Leading the News
Trump Directs DeVos To Review Federal Role In Education.
The AP (4/26, Superville) reports that President Trump has signed an executive order “that aims to reduce the federal government’s role in K-12 education.” Education Secretary DeVos has 300 days “to identify areas where Washington has overstepped its legal authority in education, and modify and repeal regulations and guidance from her department, if necessary.” The President said, “We know that local communities do it best and know it best. The time has come to empower parents and teachers to make the decisions that help their students achieve success.” The New York Times (4/26, Green, Subscription Publication) reports that DeVos called the order “a ‘welcomed opportunity’ and ‘a clear mandate to take that real hard look at what we’ve been doing at the department level that we shouldn’t be doing, and what ways we have overreached.’”
USA Today (4/26, Toppo) says that Trump, “like many Republicans, has vowed to shrink the Education Department’s role in how schools and colleges operate,” and Reuters (4/26) reports that “supporters cheered” the review “as the first step in creating more local control in education.” The Washington Post (4/26, Brown) reports that Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform said the “executive order brings ‘welcome attention to a much-overlooked problem of behavior that has festered through all administrations.’” The Los Angeles Times (4/26, Resmovits) reports “it is unclear, however, whether an executive order would in any way expand the limits of DeVos’ authority.”
CNN (4/26, Merica) reports the order is “in line with DeVos’ long record advocating for more local control of schools, something the top Republican donor has done for decades through her political giving.” A White House official said, “We will make those decisions once the report has concluded,” after being asked how the order empowers DeVos. At the end of the review, according to the order, DeVos will be asked to “rescind or revise any regulations that are identified” as oversteps. CNN says, “in particular, the order asks for DeVos to review the Every Student Succeeds Act, an Obama-era education law, and Common Core, education standards that were initially adopted by most states but have drawn the ire of conservative critics in recent years.”
NBC News (4/26) reports “the Department of Education’s Bob Eitel is charged with leading a regulatory task force and submitting a report at the end of the 300-day period.” NBC says “Eitel is a former lawyer for Bridgepoint Education Inc., a for-profit education services company which was forced last year to forgive the debts and refund payments to thousands of students, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
In a separate report, the AP (4/26, Noon) says “Sandoval said some state leaders have felt increasingly constrained by rules sent down from Washington and heralded the initiative to reduce education mandates.” He said, “It will allow governors across the nation to ensure that all states serve all students from all backgrounds.” The AP explains “the Republican governor is pushing Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to implement a school voucher program to provide public dollars for parents to spend on private schooling.”
The Deseret (UT) News (4/26, O’Donoghue) also reports Utah Gov. Gary Herbert “attended the rollout of a directive to analyze federal education rules impacting states.” The News says “Herbert praised the Trump administration’s willingness to engage governors and other local leaders on issues that have direct impact on the lives of everyday Americans.”
Reporting similarly are the Washington Times (4/26, Miller), the Huffington Post (4/26, Klein), U.S. News & World Report (4/26, Camera), UPI (4/26, Ware), the New York Post (4/26), the Conversation (UK) (4/26), Idaho Education News (4/26), the Seventy Four (4/26), Diverse Education (4/26), KSL-TV Salt Lake City (4/26), and the Washington Examiner (4/26).
First Lady Joins President, DeVos At Event Honoring Teachers.
The AP (4/26, Superville) reports that President Trump “has recognized the National Teacher of the Year, and says nothing is more important than being a teacher.” Sydney Chaffee of Boston’s Codman Academy “holds the honor for 2017.” The President “welcomed teachers of the year from all US states and territories to the Oval Office.” Their visit coincided with the First Lady’s birthday, “and she joined the president and Education Secretary DeVos for the event. The teachers apparently sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the first lady.”
Upward Bound Applications Denied Over Formatting Errors.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (4/26) reports “over the past few weeks at least 40 colleges and organizations with…Upward Bound programs have also had their grant applications summarily rejected by the U.S. Department of Education for running afoul of rules on mandatory double-spacing rules, use of the wrong font, or other minor technical glitches.” The report says all four members of the Maine congressional delegation have sent a “letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, [urging] the department to ‘apply some common sense’ to the Upward Bound competition and read and score the university’s application.” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) says “DeVos is aware of the issue, and that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is now organizing to demand a fix, but she has yet to reply to their inquiries.”
Higher Ed Observers Praise Appointment Of James Manning At Department Of Education.
Inside Higher Ed (4/27) reports “recent personnel choices at the Department of Education have received scrutiny for connections to private industry and personal ideologies at odds with the mission of their office. But the appointment of James Manning, a career public official, has drawn a different sort of reaction.” The report says “Manning was named acting under secretary of education last week, one of nine hires officially announced by the department.” Meanwhile, “the details of his role are not entirely clear, but former officials who have worked under Republican and Democratic administrations described Manning as an administrator with a broad skill set and a deep understanding of the workings of the student financial aid system.”
University Of Phoenix Names New President.
Inside Higher Ed (4/26) reports “the University of Phoenix announced Tuesday that it has hired Peter Cohen as the university’s president.” The report say “Cohen arrives from McGraw-Hill Education, where he most recently has been the company’s executive vice president.” The report explains the school’s parent company “Apollo in February was purchased by a group of private investors for $1.14 billion” and “the deal was approved by the federal government and an accreditor amid some controversy, in part because of the role of Tony Miller, a former official in the Obama administration’s Education Department.” Inside Higher Ed says “Miller is COO and a partner of the Vistria Group, one of Apollo’s new owners, and is now chairman of the company’s board.”
CFPB: Navient Most Complained-About Financial Firm In America.
CBS News (4/26, Picchi) reports “student-loan company Navient ranks as the most-complained-about financial services company in America, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “Student loan servicers play an important role in helping millions of people manage the loans they take out to pursue an education. … Unfortunately, borrowers continue to report difficulties and setbacks as they try to work with their servicers to manage their loan debt.” CBS reports “Navient saw the greatest percentage increase in monthly average complaint volume between two three-month periods a year apart, Nov. 2015-Jan. 2016 to Nov. 2016-Jan. 2017. … Complaints against Navient surged more than 800 percent during those time periods, reaching a three-month average of 1,439 complaints for the most recent three-month period.”
CNBC (4/26) also reports “loan servicing program is riddled with problems, making it difficult for borrowers to get information, correct errors with their loans, and enroll in repayment programs.” But, CNBC says, “earlier this month, education secretary Betsy DeVos ordered the Education Department to halt a series of Obama administration efforts intended to streamline the struggling program.”
Navient CEO: Prospective College Students Need More Information. Jack Remondi, president and CEO of Navient, writes at The Hill (4/26) in its “Pundits Blog” that “if we want to meaningfully reduce student loan defaults, it is essential that young Americans receive information about the total cost of education and value of their education before they arrive on campus.” He says “students have the need for more information with approximately three-quarters interested in or open to receiving personalized advice based on their financial aid forms.” Remondi says “the good news is there has been progress in improving information flow to potential college students.” Specifically, “the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have developed tools to help students assess the costs of college and the impact of student loans.” He goes on to make three specific recommendations policymakers that include counseling, transparency, and disclosure.
Research and Development
Honda To Invest $124 Million For Wind Tunnel At Transportation Research Center In Ohio.
The AP (4/24) reports Honda intends to invest $124 million to establish a wind tunnel facility at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, according to a statement from the president of Honda R&D Americas Inc. The groundbreaking is scheduled for this summer.
Engineering Firm Exec: EPA’s UAS Policy Leaves Environmental Industry At A Standstill.
Bloomberg BNA (4/26, Carignan) reports Maser Consulting UAS Technologies Manager James Oliver said that the environmental industry is unable to take advantage of UAS technologies due to the EPA’s deciding not accept any data collected from an EPA site via UAS. Oliver said that the EPA’s policy is “kind of holding back the whole environmental industry related to compliance and information required under EPA permits, because you’re not able to use those sensors or technologies.”
Automotive Trade Group Board Members To Meet With Chao, Pruitt.
Reuters (4/26, Shepardson) reports board members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are set to meet Thursday with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. The meeting comes as the Department of Transportation and the EPA begin the review requested last month by President Trump of Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards for 2022-2025. According to Reuters, Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, earlier this month “said automakers hope to reach a deal with…the Trump administration over vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Automakers want ‘rational, predictable, stable policy,’ not a rollback of the existing standards, Bainwol said.”
