PRISM Magazine On-Line  -  January 2000
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A Relationship in Transition

Frank L. Huband Welcome to the year 2000, and a new year of Prism to keep you informed of engineering and engineering education issues. In our annual industry issue, we explore the changing relationships between engineering, corporate America, and the rest of the economy. As these relationships undergo transformation, engineering colleges and engineering faculty are developing new partnerships. In our cover package, "Breaking Down Barriers," we look at how the two very different worlds of industry and academia are merging.

Corporate America has become more dependent on universities for basic knowledge as corporate research facilities feel the effects of cutbacks and downsizing. "Man in Motion" highlights an innovator who has gone one step further; John Hennessy, the new provost of Stanford University, is both an entrepreneur and an educator. While a faculty member at Stanford, Hennessy founded what is now a multi-billion dollar company that develops and builds microprocessors.

Many faculty members, however, lack the time or know-how to carry out the business aspects that accompany the commercialization of their inventions. To ensure that these inventions are commercialized, universities have created technology transfer offices. "Taking Care of Business" discusses both the effectiveness and the appropriateness of these offices.

Engineering graduates are becoming more involved in general corporate activity, and many graduates are going to work for employers outside the traditional engineering field, pursuing activities such as finance, business, and consulting. In "A Different Direction," we examine why companies such as Andersen Consulting are hiring a substantial fraction of engineering graduates.

What are the implications of these tendencies? Do engineering and engineering technology curricula need to be adjusted to meet the needs of this changed environment? Let me know of your views.

 

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