Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Michigan's K-12 Education Transformation "Brute-Force to Brain-Force"

NOW That's WHAT I'm TALKING About!

The New York Times

October 30, 2007

In Science Classrooms, a Blast of Fresh O2

Maybe you’ve seen the television quiz show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and will proudly attest that you are. But how might you stack up against the students in Faye Cascio’s ninth-grade physical science class? Consider the following problems:

1) You fall into a swiftly moving river and are in need of a flotational device. You see a life preserver bobbing three meters downstream of you and another one the same distance behind. Which preserver should you swim toward?

2) A bullet is fired into one end of a spiral tube. When it shoots out of the other end, and forgetting here about the effects of gravity, will the bullet follow a trajectory that (a) is a straight line; (b) begins as a slight curve in the same direction as the spiral tube before gradually straightening out; or (c) begins as a slight curve in the opposite direction of the tube before straightening out?

3) A plane flying into a headwind will have a lower speed, relative to the ground, than it would if it were flying through still air, while a plane traveling with the benefit of a brisk tailwind will have a comparatively greater ground speed. But what about a plane flying through a 90-degree crosswind, a breeze that is buffeting its body side-on? Will its ground speed be higher, lower or no different than it would be in unruffled skies?

The school year is still young, and so, too, is the Academy of Science, the almost sneakily rigorous high school magnet science program in Loudoun County, Va., of which Ms. Cascio’s physics class is a part. Yet already her freshmen students can not only ace exercises in Newtonian mechanics like the samples cited above, but they can also explain the reasoning behind every answer they give.

Many people wring their hands over the state of science education and point to the appalling performance of America’s students in international science and math competitions. Yet some of the direst noises about our nation’s scientific prospects may be premature. Far from rejecting challenging science courses, students seem to be embracing them.

This year, for example, the American Institute of Physics said that the percentage of high school students taking physics courses was at an all-time high, and that the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the subject had climbed by 31 percent since 2000. Moreover, there are a growing number of “magnet” or “gifted and talented” programs in secondary schools that emphasize science and math. While quality varies widely, and some observers worry that the tiny, competitive programs consume an outsized portion of a school’s budget, a visit to Ms. Cascio’s class and her students, who are not only gifted, talented and magnetic but hardworking, too, is almost enough to make you wish you were back in high school.

So, which life preserver to swim toward? It’s the same either way, just as it wouldn’t matter if you and the floating rings were in a pool on a cruise ship: the speed of the ship won’t affect how quickly you reach one ring or the other.

The path of the bullet as it emerges from its spiraling tube? Well, Newton’s second law, the famed law of inertia, insists that a body in motion will stay in motion unless something persuades it to do otherwise, and that includes directionality. With the elimination of the curving walls of the tube, nothing remains to deflect the bullet off an otherwise linear path: from the point of departure, it’s all a straight shot.

The plane’s ground speed in a crosswind? Ms. Cascio’s students will explain that it is greater than it would be in calm air, and with a few deft sketches of vectors and triangles, they will tell you by how much.

The students can articulate their reasoning because, for one thing, they have no choice. One recent morning, Ms. Cascio asked several students in succession to explain the logic of their answer to the same question — and, “Uh, yeah, I agree with Yasamin and Josh” just wouldn’t do.

“It’s called dipsticking,” Ms. Cascio said. “It’s really important to make sure the kids are picking this information up, and so I ask, Is this clear to you? Do you really understand it? and I won’t go on until I get a positive, satisfying answer.”

A bigger reason the students seemed to wear the material comfortably emerged when they pulled from the classroom closet genuine items of clothing: white lab coats. The Academy of Science is built on the principle of what its director, George Wolfe, calls inquiry-based learning. “I want them to learn to think like scientists,” he said, “rather than regurgitate facts.” From the moment they enter the program, students do experiments, lots of experiments. Not canned experiments, either, of the sort found in the average “science is fun!” book that spell out every step. Here, the students must design experiments themselves, which means they must learn essential lessons like how to ask questions in an answerable way, what’s your error bar, and, will you please just give me some data already.

Their natty new lab jackets shrugged into place, the students in Ms. Cascio’s physics class set out to demonstrate by experiment, in four four-person teams, the Newtonian verity that force equals mass times acceleration. One team proved hyperefficient, and within moments was catapulting ever more heavily weighted wheeled mini-carts along the tabletop and timing each run. Another team got bogged down debating whether their experimental design would work better with one long string or three short ones, until finally their teacher trilled, “Stop obsessing — let’s go!” A boy yearned for a pulley. Too bad, none available.

A mildly manic half-hour later, the data from the four teams were in and projected on an overhead slide for all to see. Calculators clicked as the young white coats computed the percentage of error in their collected findings, and, whoa, it was only 6.6 percent. “That’s phenomenal!” Ms. Cascio crowed. Think about all the things that could have thrown your experiments off course, she told the class — the low-tech equipment, friction from strings rubbing on stacked textbooks. “But even with that, look at how fabulous the results are,” she said. “You set up a great lab, and you should be proud.” It’s one thing to read about Isaac Newton and apples falling from a tree. It’s another to test his laws of motion and see how right they can be.

Ms. Cascio, 57, is a law of motion herself, a stylish dynamo whose voice retains the comforting vibrato of her natal Jersey City. As an undergraduate at Douglass College of Rutgers University, she studied molecular biology and planned to become a doctor, but while living in Greece she began teaching and fell in love with the profession, eventually earning master’s degrees in biology and education. With her decades of experience and a string of national teaching laurels, Ms. Cascio could easily have settled into rote mode, but instead she decided to join the fledgling Academy of Science, where, she admits, the pace can be grueling. “It takes a lot more time to teach inquiry than by plug and chug, by getting up in front of a class and lecturing by the book,” she said.

But how much more satisfying the nosy approach to knowing can be, and how amusing, too. In one biology class last year, for example, Ms. Cascio’s students acquainted themselves with the cell, the nucleus, DNA, proteins, evolution, taxonomy and other bold-faced biology concepts by analyzing meat and seafood products from the supermarket, discovering that, hey, the things that had been sold as scallops were actually pulverized trout pressed into scallop shapes.

Through its emphasis on Socratic parrying and creative laboratory work, the program could well serve as a model for remedying misconceptions. Nearly all scientists and educators agree that somehow, at some point during their pedagogical odyssey, most Americans get the wrong idea about what science is, and what it is not.

