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 COMMENTS

FROM THE PUBLISHER
Frank Huband

TOUGH CHALLENGES AND SOBERING LESSONS


A year ago, in the November 2007 issue of Prism, I noted in my Comments that Mark Matthews had joined us as Prism’s new managing editor. He had been a Middle East correspondent and had just published his book, Lost Years: Bush, Sharon and Failure in the Middle East. Recently, Mark went back to the Middle East, this time for Prism Magazine. His compelling “Tale of Two Campuses” is our cover story this month.

Actually, “Tale of Two Campuses” is two stories running side by side that explore engineering education in the strife-torn Middle East. The Technion in Haifa has earned the nickname “Israel’s MIT” for its leading role in transforming the Jewish state into one of the world’s most dynamic high-tech economies. It is, nevertheless, part of a university system struggling to do more with less. Fast-growing Islamic University of Gaza has a different, if equally difficult, challenge – that of providing a 21st century education while largely cut off from the outside world. Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt are repeatedly sealed off. IUG is hampered with a reputation of being a stronghold of support for the Islamist movement Hamas. Despite the staggering challenges both universities face, “Tale” ends with a ray of hope. Two engineering educators, one from the Technion, and one from IUG, appear to be moving beyond the political and physical barriers between Israel and the Palestinians.

Late this summer, Hurricane Gustav advanced upon New Orleans. It had been exactly three years since Katrina drowned the Big Easy, and now, closure and evacuation plans were being rolled out. Our Prism article, “When Disaster Strikes,” revisits some of Katrina’s devastation and the hard lessons learned at New Orleans universities. While Gustav only grazed New Orleans, and, fortunately, damage was minimal by comparison, Tulane and the University of New Orleans were ready. The schools’ emergency preparedness plans served them well as the storm forced evacuation of students and staff. Specific suggestions enumerated in the article range from learning how to text message to maintaining an emergency power source. The ideas have broad application and may be of benefit to any of us caught in catastrophic situations. A sidebar tells of the plight of Texas A&M’s marine systems engineering school in Galveston, Texas, badly hit in early September by Hurricane Ike.

As always, we offer articles both varied and current for your reading enjoyment. I would welcome hearing your comments and suggestions.

 

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

 

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