Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Student Options

Posted on: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 12:17:32 -0400  by: G. Snyder

The recent London bombings have opened many eyes to the potential level of surveillance we may find ourselves under in this country. According to the UK Financial Times, Britain now has in operation over 4 million CCTV cameras! These cameras do not appear to have had much of an effect on stopping terrorism but have helped considerably in the identification of terrorists after attacks. Research continues in the development of surveillance cameras, face-recognition software, ID cards, phone monitoring systems, chemical sensors, RF ID and other anti-terrorism technologies.

For example:
  • ObjectVideo in Reston, Virginia, has developed software that detects unusual video patterns such as abandoned bags or suspicious movement. Systems using this software are currently being used in military bases in the United States, Europe and Asia.
  • Nexidia, a voice recognition software company in Georgia, is developing speech recognition software that filters thousands of hours of recorded conversations looking for specific key words. Gartner says $140 million worldwide was spent on security based speech recognition software in 2004.
Most surveillance is currently done by monitoring mobile telephone conversations and the fear is, with terrorists knowing this, communications will go back to age old mouth-to-ear-to-mouth methods, leaving authorities in the dark. Other methods need to be developed that identify terrorists before they attack. Catherine Yang, and Kerry Capell in London and Otis Port in New York have an interesting article in the August 8, 2005 edition of Business Week. In the article they discuss several developing identification methods including DNA, saliva, body odor, breath, video gait recognition and RFID identification.

As long as we are under some level of threat many will not object to a rapidly ramping level of surveillance (we won’t get into civil liberties here but it is a serious concern we probably all have thought about). As it stands right now development in this area will continue will continue at a swift pace.

Much of work done in these emerging fields requires a cross disciplinary background at a level higher than an AS degree. It is important we give our Community College grads the option of moving in different directions whether it be directly to work with a two year degree or on to a four year program with all 2-year degree courses accepted.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Tapping Our Potential - An Industry Challenge

Posted on: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 09:17:51 -0400  by: G. Snyder

On July 27 the following top business and technology associations called for doubling the number of math, science, technology and engineering graduates by 2015:
  • AeA
  • Business-Higher Education Forum
  • Business Roundtable
  • Council on Competitiveness
  • Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP)
  • Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)
  • Information Technology Industry Council
  • Minority Business RoundTable
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • Semiconductor Industry Association
  • Software and Information Industry Association
  • TechNet
  • Telecommunications Industry Association
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This group released a report entitled, "Tapping America's Potential (TAP): the Education for Innovation Initiative" that can be found at: http://www.technet.org/resources/TAP.pdf

The report focuses on five areas to increase number of bachelor's degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics:

1. Build public support for making improvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics performance a national priority.

2. Motivate U.S. students and adults, using a variety of incentives, to study and enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, with a special effort geared to those in currently underrepresented groups.

3. Upgrade K-12 mathematics and science teaching to foster higher student achievement, including differentiated pay scales for mathematics and science teachers.

4. Reform visa and immigration policies to enable the United States to attract and retain the best and brightest science, technology, math and engineering students from around the world to study for advanced degrees and stay to work in the United States.

5. Boost and sustain funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.
Most of us have seen the stats - here are a few examples pulled from the report:

- Although U.S. fourth graders score well against international competition, they fall near the bottom or dead last by 12th grade in mathematics and science, respectively.
- By 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia.
- The percentage of students in the U.S. planning to pursue engineering degrees declined by one-third between 1992 and 2002.

Funding for basic research in the physical sciences as a percentage of the gross domestic product has declined by half since 1970.

We are being clobbered in science, technology, engineering and math achievement by the rest of the world and should make us realize how critical our academic work is for our country. The 18 page report (including endnotes) is worth a careful read.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Are We There Yet?

Posted on: Mon, 01 Aug 2005 09:03:36 -0400  by: G. Snyder

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics has released some very interesting statistics in this year's second quarter report. According to the report the IT workforce is just about back to where it was during the summer of 2001.
In 2001 3.46 million people in the U.S. defined themselves as IT professionals and in the second quarter of this year 3.43 million people defined themselves as IT professionals. This is the highest number of employed IT professionals since 2001 and is up 128,000 from the same quarter last year.
Where is the growth since 2001?
  • IS managers have increased 70,000 to 340,000
  • Computer software engineers have increased 87,000 to 736,000
  • Database admins have increased 27,000 to 195,000
  • Computer systems admins have increased 21,000 to 195,000
Where is the loss since 2001?
  • Programmers have declined by 180,000 to 558,000
  • Computer scientists and analysts have declined 38,000 to 777,000
  • Computer support specialists have declined 8,000 to 349,000
  • Network systems and data communications analysts have declined 10,000 to 346,000
Annualized unemployment rates for this same quarter are down to 3.4% compared to 5.2% during the same quarter last year.

Interesting information!