Prism Magazine - Novmber 2001
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Innovations in Engineering

Frank HubandThe United States has over 300 engineering colleges, each with its own financial resources, graduate-employer base, and student body. The advent of the EC2000 accreditation process requires each college to assess its resources and opportunities and identify its own unique mission, vision, and goals—and then establish programs to accomplish them.

From time to time Prism intends to look at some of the innovations that were perhaps motivated by the new accreditation environment. One institution that has a rich history of contributions to engineering education around the world is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This month, Prism discusses some of that history and recent changes, including making its entire course content available online. Prism will highlight similar stories at other institutions in future issues. Let us know what's going on at your school.

“Take Me, Take My Spouse” examines the dilemma of the dual-career couple. In the past it was unusual for engineering faculty members to be married to professional spouses. But it is common today for a faculty candidate to be married to another academic. The fact that many engineering colleges are located in rural areas, where few professional jobs are available outside the university, can add to the dilemma. If the university does not provide assistance in helping its candidate's spouse or significant other find employment, the candidate may reject an employment offer even if it is otherwise attractive. This article discusses what some schools are doing—creating tenure track positions, finding non-tenure berths, or helping spouses get work at other organizations in the community. There are increasing numbers of dual-career academic couples. To recruit the best faculty, institutions will increasingly need to offer assistance.

This month, Prism profiles John Brooks Slaughter, who for several decades has been a prominent engineering leader. Dr. Slaughter is the current president of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), an organization whose mission is to attract more minorities to engineering. Slaughter's diverse and distinguished background has prepared him to succeed in this challenging position. He was the first African-American director at the National Science Foundation, chancellor of University of Maryland, and then president of Occidental College. While the percentage of women engineering graduates has grown from 10.1 percent to 20.8 percent from 1980 to 2000, the percentage of African-American graduates has risen only from 3.8 percent to 5.6 percent. Dr. Slaughter's diverse background promises to bring new vigor to the 27-year-old institution and its mission. Read the article which begins on page 30 to learn of his plans.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher