Prism Magazine - March 2003
America's Newest Export
Scaling The Ranks
Palace of Science
The Sky's The Limit
On Politics
Teaching Toolbox
ASEE Today
Last Word
Back Issues


A New Takeoff Point

Frank HubandPBS recently broadcast the documentary "The Battle of the X Plane," which presented the story of the competition between Lockheed Martin and Boeing to build the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) plane. Under tight security, a NOVA film team recorded the grueling progress achieved and setbacks endured by engineers at both companies during the race to build a better fighter plane. The film dramatically captured some of the extraordinary challenges that engineers face in both design and manufacturing. This month's Prism story, "The Sky's the Limit," examines Lockheed Martin's win and what it took to gain this lucrative contract. Design specifications were daunting, cost a prime determinant, and the competition was winner take all.

One aspect of the JSF was that it will become a multinational fighter plane. Other countries were not only lined up to buy the eventual product but had design modifications of their own. While it is no surprise that much of business has become global, the same has been much less true of education—at least until recently. The cover story, "Going Global," reports on some venturesome engineering schools that have entered the global marketplace and their various approaches to globalizing education wares.

Delores Etter, the former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, is profiled in "Scaling the Ranks." A distinguished member of the faculty at the U.S. Naval Academy, Etter, a member of the Defense Science Board, also advises Washington policy makers on national security issues.

" Palace of Science" reviews Tuxedo Park, a recent book about Alfred Lee Loomis, the Wall Street financier who made a vast fortune in the 1920s and used it to conduct military research on his own. Although Loomis is all but unknown today, he led a remarkable life and, among other accomplishments, bankrolled a radar lab that laid groundwork for the detection technologies that changed the course of World War II.

The tragic failure of the space shuttle Columbia and the loss of all seven crew members shocked us all. Retired Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., a trained engineer, will lead the investigation into what happened. Prism article "Engineer Leads the Probe" explains why an engineer was tapped for the job and why Gehman is particularly well equipped to determine the cause of this national tragedy.

Prism endeavors to provide ASEE members with a broad and exciting mix of stories. I hope this month's issue meets that standard, and as always, I welcome your views and comments.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher


Mail Prism