MADISON, WISC. - The University of Wisconsin has suspended undergraduate admissions at all 26 campuses amid uncertainty about the state budget, the Board of Regents announced last week. The state is facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit. The decision follows a revised budget plan approved by a legislative committee that would leave the university system with $20 million less than under Gov. Scott McCallum's proposal, which also cut the university system's budget but allowed for a 10 percent tuition increase. Students already admitted for fall classes will not be affected. Some 2,000 who had not yet been notified will have their applications put on hold.
AMHERST, MASS. - Resident assistants (RAs) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst voted last week to form a union in what is believed to be the nation's first among undergraduate students. The vote makes the 360 assistants in 41 residence halls members of the United Auto Workers union, which also represents university graduate students and research assistants. The RAs, who supervise dormitory residents and activities, say they're not paid enough for the work they do. They receive a $5,000 compensation package, more than enough to pay for their room.
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - A graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won a $30,000 award for inventions that include a low-cost rocket engine and an aerial surveillance system designed for the US Army. Andrew Heafitz, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, won the eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his "ingenuity and remarkable inventiveness."
For his master's thesis, Mr. Heafitz helped to build a kerosene-liquid-oxygen rocket engine, using a solar-car motor to bring it to full speed before igniting. The design can be manufactured at one-tenth the cost of existing rocket engines. Currently, Heafitz is developing a new rocket camera system. The soda-can sized device transmits aerial reconnaissance pictures to a laptop computer.