Look At Lexington

I read with great interest your recent article on Carnegie Mellon University’s engineering and MBA program (ENR 12/16/02 p. 10). I applaud them for their action. However, I disagree with the university officials’ claim that it is the first such integrated program of its kind in the U.S.

The University of Kentucky has had such a program for the last six years. To date, we have graduated approximately 50 students with an engineering degree and an MBA. Our program, as does Carnegie Mellon’s, requires students to devote their first three years to their engineering program. The last two years require the student to take both engineering and MBA courses.

Our program differs from that of Carnegie Mellon in two respects. First, up to 25 students are admitted after completion of their freshman year. During the students’ second and third year, they participate in development activities aimed at team skills and creativity, seminars with business leaders, and visits to businesses where the students participate in tours and seminars on managerial and technological issues facing the firm.

In addition, the students complete two courses in both accounting and economics. Upon completion of the third year, students take the GMAT and apply for formal admission to the MBA program. To broaden the students’ knowledge of the global economy, our program requires students to participate in an eight-week summer program in Europe during which they study "Doing Business in the EU" and "Global Business Strategies from a European Perspective." While in Europe, students visit businesses, governmental agencies such as the EU in Brussels, and participate in cultural awareness activities.

It is great to see other academic institutions beginning to recognize the value of the marriage of engineering and business.

Raymond-Shaver Chair Professor
Dept. of Civil Engineering
Director —BS/MBA Program
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Ky.

Don't Eliminate Estate Tax

Your magazine reported that the construction industry as well as American Council of Engineering Companies are lobbying heavily for elimination of inheritance taxes. In my opinion they should reevaluate their position carefully before great harm comes to the nation and our industry from the elimination of the estate tax (referred to as the death tax by its opponents) in its entirety.

Our industry and other estate tax opponents have decried the effect of the tax in forcing the liquidation of farms and small businesses in order to permit payment of the tax. Democrats and other moderates have proposed a compromise, setting the top tax rate at 45% and exempting estates worth $3.5 million or less, and $7 million for a couple. This compromise proposal should avoid taxing all but the top one-half of one percent of estates.

But eliminating all estate taxes would cost the U.S. treasury $740 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. This loss would put valuable programs at risk including keeping Social Security solvent, enhancing health benefits such as including prescription drug cost under Medicare, and increasing appropriations for transportation and other infrastructure investments. I believe our industry would be better served by supporting the compromise measure.