“Science is, or should be, about the world, not about science,” said Eugene Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy and the provost of Rice University. “But for too many students, science has been presented as a large series of manipulations that they rarely understand or connect to the reality around them.” If there is a message that he wants his students to take from his introductory science class, he said, “it is to grasp that the world is in fact understandable, that rational inquiry can lead to understanding, and that there’s rarely an excuse to say understanding is beyond them.”

In Ms. Cascio’s class, ignorance is always an excuse — to get out your lab coat. May I have a pulley this time?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Do schools today kill creativity? (Ken Robinson, TEDTalks)

Note to self: The contextual implicaton is that CREATIVITY ever existed in the Silo's of Irrelevance in the first place. NOT!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dangerous DIGITAL Consequence?

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

October 26, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The Outsourced Brain

The gurus seek bliss amidst mountaintop solitude and serenity in the meditative trance, but I, grasshopper, have achieved the oneness with the universe that is known as pure externalization.

I have melded my mind with the heavens, communed with the universal consciousness, and experienced the inner calm that externalization brings, and it all started because I bought a car with a G.P.S.

Like many men, I quickly established a romantic attachment to my G.P.S. I found comfort in her tranquil and slightly Anglophilic voice. I felt warm and safe following her thin blue line. More than once I experienced her mercy, for each of my transgressions would be greeted by nothing worse than a gentle, “Make a U-turn if possible.”

After a few weeks, it occurred to me that I could no longer get anywhere without her. Any trip slightly out of the ordinary had me typing the address into her system and then blissfully following her satellite-fed commands. I found that I was quickly shedding all vestiges of geographic knowledge.

It was unnerving at first, but then a relief. Since the dawn of humanity, people have had to worry about how to get from here to there. Precious brainpower has been used storing directions, and memorizing turns. I myself have been trapped at dinner parties at which conversation was devoted exclusively to the topic of commuter routes.

My G.P.S. goddess liberated me from this drudgery. She enabled me to externalize geographic information from my own brain to a satellite brain, and you know how it felt? It felt like nirvana.

Through that experience I discovered the Sacred Order of the External Mind. I realized I could outsource those mental tasks I didn’t want to perform. Life is a math problem, and I had a calculator.

Until that moment, I had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more, but then I realized the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less. It provides us with external cognitive servants — silicon memory systems, collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We can burden these servants and liberate ourselves.

Musical taste? I have externalized it. Now I just log on to iTunes and it tells me what I like.

I click on its recommendations, sample 30 seconds of each song, and download the ones that appeal. I look on my iPod playlist and realize I’ve never heard of most of the artists I listen to. I was once one of those people with developed opinions about the Ramones, but now I’ve shed all that knowledge and blindly submit to a mishmash of anonymous groups like the Reindeer Section — a disturbing number of which seem to have had their music featured on the soundtrack of “The O.C.”

Memory? I’ve externalized it. I am one of those baby boomers who are making this the “It’s on the Tip of My Tongue Decade.” But now I no longer need to have a memory, for I have Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia. Now if I need to know some fact about the world, I tap a few keys and reap the blessings of the external mind.

Personal information? I’ve externalized it. I’m no longer clear on where I end and my BlackBerry begins. When I want to look up my passwords or contact my friends I just hit a name on my directory. I read in a piece by Clive Thompson in Wired that a third of the people under 30 can’t remember their own phone number. Their smartphones are smart, so they don’t need to be. Today’s young people are forgoing memory before they even have a chance to lose it.

Now, you may wonder if in the process of outsourcing my thinking I am losing my individuality. Not so. My preferences are more narrow and individualistic than ever. It’s merely my autonomy that I’m losing.

I have relinquished control over my decisions to the universal mind. I have fused with the knowledge of the cybersphere, and entered the bliss of a higher metaphysic. As John Steinbeck nearly wrote, a fella ain’t got a mind of his own, just a little piece of the big mind — one mind that belongs to everybody. Then it don’t matter, Ma. I’ll be everywhere, around in the dark. Wherever there is a network, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a TiVo machine making a sitcom recommendation based on past preferences, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a Times reader selecting articles based on the most e-mailed list, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way Amazon links purchasing Dostoyevsky to purchasing garden furniture. And when memes are spreading, and humiliation videos are shared on Facebook — I’ll be there, too.

I am one with the external mind. Om.

Education Today and Tomorrow "A DIGITAL CONUNDRUM"

A Vision of Students Today

Begin With The End in Mind! Curriculum for Differentiated Learning & Understanding

Understanding by Design Web-site

Review: Book Contents

Front CoverBack Cover

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Voters urge teaching of 21st-century skills Poll suggests 'back-to-basics' approach to education is not enough for nation's citizens

By Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor, eSchool News October 15, 2007

In yet another sign that momentum is building for the teaching of so-called "21st-century skills" in the nation's classrooms, results of a new poll indicate that voters overwhelmingly agree: The skills students need to succeed in the workplace of today are notably different from what they needed 20 years ago.

Americans are deeply concerned that the United States is not preparing students with the skills they need to compete in the new global economy, according to the poll. Eighty-eight percent of voters say they believe schools can, and should, incorporate 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication and self-direction, and computer and technology skills into the curriculum. What's more, 66 percent of voters say they believe students need more than just the basics of reading, writing, and math; schools also need to incorporate a broader range of skills, Americans say.

The findings come as candidates for public office are ratcheting up their campaigns for the 2008 elections. Advocates of educational technology hope the poll results will mobilize candidates to talk more about the need for 21st-century instruction.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), which commissioned the survey, released its findings at a National Press Club event Oct. 10.

"Voters generally are not happy with the direction our schools are headed with respect to ensuring we have the skills to compete," said the report's authors, Bill McInturff with Public Opinion Strategies and Geoff Garin with the Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

"Ten to 15 years ago, America was in a back-to-basics mode, meaning focusing strictly on math, science, and reading. The pendulum might have swung too far in one direction. This survey represents a change in the country's attitudes," explained Garin.

Administered during a three-day period in September, the survey asked 800 registered voters for their opinions about how well their schools are performing. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three-and-a-half percentage points.

