briefings

Engineering and Technology Enrollments on the Rise
After a long decline, engineering enrollments are on the rise again, according to Engineering and Technology Enrollments, Fall 1997, a report by the American Association of Engineering Societies' Engineering Workforce Commission. The report shows that the number of full-time, first-year engineering students increased almost 6.5 percent from 1996–97 to 1997–98, reaching a total of 90,882. First-year enrollments increased most noticeably in computer engineering (15.4 percent) and electrical engineering (8.8 percent).

The report includes 1997–98 enrollment data from 338 engineering schools and 285 schools with programs in engineering technology. According to the report, full-time, overall undergraduate engineering enrollment rose from 317,772 in 1996–97 to 326,459 in 1997–98, a 2.7 percent increase. For enrollments in specific disciplines, see the chart below.

The Engineering Workforce Commission predicts that engineering enrollments will continue to rise during the next decade, paralleling an expected increase in the number of high school graduates.

The total number of engineering technology undergraduate students (both full-time and part-time) also rose last year, increasing almost 3 percent, from 105,345 to 108,459. This increase is largely due to an enrollment jump of almost 3,000 students at Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute in response to a local Intel plant's needs.

Meanwhile, graduate engineering enrollments remained fairly stable, declining less than 1 percent to a total of 112,257. This follows several years of more significant declines; graduate enrollments have decreased 12.9 percent since peaking in 1992–93.

The report also shows that enrollments for women and minorities may be stagnating; in several categories these groups make up a smaller share of engineering students than in recent years. For example, the women's share of first-year enrollments declined from 20.02 percent in 1995–96 to 19.67 percent in 1997–98. However, their share of overall engineering undergraduate enrollments increased slightly from 19.03 percent in 1995–96 to 19.73 in 1997–98. This may indicate small gains in retention.

The share of African American engineering undergraduates decreased from 7.61 percent in 1995–96  to 7.34 percent in 1997–98. That of Hispanics, however, increased slightly from 6.43 percent in 1995–96 to 6.72 percent in 1997–98.

To order a copy of the full report, contact the Engineering Workforce Commission at (888) 400-AAES.

______________________________________________

A Celebration of Women Engineers
A new Web site celebrates the accomplishments of current women engineers and provides useful education and career information for prospective ones. Sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)'s Celebration of Women in Engineering project, the site (www.nae.edu/cwe) highlights the careers of two different women engineers each week. Those featured recently include Marjolein Van Der Meulen, a Cornell University professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Patricia Eng, chief of transportation and storage inspection at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The site also contains an online database of other women engineers.

In addition, the Web site provides information on engineering fields, academic programs, financial-aid and funding opportunities, mentoring programs, and job opportunities. Project coordinators plan to eventually add games and quizzes that will allow site users to test their engineering knowledge.

As part of the Celebration of Women in Engineering project, NAE also will host a conference on women in engineering,  May 17–18, 1999, in Washington, D.C. More information about the conference is available on the Web site.

______________________________________________

Top 10 Questions Guaranteed to Aggravate Professors
A group of faculty members in the department of civil engineering and construction at North Dakota State University assembled this list of annoying student questions they've encountered. Here also are the professors' tongue-in-cheek responses.

10. I need a C to graduate. How am I doing?
Don't make motel reservations for your parents quite yet.

9. My parents are taking me to Hawaii (or another exotic location). Can I take the final early?
Only if you take me along.

8. Will you be offering this course again next year?
For you, yes.

7. Can I do some extra credit work to improve my grade?
After you do the regular credit work first.

6. What do I need on the final to pass the course?
Can you say, "Miracle"?

5. What's my grade so far?
If you have to ask, you don't want to know.

4. Have you graded the test yet?
Is the ink on the test dry yet?

3. Will this be on the test?
Not anymore.

2. Do I have to buy the book?
I guess you could steal one.

1. Are we going to do anything important in class today?
No, we are just getting together for a little chat.

______________________________________________

First-Job Survival Guide
New engineering graduates can get some free career advice from Hewlett Packard. The company is offering those who've landed a job a complimentary copy of the book First-Job Survival Guide (Henry Holt and Company, 1997) by Andrea Sutcliffe. The book focuses on the everyday worklife skills not taught in schools, including how to make a good first impression, how to manage time, how to deal with difficult people, how to take criticism gracefully, and how to know when it's time to move on. Recent grads can submit an online request for a free copy of the book until October 31, 1998, at www.hp. com/info/student_web.

