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Frank Huband


This Prism is our big double issue, filled with stories that I hope you’ll find of considerable interest. And there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we’re going to Austin for the Annual Conference (June 14-17, 2009), and it promises to be a fun, good-value, and vibrant gathering for ASEE members. The bad news is that we are, of course, in the throes of an economic downturn, and everyone is feeling the effects to some degree. This issue of Prism reports on several aspects of the current financial fallout and how the engineering education community has been and may continue to be affected.

“Lifeline to the States” examines the worrisome options and budget cuts state schools face during tough times. As they wait hopefully for some relief from the federal stimulus package, they are forced to consider tuition hikes, enrollment caps, and charging engineering students higher tuition and/or fees than students in other fields.

“Quants Take the Heat” looks at the blame game and who’s being faulted for the Wall Street meltdown. Some are pointing fingers at financial engineers, nicknamed quants because they work in quantitative finance. Wall Street financial engineers and their wizardry should have protected the world’s financial system, critics say. But others rebut this charge, saying it was the greed of the banking system that failed to put the financial models to correct use.

In recent years, Harvard made news when it granted free tuition to lower-income families by tapping the school’s substantial endowments. However, some feel affluent schools, both private and public, should be even more generous with their considerable tax-free nest eggs. Indeed, Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, has proposed that rich schools be forced to spend at least 5 percent of their endowments each year or face tax consequences. “A Downer for Endowments” examines the conundrum now that many of these multibillion-dollar endowments have taken the stock market plunge.

Getting back to the good news, I invite you to flip Prism over and read about Austin, the upcoming lively scene for ASEE’s 116th Annual Conference and Exposition. I’d also urge you to register and book early – this one’s going to be big, just like the Lone Star State. After all, three of ASEE’s finest presidents, Ron Barr, Wally Fowler, and John Weese, have hailed from Texas.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher




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