating that the Internet has given the average person a way to be heard. (See

Tech transfer, Wisconsin style – A major article on tech transfer was recently written by Goldie Blumenstyk and published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  It concentrates on the highly successful Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation which for over 80 years has commercialized discoveries made at the University of Wisconsin . While the university has benefited hugely from WARF’s profits, the Foundation has increasingly been seen as another impediment to stem-cell research, already hindered by President Bush’s restrictions.  WARF owns the US patent that covers stem-cell research, and in addition five of the 21 stem-cell lines approved for federal research support.  The way it protects those and other properties leads some critics to say the Foundation is driving some of the research off-shore. The article includes extended coverage of the origins of WARF and how its policies impact the University of Wisconsin and others.  (See

Alternative view of structure of New York’s twin towers – Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl is a professor of structural engineering at the University of California at Berkeley who has spent the past five years trying to understand what permitted the World Trade Center towers to collapse after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Through the construction of a detailed computer model, he has concluded that the two buildings were vulnerable because they were built to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey standards, not to more exacting New York City building codes.  He carefully avoids blaming anyone other that the terrorists themselves for the death and destruction, but says they could have been minimized, writes Jeffrey R. Young in the September 8 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The innovative structures which were a hallmark of the buildings permitted the wings of the planes, not just the bodies, to penetrate the towers, carrying with them the fuel which sustained the massive fires that ultimately brought the buildings down.  A report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and an investigation led by FEMA both concluded that the innovative structure of the twin towers was not a factor in the collapse of the buildings.  (See

Yale moves to put lectures on-line Yale University has announced that they are taking open sourcing of courses one step further.  While MIT started putting course materials on-line for free access beginning in 2001, Yale will place three courses, including videotaped lectures, on-line starting next year.  The three courses are Introduction to the Old Testament, Fundamentals of Physics and Introduction to Political Philosophy.  The professors will not interact with students on-line, but universities in developing countries would be free to design a course around the lectures as long as the origin of the materials is given, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. (See

Toys for engineers – LEGO Mindstorms is now offering NXT, a toy robot with engineering appeal.  NXT offers an opportunity to build a robot that can be programmed in sophisticated ways and almost infinite possibilities for playing.  Stephen H. Wildstrom, writing in BusinessWeek on September 4 (page 18, print edition) says that although the NXT is designed for children as young as 8, LEGO learned that many of the earlier versions of the toy were actually purchased by engineers for themselves, and so have included an advanced software development kit to appeal to more advanced users.  (For podcast version see


4 - Students, faculty, education

Renaissance engineer of 21st century – Is engineering the liberal arts degree of the 21st century? That question has been asked by the dean of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard, Venkatesh Narayanamurti, according to an article in the August/September PE. Harvard and other schools are moving toward a vision of an engineer with a broader education and area of focus – a concept which he calls the “Renaissance Engineer”. Harvard’s new technology, engineering and society concentration will give students both a foundation of scientific and engineering basics and an exposure to the connections between technology and aspects of society, such as policy, law, business and ethics. The goal is to train these renaissance engineers to understand how their work is informed by and influences society. Narayanamurti believes that renaissance engineers will be the engineers leading society, but that engineers with deeper, more specific knowledge will still be important in application areas. (See

Knowledge integration in science -- Students grapple with multiple, conflicting and often confusing ideas while they learn scientific concepts, according to an article by Marcia C. Linn et al in the August 25th Science. Research has shown that inquiry learning – where teachers use students’ ideas as a starting point and guide the learners as they add new ideas and sort them out in a variety of contexts – leads to better knowledge integration than traditional teaching methods where teachers “cover” many required topics. This research article describes how interactive visualizations combined with online inquiry and embedded assessments can deepen student understanding of complex ideas in science. (See

Prepackaged team hired – Academic departments typically grow by adding one faculty member at a time, but the University of Southern California has experimented with a new approach – hiring a prepackaged team. According to an article by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in the September 1st Science, USC has hired seven scientists who pitched themselves to the institution as a package. The institution sought to hire researchers who were already organized into a team, by advertising for “an integrated group, a mix of full, associate and assistant professors who are innovative, entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary leaders”. The university both wanted to break the limits of its own imagination, and achieve economies of scale – where members of a group applying together would be more willing to share resources than individuals hired separately. (See

