All the Right Ingredients in Albuquerque

Frank L. HubandThere is much to be excited about at this year's ASEE annual conference in Albuquerque, and half of this issue of Prism describes its highlights. I hope you plan to join me there. The Albuquerque area is a beautiful part of the country and, if possible, you should plan to take an extra day either before or after the meeting to enjoy a bit of what New Mexico has to offer—including Santa Fe, ballooning, and southwestern cuisine.

For the conference itself, this year we are fortunate to have Dean Kamen as the main plenary speaker. Kamen is the well-known entrepreneur and inventor whom Smithsonian Magazine has called the “Pied Piper of Technology.” Kamen says that what interests him most is attracting young people to careers in engineering and science. But it is Kamen who has excited the technology and media worlds with the promise of a revolutionary product, known only as the mysterious “IT.” Media speculation already runs high that it is some kind of individual transportation (hence IT) device or system that will have revolutionary impact. Learn more about Kamen in this month's Prism profile, “Action Man.”

The conference will have, in addition to the exciting main plenary, three outstanding mini plenaries and 400-plus technical sessions. There will be 1,100 papers, more than ever before. The Multimedia Session, a major success in its first year, is now a major activity—the source of more papers than any ASEE division, and with the most stringent review process. Papers in Multimedia compete for the Best Conference Paper Award and should be worth making a special effort to attend.

This year's annual conference has all the earmarks of being ASEE's best-attended gathering yet. Three major conference hotels (Hyatt, Doubletree, La Posada) sold out in March—in fact, by the second week in April, 60 percent of all conference hotel rooms were gone. We were also pleased that 600 folks had pre-registered by April 15 — probably a result of the famous plenary speaker, excellent program, and great destination. Conference details are updated on a daily basis on our Web site at: www.asee.org/conferences/annual2001.

In the rest of this month's Prism, you'll find several articles of sobering concern. “A Chilling Effect” examines the fallout from the Wen Ho Lee case at Los Alamos National Laboratory and some of the consequences of the accusations and denials. The article reports that the resulting security clampdown at the National Laboratories continues to affect the daily course of business, and to significantly hamper the work of their scientists and other professionals.

The article “Feeling the Squeeze” points out that engineering schools can expect a period of belt-tightening as states spend less on higher education. These cuts may be compounded as President Bush's FY2002 budget proposes only a one percent increase in NSF academic research funding, and cuts for university-based research funded by other federal agencies. ASEE and our Engineering Deans Council, along with others in the community, are working to educate members of Congress and the president about the importance of academic engineering research to the nation's economy, and there are indications that the Senate, at least, may be responding.

The May/June issue of ASEE Prism provides on the one side, a good introduction to the Albuquerque conference, and on the other side, thoughtful articles of timely concern. Let me know what you think—as always, I welcome your comments. And I hope to see you in Albuquerque.

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