Each year the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers honors 10 scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the field. While a few are so-called career awards, most honor singular contributions having a major impact on a particular subdiscipline or industry. This year's winners stand out not just for their excellence but also for their homogeneity-all are white males, and none is less than 50 years old. IEEE officials say that such a lineup isn't surprising, given the makeup of those in the profession, but a recent membership survey found that those demographics are beginning to change-only 88 percent of U.S. members are white, for example, compared with 93 percent five years ago. However, males still constitute 96 percent of the society's 250,000 members.
Peter de Janosi, for the past 10 years vice president of the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City, has been appointed director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna. An economist, de Janosi faces the challenge of taking what was once a rare oasis for East-West scientific exchange and turning it into an international think-tank that must stand on its own technical merit. The U.S. government earlier this year withdrew its ideological opposition to the organization, clearing the way for $1.5 million in federal funds to flow into various IIASA projects this year. Member nations hope that IIASA can play a major role in examining environmental issues.
The presidential commission that investigated the 1986 explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger criticized NASA for not having had a strong and independent entity that put safety first. But a new government report has found that NASA officials, in setting up such an office, have given the foxes fiscal responsibility for running the chicken coop. The various safety field offices that have been created to oversee NASA's sprawling network of centers receive more than 90 percent of their money-some $124 million-from the budgets of those centers whose projects they are supposed to oversee, says the Government Accounting Office (GAO/NSIAD-90-187). The auditors note that they "found no evidence" that the system has compromised safety, but they conclude that it runs counter to the recommendations of the commission.