According to the report, when asked how they would rate the schools in their district, 53 percent of voters rated their schools an "A" or a "B." However, when asked to rate their schools in comparison to other leading countries' schools, such as China's or India's, grades dropped to "C" and "D," with only 13 percent of voters agreeing that the U.S. is doing a better job than other countries.

"That's less than one in seven," said Garin. "That's startling."

Although voters believe their schools are doing a good job of teaching computer literacy and technology skills, 80 percent say students need to learn different things than what they learned 20 years ago, such as focusing more on collaboration, communication, and cultural knowledge.

In fact, only 38 percent of voters say schools are doing a good job of keeping pace with changing educational needs. Three out of five believe schools are doing a "fair" or "poor" job.

McInturff said the survey reveals that voters believe students are not workforce-ready, don't have the breadth of skills needed to succeed in today's world, and are not well-rounded enough.

"They believe students need more knowledge of problem-solving skills, [need] to learn different languages, and [need to] know the cultural history of various countries," he said.

Voters' opinions mirror those of employers, based on a separate poll conducted last year. In that poll, sponsored by P21 along with the Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resource Management, business leaders reported that while the three "Rs" are still fundamental to every employee's ability to do the job, applied skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and communication also are essential for success. (See "Survey reveals the skills employers desire most".)

"It's important to note," said McInturff, "that people don't want to replace core skills, they just want to build around them." Two-thirds of the voters polled said schools need to teach more than just reading, math, and writing, and three-quarters of voters want there to be at least equal emphasis on 21st-century skills.

Eighty percent of voters agreed that critical thinking and problem solving are important, yet only 18 percent thought schools were doing a good job of teaching these skills. Seventy-seven percent of voters think oral communication skills are important, while only 16 percent believe they are being well taught. Three-fourths of voters said ethics and social responsibility are important, while only 15 percent think these are being well taught.

"We believe that people see these skills not only in terms of what constitutes a good employee, but also what constitutes a good citizen--both roles that will help lead our country into a bright future," said Garin.

Why the shift in attitudes from 20 years ago? McInturff attributes the change in voter perspective to a "huge economic anxiety right below the surface." He believes that, with China and India making great strides in education and workforce development, Americans are worried. "By making education an issue, we can start a discussion about how to solve our anxiety," he said.

An astonishing number of poll participants, 99 percent, said they believe students' 21st-century skills will be critical to the future success of the nation's economy.

Despite such an apparent consensus, the road toward change in the nation's schools might be a rocky one.

A recent report from the nonprofit group Public Agenda, titled "Important, But Not for Me: Parents and Students in Kansas and Missouri Talk About Math, Science, and Technology Education," suggests that although parents and students understand the national importance of math, science, and technology skills, they just don't see these as important for themselves. (See "Parents, kids don't see need for math, science skills".)

This could imply that although voters see the need for change on a national scale, they might not know, or even want, to incite change at the local level.

In response to P21's voter survey, Jean Johnson, executive vice president of Public Agenda, said, "Unfortunately, the apparent consensus begins to fall apart when we probe on the specifics. That is, parents and students endorse the general aim, but when you start asking them about the details, they are much less enthusiastic."

Johnson continued: "At Public Agenda, we've labeled this phenomenon an 'urgency gap.' People may accept the challenge in a general way, but they don't really see it when we ask them about their own schools and what their children need to study."

On the other hand, P21 notes that six states have joined the group's initiative to help incorporate 21st-century skills into the classroom, and officials hope that, by next summer, another six will have joined.

The group also hopes to provide policy makers and educators with more tools to help incorporate 21st-century instruction into their schools.

"This is a moment in both the economy and the upcoming election where Americans are looking for hope," said Garin. By focusing on education and the teaching of 21st-century skills to the nation's students, citizens and their elected officials can "help lead the country to a promising future."

Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Public Agenda
www.eschoolnews.com info@eschoolnews.com 7920 Norfolk Ave., Suite 900 Bethesda, MD 20814 (800) 394-0115 - Fax (301) 913-0119 Privacy Policy Manage your FREE eSchool News eMail subscriptions here Contents Copyright 2007 eSchool News. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

OUR URGENCY FACTOR: Did You Know; Shift Happens - Globalization; Information Age

YOUR VIRTUAL EYES AND EARS: Prospecting for NSF ITEST GRANT & STEM CENTER Capacity Building Assets

Detroit skyline

2007 Northern / Midwest Area Conference

October 18–20, 2007

Detroit session browser and personal scheduler »

Join us in "the Motor City" for NSTA's first fall conference. Detroit is a city of rhythms, from the assembly line to the best of Motown, jazz, and blues. Our conference theme, "Engineering a Brighter Future," says it all—professional development at its best.

The conference headquarters hotel is the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Conference registration and sessions will be at Cobo Center, as will the exhibits, the NSTA Science Store, and the NSTA Showcase. Short courses and some meetings and social events will be held at the Marriott.

The conference will begin with concurrent sessions on Thursday, October 18, at 8:00 AM. The conference will end on Saturday, October 20, at 12 Noon with the closing of the exhibits.

Please review the days events and exhibits and "comment" on anything you believe should be explored.


Friday, October 19 9:30 AM–12:00 PM

Planning, Designing, and Constructing a New High School Science Facility: A Hands-On Practicum
COBO Center, W1-55

Join the NSTA Team on Planning School Science Facilities for an action-packed two-hour session on how to plan and design your new science facilities and follow a newly constructed high school science building from the initial planning stages through construction and occupancy. Learn how the needs of the science department were translated into bricks and mortar over a two-year period. The authors of the new NSTA Guide to Planning School Science Facilities (August 2007) will guide you through the

Presenter(s): James T. Biehle (Inside/Out Architecture: Kirkwood, MO); Sandra West (Texas State University: San Marcos, TX); Juliana Texley (Palm Beach Community College: Boca Raton, FL); LaMoine L. Motz (Oakland Schools: Waterford, MI)

FORMAT: Workshop
SUBJECT: General Science
GRADE LEVEL: Supervision/Administration

Friday, October 19 9:30–10:30 AM

Students Do It…Will You? (Using Instructional Technology)
COBO Center, M2-30

Instructional technology has poked its nose into schools throughout the decades, often with teacher trepidations and suspicions. This has been the same since “ancient” times when my algebra teacher introduced my class to the abacus and my chemistry teacher introduced us to the slide rule. The focus of instructional technology is to provide tools for educators to use in a variety of classroom environments in order to reach a wider student audience. Through computer applications, authentic data retrieval, and scientific laboratory investigations, science teachers have great opportunities to address learners of all modalities through a variety of approaches, a natural means of differentiated instruction.

