What Ails India’s Software Engineers?

Posted on November 30, 2005  Comments (1)

India does not produce enough good computer engineers and those it does are good at theory but not very well equipped to handle the practical aspects.’
— Microsoft Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie

What Ails India’s Software Engineers? is an interesting series of 3 articles by Rediff exploring the state of India’s software engineering industry.

From its 113 universities and 2,088 colleges — many of which teach various engineering disciplines — India produces nearly 350,000 engineering graduates every year. All of Europe produces 100,000 engineering graduates a year, and America produces only 70,000.

But, the quality of Indian engineers is questionable, says Madhavan, who has had a career spanning four decades and is now advisor to several engineering colleges in Karnataka and Kerala.
“That is because of the lack of trained faculty and the dismal State spending on research and development in higher education in the country,” he says.

Part of what makes this article interesting is it challenges the accepted wisdom. The article offers an interesting perspective and some details that are not well understood.

In the 1980s, India had just 158 engineering colleges. That number has jumped to 1,208 in the last two decades, mainly because of the information technology boom and the ever-burgeoning capitation fee that self-financing colleges charge.

Every year, these engineering colleges admit about 350,000 students. Apart from this, nearly 3,500 students are absorbed into the seven premier Indian Institutes of Technology.

GAO Report: Federal Science, Technology and Engineering Trends

Posted on November 30, 2005  Comments (1)

GAO Report: Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs and Related Trends

13 federal civilian agencies reported spending about $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2004 for 207 education programs designed to increase the numbers of students and graduates or improve educational programs in
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. NSF and NIH each account for a bit over 1/3 of the spending.

University officials frequently cited teacher quality as a key factor that affected domestic students’ interest in and decisions about pursuing STEM degrees and occupations. Officials at all eight universities we visited expressed the view that a student’s experience from kindergarten through the 12th grades played a large role in influencing whether the student pursued a STEM degree.

officials at many of the universities we visited told us that some teachers were unqualified and unable to impart the subject matter, causing students to lose interest in mathematics and science.

Estimated Changes in Numbers of International Students in STEM fields by Education Levels from the 1995-1996 Academic Year to the 2003-2004 Academic Year

Education level Number of international students, 1995-1996 Number of international students, 2003-2004 Percentage change
Bachelor’s 31,858 139,875 +339
Master’s 40,025 22,384 -44
Doctoral 36,461 7,582 -79
Total 108,344 169,841 +57

Bannanas Going Going Gone

Posted on November 29, 2005  Comments (2)

Can This Fruit Be Saved? by Dan Koeppel, Popular Science:

The banana as we know it is on a crash course toward extinction. For scientists, the battle to resuscitate the world’s favorite fruit has begun…

. It also turns out that the 100 billion Cavendish bananas consumed annually worldwide are perfect from a genetic standpoint, every single one a duplicate of every other. It doesn’t matter if it comes from Honduras or Thailand, Jamaica or the Canary Islands—each Cavendish is an identical twin to one first found in Southeast Asia, brought to a Caribbean botanic garden in the early part of the 20th century, and put into commercial production about 50 years ago.

That sameness is the banana’s paradox. After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there’s already been one banana apocalypse. Until the early 1960s, American cereal bowls and ice cream dishes were filled with the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat.

Gates Millennium Scholars

Posted on November 29, 2005  Comments (0)

Gates Millennium Scholars, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest.

Continuing GMS Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

Scientists crack 40-year-old DNA puzzle

Posted on November 27, 2005  Comments (1)

Scientist at University of Bath: Stefan Bagby, Jean van den Elsen and Huan-Lin Wu

Scientists crack 40-year-old DNA puzzle and point to ‘hot soup’ at the origin of life:

A new theory that explains why the language of our genes is more complex than it needs to be also suggests that the primordial soup where life began on earth was hot and not cold, as many scientists believe.

The University of Bath researchers suggest that the primordial ‘doublet’ code was read in threes – but with only either the first two ‘prefix’ or last two ‘suffix’ pairs of bases being actively read.

By combining arrangements of these doublet codes together, the scientists can replicate the table of amino acids – explaining why some amino acids can be translated from groups of 2, 4 or 6 codons. They can also show how the groups of water loving (hydrophilic) and water-hating (hydrophobic) amino acids emerge naturally in the table, evolving from overlapping ‘prefix’ and ‘suffix’ codons.

The University of Bath researchers suggest that the primordial ‘doublet’ code was read in threes – but with only either the first two ‘prefix’ or last two ‘suffix’ pairs of bases being actively read.

By combining arrangements of these doublet codes together, the scientists can replicate the table of amino acids – explaining why some amino acids can be translated from groups of 2, 4 or 6 codons. They can also show how the groups of water loving (hydrophilic) and water-hating (hydrophobic) amino acids emerge naturally in the table, evolving from overlapping ‘prefix’ and ‘suffix’ codons.