SAT scores see big decline – The high-school class of 2006 suffered the biggest drop in SAT scores in more than three decades, according to an article in the August 30th Wall Street Journal by Robert Tomsho, raising questions about the recently revamped exam. Scores in critical reading (verbal) fell by five points to 503, while math scores slipped two points to 518. The combined decrease of seven points is the largest since 1975, when there was a 16 point drop. Overall, math scores have been rising in the past decade, while reading scores have been relatively flat. The current scores are the first to fully reflect the revised test introduced in March 2005. Along with a writing section that consists of an essay and multiple-choice questions, the new test added higher-level algebra and did away with analogy questions in the reading section. The College Board, which produces and administers the exam, called the revised SAT a better measure of the skills students need to succeed in college and work, and minimized the scoring decline saying that mathematically it means almost nothing. The College Board’s standing was shaken in March when it acknowledged that errors had caused more than 4000 test-takers to receive erroneously low scores, stopping some from getting scholarships or getting into select schools. (See

Author warns of overbuilding of university research labs – Daniel S. Greenberg, a journalist who is author of Science, Money, and Politics, wrote an opinion piece in the September 8 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he summarizes his reasons for thinking that US universities have overbuilt research facilities.  He thinks universities responded unrealistically to the large infusion of funding into the National Institutes of Health from 1998 until 2003.  But now that expansion in funds has dried up, leaving open the possibility that those buildings might not be populated with the research programs once anticipated.  If the US is, in fact, overbuilt and underfinanced in its research programming, then competition for ever-more-scarce grants might promote more unethical behavior on the part of researchers, might result in an inability to even maintain the buildings due to lack of indirect costs, and finally present a dismal picture to young students considering a career in science.  (See

Harvard wants to make teaching count more . . . Harvard University has embarked on a study of how to improve teaching and make it count more toward tenure, writes Marcella Bombardieri in the September 5 online version of The Boston Globe.  The committee should report back by February 1, says Theda Skocpol, the chair and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Lee Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, expressed skepticism over Harvard’s ability to change.  He said that universities such as Harvard judge teaching only as to whether the person is so bad that students are harmed.  Shulman himself attempted the same reform at Stanford over a decade ago, trying to make teaching play a bigger role in tenure and salary decisions, but the effort failed. (See

Students at 2-year colleges unready - As the new school year begins, the 1200 community colleges in the US are being deluged with thousands of students unprepared for college level work. According to an article by Diana Jean Schemo in the September 2nd Wall Street Journal, researchers suggest that close to half the students who enter college need remedial work. The shortfalls persist despite high-profile efforts by public universities to crack down on ill-prepared students. At least a dozen states now explicitly bar universities from providing remedial course, so many who lack basic skills are clustered in community colleges. According to scores on the 2006 ACT test, only 21% of students applying to four-year institutions are ready for college-level work in all four areas tested – reading, writing, math and biology. These statistics indicate a deep disconnection between what high school teachers think their students need to know and what professors, even at two-year colleges, expect them to know. (See

Booting up in Texas Top levels of government, industry and academia in Texas are working together to attract more young people to engineering, to avoid being caught short of the needed supply. According to an article by Thomas Grose in the September ASEE Prism, the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium (TETC) raises money from industry and government sources then provides seed funding to schools that come up with solid proposals for increasing engineering graduation rates. Schools are primarily accomplishing increased graduation numbers by improving recruitment and/or retention. In addition to the goal of increasing engineering graduation rates, TETC has two other missions: to increase diversity among those students and to encourage more collaboration between industry and higher education. To date the program has raised $16.8-million, and has awarded $14.6 million in 47 separate grants to 23 schools. (See