Presenter(s): Barry Fried, Principal, John Dewey High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bio: Barry Fried’s enthusiasm for science education started more than 25 years ago. Now principal of John Dewey High School, Barry emphasizes the advancement of science and technology education for all student populations. An SSEP (Solar System Educators Program) teacher trainer for the New Horizons mission, Barry presents workshops for teachers, students, and community events. Barry has been a major force in collaborating with other educators in working with NASA’s Distance Learning Network and schools across the country in engineering and technology projects as well as cultural exchange programs. This venture has given students the chance to engage in technologies to bridge cultural and societal gaps that exist among high school students from diverse backgrounds and academic levels.

FORMAT: Featured Speaker
SUBJECT: General Science

Friday, October 19 9:30–10:30 AM

Think Internationally: NSF Support for Worldwide Education Collaboration
COBO Center, D2-09/10

To develop globally engaged scientists, the National Science Foundation is creating collaboration opportunities with classrooms around the world. Come learn about these opportunities and share your ideas.

Presenter(s): Ruth McDonald (National Science Foundation: Arlington, VA)

FORMAT: Presentation
SUBJECT: General Science
GRADE LEVEL: Elementary-High School

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

URGENCY, Convening Power, K-12 Education!

Ann Arbor conference focuses on economic transformation

Posted on 10/15/2007 10:33:47 AM

More than 200 people are taking part in a two-day conference in Ann Arbor to discuss how Michigan’s public universities can be leveraged to improve the state’s economy and drive global competitiveness.

University of Michigan Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest told attendees the conference is meant to “challenge us to think hard about how to move faster toward economic diversification.”

Forrest says the University Research Corridor, linking the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Wayne State, needs to focus on Michigan’s strengths, which he identified as Advanced Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Energy, and IT. To do so, he says, will require building stronger relationships with industry, in what UM President Mary Sue Coleman has called “partner or perish.”

Forrest says Michigan’s universities have traditionally been conservative, but the changing times require more comfort with intellectual risk-taking and more efforts on campus to encourage entrepreneurial activity from faculty and students.

He also says there is a critical need for funding to support what he called the “critical gap” between the formulation of an idea and validating it’s marketability.

Forrest’s views were echoed on video by Norman Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, who serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Augustine says three times as much money is spent on litigation as on research, with the result that the U.S. has now fallen from first to seventh in its ability to take advantage of new developments in IT.
While the federal America Competes Act was passed to help address those shortcomings, Augustine says it’s really up to state and local officials to help companies adapt so they can be more competitive in the worldwide marketplace.

Dingell to conference-goers: educate your lawmakers

Democratic Congressman John Dingell told a conference in Ann Arbor that they have a critical role to play addressing the issues facing Michigan’s economy, but their role is not well understood by many lawmakers in Lansing. Dingell told the “Role of Engaged Universities in Economic Transformation” conference that procuring adequate funding for basic research and technology means convincing Lansing that providing funds for Michigan’s public universities is, in his words, “not expenditures, but investments.”

According to Dingell, some lawmakers don’t understand the role universities play in developing new products for the marketplace and spinning off new businesses and new jobs for the economy. He says research work at universities has also been hampered by philosophy, citing religious points of view that have imposed restrictions on stem cell research at the University of Michigan.

Pointing to Route 128 in Massachusetts, Dingell says the climate was right for an explosion of growth in IT industries. He challenged the University Research Corridor to lead a similar effort in Michigan. “You have the ability to create that climate,” Dingell said, saying government is looking for the best programs and support from the private sector to help build American competitiveness against the larger world.

But he also warned them that getting a program passed, like the federal America Competes Act, isn’t enough. The program, approved overwhelmingly by Congress this summer, has not yet been funded. Dingell says a key is to convince lawmakers, both in Lansing and in Washington, that the future of the Michigan and U.S. economies is based on technology and innovation.

Dingell says while “lean and mean” is the prevailing point of view in Lansing, he doesn’t think that view serves public universities well. He says the universities, and the URC, need to step up and show that they can lead Michigan out of the current mood of doom and gloom, and provide the will to address the economic issues facing the state.

Speaker Urges Stronger University-Business Partnerships

Charles Vest is clear.

"The mission of a public university is to create opportunities," he says.

And he told a conference in Ann Arbor the universities must become serious partners with government and industry to fuel research, transfer knowledge, and help create new businesses.

Vest is the President of the National Academy of Engineering and President Emeritus of M.I.T. and keynoted the “Role of Engaged Universities in Economic Transformation” conference in Ann Arbor, which continues Tuesday.

Vest says in the 20th Century, technology was focused on physics, electronics, high speed communication and high speed transportation. He sees the 21th Century emphasizing biology, energy, environmental, health and information issues.

One frontier, he says, is “microscopic,” where biotech, nanotech and IT are seeing a merger of science and engineering and an emphasis on smaller, faster, and more complex.

The other frontier, says Vest, is “macrosopic,” with an emphasis on worldwide issues like energy, water, sustainable resources, and health care. Here, the emphasis is on larger and more complex and science must work hand-in-hand with the social sciences and the humanities to develop bio-based materials, biofuels, and personalized predictive medicine.

An avowed supporter of an “open source” approach, Vest called for the creation of “Knowledge Integration Communities”, where people from government and the entrepreneurial community are engaged in the early stages of university research. He says such groups can help develop new technologies for market more quickly.

While he says most new jobs will come from small and medium-sized companies, Vest also encouraged a limited number of strategic alliances between university researchers and large companies, citing M.I.T.’s alliance with DuPont in biological research. He says trust and communications are keys to making such partnerships both productive and rewarding.

Vest told the conference that public universities play an important role providing what he called “convening power” – a place where people can come together to talk through issues and network with each other. He identified a second role as knowledge transfer, by producing graduates and sharing faculty. He also says public universities have the potential – largely unexplored – to elevate the quality of K-12 education in the community.

