Here are my opinions but they are just that: my opinions. Others may vary.
1) I think a Mechchanical Eng or Mech/Industrial Technology degree with a strong background in metallurgy and CNC programming will prepare one nicely. The important ingredient is to really love knives and a have a willingness to learn and investigate.
2) BK-1 and BK-10 are tentitvely scheduled for 2013. We are looking at making them in the US Factory.
3) US Khuks are laser cut or blanked from sheets of steel. There are limits to the thickness what can be processed in the factory. The HI Khuks are hand forged from bars which are much thicker. Forging allows the blade to have much greater variations in cross sectional thickness. There are pluses amd minuses to both processes. You might ask KARDA (He moderates the HI sub forum). He will have a better understanding of the forging process. He is a pretty knowledgable and approachable guy.
Hope this helps.
Prod Dev and Qual