Engineers can be entrepreneurs too. An excellent example of the truth of this premise is Henry Samueli, the co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, a $26 billion silicon-chip company. In this month's Prism we learn about Samueli, an electrical engineering professor from UCLA who in his own words “barely made tenure,” but followed his entrepreneurial bent to spectacular success.
Making the transition from engineering graduate to successful entrepreneur has been of growing interest to educators and others in our increasingly technological economy. Society needs engineers who can not only solve engineering problems, but who can participate in bringing ideas and products to market. Educating students to become well-rounded engineers having broad knowledge—as Samueli recommends—will require changes in today's engineering curricula. But these changes have the potential to produce engineers capable of corporate and national leadership. At a minimum, a curriculum that accommodates the “soft skills”should attract a wider range of students to engineering. This September, ASEE will co-sponsor a conference in Berlin (see ASEE Today) that will focus in part on how to develop engineering graduates with knowledge and skills that will enable them to become successful entrepreneurs.

The Internet is transforming the business world, and it is also dramatically altering the role of the engineer. But today's Internet grew to its present state rapidly, and without overall design. The resultant problems and challenges have stimulated a joint university-government-corporate collaboration to develop the next generation of the Internet. The group includes 180 schools and many commercial partners, including Cisco Systems, Quest, Nortel, and IBM. One element of this development activity will be transmitting data faster—perhaps 1,000 times faster, a speed that would allow downloading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica in 15 seconds. But speed is only one of the exciting promises of Internet2. For a glimpse of what computing may be like in the future, read “Enter Internet2.”

Our cover story, “Closing the Digital Divide,” provides a cautionary view of technological changes. “Digital divide” is a phrase that analysts and politicians use frequently today to imply that the nation is separating into two camps—the technology haves and have-nots. Government reports document that the have-nots are disproportionately black or Hispanic, and both the federal and state governments are taking steps to increase training on, and access to, information technology systems. But the concern is that much more needs to be done to close the digital divide. As always, I invite you to share your view on this and other issues.

Frank Huband  
Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher
f.huband@asee.org