Public school education is a key concern for Vest, who said only 15% of high school graduates in the U.S. are prepared to pursues science and engineering degrees at the university level. He says more teachers are needed in the classroom who have math, science and technical degrees and who can inspire the next generation of students to pursue a career in technology.

Vest is also concerned about the state of connectivity in the U.S. He says the country is falling behind when it comes to broadband access, and needs to invest an additional $10 billion dollars a year to improve basic infrastructure if companies are to operate effectively in a global economy.

Elsewhere Monday, the three universities announced:

-- that the former Traverwood offices and laboratories of Pfizer Inc. have been converted into a wet lab incubator that is already filling up, and that MSU has similar plans for a former Pfizer facility in Holland. Also, Ann Arbor Spark is establishing two additional office incubators in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and is working with 31 startup businesses that have or plan to move into one of their three business accelerators.

-- That UM and Wayne State would join forces to form STIET (Socio-Technical Infrastructure for Electronic Transactions), a multi-disciplinary research-education program involving corporations like Google, Yahoo and IBM to train the PhDs who will transform the Internet into one that is speedier, more secure and spam-free. Simultaneously, they are developing new technology to make it easier for the best and brightest minds to collaborate, creating virtual classrooms and laboratories that enable faculty and students to share classes and laboratory assets seamlessly. Key to the effort is Michigan LambdaRail, an ultra high speed fiber optic network developed by the universities.

-- That all three universities are working to greatly expand research related to a highly promising industry: alternative energy. MSU this summer received a $50 million grant to help establish the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and this fall opened a $10 million alternative energy research center. Meanwhile, Wayne State has established the National Biofuel Energy Lab and lured NextEnergy to its TechTown development while U-M has established the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, part of a $35 million per year investment in energy research.

Building upon a promise to increase partnerships, the URC has recently announced a number of outreach efforts across the state including:

--Working with 20 other Michigan colleges and universities to establish the Michigan Higher Education Recruitment Consortium to attract and retain talent in the state

--Partnering with community hospitals in the landmark National Children's Study.

--Establishing offices for UM and MSU Detroit-based research and outreach efforts. Their locations, close to the Wayne State campus, further aid the ability to collaborate.

The presidents Monday also released the first annual report on the progress of the URC. A pdf version of the report is available at: http://www.urcmich.org/commentary/2007AnnualReport.pdf

For more on the University Research Corridor and other URC initiatives, visit: www.urcmich.org

Who should shake state out of rut?

October 16, 2007



Michigan has no excuse for not being a thriving leader in the knowledge-based, environmentally conscious global economy of the future.

We have fresh water and lots of other great natural assets.

We have a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship, from automotive pioneer Henry Ford to pizza peddlers Tom Monaghan and Mike Ilitch.

We have a wealth of engineering talent and some of the top research universities in the world.

But we're lazy. Complacent. We have a sense of entitlement and no sense of urgency.

Watching the levees break

Those were but a few of the words and phrases used to explain Michigan's current sad state of economic affairs Monday during the first day of a 2-day conference in Ann Arbor entitled "The Role of Engaged Universities in Economic Development," sponsored by the University Research Corridor alliance of University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

"Our" Hurricane "Katrina has been out on the horizon for a generation, and we just watched it come," said Rick Snyder, CEO of venture capital firm Ardesta in Ann Arbor, and former president of computer maker Gateway Inc.

Of five things necessary to propel a local economy for takeoff, Snyder said, Michigan is well positioned in technology and has a decent infrastructure. But in the three key areas of capital, talent and culture, "We're flashing red for crisis. We must make major improvements."

The state lacks a well developed venture capital network to seed and nourish new business formation and growth, and even the state's major institutions invest much of their money out of state, Snyder said. And many graduates of Michigan universities leave the state after college.

Sense of entitlement

Culture, Snyder said, "is our biggest problem." Michigan's tremendous industrial success through much of the 20th Century left many of its people with a sense of complacency and entitlement, an assumption that good jobs and wealth always would be available. And even though the impact of automation and global competition has been evident for several decades now, Michigan's response has been tepid, he said.

Mark Murray, president and CEO of Meijer Inc., the Grand Rapids-based retail chain, echoed Snyder's assessment.

"I don't sense the state of urgency that's needed for Michigan to recover as well as it should," said Murray, a former state treasurer and budget director under former Gov. John Engler.

Snyder said the state's political leaders, as is clear from the recent budget battle and tax hikes, have shown virtually no leadership to help pull Michigan out of its no-growth economic stagnation of the past seven years.

Therefore, Snyder said, it's important that the state's major universities show economic leadership by boosting their community involvement.

Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of global product development for Ford Motor Co., made a similar point on a national scale, suggesting that academia join with the automotive industry to push for a rational U.S. energy policy, since the politicians in Washington, D.C., have failed to do so.

"The auto industry will make fundamental changes to reduce its carbon footprint. It's a social responsibility and a business imperative," he said, but it would be much better to have scientists armed with data making key decisions rather than politicians acting on whims.

Filling the leadership void

Are Michigan's major universities ready to step up to a more activist role in fostering economic growth, including a more direct role in local and national politics?

It's not something that comes naturally.

The University of Michigan has long existed as an intellectual outpost, in many ways a world apart from the hurly-burly of industrial Detroit, although Ann Arbor and downtown Detroit are virtually the same distance along I-94 from Metro Airport.

And MSU, WSU and all the other state universities depend in part on the largesse of government for financing. Can they afford to take bold, sometimes controversial positions on issues in those many areas where business and economics meet public policy?

If not our big prestigious universities, who will step forward to lead Michigan's complacent people and hapless politicians out of the economic wilderness?

Contact TOM WALSH at 313-223-4430 or twalsh@freepress.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MAXED Out in Chicago!

TechTour Day Two: WiMax World touts the future of long-distance broadband

Posted on 9/26/2007 4:52:50 PM

Thousands of believers in the future of WiMax gathered at Chicago's McCormick Place Wednesday morning for the official opening of the WiMax World 2007 conference.

Conference founder Elliott Weinmann, president of Trendsmedia, the events division of Yankee Group Research, conference sponsors, said WiMax World is the fastest growing telecom show in the world. He joked that the first WiMax World four years ago attracted "about seven people," but Tuesday morning the legendary Arie Crown Theatre in McCormick Place was packed.