The Hill (4/26, Carter) reports California and New York have both “threatened to set fuel efficiency standards on their own if Trump weakens” the Obama-era standards, “which could hamper” efforts to “negotiate a federal standards deal.” According to The Hill, both Trump and automakers are seeking “a nationwide standard to reduce costs for complying with the” efficiency standards.
Engineering and Public Policy
Tech CEO Argues H-1B Program Needed To Fill Positions At Rural Company.
Paul Blough, CEO of Blough Tech, writes at Forbes (4/26, Blough) that he has hired his “second H-1B employee” explaining “If I did not hire an immigrant worker in my firm, then that position would go unfilled.” The position was Senior Network Engineer, and Blough argues that generally “H-1B employees are vital to tech companies in rural areas.” That’s because, says Blough, many US tech workers are not interested in living and working in a rural county, especially if they are paid less, and, adds Blough, “there is a 2% unemployment rate in our industry.”
Continuing Coverage: Administration Reviewing Proposals For Infrastructure Plan.
In continuing coverage of the Administration’s infrastructure plan, the CBS Evening News (4/26, story 3, 1:55, Pelley) reported Amtrak “blames massive under-funding” from the Federal government for the “two derailments and two power failures around New York’s Penn Station” during the past month. “Part of the problem,” explained correspondent Elaine Quijano, “can be found beneath the Hudson River inside a train tunnel more than 105 years old.” The tunnel’s walls are “crumbling,” and it suffers from water leakage that shorts out the power. Quijano said, “Amtrak has proposed a solution to fix the tracks and build a new tunnel under the Hudson River, but it would cost over $20 billion. New York and New Jersey have offered to pay half the cost if the federal government pays for the rest, a proposal now being considered by the Trump Administration.”
Sen. Carper Discusses “Baseload,” Infrastructure Funding With Chao. Politico Morning Transportation (4/26, Snyder, Gurciullo) reports Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a member of both the Environment and Public Works and Finance committees, met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Tuesday morning. Carper said he was “particularly pleased to meet with her given my committee assignments,” and “said they had a ‘lovely conversation’” in which “he talked to her about ‘baseload.’” Carper explained, “Like in the utility business, you need baseload…we need baseload for transportation infrastructure so we can actually pay for stuff.”
Infrastructure Plan Likely To Be Released This Summer, Rep. Graves Says. Transport Topics (4/26, Mulero) reports the Administration’s “long-term funding proposal” for its infrastructure reform package “will likely be unveiled early in the summer, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), a senior transportation policymaker, said April 26.” Transport Topics adds, “Citing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on the timing, Graves said he was told to expect a plan that would provide transportation authorizers on Capitol Hill about two months to review specific proposals before leaving Washington for the August recess.”
Former Hawaii Governor Urges Administration To Stop Funding Honolulu Rail Project.
KGMB-TV Honolulu (4/26, 5:03 a.m. HST) reported in continuing coverage of “the anti-rail ad” written by former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano and “published in the Washington Post last week,” that Cayetano’s call for President Trump to cease funding the Honolulu rail project “is getting the attention that was desired by critics.” While John Hart, a communications professor at Hawai’i Pacific University, said “this is the last best chance, if you’re anti-rail, to see [the project] stopped,” Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, “a former member of the Rail Authority Board, says that she sees minimal impact because the Trump Administration hasn’t appointed new leadership at the Federal Transit Administration.” KGMB-TV Honolulu (4/26, 5:03 a.m. HST) reported Cayetano’s letter was also sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Trump Budget Cuts Would Threaten $38B In Transportation Projects, Report Suggests.
The Hill (4/26, Zanona) reports President Trump’s proposed budget cuts “would jeopardize $38 billion worth of planned public transportation projects,” according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Economic Development Research Group. Further, the report suggests the budget proposal, “if enacted, would threaten 800,000 construction and related jobs associated with transit projects that are currently in the pipeline, as well as 300,000 longer-term jobs associated with economic productivity.”
California Judge Permits High-Speed Rail Funding.
In its “The Latest” briefing, the AP (4/26) reports California Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei denied a petition “to temporarily block the state from spending about $1.25 billion in high-speed rail bonds” on its bullet train project. Yet, Cadei “did not immediately rule on their underlying challenge to the $64 billion high-speed rail project after hearing arguments Wednesday.” The Visalia (CA) Times-Delta (4/26) also covers this story.
Technology-based Curricula Helps Colorado Students Succeed.
The Colorado Springs (CO) Independent (4/26) reports “the Colorado Department of Education has academic standards for everything from mathematics to dance, but it took action by the Colorado Legislature to get the ball rolling on technology.” The report explains that “during the 2016 legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 16-1198 requiring CDE to develop and adopt (voluntary) computer science standards for the secondary grades by July 2018.” The Independent says “lawmakers recognize that in many high schools, computer science and coding classes are electives that don’t count toward graduation, so few students take them. The new law addresses the problem by allowing schools to count tech courses as credits in mathematics or science.”
Arizona Governor Cites Teacher Shortage To Defend Lowered Training Standard.
The Arizona Daily Star (4/26) reports “Gov. Doug Ducey is defending controversial legislation he sought — and is expected to sign — which would allow more people without formal teacher training to lead a public school classroom.” The report says “existing law already allows people who have expertise in science, technology, engineering or math to teach. SB 1042 would open it up to anyone who has ‘expertise in a content area or subject matter.’” The Daily Star says “it goes on to exempt the person from having to take a test of professional proficiency, leaving much of the decision on who is qualified up to local school superintendents rather than the state Department of Education.” Ducey said, “We have a teacher shortage in the state of Arizona. … We’ve got some very high qualified, educated people in our community that have expressed interest in teaching.”
Snyder Asks Private Sector To Help Build K-12 Talent Pipeline.
Crain’s Detroit Business (4/26, Van Hulle) reports “Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday called on business leaders and teachers to jointly lead on filling up Michigan’s workforce pipeline, a marriage of education and industry that he believes could yield creative solutions to the state’s talent shortage.” Snyder told attendees at the Governor’s Education and Talent Summit in Lansing that the goals are twofold: “helping teachers move away from traditional lecture-style lesson plans in favor of experiential learning, and getting the private sector more engaged with what happens in the classroom.” Crain’s says “Snyder’s remarks follow the March release of recommendations from the 21st Century Education Commission he appointed, which include suggestions related to teacher training, accountability and school funding to ensure that students graduate high school armed with skills that will help them compete in today’s job market.”
Officials Discuss Changes To Alabama’s Science Curriculum.
The Huntsville (AL) Times (4/26, Roop) reports that Dr. Bruce Alberts, a biochemist who headed the National Academy of Sciences, recently discussed the new way Alabama is teaching science at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology while “Dr. Neil Lamb, the institute’s vice president for educational outreach, talked about Alabama’s approach.” The Times explains a model “where students do most of the talking in class, is included in the Next Generation Science Standards devised by teachers nationwide” and that “Alabama’s new science standards follow the model.” The Times reports “they were approved by the State Board of Education in 2015 and went into effect with the 2016 school year.” Alberts said the focus is not just on facts, but “how to students learn them in the same ways scientists make discoveries – analyzing data, using that data to draw conclusions, arguing what does the evidence tell us, how do you design experiments to help test those theories and how do you communicate that.”
California Students Compete In Robotics Competition.
The Los Angeles Times (4/26, Vega) reports “after weeks of trial and error, Oak View Elementary School students showcased their robot-building skills Tuesday in the Ocean View School District’s third annual Robotics Competition.” The Times says “about 150 students from Mesa View and Vista View middle schools and Oak View, Lake View and Westmont elementary schools competed at Mesa View in Huntington Beach.” The report explains “for most of the schools, it’s a yearly event. But for Oak View Elementary, it was a completely new experience.” The Times reports that “in the end, Oak View made it to the semifinals of the competition. Vista View Middle School took top honors.”
Ward Melville Junior Wins BNL Model Bridge Contest.
Newsday (NY) (4/26, Ebert) reports Andrew Zhang, a junior at Ward Melville High School, “won first place in Brookhaven National Laboratory’s 2017 Model Bridge Contest last month.” Students from area high schools built “about 200 model bridges intended to be ‘simplified versions of real-world bridges,’ a lab official said.”
New Jersey Robotics Team Takes On World Championships.
The New Jersey Herald (4/26) reports “thirteen students from Newton High School’s robotics team, Aperture, are headed to the FIRST Robotics Competition international championships in St. Louis, from April 26 to 29.” The Herald says “students will meet and network with other teams, attend workshops, explore the diversity in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) across the world and have the opportunity to meet special guests involved in engineering and science.” The report says “over 400 teams and about 30,000 students from across the globe are expected to attend.”