The theory also explains how the structure of the genetic code maximises error tolerance. For instance, ‘slippage’ in the translation process tends to produce another amino acid with the same characteristics, and explains why the DNA code is so good at maintaining its integrity.

“This is important because these kinds of mistakes can be fatal for an organism,” said Dr van den Elsen. “None of the older theories can explain how this error tolerant structure might have arisen.”

200,000 science and engineering doctorates in China by 2010?

Posted on November 27, 2005  Comments (0)

Below are more statistics on engineering doctoral students in China, via China will increase its science and engineering doctorates to some 200,000 by 2010. I can’t say how reliable these figures are; but you can judge for yourself. The internet makes a great deal of information available but people still have to decide what level of credibility to give any source.

For more details see the original post:

Below are some figures taken from the China Statistical Yearbook 2005 on China’s graduate schools:

Science:
  New enrollment: 41,607
      Ph. D. 10,083
      M. S. 30,984

Total enrollment: 102,769
      Ph. D. 28,769
      M. S. 73,612

  Graduates: 17,540
      Ph. D. 4,518
      M. S. 13,022

Engineering:
  New enrollment: 120,750
      Ph. D. 20,271
      M. S. 100,479

  Total enrollment: 318,063
      Ph. D. 69,315
      M. S. 248,748

  Graduates: 56,074
      Ph. D. 8,054
      M. S. 48,020

Number of science and engineering doctorate holders up to 1985:
      Probably less than 2,000.
Number of science and engineering doctorate recipients between 1985 and 2001:
      Approximately 51,400
Number of science and engineering doctorate recipients for 2002 and 2003:
      Approximately 16,000.
Number of science and engineering doctorate recipients in 2004:
      Exactly 12,572
Number of science and engineering doctorate recipients in 2005:
      Approximately 15,000
Total number of science and engineering doctorates up to the end of 2005:
      Approximately: 95,000
Total number of science and engineering doctorate enrollment at the beginning of 2006:
      Approximately 85512

Whatever numbers turn out to be true the increase in science and engineering education in China is huge.

Related posts:

Engineering for the Americas Symposium

Posted on November 26, 2005  Comments (0)

Engineering for the Americas Symposium:

Engineering education, innovation trends and perspectives on the knowledge-based economy will top the agenda in the four-day Engineering for the Americas Symposium, which opens November 29 in Lima, Peru.

The forum is a joint initiative of the Organization of American States (OAS) Office of Education, Science and Technology, the US Trade and Development Agency, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, several professional associations, academia, governments and industry, including Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), National Instruments and Microsoft.

Among other objectives, the organizers hope the four-day meeting will produce a clear understanding of the role of engineering education and capacity building in developing countries and a “country roadmap” to that end as well as information on potential funding sources to implement country plans. The organizers also hope to chart a “way forward” for the Engineering for the Americas program.

Science and Engineering Apprenticeships

Posted on November 26, 2005  Comments (0)

Office of Naval Research Science & Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP)

SEAP provides competitive research internships to approximately 250 high school students each year. Participating students spend eight weeks during the summer doing research at Department of Navy laboratories.

Requirements:

  • High school students who have completed at least Grade 9. A graduating senior is eligible to apply.
  • Must be 16 years of age for most laboratories
  • Applicants must be US citizens and participation by Permanent Resident Aliens is limited.
  • The application deadline is February 17, 2006.

Apply online for the apprenticeship/internship. See more internship oportunities at externs.com.

Innovative Science Education

Posted on November 26, 2005  Comments (0)

Great Scientific Debates

Teach History and the Nature of Scientific Inquiry, History and Philosophy of Science: Overview of Engaging Students in Science Debates.

To take students deep into the process of the development of a scientific idea, we needed to engage the students not only in the real world data and documented history, but also in the process of constructing arguments. Students worked in collaborative groups of 4 in order to write, film, edit, and present their historical scientific debate. In order to prepare them for weighing abstract concepts using available evidence, students learned much of their content through hands-on labs, as well as internet research, related to their selected scientists.

This is a great example of innovating in education. The students in the example were in5th grade at Turtleback Elementary in San Diego.

The Apple site has a great deal of information on the entire process.

Science Books

Posted on November 25, 2005  Comments (1)

With many people’s minds turning to what they can get for presents in the holiday season we will take the opportunity to list some excellent books related to science that are educational and entertaining:

Our books page includes more science related books.

I am not related to John Hunter, the surgeon, though a Google search connects us – in that the results include links related to both of us. So my site, John Hunter, is competing with sites about, or related, to a surgeon born in 1728 (which may only be interesting to me).

New Restrictions on Foreign Researchers in the USA

Posted on November 24, 2005  Comments (0)

US in move that may bar foreign researchers by Edward Alden and Stephanie Kirchgaessne:

The US government is poised to propose rules that could restrict the ability of Chinese and other foreign nationals to engage in high-level research in the country, a plan that is generating fierce opposition from companies and universities.

Fury over plan to curb ‘Chinese espionage’