Berge Ayvazian, chief strategy officer at Yankee Group, and Phil Marshall, vice president of enabling technologies at Yankee Group, presented a "state of the WiMax" address.

The two men said there are 275 WiMax trials and deployments in 65 countries, of which 75 are actual commercial deployment.

There are huge new commercial WiMax services going online soon, however, from Clearwire and Sprint Nextel, both of which will lead to true commercialization of the market. Ayvazian called that a "huge breakthrough."

WiMax will also probably be offered under the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700 megahertz band now used by VHF analog TV, although many current trials are in the 3.5 gigahertz band.

WiMax will probably emerge as a two-market model, they said, with one part of the market concentrating on home and business broadband, and another portion of the market concentrated on mobile computing, taking over business that's now provided largely by WiFi hot spots and cell phone air cards.

They also said the market will be comprised of three kinds of businesses: upstarts, which they call "rabbits;" regional pioneers, creating WiMax communities; and "dominant defenders," telecom companies who will use the technology to bring broadband to the masses.

One thing for sure -- there's market demand. A Yankee survey showed that more than 40 percent of North American consumers want mobile internet, but less than 10 percent have it.

Yankee Group predicts WiMax subscribers in North America will grow from one million in 2008 to eight million in 2011.

WiMax developers must also continue to foster companion markets for their service -- the way Google married search and advertising, and the way eBay married online buying with brick-and-mortar buying.

WiMax is also likely to become part of a wide diversity of devices, from cell phones to PDAs to PCs.

Muni Wi-Fi, WiMax

Two afternoon panels took up the issue of municipal wireless projects, in which WiMax will play an increasing part, whether for basic service or backhaul of large groups of data streams.

Panelists said incumbent telecom carrier opposition to public-private wireless partnerships has largely evaporated, and some are joining partnerships.

Several major revenue sources for such systems exist -- subscriptions, value-added services, and advertising.

Grand Rapids' public-private wireless system was held out as a national model.

Sally J. Wesorick, wireless project manager for Grand Rapids, described her city's lengthy process toward a citywide wireless system, which started with eight Wi-Fi demonstration hot spots that generated positive buzz.

The city's goals for the project were public safety, economic development, digital inclusion, improved city services, service for visitors and residents, the ability to attract and retain young professionals -- and to design the system so that there was no burden on taxpayers.

The city plans to use its WiMax network for field reporting, database access, e-mail connectivity, video surveillance, digital photos and work order management.

The city's 2006 request for proposals allowed vendors to build a system with either Wi-Fi or WiMax technology. The city chose WiMax based on site visits to other systems, including a driving test in Greenville, S.C.

The company last December awarded the contract to Clearwire LLC, the first partnership of this type between Clearwire and a municipality. The contract is also believed to be the first large scale municipal mobile WiMax deployment, the first truly cost-neutral arrangement and the first WiMax-Wi-Fi hybrid network.

Clearwire will use city assets to build the system, whose rates will be market-driven, but the deal requires Clearwire to offer cheap, $9.95-a-month accounts to the poorest 5 percent of households in the 45-square-mile city.

The system will have Wi-Fi hotspots for the transition period between now and the time WiMax chipsets are widely available in computers and other devices.

There's not yet a firm date for the network's startup.

Clearwire has 300,000 subscribers around the country for its wireless Internet services.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A little "3-Card Monte' Anyone?"

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

October 9, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

High-Stakes Flimflam

It’s time to rein in the test zealots who have gotten such a stranglehold on the public schools in the U.S.

Politicians and others have promoted high-stakes testing as a panacea that would bring accountability to teaching and substantially boost the classroom performance of students.

“Measuring,” said President Bush, in a discussion of his No Child Left Behind law, “is the gateway to success.”

Not only has high-stakes testing largely failed to magically swing open the gates to successful learning, it is questionable in many cases whether the tests themselves are anything more than a shell game.

Daniel Koretz, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, told me in a recent interview that it’s important to ask “whether you can trust improvements in test scores when you are holding people accountable for the tests.”

The short answer, he said, is no.

If teachers, administrators, politicians and others have a stake in raising the test scores of students — as opposed to improving student learning, which is not the same thing — there are all kinds of incentives to raise those scores by any means necessary.

“We’ve now had four or five different waves of educational reform,” said Dr. Koretz, “that were based on the idea that if we can just get a good test in place and beat people up to raise scores, kids will learn more. That’s really what No Child Left Behind is.”

The problem is that you can raise scores the hard way by teaching more effectively and getting the students to work harder, or you can take shortcuts and start figuring out ways, as Dr. Koretz put it, to “game” the system.

Guess what’s been happening?

“We’ve had high-stakes testing, really, since the 1970s in some states,” said Dr. Koretz. “We’ve had maybe six good studies that ask: ‘If the scores go up, can we believe them? Or are people taking shortcuts?’ And all of those studies found really substantial inflation of test scores.

“In some cases where there were huge increases in test scores, the kids didn’t actually learn more at all. If you gave them another test, you saw no improvement.”

There is not enough data available to determine how widespread this problem is. “We know it doesn’t always happen,” said Dr. Koretz. “But we know it often does.”

He said his big concern is where this might be happening. “There are a lot of us in the field,” he said, “who think that if we ever really looked under the covers, what we’d find is that the shortcuts are particularly prevalent in lower-achieving schools, just because the pressure is greater, the community supports are less and the kids have more difficulties. But we don’t know.”

One aspect of the No Child Left Behind law that doesn’t get enough attention is that while it requires states to make progress toward student proficiency in reading and math, it leaves it up to the states themselves to define “proficiency” and to create the tests that determine what constitutes progress.

That’s absurd. With no guiding standard, the states’ tests are measurements without meaning.

A study released last week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Northwest Evaluation Association found that “improvements in passing rates on state tests can largely be explained by declines in the difficulty of those tests.”

The people in charge of most school districts would rather jump from the roof of a tall building than allow an unfettered study of their test practices. But that kind of analysis is exactly what’s needed if we’re to get any real sense of how well students are doing.

Five years ago, President Bush and many others who had little understanding of the best ways to educate children were crowing about the prospects of No Child Left Behind. They were warned then about the dangers of relying too much on test scores.

But those warnings didn’t matter in an era in which reality was left behind.

“No longer is it acceptable to hide poor performance,” said Mr. Bush, as if those who were genuinely concerned about the flaws in his approach were in favor of poor performance.