Volkswagen Sponsors Technical Education For High School Students.
The Hechinger Report (4/26, Dobo) reports on the Mechatronics Akademie in Hamilton County, Tennessee, “a modern iteration of career and technical education for high school students.” The report says, “created through a partnership between the local department of education, the Volkswagen Chattanooga factory and Chattanooga State Community College, it uses online and in-person instruction in an out-of-school setting to prepare students who might not pursue higher education after high school.” The Report explains “the 26 students, from four local public high schools, report to school at the Volkswagen plant, a major new employer in the region” where they spend mornings in “lab time” and afternoons “work in a hands-on setting at the Volkswagen plant.”
SAIC Interviews Cookeville High Student.
The Cookeville (TN) Herald-Citizen (4/26, McReynolds) reports “a small, but growing number of students” at Cookeville High in Tennessee “are enrolling in career and technical education classes.” The article cites how student Ben Cobbett “has an interview this week with Science Applications International Corp., a premier technology integrator in the technical, engineering, intelligence and information technology sectors, which announced earlier this month it is bringing 300 high-paying jobs to Cookeville.”
Also in the News
Education Startup EverFi Raises $190 Million.
Fortune (4/26) reports “when Tom Davidson served as a state legislator for a small district in southern Maine two decades ago, he became intimately familiar with the byzantine, bureaucratic, and often, frankly, subpar sausage-making that goes into bankrolling education at a local level.” Fortune says “Davidson took his learnings to the private sector and founded EverFi, an education software startup, in 2008.” Meanwhile, “on Wednesday, EverFi will announce that it has raised $190 million in new funding from a host of magnates to help bring schooling into the digital age.” Fortune says “the round marks one of the largest deals to date in the area of education technology, also known as ‘ed tech.’” Fortune explains “the company sells software subscriptions to schools and businesses that help teach financial literacy…responsible college behavior…corporate compliance…and other programs.”
China, European Space Agency Discussing Moon Outpost.
The AP (4/26, Brown) reports representatives of China and the European Space Agency are in talks for “potential collaboration on a human outpost on the moon and other possible joint endeavors,” according to a spokesman for the European agency and Chinese media reports. The secretary general for China’s space agency, Tian Yulong, “first disclosed the talks about the envisioned lunar base in Chinese state media,” and they were confirmed Wednesday by Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesman for the European Space Agency.
NYTimes A1: Chinese Carrier’s Launch Sign Of Progress. The New York Times (4/25, A1, Buckley, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier “slipped into the sea for the first time on Wednesday, after days of publicity celebrating the impending launch as a milestone in President Xi Jinping’s drive to extend China’s military reach far beyond its shores.” China’s carriers “are no match in size, power and endurance for those of the United States Navy,” but this week’s launch “conveyed that China intended to build a navy that could not be beaten by other Asian countries.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Perry Says Trump Should Stay In Paris Climate Pact But He Should “Renegotiate” It.
• University Of Cincinnati Engineering Dean Named University Of Texas At Arlington Provost.
• University Of Arizona Hosts CAT Vehicle Challenge Finals.
• Shell Wins Engineering Award For Malikai Deepwater Project.
• Uber Plans To Deploy Flying Taxi Services In Dallas, Dubai By 2020.
• Chao Visits Ohio Transportation Research Center.
• Iowa High School Team Qualifies As Wildcard For FIRST Robotics World Championship.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced a three-year collaboration with the Korean Chemical Society (KCS) to recognise outstanding contributions by distinguished scientists in Korea. The collaboration includes an annual award and a symposium. The new ACS-KCS Excellence Award – sponsored by Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society –honours a scientist working in Korea who is excelling in the field of chemistry.
Elsevier, the information analytics company specialising in science and health, has announced the publication ofMethods in Chemical Process Safety, Volume 1, the first book in Elsevier’s new series focused on process safety, risk assessment and management and loss prevention. Elsevier also announced the publication of four additional chemical and process engineering books.
A panel of industry experts will provide tips and tools to enhance medical publication efforts and avoid so-called “predatory journals” in a webinar titled Optimise Your Medical Publications and Avoid “Predatory Journals”, scheduled for May 9, 2017. Jeffrey Beall, Scholarly Communications Librarian and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, and ICON’s PubsHub team will discuss the growth of open access publishing and what precautions you can take to avoid falling into costly and career damaging traps.
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has acquired the conference component of Health 2.0, effective immediately, expanding its global educational offerings to familiar and new audiences. HIMSS will establish a new Health 2.0 business unit within the enterprise that includes HIMSS North America, HIMSS Analytics, HIMSS Media, HIMSS Europe, HIMSS AsiaPacific and the Personal Connected Health Alliance.
Online publishing platform PubFactory has partnered with data science company Altmetric to provide real-time insights into the latest shares, mentions and engagement relating to individual publications immediately enabling authors, readers, and editors to gather a more comprehensive view of the reach and influence of research. Available now to publishers who host their content on the PubFactory platform, the Altmetric badge visualisations and associated details pages offer valuable additional context.
CLOCKSS, a not-for-profit joint venture between the world’s leading academic publishers and research libraries, has announced that five additional publishers are working with the archive to preserve their publications for future generations of researchers. CLOCKSS, the decentralized preservation archive that ensures that the digital assets of the community will survive intact, simultaneously announced the support of six additional libraries.
Leading the News
Perry Says Trump Should Stay In Paris Climate Pact But He Should “Renegotiate” It.
The Hill (4/25, Cama) reports Energy Secretary Rick Perry is encouraging “President Trump to stay in the Paris climate change agreement but renegotiate its terms.” During an interview onstage at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (4/25) event yesterday, Perry said, “I’m not going to say tell the president of the United States let’s just walk away from the Paris accord. … But, what I’m going to say is that I think we probably should renegotiate it.” The Washington Examiner (4/25) reports Perry’s “comments comes as the Trump administration seeks to make a decision by the end” of May “on whether to withdraw from the 2015 deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Among President Trump’s top advisers there are different opinions on the matter, with son-in-law Jared Kushner, among those in favor of staying in the agreement, “while others, such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, want Trump to withdraw.”
E&E Publishing (4/25, Subscription Publication) reports the US, as part of the pact, is “committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.” Perry “said international action on climate change was a major discussion topic at the Group of Seven energy ministers’ meeting earlier this month in Italy.” He stated, “There was a lot of cheerleading for the Paris accord and keeping the United States involved in that.”
AFP (4/25, Sheridan) reports Perry didn’t offer “details about how he thought it should be renegotiated, but said the United States and China were making a real impact on reducing emissions.” Perry then “questioned the actions” of Germany and France. Perry didn’t give any specifics, “other than to say he gave French and German ministers a look that was meant to imply, ‘What are you all doing?’” during the G-7 meeting. TIME (4/25) reports Perry’s remarks are a reflection of the “thinking of a number of top officials inside the White House as well as certain leaders in the oil, gas and coal industries, who believe the U.S. can remain in the deal while reconsidering the terms of the nation’s commitments.” Renegotiating “the entire deal would be next to impossible given that it entered into force last year after decades of talks.” However, the United States “could unilaterally change its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions without any concrete penalty.”
State AGs Urge Trump To Stay In Paris Accord. Reuters (4/25, Flitter) reports that 14 attorneys general on Tuesday urged President Trump in a letter to not “withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.” The attorneys general “joined a chorus of voices, including major fossil fuel energy companies as well as environmental advocates, condemning the idea of exiting the agreement, which the Republican president has criticized in the past.” The attorney’s general wrote, “Climate change, if left unchecked, will lead to global environmental dislocation and disaster on a scale we likely cannot imagine.” The AP (4/25) reports the AG’s signed the letter “saying the pact was negotiated under American leadership and adopted by the vast majority of the world’s countries.”
Manufacturers Urge Trump To Leave Pact. The Washington Examiner (4/25) reports in a letter to the White House sent on Monday, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America wrote that failure to the leave the Paris accord “would hurt American industry and upset President Trump’s economic goals.” The letter read, “All costs of reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions, whether imposed on the electric generation sector or the oil and gas sectors, are eventually imposed upon us, the consumer. … We are the ones who eventually bear the costs of government-imposed [greenhouse gas emissions] reduction schemes.” The letter added, “At the same time, we are often already economically disadvantaged, as compared to global competitors who are subsidized or protected by their governments.” The group contends “that remaining a part of the 2015 Paris Agreement would harm Trump’s economic goals of spurring manufacturing and jobs.”
