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The Best Time of the Year

I am looking forward to this year's annual meeting and I surely hope to see you there. This year's meeting is being held in the charming city of Montreal, which is an ideal destination—easy to get to by train, plane, or auto—providing a certain European flavor combined with a vibrant style of its own. In the article “Old Meets New in Montreal,” you'll find excellent tips on where to go, what to see, and how to do it. Whether your taste runs to centuries-old cathedrals and cobblestone streets or to hip nightclubs, Montreal has it all. There are elegant restaurants and sidewalk cafes; the iSciCentre with its interactive science displays; the famed Botanical Gardens; and the Olympic Stadium where the Expos play. Montreal also has a wealth of boutiques and trendy shopping centers where you can take advantage of a favorable currency conversion.

For the annual conference itself, we are very pleased to have two outstanding speakers for the main plenary—William A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, and John Brooks Slaughter, president and CEO, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Both are distinguished and articulate spokesmen for engineering education, and we can expect a compelling message from each. Attendance at this year's meeting will be strong if not, dare I say, the highest ever. By the middle of April, nearly 1,400 folks had pre-registered, and three hotels had sold out with several other properties running 90 percent booked. If you haven't made your hotel reservations, now might be a good time. There will be 1,340 papers published, an all time high. Last year's number was 1,120.

The annual conference is always the largest gathering of ASEE members. It is a time to see old friends and acquaintances, meet with peers, and hear what's new and shaking in the engineering community. This is the one meeting every ASEE member should attend.

In the other half of this issue of Prism, there are several timely articles. “Smart Parts” recalls the Six Million Dollar Man from the ‘70s TV show and the science fiction theory that a badly injured human could be fitted with cyber-replacement limbs endowing superhuman strength. Writer Thomas K. Grose points out that while we aren't there yet, technology is beginning to catch up with fiction as embedded-chip technology gives us the long-anticipated opportunity to fuse human beings and machines.

“Leading The Way” profiles Raymond Nkado, the first black engineering dean of a major South African university. At the University of the Witwatersrand, Nkado is breaking new ground in post-apartheid South Africa, where by his very presence he provides a motivating force for black students.

The article “Missiles & Medicine” notes that September 11 has meant a dramatic increase in federal spending in fields of science and engineering, but the money will mostly go for weapons development and biomedical research. We must be concerned, of course, that as a result other research areas will have to do without.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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