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American Society for Engineering EducationNOVEMBER 2006Volume 16 | Number 3 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
Fields of Fuel - By Bethany Halford
Higher Ambitions - By Alvin P. Sanoff
The Burden of Plagiarism - By Thomas K. Grose

REFRACTIONS: Identifying Ourselves - By Henry Petroski
LAST WORD: Gender Bias in Academe - By Alice Merner Agogino

Piecing It All Together: The Learning Factory provides engineering students with a more hands-on learning experience. By Lynne Shallcross
Book Review: The Dance of Molecules: How Nanotechnology Is Changing Our Lives - Reviewed By Robin Tatu
YEAR OF DIALOGUE: A Conversation With a Center- By Karl A. Smith
On Campus: Winning Combination - By Lynne Shallcross

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLISHER: Stolen WordsFrank L. Huband  

A recent front page story in the Washington Post reported a controversy over the use of a plagiarism detection service specializing in catching cheaters. Students at nearby McLean (Va.) High School are irked over the implication of assumed guilt. However, concern over plagiarism remains widespread—the service claimed users from 6,000 academic institutions in 90 countries. Apparently though, it wasn’t used at Ohio University, and Prism’s “The Burden of Plagiarism” looks at the scandal that erupted in Ohio’s mechanical engineering department, involving the master’s theses of 34 former students. The ensuing Ohio controversy led to the disciplining of two engineering academics, including the department chairman. Now American universities—particularly colleges of engineering—are grappling with questions ranging from what constitutes plagiarism to whose responsibility it is to detect it.

Add sticker shock at the gas pump to the instability in the Middle East, and renewed interest in biofuel is not a surprise. This month’s cover story, “Fields of Fuel,” is about the revived interest in ethanol, diesel and other combustible liquids made from plants. Corn-based ethanol is the best known of the renewable fuels, but cellulosic materials, such as switchgrass or corn stover, may have even greater potential. With investors and the current administration giving biofuel a “thumbs up,” engineers are being asked to rethink everything about ethanol from crop growth to fuel distribution. The story observes that in the future, there may not be enough engineers with expertise to build the top-quality biomass refineries that interest venture capitalists and investors.

In “Higher Ambitions,” we follow the unusual path C.D. “Dan” Mote Jr. took to become president of the University of Maryland. Mote moved from being chair of the mechanical engineering department at the University of California to being Berkeley’s chief fundraiser, despite initially knowing little about fundraising. But his engineering background helped him through. “I knew how to put things together to solve big problems,” he says. As his campaign to raise $1 billion entered the final phase, Mote was tapped for the presidency of the University of Maryland. He has successfully applied his considerable fundraising skills at Maryland, increasing research and contract dollars flowing to the university. Mote wants to make Maryland one of the top 10 public research universities, and this article looks at how he plans to make it happen.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher



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American Society for Engineering Education