University Of Cincinnati Engineering Dean Named University Of Texas At Arlington Provost.
The Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram (4/19) reports University of Texas at Austin President Vistasp Karbhari announced recently that University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Teik C. Lim “will be the next provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.” The Fort Worth (TX) Business Press (4/20) also covers this story.
Cal Poly Plans Solar Farm To Provide A Quarter Of Energy Needs.
The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune (4/19) reports Cal Poly has released a statement saying the university plans to build “a campus solar farm that will generate enough power to handle about 25 percent of the university’s needs and will save $17 million in utility bills over 20 years.” Construction is set to begin in the summer and wrap up by the end of the year, and according to a university statement, the project “will be financed, designed, constructed and maintained by REC Solar, one of the nation’s largest solar providers.” The facility “will span 18.5 acres, with more than 16,000 solar panels capable of generating a total of 11 million kilowatt-hours a year. That’s enough to power more than 1,000 homes, according to the university.”
Armstrong State University Engineering Professor Selected For Summer Symposium.
The Savannah (GA) Morning News (4/25) reports the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program in Georgia selected Armstrong State University engineering studies professor Priya Thamburaj Goeser to participate in its two-week summer symposium program. Goeser earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware, a bachelor of technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, and served as a post-doctorate fellow at the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials. She holds two positions with the American Society for Engineering Education, Southeastern Section. Additionally, Goeser “plays a key role on the planning team for the annual Engineering Design Challenge and is the project director for Armstrong’s MATLAB Marina, a Virtual Learning Environment that assists undergraduate students’ understanding of the MATLAB technical computing language.”
Purdue Renames Civil Engineering Graduate Program.
The Daily Southtown (IL) (4/25) reports that on Friday, Purdue University’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of renaming its Lyles School of Civil Engineering graduate program the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program. The Burkes recently contributed to the school’s “Ever True” campaign, which seeks to transform the university into a national and international leader. The Burkes are also “major benefactors and supporters of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, including the Christopher and Susan Burke Hydraulics and Hydrology Research and Teaching Laboratory, the Christopher and Susan Burke Undergraduate Hydraulics Teaching Laboratory and funding for the Center for UAV Applications for Physical and Environmental Infrastructure.”
Rosen: Shell Eco-Marathon Shaping Next Generation Of Engineers, Scientists.
Pamela Rosen, general manager for Shell Eco-Marathon Americas, writes in the Detroit News (4/25, Rosen) that Shell’s events are helping to shape the next generation of engineers and scientists. Rosen says that “for dozens of next-generation engineers and scientists, their journey starts today as Shell Eco-marathon Americas returns to the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.” The event “celebrates bright energy ideas and future energy solutions,” and brings in over 1,000 students from several different countries. Rosen notes that “a growing number of student participants are women. Among this year’s 116 teams from across the Americas, 245 participants are women, including 16 team managers.”
Report: Rising Short-Term Rates Could Reduce Access To Student Loan Refinancing.
The Wall Street Journal (4/25, Andriotis, Subscription Publication) reports that the savings potential from refinancing student debt is decreasing as short-term interest rates climb. The article says even borrowers with high credit scores are seeing declining savings recently, and suggests firms that have focused exclusively on student loan refinancing may face challenges.
Study Suggests Higher Education System Growing “Increasingly Stratified.”
MarketWatch (4/25) reports the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education released a report on early Tuesday that found only 16 percent of students enrolled at the most competitive colleges receive Pell grants. It also found that less selective colleges enrolled more low-income students. MarketWatch writes that the findings add “to the growing body of evidence that our nation’s higher education system is becoming increasingly stratified.” Furthermore, since less-selective colleges typically have access to fewer resources than top-tier colleges, students at less-selective colleges face more challenges to graduate. “What’s more,” MarketWatch writes, “this stratification also means selective schools wind up becoming bastions of students from relatively wealthy and educated families, said Margaret Cahalan, the vice president for research of the Pell Institute.”
Fannie Mae Announces New Programs For Homeowners With Student Loan Debt.
Reuters (4/25) reports that in a Tuesday statement, Fannie Mae’s customer solutions vice president, Jonathan Lawless, announced the introduction of several new programs designed to help borrowers with student loan debt. “These new policies provide three flexible payment solutions to future and current homeowners and, in turn, allow lenders to serve more borrowers,” Lawless wrote. One program “allows homeowners to refinance by combining their mortgage with student loans, which may result in a sizable drop in monthly payments.” Another would enable new home buyers to improve their debt-to-income ratios by excluding debts, such as student loans, that are paid by someone else. Lenders would also be allowed to consider student loan payment histories provided on credit reports.
Research and Development
University Of Arizona Hosts CAT Vehicle Challenge Finals.
The Arizona Daily Star (4/25) reports the University of Arizona hosted the final round of the annual CAT Vehicle Challenge on Tuesday. Nearly 100 students from across the world gathered at the campus for the competition. The students tested software they wrote in a 3-D simulated environment to operate the university’s Cognitive and Autonomous Test, or CAT, driver-less vehicle. The National Science Foundation and MathWorks, which produces the Simulink 3-D software used by the student teams, supported the challenge.
University Of Notre Dame, Indiana’s South Bend Partner In Wireless Testing Project.
The South Bend (IN) Tribune (4/25) reports the city of South Bend, Indiana, recently partnered with the University of Notre Dame to apply for the National Science Foundation’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research program. The program “will award four $25 million grants to small U.S. cities to develop wireless test beds for academic and industry researchers.” The South Bend-Notre Dame project was dubbed South Bend “X” Generation or SBXG, “with the ‘X’ serving as a variable for future generations of wireless technology, from 5G to 6G and beyond.”
Clemson University Professor Receives Grant For Engine Particle Emissions Reduction Research.
The Greenville (SC) News (4/25) reports the National Science Foundation awarded Clemson University assistant professor Simona Onori with a $500,000 CAREER grant in March for research aimed at reducing gasoline direct injection engine fine-particle emissions. Onori will conduct her research at the university’s International Center for Automotive Research. Onori explained, “So, today, we do a good job in filtering out toxic gases, but with this new engine, the problem is soot in the particulate.” She continued, “I’m very excited to be doing this research. This award followed a big project that I started in 2014 with a big automotive company in Michigan, so this is exciting.”
Google’s Brin Building Large Airship In Hangar At NASA Ames.
Bloomberg News (4/25, Vance) reports that Google co-founder Sergey Brin “has secretly been building a massive airship inside of Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center, according to four people with knowledge of the project.” According to the sources, former NASA Ames Director of Programs Alan Weston is leading the project. Google unit Planetary Ventures took control of large hangars at Ames in 2015, and, according to the sources, Brin became interested in an airship while visiting the facilities, located next door to Google parent Alphabet’s headquarters. While the airship is being constructed in one of the Alphabet hangars, it is not a company project, and “it’s unclear whether the craft, which looks like a zeppelin, is a hobby or something Brin hopes to turn into a business.”
Shell Wins Engineering Award For Malikai Deepwater Project.
The Borneo Post (4/26) reports the Institution of Engineers Malaysia awarded Shell Projects and Technology Malaysia the highest honor in design and engineering at the 58th IEM Annual Dinner and Awards Night for the design and construction of the Malikai Tension Leg Platform Deepater Project. Momas Modon, Project Manager for Malikai, said, “The safe and successful start-up of Malikai in December 2016 is a highpoint for us. This highest engineering recognition honours the many engineers and workers within the Malikai Project Team from Shell, partners, contractors and subcontractors who have shown remarkable creativity, resilience and the greatest level of professionalism in delivering this historic project.” Datuk Iain Lo, Chairman of Shell Companies in Malaysia, said, “Most importantly, the Malikai project is designed in Malaysia, built by Malaysian fabricators and operated by Malaysians. It supports the country’s aspiration to be a hub for deepwater oil and gas within the region, bringing significant technology into Malaysia to nurture and develop local capability and capacity.”
Uber Plans To Deploy Flying Taxi Services In Dallas, Dubai By 2020.
Reuters (4/25) reports that Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden announced Tuesday that the company plans to deploy fleets of “flying taxis” in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai in 2020. The company has partnered with Bell Helicopter, Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Mooney and Embraer to build the small, electric-powered VTOL aircraft. Bloomberg News (4/25, Huet) reports that Uber said the governments Dallas and Dubai have both signed on to support the project. The “aggressive plan” follows Uber’s hiring of former NASA aircraft engineer Mark Moore to work on the company’s flying car initiative, Uber Elevate, and puts the company on course for a rivalry with two flying car startups – Kitty Hawk and Zee. Aero – funded by Alphabet CEO Larry Page.
