Prism Magazine September 2001





On page 52 [Prism, May-June] you report that I received a very prestigious award from the IEEE. You cannot imagine the surprise it generated in me, since I had received no word of such an honor. After checking the IEEE awards pages I see that the award actually went to a consultant by the same name who resides in Dayton, Ohio. I guess I'll just have to wait another year.

Carl E. Wick
Associate Professor
U.S. Naval Academy


I have just returned from the 2001 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition in Albuquerque. While there, I heard a number of presentations which addressed a variety of issues related to assessment, particularly implementation of EC2000. Being the ABET person for my department, I am intimately aware of the new requirements and, more importantly, their intent. Continuously assessing what we do (or don't do) as educators is indeed an important part of our jobs. Clearly it is a good thing that "educational assessment," previously an academic area which was curiously largely "outside" engineering education, is now becoming integrated into the engineering education profession.

Several of these presentations addressed the problem (or challenge) of bringing their respective departments into compliance with EC2000 with a passing reference to the following concern: "Who is going to pay for this?"

A variation on this theme: "How can we write proposals to get money to do this?" (and where are such funding sources?) In other words, there was some expectation that: 1) ABET EC2000 activities were somehow something above and beyond what the department normally did; 2) as a result, someone outside the department should pay for it; implying 3) this should somehow be a "fundable" area of "research," or, in other words, there should be pots of accessible money "out there" where departments can get money to do ABET stuff. Implied, but not stated: No funding, unlikely that any ABET activities will be done, at least in a timely "enthusiastic" manner.

I personally find this to be disturbing. Educational assessment is something we as educators should be doing as part of our jobs. Period. This is an unhealthy extension of the growing mind-set that everything a faculty member does should be related to "funded" activities (implying unfunded activities are not worth doing). It (assessment) is not someone else's responsibility (financially, ethically, etc.); it is our responsibility as a part of our commitment to "do" engineering education to the best of our abilities. True, assessment is a labor-intensive and resource-requiring activity; but it is a part of our mission as educators and therefore a "built-in" task for any department. "Assessment" is a meaningful activity we are professionally bound to engage in, not an activity contingent on successfully attracting outside funding.

William E. Lee III
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
University of South Florida


In the short piece, "Hybrid Cars a Hit on the Hill" in the April 2001 issue of Prism, the EPA city/highway mileage rate for the Toyota Prius was stated as 45/52. It should be 52/45. The Prius is the only production car that gets better mileage in the city than on the highway. This is due to the advantage of the gasoline-electric powertrain allowing each propulsion source to operate in its most efficient domain. This is the primary reason for using HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) technology.

I have been driving the first Prius delivered to a customer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since October and can vouch for its quality and efficiency. I have been a faculty advisor to engineering student teams designing and building HEVs for 10 years. Our HEV has one championship and two seconds at the American Tour de Sol, which takes places annually in the Northeast.

The University of Tulsa ParaDyne will be competing again in the Prototype HEV class at the 2001 Tour de Sol. My personal Prius will be competing in the Production HEV class

Robert D. Strattan
Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering
University of Tulsa


[Regarding "A Chilling Effect," May-June issue] Years ago I worked at Sandia, so I am familiar with the advantages that go with being a government scientist. In return, you are supposed to be a talented brilliant professional, totally unlike Wen Ho Lee. With someone this outrageous, it is only natural to expect a few clumsy measures to come down from up above.

You make your point, that the measures are indeed clumsy. However, why not go on about what you seem to be thinking, that it is really upper management that is inept.

John Robert Burger
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
California State University at Northridge