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DECEMBER 2014     

reader feedback

On "Backscatter: Technology's Slippery Slope" (November 2014)

I found the article, “Technology’s Slippery Slope,” to be thought-provoking and enjoyable. However, I believe one assertion in the essay is inaccurate:

“technical competency of U.S. students, notably neglected in the 1960s and beyond.”

On the contrary, there was a substantial push for increased mathematical and scientific education in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. A mainstream recounting of this phenomenon appears in Wikipedia:

 “Education programs were initiated to foster a new generation of engineers and support was dramatically increased for scientific research.[10] Congress increased the National Science Foundation (NSF) appropriation for 1959 to $134 million, almost $100 million higher than the year before. By 1968, the NSF budget stood at nearly $500 million.”

This response would have been at its peak from roughly 1957-1960+. Note the indirect evidence of this having positive effects in the peaking of U.S. SAT scores in 1963.

We could debate whether “technical” and STEM are equivalent but I think it’s fair to assume they are closely related and that mathematical and scientific matters were being emphasized in U.S. education in the early 1960s.

Ralph Duncan
IEEE Senior Member
Sunnyvale, Calif.

On "Backscatter: The Case for Aptitude Testing" (September 2014)

My general comment is that we are undergoing a throwback to Taylor's "Scientific Management" (see my article "Where's the Silicon in Silicon Valley," EE Times, 22 September 2014.) I believe the long tested model of liberal education remains the best model, and I believe students will find their own way given opportunity and support.

Daniel N. Donahoe, Ph.D., P.E.
IEEE Senior Member
Bountiful, Utah


On "Why Copyright Still Matters to Today's Tech Pros" (August 2014)

Nice article with some contrasting of copyrights to patents. HOWEVER, this article really should have mentioned the new twist on copyright protection for computer-related technologies, APIs in particular, arising from the Oracle v. Google case. That case may be increasingly significant in view of the rising difficulties with software and business method patents after the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Supreme Court case.

John Harris
IEEE Member
Atlanta, Ga.




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Lessons of the Internet Age: The International Telecommunications Union and the Internet Society
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