Airbnb Introduces React-Sketch Library To Smooth Design Process.
TechCrunch (4/25) reports that on Monday Airbnb’s design team open sourced its internal library for writing React components that easily transfer directly to Sketch in an effort to smooth the development process. The React-Sketch library will allow design to be updated in real time for all Airbnb design teams, and will further allow engineers to “interact with design” in the same way they traditionally work with code. The library is available over GitHub.
Engineering and Public Policy
Chao Visits Ohio Transportation Research Center.
The Columbus (OH) Dispatch (4/25) reports in continuing coverage that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao visited the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio on Monday. During her visit, Chao observed tests of Volvo cars with automatic braking systems designed to avoid collisions with pedestrians. The Dispatch reports that Chao said, “Innovation is one of America’s greatest strengths, and this center here embodies all of that.” WTTE-TV Columbus, OH (4/24) reports she was “impressed” with the facility’s work. Chao also discussed President Trump’s focus on job creation and infrastructure, adding that he “is very interested in autonomous vehicles.”
A paywalled article in the Bellefontaine (OH) Examiner (4/25) quotes Chao saying, “I’m here with (Sen. Portman) today to talk about the future, to talk about emerging technology and to talk about the jobs that will be created.” Chao added, “Job creation is a very important subject for me as well as transportation infrastructure of this country.”
The Marysville (OH) Journal Tribune (4/25, Cordell) also briefly reported. Broadcast coverage of the story is provided by WTVG-TV Toledo, OH (4/25, 11:08 p.m. EDT), KIFI-TV Idaho Falls, ID (4/25, 12:25 p.m. MDT), WYFX-TV Youngstown, OH (4/25, 8:51 a.m. EDT), KVIA-TV El Paso, TX (4/25, 6:22 a.m. MDT), WZTV-TV Nashville, TN (4/25, 6:55 a.m. CDT), and WTAT-TV Charleston, SC (4/25, 8:18 a.m. EDT).
DOE Report Shows Renewable Power Fueling New Energy Job Creation.
The New York Times (4/25, Subscription Publication) reports despite President Trump’s campaign pledges to create “so many energy jobs” and revive the coal industry, “he has not focused on the increasingly important role of renewable power in America’s energy economy.” According to an Energy Department report on American energy employment, “more than 373,000 Americans worked part or full time in solar energy,” while the coal industry only supports about 54,000 jobs.
Bloomberg News (4/26, Randall) reports that President Trump’s “energy plan is to cut regulations to resuscitate the one sector that’s never coming back: coal,” despite the fact that “wind and solar are about to become unstoppable.” Economics of scale are beginning to enable unsubsidized wind and solar “to outcompete coal and natural gas in an ever-widening circle of countries.” While the US is not leading the world in renewables as a percentage of the grid, “a number of states are exceeding expectations.”
Iowa High School Team Qualifies As Wildcard For FIRST Robotics World Championship.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (IA) Courier (4/25) reports Iowa students on Union High School’s Fiercely Uknighted Nation robotics team qualified to compete in the FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Robotics Competition world championship in St. Louis “as a wildcard after being picked to join the alliance that won the Iowa regional.” The team received grants from John Deere and the Leighty Fund. The students launched fundraisers in the summer and through the school year to raise the nearly $20,000 they needed for competition fees, robotics materials, and travel expenses.
New York University Researcher Highlights Difference In NGSS, CCSS Standards For “Arguments” Versus “Opinions.”
Education Week (4/25, Zubrzycki) reports on a new article published in Educational Researcher by New York University education professor Okhee Lee about the “convergences and discrepancies” in Common Core State Standards for English language arts literacy and the Next Generation Science Standards, which “disagree about when and how students learn to form arguments.” According to the story, Lee’s research highlighted the fact that NGSS standards use the discourse of “arguments” and “evidence” over “opinions,” whereas “in the common core’s standards for English/language arts, students aren’t asked to form arguments” – only express opinions – “until middle school.”
Virginia High School Takes Home 4th In World Robotics Championship.
The Arlington (WA) Times (4/25, Buell) reports the NeoBots robotics team of Arlington High School came in 4th place overall at the FIRST Robotics World Championship over the weekend. Commenting on the performance by the 14-student team, mentor Mark Ehrhardt said “It’s a very student-led and run experience,” and the 4th place showing “is more of a testament to their perserverance and ingenuity.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Engineer Named New SUNY Chancellor.
• State AGs Call On DeVos To Reinstate Obama Student Loan Consumer Protections.
• Oklahoma State Startup Team Wins Pitch Competition.
• Report Suggests Russia Lacks STEM Field Gender Gap.
• Apple Hires Former NASA Employees As Part Of Autonomous Vehicles Plans.
• White House Planning Active “Hunt And Destroy” Cyber Strategy.
• Johns Hopkins Engineering School Partners With Baltimore School For STEM Program.
STM publisher Springer has announced a partnership with Federica Weblearning, an academic platform devoted to innovation, experimentation and the dissemination of multimedia distance learning. The collaboration allows authors and lecturers several options of preparing both a textbook and a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on a particular topic.
Elsevier has announced the launch of Personalized Medicine in Psychiatry, a new journal dedicated to advancing basic, clinical and therapeutic knowledge of personalised medicine in psychiatry. The journal encompasses studies of endophenotypes and biological markers, pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic approaches, and educational and rehabilitation concerns as well as environmental and behavioural, psychological, and social research with the aim of moving toward the search for individualised treatments tailored for each patient.
Publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has announced its partnership with StudyAce LLC, the customisable learning platform that integrates course content into a variety of games, flashcards and practice tests. Wiley’s Real World Psychology (Catherine Sanderson/Karen Huffman) and Contemporary Business (Boone, Kurtz, & Berston) VitalSource Bookshelf versions are now available on the StudyAce platform. This partnership brings together the highly successful course curriculum offered through the premium Wiley textbooks and a StudyAce’s powerful student engagement platform.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), in conjunction with this year’s Open Access Week Advisory Committee, has announced that the theme for this year’s 10th International Open Access Week, to be held October 23-29, will be ‘Open in order to….’ This year’s theme is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realised by making scholarly outputs openly available.
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has announced the release of a draft version of NISO Z39.102-201x, STS: Standards Tag Suite, for public comment. STS provides a common XML format that standards developers, publishers, and distributors can use to publish and exchange full-text content and metadata of standards. Adoption of STS will offer significant benefits at every step of standards development and use.
Data company ÜberResearch and the UArctic Science & Research Analytics Task Force has released a report analyzing global funding trends in Arctic research: International Arctic Research: Analyzing Global Funding Trends. A Pilot Report (2017 Update). For the first time, the report also includes data from all major Danish funders, who collectively contributed funding for over 280 projects across disciplines, and Danish institutions who are doing Arctic research.
Leading the News
Engineer Named New SUNY Chancellor.
The New York Times (4/24, Taylor, Subscription Publication) reports that the State University of New York system is appointing Kristina M. Johnson, “an engineer who developed technology critical to 3-D movies and served as under secretary in the United States Energy Department before founding a hydroelectric company,” as its new chancellor. Johnson “will arrive at a time when state funding as a percentage of operating costs is down from a decade ago.” Johnson was dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University from 1999 to 2007.
The AP (4/24) reports Johnson is “an entrepreneur and engineer who has worked in government and is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.” The system’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved Johnson’s appointment Monday.
State AGs Call On DeVos To Reinstate Obama Student Loan Consumer Protections.
The Washington Post (4/24, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia “are blasting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for revoking federal guidance issued by the Obama administration to increase consumer protections in student loan servicing.” In a letter to DeVos, the AGs say her “decision to ‘roll back essential protections imperils millions of student loan borrowers and families’ and urged her to reconsider immediately.” The Post reports DeVos “rescinded three memos” which “called for the creation of financial incentives for targeted outreach to people at great risk of defaulting on their loans, a baseline level of service for all borrowers and a contract flexible enough to penalize servicers for poor service.”
Noting that all 21 of the AGs are Democrats, Reuters (4/24, Lambert) reports they wrote to “DeVos decrying her decision to end the Education Department’s work on reforming loan servicing, steps intended to ensure that borrowers understand their outstanding debt and repayment options.” Reuters quotes New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman saying in a statement, “We should be looking for ways to ease the burden of student debt, not enabling the student loan servicing industry to manipulate and exploit students.”
