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Location of an Engineering Faculty in Sri Lanka: The Unusual Criteria, Lessons Learnt, and Ethics Issues

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Engineering Education and Comparative Studies at Universities throughout Asia, Far East

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.902.1 - 25.902.37



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Paper Authors


Samuel Ratnajeevan Herbert Hoole P.E. Michigan State University

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S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. His research interests focus on computational methods, especially computing electromagnetic fields by the finite element method. His ongoing research is in shape optimization in coupled problems, determining the location and shape of objects so as to accomplish design objects in electrothermal problems in electric machinery, eco-friendly buildings, hyperthermia treatment planning in oncology, etc. This work has led to a long term effort building up a modern design environment pulling together design rules with artificial intelligence, software engineering, mesh generators, matrix solvers, optimization techniques, and libraries of parts and material properties. His work has also led to efforts in nondestructive evaluation and the localization of lightning hits from measurements. His work earned him the Fellow status from the IEEE (1995) and the higher doctorate, the D.Sc. degree, from University of London (1993). Responding to the call of the IEEE to be engaged in society, he has substantial research accomplishments in the area of human rights and peace education and was a Fellow of Scholar Rescue Fund, Institute of International Education, N.Y., and on the panel of speakers for the Scholars at Risk Network, N.Y.

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Location of an Engineering Faculty in Sri Lanka: The Unusual Criteria and Lessons LearntABSTRACTSri Lanka recently decided to set up a new engineering faculty, in addition to the threealready in existence. This paper describes the unusual considerations that went into making arecommendation, at the behest of the University Grants Commission which is principallyresponsible for all university development and funding.While in most countries the criteria on whether to set about establishing a new faculty andwhere would depend on need, in Sri Lanka, as in many countries where government is solelyin charge of universities, the final process and its outcome depended on many additionalcriteria to the normal, including political criteria.While need was certainly a part of it, in this instance, the author who was commissioned towrite the report, had to a) Examine regional aspirations in a country rent by communal strife;b) Weigh the viability of big cities where industry can support an engineering faculty’sresearch and training programs and such programs’ associated placement needs, against thedemands of rural cities long denied development; c) Consider the worries of parents close toany new faculty that their children would be sent to an as yet undeveloped faculty as opposedto the established ones where they would otherwise go; d) Look at the need not to buildhostels in big cities where private rooms are available for students from homes against thebudgetary need in a cash-strapped economy to build hostel blocks when going into ruralareas; e) Worry about the need of politicians to show that they are influential in settling theissue against the actual optimal situation, playing off presidential, ministerial and localpoliticians and their positions; f) Research the ability of students located rurally to pick upEnglish which is now increasingly important for employment prospects; g) Consider the richadditional course offerings available to students in established cities through other facultiesh) Water supply and recreational facilities in a rural setting and i) The fear of localcommunities that their “traditional homelands” would be vitiated by using the faculty tomove in other groups for political reasons.In the end, the issue was settled by ministerial directive based on political considerations.The paper, using this experience, draws lessons on how best to serve the student communityin such a situation.; especially on the role of government being exclusively in charge ofhigher education as in Sri Lanka.

Hoole, S. R. H. (2012, June), Location of an Engineering Faculty in Sri Lanka: The Unusual Criteria, Lessons Learnt, and Ethics Issues Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21659

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