During my interview with Dr. Koretz, he noted that by not rigorously analyzing the phenomenon of high-stakes testing, “we’re creating an illusion of success that is really nice for everybody in the system except the kids.”

That was a few days before the release of the Fordham Institute Study, which used language strikingly similar to Dr. Koretz’s. The study asserted that the tests used by states to measure student progress under No Child Left Behind were creating “a false impression of success.”

The study was titled, “The Proficiency Illusion.”

Clarion Call: Michigan's "Economic Competitiveness" Transformation

Conference to Look at Transforming Michigan

Presidents of the three universities that make up the University Research Corridor (URC) consortium will put some big brains together around the task of fixing Michigan’s economy.

They are hosting a conference called "The Role of Engaged Universities in Economic Transformation,” which will gather together leaders from academia, business, government and think tanks to explore ways they can best work together to transform and revitalize the state.

Action teams will work together to come devise the next steps they can take to speed of the development of Michigan's knowledge-based economy. Speakers include:

  • National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest, president emeritus of MIT and a former University of Michigan provost.
  • U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the dean of the House and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  • Assistant U.S. Secretary of Commerce Sandy Baruah, who oversees the department's Economic Development Administration.
  • Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of global product development for Ford Motor Co.
  • Rick Snyder, co-founder and CEO of Ardesta LLC and chairman of Gateway Computers.
  • Meijer Inc. President Mark Murray, former president of Grand Valley State University and a former Michigan state budget director.
  • The URC presidents: U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid and MSU President Lou Anna Simon.

The conference is aimed at addressing the major competitiveness issues raised a recent National Academy of Sciences report called "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.'' It will take place Oct 15-16 at Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, on the campus of the University of Michigan.

The conference is free and open to the public but registration is required. To register, visit: http://www.urcmich.org/events or http://cms.housing.umich.edu/urc

For a more complete agenda, click here.

DAY 2 AGENDA (See Below "Workforce Needs:"
The Role of STEM Education in the Economy

The Role of Engaged Universities in Economic Transformation
Conference Home

Day 2 - Plenary Session, Rackham Auditorium
and Conference Workshops, michigan League / Alumni center

See Day 1


Panel Discussion with
Stephen R. Forrest, Vice President for Research, University of Michigan
Tom Walsh, Business Columnist, Detroit Free Press
Michael Finney, President and CEO, Ann Arbor SPARK
Philip H. Power, Chairman and President, Center for Michigan

10 AM - NOON and 1 PM - 3PM
Box lunch will be provided -- see Registration Form

3PM - 4:30 PM

Program download (as of 10/5/2007)


Business/Economic Needs:

  1. University-Business Partnerships
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Doug Rothwell, President, Detroit Renaissance
    • Marvin G. Parnes, Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director of Research Administration, University of Michigan
    • Katherine E. White, Professor, Law School, Wayne State University
    • Fred Reinhart, Associate Vice President for Technology Commercialization, Wayne State University
  2. Regional Economic Development
  3. Venture Capital
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Mary Campbell, Managing Director, EDF Ventures
    • Cindy Douglas, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
    • Mark Weiser, Managing Director, RPM Ventures
    • Kenneth J. Nisbet, Executive Director, Office of Technology Transfer, University of Michigan
  4. Great Lakes as an Economic Resource
    • Discussion Leaders
    • John C. Austin, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
    • Paul N. Courant, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries
    • Soji Adelaja, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in Land Policy, Michigan State University
    • Victoria Pebbles, Associate Program Manager, Great Lakes Commission

Sector Needs:

  1. Universities and Advanced Manufacturing
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Rick McHugh, Midwest Coordinator, Unemployment Insurance Safety Net Project, National Employment Law Project
    • A. Galip Ulsoy, William Clay Ford Professor of Manufacturing, University of Michigan
    • Edward A. Wolking Jr., Executive Vice President, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
    • Kenneth Chelst, Chair, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Wayne State University
  2. Universities and the Biotechnology Sector
    • Discussion Leaders
      Morning (Biotech/biomed)
    • James R. Baker Jr., Director, Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences (M-NIMBS)
    • John C. Greenfield, Executive Director, Core Technology Alliance
      Afternoon (Biotech/biomed)
    • Ramani Narayan, Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University
    • Brian Athey, Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Michigan
      Afternoon (Biotech/bio-fuels/bio-economy)
    • Steven Pueppke, Director, Office of Biobased Technologies, Michigan State University
    • Lawrence A. Molnar, Program Manager, Business & Industrial Assistance Division, University of Michigan
  3. Universities and the Energy Sector
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Gary S. Was, Director, Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, University of Michigan
    • Jim A. Croce, CEO, NextEnergy
    • Simon Ng, Professor of Engineering, Wayne State University
    • Levi T. Thompson, Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan
  4. Universities and the Information Technology Sector
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Michael P. Wellman, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan
    • Richard Sheridan, President, Menlo Innovations
    • Harry Wan, Vice President, Engineering, Arbor Networks
    • Philip K. McKinley, Michigan State University [TENTATIVE]
    • Thomas A. Finholt, Research Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, University of Michigan
    • Farshad Fotouhi, Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science, Wayne State University [TENTATIVE]
    • Laurence Kirchmeier, Product Development, Merit Network [TENTATIVE]
    • Betty H.C. Cheng, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, Michigan State University [TENTATIVE]

Workforce Needs:

  1. Worker Retention and Skill Development
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Paul M. Hunt, Associate Vice President for Research, Michigan State University
    • JaNice Marshall, Dept. Chair, Civil Technology Program, Lansing Community College
    • Larry A. Good, Chairman, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
    • TBA
  2. The Role of STEM Education in the Economy
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Joseph S. Krajcik, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Education, University of Michigan
    • Maria M. Ferreira, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Science Education, College of Education, Wayne State University
    • Thomas F. Wolff, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Engineering, Michigan State University
    • Cinda-Sue Davis, Director, Women in Science and Engineering Program
  3. Public attitudes/quality of life
    • Discussion Leaders
    • Lou Glazer, President, Michigan Future, Inc.
    • Philip H. Power, Chairman and President, Center for Michigan
    • Eric Cedo, President and Founder, BrainGain Marketing
    • Donald F. Holecek, Professor, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University

The conference is being organized by the University Research Corridor. Funding for the conference is provided by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

Questions? Contact Conference Management Services, 734-764-5325 or conferences@umich.edu

Signaling a "Decade of Digital Discourse." SEE YOU THERE!