The AP (4/24) reports that the letter says the protections in the Obama guidance “is helping protect student loan borrowers” and “called on DeVos to restore the memos instituted by the federal Education Department last year under President Barack Obama.” The state officials “said the guidance is designed to help borrowers get accurate information about their loans and repayment options — ensuring the consistency of service provided by student loan servicers and increasing accountability.”
The Hill (4/24, Beavers) reports DeVos announced in April “that she was ending the reform efforts because of ‘moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives.’” This piece says the “decision echoes the Republican policy view that the federal government should not be involved in the student loan business.”
King Pans Rollback Of Protections. Diverse Education (4/24) reports former Education Secretary John King “said it is ‘distressing’ to see the administration of President Donald J. Trump roll back policy initiatives put in place under President Barack Obama to protect college students from shady loan service providers and for-profit colleges with poor outcomes.” King, who is now president of The Education Trust, “told Diverse that the Trump administration’s efforts to pare down the Education Department and cut various federal education initiatives — such as professional development for teachers, summer and after-school programs, and student aid for college — are an ‘assault on the American dream.’”
National Science Foundation Grant Helps Michigan Tech University Promote Robotics Education.
On its website, WJMN-TV Marquette, MI (4/24) reports the National Science Foundation awarded Michigan Tech University a proposal grant two years ago to promote robotics education. The university partnered with Bay Community College and robotics industry leaders also working towards the same goal of promoting robotics. MTU Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Program associate professor Alex Sergeyev commented, “As part of this initiative, there will be strong cooperation between multiple institutions, community colleges and universities to build this regional center for training of industry displaced workers as well as four-year degree and two-year degree students.”
Research and Development
Oklahoma State Startup Team Wins Pitch Competition.
The Oklahoman (4/12) reports, “Oklahoma State University student startup team MITO Material Solutions placed second at the Rice Business Plan Competition, an annual collegiate pitch competition hosted by Rice University.” The team developed “an adhesive epoxy additive which allow manufacturers to double the durability or significantly decreases the weight of composite materials utilized in the aerospace, recreation and automotive industries.”
Vanderbilt University Students Produce Vitals-Monitoring Smart Vest.
The Tennessean (4/24) reports Vanderbilt University engineering students presented the Health Evaluation and Real-time Monitoring-based Emergency Signaling, or HERMES, smart ballistics vest at the institution’s Design Day Monday. HERMES monitors the wearer’s heartbeat and breathing, can determine when those vitals are too fast or too slow, and call for backup if it senses the wearer is in trouble. Jim Shepherd, a former New York Police Department officer, said the concept came to him after he helped pull fellow officers from the airplane wreckage of the terror attack on September 11. He discovered vests among the few remaining items that were still intact that were later used to identify officers killed in action. “I thought about how can we get that vest to do something more?” Shepherd said. He then praised the engineering students for “a tremendous job” on HERMES.
George Mason Students Create Prosthetic Arm For Fifth-Grade Violinist.
The Washington Post (4/24, Andrews) reports five George Mason University bioengineering seniors created a prosthetic bow arm for 10-year-old Virginia fifth-grader Isabella Nicola, who was born without a left hand and without a part of her forearm. The students used 3-D printing technology to create the prosthetic, dubbed the VioArm because of Nicola’s long-held desire to play the violin. Nicola was fitted with her VioArm on Thursday.
Navy Repurposes World War II-Era Test Tunnel Into Laser Lethality And System Testing Lab.
Military News (4/24) reports the US Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division announced on Friday that it transformed a tunnel that was crucial to World War II-era gun range operations “into a vital new capability for testing laser technologies.” For years, civilian scientists believed “the long dormant 100-meter tunnel” had “potential for laser lethality and system testing.” The tunnel is now “integral to the Navy’s state-of-the-art laser lethality and development laboratory.” NSWCDD Directed Energy and Pulsed Power Division head Frank Dixon similarly said that the upgraded facility “along with its suite of analysis tools are essential for designing, developing, and integrating laser technology into existing and future fighting forces and platforms.” The laboratory also supports programs that the Office of Naval Research, Joint Directed Energy Transition Office, and Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems supports.
Cornell Team Developing Fingerprint Tech For IARPA Challenge.
MeriTalk (4/24, Lamb) reports Cornell University electrical and computer engineering professor Amit Lal and a group of Cornell students have developed a device that can scan the surfaces of all 10 fingers in five minutes as part of IARPA’s Nail to Nail Fingerprint challenge. Chris Boehnen, senior program manager at IARPA, said the current “gold standard for fingerprinting today is when skilled operators roll fingers over a surface,” but he reportedly added that this method “requires skilled manpower that many organizations don’t have the time or money to afford.” That is why IARPA seeks a device that can perform the task “without a human in the loop,” Boehnen said. Groups participating in the challenge will submit videos in July, and in the final stage IARPA will host a live test, with the winner receiving $100,000.
Researcher Developing Miniature Bio-Inspired Robot That Can Crawl Through Intestinal Tract.
Newsweek (4/24, Firger) reports that “David Zarrouk, a professor of mechanical engineering…is developing a miniature bio-inspired robot that will have the ability to crawl through the intestinal tract.” This “single actuator wave – or SAW – robot” moves in a “wave-like crawl that’s likely to be an effective way to move through the digestive system.” According to Newsweek, “This could make both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy less invasive,” and also “eliminate the need for anesthesia.”
Report Suggests Russia Lacks STEM Field Gender Gap.
The Washington Post (4/24, Marks) reports a number of studies have suggested a “pipeline problem” in the US that has resulted in a shortage of women in the American computing workforce. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization released a report that found in Russia, 41 percent of scientific researchers are female, and three times more female inventors are in Russia than in the West. A researcher explained that in other nations, girls have “a slightly playful approach to STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math], whereas in Russia, even the very youngest were extremely focused on the fact that their future employment opportunities were more likely to be rooted in STEM subjects.” Russian girls are also introduced to technology at an earlier age than in other nations. “As a result,” the Post writes, “young Russian girls view STEM more positively and this has resulted in a more lasting interest.”
Apple Hires Former NASA Employees As Part Of Autonomous Vehicles Plans.
The Wall Street Journal (4/24, Mickle, Higgins, Subscription Publication) reports Apple’s plan for more autonomous vehicles has identified six employees, some roboticists who worked for NASA, who will lead road testing of the company’s self-driving vehicles in California. The tests are critical for Apple as it attempts to catch up with companies like Waymo, which has been testing autonomous vehicles on roads since 2009. AppleInsider (4/24, Wuerthele) reports that though names of all of the staff listed in the obtained permit were redacted, some of the backgrounds were explained and included “one engineer serving as a test operator is noted as also having worked on automotive supplier Bosch’s early efforts to develop a self-driving car, and on making autonomous wheelchairs drive more smoothly.”
Engineering and Public Policy
White House Planning Active “Hunt And Destroy” Cyber Strategy.
E&E Publishing (4/24, Behr, Subscription Publication) reports that according to sources familiar with the matter, the White House will issue an executive order on cybersecurity advocating active “hunt and destroy” strategies for pursuing and eliminating malware that threatens critical US infrastructure and federal agencies. Such a proactive stance “would align the administration’s focus with the beginnings of a similar shift among electric utilities,” with North American Electric Reliability CEO Gerry Cauley recently endorsing active defense. The Department of Energy is currently running a “high-priority” research project designed to identify vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, called Consequence-Driven Cyber-Informed Engineering. Idaho National Laboratory senior cyber and energy security strategist Andrew Bochman told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year that utilities would then need to implement solutions for eliminating attack malware while their systems are able to keep operating.
House Panel To Hold Hearing On Bill That Would Revive Yucca Mountain Project.
The Hill (4/24, Henry) reports the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment panel on Wednesday will conduct a hearing “to consider a bill that would revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.” The legislation “would give federal agencies more power over the Yucca site, sidestepping Nevada’s ability to withhold permits for the project.” Last week committee leaders “hailed it as a proposal to get the Yucca project back on track.” The Hill says that “the plan has an ally in the White House.” President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 provides “$120 million to restart the licensing process for Yucca, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited the site in March.” Roll Call (4/24, Dillon) reports but bipartisan “local opposition to the project remains as fervent as ever. Nevada Sens. Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, recently reiterated their opposition to any authorizing or spending bill that advances the project.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal (4/24) reports Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, ahead of the hearing, “sent a letter to the committee noting the state’s opposition based on ‘scientific, technical and legal merits.’” Sandoval wrote, “Furthermore, as a reminder to your committee members, as set forth in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, only the governor is empowered to consult on matters related to the siting of a nuclear waste repository.”
