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Frank Huband

Forward to Spring - and Growth?

Here in the Washington metropolitan area, it's been a tough winter. Blizzard conditions shut down the federal government for three days. Many businesses closed for the snowy duration, and none of it helped the tentative economic recovery. We recovered from the blizzard, but the economy is something else. This month, Prism's cover story, "Leaping the Barrier" examines further fallout from the collapse of Wall Street. With a shaky economy, investors have grown cautious, and capital that used to flow freely has dried up. Among those feeling the pinch are university researchers with innovations to sell. In most cases, universities and their technology-transfer offices have had to adjust their sights. With venture capital harder to come by, wealthy financiers, corporate investors, and government grants have become attractive alternatives. Others, however, believe it's time for innovation and bold moves. Academic entrepreneurs, as well as their universities, are learning that success may depend on agility in the boardroom, as well as in the lab.

Singapore may be a small country, but it has big plans to become an R&D powerhouse. "A Sharper Edge" reports on Singapore's five-year plan to spend $10 billion on science and technology, thereby creating a huge demand for engineers. Over the next five years, the city-state plans to invest 3.5 percent of its gross domestic product in R&D, which outpaces the United States. The policy places considerable demand on Singapore's educational system, and two major universities, National University of Singapore, and Nanyang Technological University, are rising to the challenge. Singapore weathered the worldwide economic slump better than many, with predictions for an annual growth rate of 4.9 percent this year. The country is both exciting and vibrant, and the site of ASEE's global colloquium in October.

Another feature looks at the 46 new Energy Frontier Research Centers that the Department of Energy plans to back with an investment of $777 million over the course of five years. Seeking answers to tough scientific problems impeding the development of new energy sources, they are key both to Washington's strategy of combating climate change and to a future "green" economy. Engineers at the centers are involved in the critical work of finding solutions to address the energy and environmental problems the world faces.

As always, I would welcome your comments and suggestions.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher




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