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People who were educated after the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976) have rapidly expanded their presence within the country's top scientific ranks, a science official said on Saturday.

Of the 33 newly elected members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), 15 are younger than 60 and a majority of them went to college after the country resumed the national college entrance exam in 1977, Xu Kuangdi, president of the CAE, said on the sidelines of the celebration to welcome the new members.

"This is a great change. Before, a majority of members attended university prior to the 'cultural revolution'," he said.

The average age of the new members is 60, two years younger than that of the last round, in 2005. Twenty of the 33 new members are younger than 65 and seven are younger than 50. The youngest is 44.

In 2005, only 16 of the 50 new members of the academy were younger than 60, and five of them were younger than 50.

He said fewer academics were voted in this year because universities did not admit students openly or in a large numbers during the "cultural revolution", which effectively reduced the number of professional academics.

Of the new members, seven work at factories, mines or other such businesses, while the rest work for universities, colleges and research institutions. Only one is woman.

Three new members are foreigners: A Norwegian oceanographic engineer, a Chinese-American professor of industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee and a Chinese-American statistical analyst from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States.

(China Daily January 2, 2008)

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