So that’s why they’re leaving – Congress has recently been holding hearings about why a smaller proportion of American college students are majoring in physical sciences and engineering than in the past. According to an article by David Epstein in Inside Higher Ed, some have suggested that biology is now the hot science and that it has lured many top students away from other fields, or that poor undergraduate instruction or nerd stigma are keeping students away. But interviews with a range of scientists and experts on science education home in on other causes: greener grade pastures (science students get lower grades than non-science students); weeding out (science and engineering faculty tend to keep grades down and weed out weaker students); large and impersonal (intro courses are often taught in large sections); and math and science are taught vertically (student often must slog through two years of formulaic introductory courses before they get any taste of hands-on work). In response to these concerns, some institutions are striving to make the grades in the natural sciences comparable to those in other fields. And some are trying to teach intro courses in a more engaging, interdisciplinary way. (See

Company designed courses at universities – Dissatisfied with graduates, companies are designing and funding curricula at universities, according to an article in the September 12th Wall Street Journal by Anne Marie Chaker. A fast-moving, competitive economy – and the perception that students are unprepared for its demands – are creating a new phenomenon at colleges and universities, courses supported by and tailored for potential employers. Corporations such as IBM, Credit Suisse Group, and BMW AG are seeking to increase their presence and influence on campuses in this way. IBM has been most aggressive, in helping to create and promote a new discipline – service sciences, management and engineering. The discipline focuses on the relationship between clients and service providers by combining studies in such disparate fields as computer science, engineering, management sciences and business strategies. IBM contends that these areas are too segregated in higher education, to the detriment of students, companies, and ultimately the economy. (See

The art of engineering – An engineering faculty member at the University of South Florida has created a popular course that merges his research work with the world of fine art, according to an NSF press release. Professor David Snider has merged the two subjects by incorporating the works of the masters, the tools of artists, and the perspective of engineers. He draws in students with topics that range from the theories of light to the creation of cameras, and presents the work of nearly 100 artists in the process. Snider says that his course is like an optics review, where the laboratory is the art museum. (See press release 06-127 at

National Academies document persistent bias – “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering” is the title of the most recent study by the US National Academies.  It was written by a committee made up of university leaders, scientists and policy makers, headed by Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami . The report points to “unintentional” bias and outdated policies and practices in institutions as factors which work against women.  The report shows that women abandon “the pipeline” at every stage and still face discrimination, albeit often subtle in form. Recommendations include discussion of “climate issues” on campuses, efforts to achieve better representation of women on editorial boards, and actions by university trustees and presidents to hold departments more accountable for their hiring processes and outcomes, reports Doug Lederman in Inside Higher Ed.  (See

An alternative view on gender discrimination – Following on the recent publication by the National Academies that points to persistent but “unintentional” discrimination as a big factor in discouraging women from careers in science and engineering, two social scientists – from Harvard and George Mason universities – agreed to release some unpublished and as yet unanalyzed data from a survey of university professors.  Those data show that a large percentage of professors believe that men and women have different interests, and that, rather than bias, is the reason for the low numbers of women.  Respondents were given a choice between three reasons for the predominance of male professors in math, science and engineering.  One percent indicted difference in ability, 24 percent indicated discrimination, and 75 percent thought it was attributable to differing interests, reports Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. (See

Buying college admission – A review of author Daniel Golden’s book The Price of Admission: How American’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges – and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates written by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed, outlines Golden’s contention that colleges are with disturbing frequency admitting students of the rich and famous, as well as the children of previous graduates, in order to gain monetary benefits.  The book is notable for its frankness, with people and institutions being named.  Duke University , for example, was supposed to have sent signals to private schools a few years ago that they wanted to admit students whose parents could become big donors, even though those students might not be notably qualified.  Admissions officers interviewed for this article defend the practice, but indicate that it is less widespread than it might seem. One chapter is dedicated to the subject of Title IX.  Golden claims that some schools create women’s teams in costly sports such as horseback riding and sailing in order to cater to rich white girls with admissions slots and scholarships. (See

