“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” That sneer at the contribution educators make to society dies hard. Sadly, it persists at engineering schools, where tenure, promotion, and salaries often depend more on research, publications, and grantsmanship than on the quality of instruction. “An outstanding teaching record isn’t going to get you tenure,” a veteran educator told writer Peggy Loftus. When set against the 50 percent dropout rate in many engineering programs, a reward system skewed toward research becomes increasingly hard to defend. Reform efforts date back at least to 1998, when a report from a commission created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching urged that excellent teachers be rewarded with permanent salary increases, not one-time awards. Now, Loftus reports in our feature “Upward Mobility,” these efforts are starting to gain traction as students, parents, government, and industry demand more value for the education dollar. For members of ASEE, who joined because they want to teach more effectively, such signs of change must be welcome – if long overdue. (For a different take on the importance of teaching, see Robin Tatu’s review of Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education by Mark Edmundson.)
When Deputy Editor Mary Lord returned from vacation with a clutch of watercolor seascapes, Creative Director Lung-I Lo wouldn’t let her newly discovered talent go to waste. The result adorns this month’s cover. Lord drew inspiration from Tom Grose’s fascinating account of the engineers who first developed, and now sustain, the legendary B-52, anchor of America’s arsenal. Designed as a Cold War-era long-range hauler of atomic bombs, the Stratofortress has proved versatile enough to conduct surveillance over vast stretches of ocean and provide close-air support over Afghanistan.
“Extra Jolt” by Art Pine explains why more universities should be taking advantage of an enduring government program that retains bipartisan congressional backing: Small Business Innovation Research/Technology Transfer, or SBIR/STTR, through which 11 federal agencies set aside a portion of R&D funding for grants to small businesses. It’s helped numerous start-ups get off the ground and can claim at least one gangbuster success – Qualcomm Inc.
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