E&E Daily (4/24, Mintz, Subscription Publication) reports “the draft legislation would also advance the possibility of interim storage facilities; two private companies in Texas and New Mexico have proposed such facilities.” KRXI-TV Reno, NV (4/24) reported on its website Democratic Reps. Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus are slated to testify at the hearing.
Solar Deals Impacted By Uncertainty Of Tax Reform.
Bloomberg News (4/24, Eckhouse) reports that President Trump’s campaign pledges, while not yet turned into U.S. policies, are already causing “disruptive effects on finance,” according to Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. Clean-energy proponents are “worried that the prospect of tax reform would slow wind and solar finance” and could push investors to “wait out the uncertainty.”
Apple Announces Renewable Energy Purchase Agreement To Power Prineville Data Centers.
The Oregonian (4/24) reports Apple has agreed to purchase “hundreds of megawatts of wind and solar power to help run its growing complex of data centers in Prineville.” The company’s “annual environmental progress report” revealed “that it has a deal to buy 200 megawatts of power for the Montague Wind Power Project in Gilliam County.” The company “says this is the first wind project the company created itself.” It is “due to begin generating energy late next year.” Apple also “said it has a deal to buy power from a 56-megawatt project called Solar Star Oregon II, under construction a few miles from the Prineville complex.”
Johns Hopkins Engineering School Partners With Baltimore School For STEM Program.
Cool Progeny (4/21) runs an article about the STEM program at Barclay Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, where “hands-on-science is part of the ‘every day’ experience.” The school is “coming to the end of their first year of a 10 year innovative partnership with Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.” The goal of the program is to make the school a leader in integrating STEM subjects across all subjects. Students at the school “build robots with Lego Mindstorms, engage in activities through JHU’s Aquaponics and Food Laboratory, design cityscapes with 3D printers, create their own species, and code after school.”
Rural Missouri High School Emerges As “Capital Of Youth Robotics.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (4/24) reports the rural town of Camdenton, Missouri has a population of about 3,600 people, but its school “district has arguably become a Missouri capital of youth robotics.” Despite lacking “many of the advantages of affluent suburban schools, many of which enjoy high-dollar support from nearby corporations,” Camdenton High School’s LASER 3284 robotics team will compete on Wednesday in the annual FIRST robotics championship. The school employs more robotics coaches than football coaches, elementary schools hold lotteries for positions on the teams, and one in 14 of the district’s students are “somehow involved with the after-school robotics program.” Robotics coach Mitch Comer, who founded Camdenton’s robotics program, said the school is trying to change a culture that “just doesn’t celebrate the great minds.” Staff and students’ “careful investment” in the robotics program has “produced an impressive track record,” with about 92 percent of graduates studying STEM in college or directly working in a STEM field.
Georgia Team Becomes First In State To Reach FIRST Robotics World Championships Finals.
The Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer (4/24) reports the Columbus High School robotics team will compete as the first Georgia team to reach the FIRST Robotics World Championships finals. The team represents the Columbus Space Program through Columbus Robotics. Program director Luther Richardson stated, “Two back-to-back technical glitches that we had not seen before kept us from being World Champions at Houston.” The team has qualified for the FIRST Robotics world championships for three consecutive years. The competition is widely considered the largest “testing high schools students in the STEM skills of science, technology, engineering and math – as well as their ability to collaborate and cooperate.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• March For Science Events Held Across US And Around The World.
• Education Experts Examine Lack Of College Readiness Among Nevada Students.
• Detroit To Host Final Year Of Shell Eco-Marathon.
• Boeing Issues 429 New Layoff Notices In Washington State.
• Obtained Government Filing Reveals Details About Apple Self-Driving Car Testing.
• Judge Levies $2.8 Billion In Criminal Fines Against Volkswagen For Emissions Fraud.
• Indiana Robotics Team Attends World Tournament Despite Funding Challenges, Racial Slurs.
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|13 .||‘Bartlett’ pear fruit (Pyrus communis L.) ripening regulation by low temperatures involves genes associated with jasmonic acid, cold response, and transcription factors||Nham, N.T., Macnish, A.J., Zakharov, F., Mitcham, E.J.||2017||Plant Science ,
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|14 .||First record of Aedes albopictus (Skuse 1894) on São tomé island||Reis, S., Cornel, A.J., Melo, M., Pereira, H., Loiseau, C.||2017||Acta Tropica ,
171 pp. 86 – 89 .
|15 .||Pilot survey of a novel incentive to promote healthy behavior among school children and their parents||Yoo, B.-K., Hasebe, T., Kim, M., Sasaki, T., Styne, D.M.||2017||Preventive Medicine Reports ,
6 pp. 286 – 293 .
|16 .||Neuroanatomical Changes Related to a Changing Environment in Lesser Earless Lizards||Calisi, R.M., Chintamen, S., Ennin, E., Kriegsfeld, L., Rosenblum, E.B.||2017||Journal of Herpetology ,
51 ( 2 ) pp. 258 – 262 .
|17 .||Development of a glycosaminoglycan derived, selectin targeting anti-adhesive coating to treat endothelial cell dysfunction||Wodicka, J.R., Chambers, A.M., Sangha, G.S., Goergen, C.J., Panitch, A.||2017||Pharmaceuticals ,
10 ( 2 ) , art. no. 36
|18 .||Differential medial temporal lobe morphometric predictors of item- and relational-encoded memories in healthy individuals and in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease||Gomar, J.J., Ragland, J.D., Uluğ, A.M., Sousa, A., Huey, E.D., Conejero-Goldberg, C., Davies, P., Goldberg, T.E.||2017||Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions ,
3 ( 2 ) pp. 238 – 246 .
|19 .||Seismic Performance of Embedded Column Base Connections Subjected to Axial and Lateral Loads||Grilli, D., Jones, R., Kanvinde, A.||2017||Journal of Structural Engineering (United States) ,
143 ( 5 ) , art. no. 04017010
|20 .||The Th2 gene cluster unraveled: role of RHS6||Flayer, C.H., Haczku, A.||2017||Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ,
72 ( 5 ) pp. 679 – 681 .
|21 .||The hippocampus is particularly important for building associations across stimulus domains||Borders, A.A., Aly, M., Parks, C.M., Yonelinas, A.P.||2017||Neuropsychologia ,
99 pp. 335 – 342 .
|22 .||Calibration of continuum cyclic constitutive models for structural steel using particle swarm optimization||Smith, C., Kanvinde, A., Deierlein, G.||2017||Journal of Engineering Mechanics ,
143 ( 5 ) , art. no. 04017012
|23 .||Can protected areas really maintain mammalian diversity? Insights from a nestedness analysis of the Colorado Plateau||Stegner, M.A., Karp, D.S., Rominger, A.J., Hadly, E.A.||2017||Biological Conservation ,
209 pp. 546 – 553 .
|24 .||The phycocyanobilin chromophore of streptophyte algal phytochromes is synthesized by HY2||Rockwell, N.C., Martin, S.S., Li, F.-W., Mathews, S., Lagarias, J.C.||2017||New Phytologist ,
214 ( 3 ) pp. 1145 – 1157 .
|25 .||Large-scale comparison of bioaugmentation and biostimulation approaches for biocementation of sands||Gomez, M.G., Anderson, C.M., Graddy, C.M.R., DeJong, J.T., Nelson, D.C., Ginn, T.R.||2017||Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering ,
143 ( 5 ) , art. no. 04016124
International journal Tumor Biology, published by Springer Nature, recently announced the retraction of 107 research papers from China, many of them by clinical doctors. The articles, published between 2012 and 2016, were reportedly submitted with the names of real researchers, but fabricated email addresses.
Elsevier, the information analytics company specialising in science and health, has announced the publication ofNanoencapsulation Technologies for the Food and Nutraceutical Industries by Seid Mahdi Jafari. One of four new nutrition titles, the book is ideal for food and neutraceutical researchers and industry personnel who want to learn more about basic concepts and recent developments in nanotechnology research.
Canadian Family Physician (CFP), the official scientific journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), has launched a dynamic new website on HighWire Press’s JCore platform. JCore’s stability and responsiveness makes the site accessible on any platform – desktop, tablet or smartphone. Information is found quickly and easily with prominent links to key articles and enhanced search functions.