______________________________________________

Where the Postdocs Are
The following universities have the most postdoctoral appointments in engineering,
according to a 1995 survey of 345 U.S. research institutions.

School Name

University of Michigan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
North Carolina State University
University of California, Santa Barbara
Stanford University
Iowa State University
University of Minnesota
University of California, San Diego
University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of California at Berkeley
Northwestern University
Source: national science foundation

Number of Postdoctoral Appointments

120
116
104
80
73
70
69
62
60
58
58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________

Math on the Net
With the release of a new Web coding language, mathematics in cyberspace just got easier. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) facilitates the use of mathematical notation in Web pages.

Released last spring, MathML offers a method to convey both the structure and the content of complex mathematical notations, something that previously wasn't possible. Before MathML, Web page designers often used image files to portray mathematical notation accurately. However, displaying mathematics in this fashion strips it of its semantic meaning. The result is that the notation can't be searched for, indexed, or transferred to other applications.

MathML increases both the searchability and accessibility of mathematics on the Web, explains W3C spokesperson Ian Jacobs. While search engines can't identify mathematical terms that are presented as image files, they will be able to locate those coded in MathML, he says. In addition, voice synthesizers, which can't interpret image files, could translate MathML coding and make the information available to blind persons.

Because of MathML's complexity, W3C officials anticipate that most Web authors won't use the coding language directly. Instead, authors will use equation editors, conversion programs, and other specialized software tools to generate MathML. Because current Web browsers can't readily translate MathML codes, it's necessary to use a plug-in or Java applet to display information coded in MathML, just as one would use a plug-in to play a video clip embedded in a Web page.

For more information about MathML see www.w3.org/Math.

______________________________________________

In The News

NSF Settles Racial Discrimination Suit
The National Science Foundation has agreed to pay $95,400 to settle a lawsuit filed by a white student who claimed the agency's Minority Graduate Research Fellowship program illegally discriminated against him.

According to the lawsuit, Travis Kidd, a mathematics student at Clemson University, received an e-mail message from NSF saying that he was ineligible for the program after he attempted to apply for it electronically.

Under the program's criteria, only members of racial and ethnic minority groups that are underrepresented in engineering, science, and mathematics may apply. The fellowship provides a $15,000 yearly stipend for up to three years. In the settlement, Kidd receives $14,400, and his lawyers receive $81,000.

The settlement, reached in June, does not stipulate that the agency must change the program criteria. However, NSF has decided to terminate the program and develop a single Graduate Research Fellowship program open to all students. NSF spokesperson Lee Herring notes that the agency will be taking steps to ensure that minority students know about the fellowship opportunities.

Into Africa
Through a new distance-learning project, some western engineering schools are exporting their courses to Africa. Launched last year, the World Bank's African Virtual University (AVU) provides students in sub-Saharan Africa with live and videotaped courses led by professors at U.S., Canadian, and European universities and transmitted via satellite.

Courses focus on engineering, science, and business management—areas where skilled employees are in short supply in Africa, says Etienne Baranshamaje, AVU project manager. African countries are turning to AVU for instructional material because their own university programs often can't adequately prepare students for technical careers, he explains.

AVU currently serves 24 universities in 14 countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. U.S. universities providing courses include Colorado State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Virginia Tech.

Engineering Educators Top Academe's Payroll
Engineering professors at public four-year institutions earned more during 1997–98 than their colleagues in any other discipline: an average of $67,918, according to an annual survey of the College and University Personnel Association and Appalachian State University.

At private four-year institutions, the engineering educators ranked second, earning an average of  $71,011. Professors in the health sciences and public health edged them out with average salaries of $75,611.

The survey also found that overall, professors received average raises of 3.2 percent last year, about twice the inflation rate. Engineering professors at public institutions averaged 4.3 percent raises, while those at private schools received average raises of 5.1 percent.

The survey polled full-time faculty members in 55 disciplines at 357 public and 544 private institutions. Comprehensive survey results are available in two reports, one about public institutions and the other about private institutions. To order a report, contact the College and University Personnel Association, (202) 429-0311, ext. 395.

______________________________________________
return to PRISM online; or October PRISM online