PRISM Magazine On-Line  - December 1999
encryption
May The Source Code Not Be With You

High-tech companies and experts cheered last September when the Clinton Administration essentially eliminated restrictions on exports of encryption software. But in all the excitement surrounding the relaxation of export controls, one thing was overlooked: The new policy affected shrink-wrapped data-scrambling software only—not the original codes, which remain restricted.

That crucial exception threatens to constrain the development of open-source encryption software programs, an essential sector of the high-tech industry. Such software is developed by groups of programmers around the globe, including many professors in electrical and computer engineering departments, who rely on the free exchange of source codes. Manipulating the software source codes directly, programmers work together to develop and improve the software, check for bugs, and add new features. Without the original source codes, however, it is nearly impossible for programmers to work on the software.

Unfortunately, that leaves American programmers at a disadvantage, since other countries do not place such restrictions on their researchers. In any case, some experts argue that the nationality of a piece of source code really doesn't matter. Only the end-product software that is developed by coalitions of the best experts in the world is relevant, they say.

What's more, the controls are difficult to implement given the medium of exchange. After all, how do you stop the flow of information over the Internet, a virtual space that defies the notion of national boundaries?

Perhaps that's what concerns the administration the most

Future Imagineers

Engineering grads, you've just completed your degree—where do you want to go next? Disneyland!

Yep, the number one choice of employment for college seniors majoring in engineering is Walt Disney, according to a recent survey by Universum, an academic consulting firm.

Engineering students ranked Disney highly for a variety of reasons, including good future references, inspiring colleagues, and exciting products. Not to mention the possibility of designing the next Space Mountain.

And that's exactly what Disney is looking for: students who would rather engineer a 500-foot paperclip or a roller coaster than oil rigs or mainframes. "Imagineering" is what they call it in the Magic Kingdom.

New York-based Universum surveyed more than 3,000 college seniors to rank the top 200 ideal employers. As the recruiting war continues to escalate—thanks to America's supercharged economy—the survey sheds some light on what students are looking for in the perfect job. So what makes one employer more attractive than another? Survey says: undergrads consider everything from commuting distance and compensation to environmental policies and their work environment.

Other big names, like IBM, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, still attract students—a lot of them, in fact. But kids in this country are surrounded by all things Disney from birth, so in addition to Disney's vigorous recruiting efforts, which include visiting more than 250 campuses each semester, good old Walt still has something the others don't: star power.

Maryam Miller

Quotable

"One of the things I remember hearing was an argument they use for people who might give. They say, 'This will make you happy.' And by God, this did make me happy."

       —Edmund T. Pratt, Jr., former chair and CEO of Pfizer, Inc. and a 1947 Duke University graduate, after donating $35 million to his alma mater's school of engineering, which will now bear his name. The contribution is the university's largest since James B. Duke donated $40 million in 1924, a gift that helped create the university.