The National Science Teachers Association, the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, announced that it will be in Detroit Oct. 18-20 for its 2007 Midwestern Area Conference on Science Education.

Participants from across Michigan and neighboring states will meet to discuss the latest issues in science education, learn about new teaching tools and techniques, network with fellow science education professionals, and hear thought-provoking presentations from world-renowned scientists and educators. The conference will be held at the Cobo Center and other area venues.

Designed to enhance professional development and provide networking forums for science educators, the three-day conference -- held in conjunction with the Metropolitan Detroit Science Teacher Association -- will feature hundreds of presentations about the latest breakthroughs in science and hands-on workshops covering every discipline, grade level and teaching focus.

Educators will discuss popular issues, including the No Child Left Behind Act, science literacy and the nation’s competitiveness, and the teaching of evolution and global climate change. In addition, attendees will hear about the hottest topics in science education from nationally renowned speakers, including Sally Ride, former NASA astronaut and president and CEO of Sally Ride Science.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to explore NSTA’s Exhibition of Science Teaching Materials. From the latest high-tech calculators to scientifically engineered container gardens, attendees will be able to examine and learn about the latest science education materials, laboratory equipment and computer hardware and software available.

For more information, visit www.nsta.org/conferences/2007det/registration.aspx.

Why Mac? TIME!

Forsee: WiMaxed Out

Sprint Chief's Bet Failed to Pay Off

By Frank Ahrens and Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; D01

Perhaps someday, WiMax will be the key to turning around Sprint Nextel, the beleaguered Reston cellphone company. Perhaps someday, consumers will walk and drive across the country, enjoying uninterrupted, high-speed Internet service, watching video, e-mailing and talking on the phone over the Web, thanks to WiMax.

But Sprint chief executive Gary D. Forsee -- the man who committed $5 billion this summer to turn the company into the nation's No. 1 WiMax provider -- won't be around to oversee it.

Forsee resigned yesterday afternoon after running the company for four years. On his watch, Sprint stock steadily climbed, from $12 per share to a high of more than $25 per share in early 2006. But shares have slumped since then, closing down nearly 3 percent yesterday at $18.50, as Wall Street criticized Forsee's decisions.

Specifically, analysts and investors thought that Forsee was short-shrifting his company's core business -- phones -- while throwing a much-riskier, high-cost Hail Mary: building a WiMax network. So far, the expensive project has been met with delays and technical hurdles.

WiMax is like a much bigger WiFi. WiFi allows you to cruise the Web from your local coffee shop without having to plug your laptop into an Internet connection, but if you walk too far away, you lose your signal. WiMax promises high-speed Internet service hundreds of miles wide.

The ultimate dream is overlapping WiMax zones covering the country, letting subscribers stay connected to the Internet even as they travel, getting passed off from one WiMax zone to the next in the same way that cellphone towers pass callers from one phone to the next.

Sprint's $5 billion investment is aimed at slowing other big telecoms, such as Verizon and AT&T, from becoming big players in WiMax. Owning the WiMax space could prove lucrative enough to be a change agent for the troubled Sprint, enabling it to transform from a third-place cellphone carrier that's barely adding customers into the dominant provider of next-generation communications.

This summer, Forsee predicted Sprint would reach 100 million Americans with its WiMax service. In 2006, when Sprint announced plans to build a WiMax network, Forsee said: "We'll give customers the power to harness business information and personal entertainment easily and inexpensively -- and in ways that they will one day wonder how they lived without."

But the technology to make WiMax work has been slow to roll out, and analysts estimate it won't gain consumer momentum until late 2008 at the earliest. Sprint is still testing mobile WiMax technology. It announced during the summer that it would partner with start-up Clearwire, which was trying to build its own WiMax network, to combine forces and speed rollout. But Sprint said last week that the finalization of the Clearwire deal is being delayed.

Sprint is now in the position of figuring how to move forward with the WiMax plan -- without the man who dreamed up the plan. This far in, Sprint may be committed to building out the WiMax network but may not be able to do it fast enough to adequately transform the company to Wall Street's liking.

Sprint's WiMax predicament is like owning miles of pristine beachfront property and then being unable to build condos on your very valuable, exclusive property.

"The fact that they bought a $5 billion network without testing it was a violation of fiduciary duty," said Patrick Comack, senior equity analyst at Zachary Investment Research in Miami Beach. "It's like buying a $5 billion car without test-driving it first."

He added that the company is still struggling to perfect the network's ability to hand over traffic between towers as people move between coverage areas, which is necessary to stay connected while driving, for example.

Forsee found himself in much the same situation as Jean-Marie Messier, former head of Vivendi Universal. Like Forsee, Messier had a vision when he took over the company in 1996.

Messier envisioned that consumers from the Left Bank to Hollywood would pay to download music and videos to their cellphones and mobile devices. Messier spent Vivendi Universal into near-bankruptcy, buying telecom, movie and music companies, chasing the dream.

Messier was right but about five years too early. His company's stock plummeted, the disparate conglomerate never fit together and it ended up getting sold off in pieces. Messier was kicked out by his board in 2002.

Mike Nelson, an analyst with Stanford Group, said investors would not be so concerned about the big bet on WiMax if Sprint was also showing signs of fixing the core wireless business.

"If we were Sprint's CEO for a day, we wouldn't kill WiMax, since it could eventually be a competitive advantage, but would halve the spending in 2008," Philip Cusick, equity research analyst at Bear Stearns, wrote Friday in a note to investors. "We would re-emphasize the core business . . . over non-core distractions" like its prepaid Boost brand and WiMax, he wrote.

In August, Sprint gained new subscribers for the first time in a year but also warned it expected to lose subscribers in the third quarter.

Cusick added that he does not expect WiMax to gain momentum until late 2008 or 2009. A management shift could further delay Sprint in finalizing its contract with Clearwire to build out the network.

"We believe that Sprint is likely to de-emphasize the WiMax business, which could result in a slower rollout for WiMax in the U.S., lower economies of scale for Clearwire and shrink the ecosystem necessary to attract consumer electronics companies to WiMax," Cusick wrote.