Harvard drops early admissions – Breaking with a major trend in college admissions, Harvard University is eliminating its early admissions program next year. According to an article in the September 12th New York Times by Alan Finder and Karen Arenson, university officials argue that such programs put low-income and minority applicants at a distinct disadvantage in the competition to get into selective universities. Of the 2124 students admitted by Harvard last year, 813 were granted early admission (38%). Some universities now admit as much as half of their freshman class this way, and many (although not Harvard) require an ironclad commitment from students that they will attend in return for the early acceptance. Harvard’s decision is likely to put pressure on other colleges, which acknowledge the same concerns but have been reluctant to take any steps that could put them at a disadvantage in the heated competition for top students. (See Note: Princeton University has announced that it will also drop its early admissions program, according to a note by Mary Beth Marklein in the September 19th USA Today (See


5 – Employment, competitiveness

Offshore outsourcing finds fans – Conventional wisdom holds that globalization has its downsides – it hurts the wages of the lower skilled, leads to possibly dangerous trade imbalances, and can threaten economic stability through financial market volatility. For example, offshoring of jobs to lower wage countries is usually said to make workers in a high wage country worse off, but the country as a whole better off because consumers enjoy lower prices on the products made overseas. But at the recent annual symposium of the US Federal Reserve, speakers offered a much more upbeat vision of a globally integrated world, according to an article in the August 28th Wall Street Journal by Greg Ip. A pair of experts from Princeton University argued that offshoring can lead to higher wages for unskilled workers in a generally high wage country because companies become more productive and thus can expand and hire more workers. Participants in the conference also discussed trade deficits and international investment flows, and the interaction of housing prices with unusually low long-term interest rates. (See

India should prepare for offshoring of engineering services India should prepare itself to take advantage of increased off-shoring of engineering services, especially in automotive, telecom, defense and aerospace, according to a report published on-line on Zee News on September 6.   The country would need to promote an “Engineered in India ” brand, construct needed infrastructure, increase linkages with experts, and work on government policies and planning.  All this would have to be done by 2020 to take advantage of the increased benefits of providing engineering services, which will increase India ’s economy more than BPO outsourcing.   (See


6 – Journals

European Journal of Engineering Education The October 2006 issue of EJEE contains a dozen articles covering topics that include: do engineering students spend enough time studying, personality assessment for improved student design team performance, what makes a good engineering lecturer, how can engineering education contribute to a sustainable future, enhancing the front-end phase of design methodology, cryptography teaching strategy, and the Annals of Research on Engineering Education. (See

STEM Journal – The current issue of the electronic Journal of STEM Education, Innovation and Research contains six articles, covering topics that include assessment of an engineering course for non-majors, laboratory e-notebooks, and student perceptions of communications. (See


7 – Meetings

ASEE annual meeting call for papers – Authors are invited to submit abstracts for the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education annual conference, to be held in Honolulu , Hawaii from 24-27 June 2007.  Detailed information on papers sought by the various divisions of ASEE is contained in the September issue of Prism and on the 2007 conference web site.  (See

Colloquium on international engineering education - The University of Rhode Island International Engineering Program will host the Ninth Annual Colloquium on International Engineering Education in Newport , Rhode Island , November 2-5.  The colloquium is designed for engineering and language educators, international program administrators, deans, provosts, presidents, corporate leaders, as well as 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

SEFI and IGIP Joint Annual Conference – A joint annual conference between the European Society for Engineering Education and the International Society for Engineering Education will be held at the University of Miskolc in Hungary from July 1-4, 2007 . (See

UPADI 2006 in Atlanta The biannual convention of the Pan American Federation of Engineering Societies was held at Georgia Tech from 20-22 September. The theme of the meeting was engineering a sustainable infrastructure in the American Hemisphere through education, technology, innovation and economic development. Keynote speakers covered development bank investment strategies and transparency as a tool to limit corruption. Several parallel technical congresses explored responsible engineering practice, hydrologic basins, ocean and coastal engineering, doing business in the Americas , civil engineering and seismic resistant structures, urban development and population growth, maintenance, engineering education, energy, disasters, sustainability and transportation. The associated Pan American Academy of Engineers conducted an extensive Forum on efforts to limit corruption in engineering projects. (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