Open access publisher BioMed Central has announced the launch of BMC Rheumatology as the latest journal in the BMC series. The journal is now open for submissions. BMC Rheumatology will complement and expand the open access journal portfolio within the area of rheumatology at BioMed Central and will be a sister journal toBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders within the BMC series.
ASTM International and NCSL International, two global organisations whose members share an interest in metrology, have signed a memorandum of understanding. Metrology, the science of measurement, is a field that cuts across many industries represented by ASTM International’s 145 technical committees.
|The latest edition of Blogspeak is now online. Featured are: Alice Meadows (It Takes a Village: One Year of Journals Requiring ORCID iDs); Scott Schuetze (Uncover More: Using Analytics To Improve Library Resource Management & Discovery); Lisa Peet (Public Partners | Collaboration); EBSCOpost Blog (Proven Strategies for Language Learning); David Crotty (When is a Preprint Server Not a Preprint Server?); and Jörg Müller (Engaging with sensor-based methods for social sciences research is necessary, overdue and potentially rewarding). Blogspeak includes blog posts relevant to the publishing industry, particularly STM publishing. Subscribers are invited to participate in the latest edition of Blogspeak Here.|
The Following Lectures Were Published
Synthesis Collection Seven:
iRODS Primer 2: Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System
Hao Xu, Terrell Russell, Jason Coposky, Arcot Rajasekar, Reagan Moore, and Antoine de Torcy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael Wan, Wayne Shroeder, and Sheau-Yen Chen
University of California, San Diego
Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services
Mathematical Basics of Motion and Deformation in Computer Graphics, Second Edition
Ken Anjyo, OLM Digital, Inc.
Model-Driven Software Engineering in Practice, Second Edition
Marco Brambilla, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Neural Network Methods in Natural Language Processing
Yoav Goldberg, Bar Ilan University
Phrase Mining from Massive Text and Its Applications
Jialu Liu, Google
Research in the Wild
Yvonne Rogers and Paul Marshall, University College London
Leading the News
March For Science Events Held Across US And Around The World.
There was widespread media coverage of the March for Science, which was held on Saturday. The largest event was held in Washington DC, but additional events were held in hundreds of cities throughout the US and in other countries.
NBC Nightly News (4/22, lead story, 2:30, Diaz-Balart) reported that “hundreds of thousands of people on six continents…came out in support of science.” NBC News reported that the objective of the events “was a nonpartisan endorsement of fact-based research,” but “the reality” was that “many of the marchers criticized the President for proposing budgets cuts to major government research.”
The CBS Weekend News (4/22, lead story, 3:05, Ninan) reported “rallies and marches were held in more than 600 cities, from New York, Chicago, and Washington, to London, Berlin, and Sydney, Australia,” but the main event was held in Washington, DC on the National Mall.
ABC World News Tonight (4/22, story 7, 1:50, Llamas) reported the events were held “to express support for scientific research and opposition, in part, to some of President Trump’s policies.”
USA Today (4/22, Stanglin, Korte) reported hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC. Participants said science was “under attack” by the White House.
The AP (4/22, Borenstein) reported, “Scientists, students and research advocates rallied on an often soggy Earth Day, conveying a global message about scientific freedom without political interference, the need for adequate spending for future breakthroughs and just the general value of scientific pursuits.” At the events, “scientists said they were anxious about political and public rejection of established science such as climate change and the safety of vaccine immunizations.”
Reuters (4/22, Johnson) reported the events were aimed at reaffirming “the vital role science plays in our democracy,” according to the official website for the events, but “the marches were effectively protests against steep cuts that President Donald Trump has proposed for federal science and research budgets and his administration’s skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/22, Willman) reported that Bill Nye, a former TV star and now the chief executive of the Planetary Society, was one of the event’s sponsors. Nye was also one of the speakers at the event in DC, saying in part, “Without scientifically literate citizens, the United States – any country, in fact – cannot compete on the world stage.”
March For Science Organizers Urge Marchers To Remain Active. The Washington Post (4/23, Kaplan) reports in a brief item that in the aftermath of Saturday’s March For Science, organizers are urging marchers “to take part in a ‘week of action,’ a set of coordinated activities that range from signing an environmental voting pledge to participating in a citizen science project.” The Post says such “public engagement is unprecedented for the scientific community…but in the wake of President Trump’s election, and in the face of policy changes and proposed budget cuts that threatened several areas of research, the community is galvanized.”
Education Experts Examine Lack Of College Readiness Among Nevada Students.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (4/23) reports that in 2015, 53 percent of Nevada high school graduates who enrolled in one of seven degree-granting state higher education institutions were required to enroll in remedial courses. The courses are designed “for students who scored low on the SAT or ACT, or on a placement test administered upon entry into college.” Because the remedial courses do not offer credit hours, the students enrolled in those courses often spend more time and money to earn a college degree. The problem is “not unique to Nevada,” eliciting “a broader question on the higher education and K-12 connection: Armed with a high school diploma, are Nevada students really prepared for the rigors of college?” To increase college readiness, state and national education experts suggested adopting the Common Core State Standards, emphasizing the importance of college entrance exams, and addressing the misalignment between college readiness and high school exit standards.
Hawaiian State Lawmakers Advance Bill To Fund Physician Student Loan Repayment Program.
The Maui (HI) News (4/23) reports Hawaii’s state House-Senate conference committee passed a bill that calls for $250,000 in state funds to help finance the Hawai’i State Loan Repayment plan. The student loan repayment program was established to help doctors who practice in Hawaii’s underserved areas, and is currently funded by Federal money and state medical organizations. State Sen. Josh Green called the “bellwether piece of legislation” necessary to address the state’s doctor shortage “crisis.” On Hawaii’s Big Island, said Green, the doctor shortage is 30 percent worse than on Maui, and 50 percent worse that the statewide shortage. An expected flux of retired doctors renders the shortage “even more worrisome.” In written testimony, physician Dr. Sarah Feenstra wrote, “Loan repayment works. It attracts providers, like myself.” She said after residency, she faced “a daunting $280,000 in debt” that, without the program, would have prevented her from working “with the underserved mentally ill population.”
Research and Development
Detroit To Host Final Year Of Shell Eco-Marathon.
The Detroit Free Press (4/22, Phelan) reports on the Shell Eco-Marathon scheduled to be held in Detroit next weekend, saying “far-out vehicles developed by engineering students from throughout the Western Hemisphere” will be on display. “More than 1,000 students from universities and high schools in North and South America will build and test alternate-fuel vehicles they developed as the Eco-Marathon takes over downtown for the third and final year.” The event is sponsored by Shell Oil, and “students compete to build and run the most energy-efficient vehicles using gasoline and alternative fuels.”
Honda To Build High-Tech Wind Tunnel In Ohio.
The Springfield (OH) News Sun (4/20) reports that Honda is investing $124 million to build a “high-tech wind tunnel” at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, “the first time the company has invested in a full-scale facility of its kind in the U.S.” The center “provides research and development, crash testing and other functions. The tunnel will be able to produce wind speeds of up to 192 miles per hour.”
Venture Capitalists Invest In Digital Farming.
In the Wall Street Journal (4/21, Pfund, Subscription Publication), Nancy Pfund of San Francisco-based VC DBL Partners writes about Silicon Valley venture capitalist focus on digital farming innovations. Pfund writes about her own experience in agriculture-rich areas around the US and the challenges farmers face amid industry consolidation. In 2014, California-based entrepreneurs founded the Farmers Business Network in order to connect farmers with agriculture technology based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The network recently held a conference in Omaha, Nebraska with sessions such as “The Start Up Founder,” which provided advice on seeds, savings, and online inputs for Midwestern farmers.
Georgia College Student Recreates Out-Of-Production Light Fixture With SolidWorks, 3D Printer.
“About two years ago, thieves took off with an anodized pot metal light fixture before Lexington master gardener Norm DeNeal and crew could hoist it up to one of the two towering lamp posts at the garden,” reported the AP (4/22). Highlands College drafting technology student Jeremy Hankel “spent 36 hours working a SolidWorks computer program designing” a replica of the 20-inch-tall fixture, which was one common but discontinued in 1929 by the manufacturer, Cutter Company. “I had no drawings to work from – just the light fixture itself,” Hankel stated. Hankel used the college’s 3D printer to create a plastic reproduction of the fixture, and DeNeal and his crew “plan to paint it and spruce it up before topping the post.” The AP notes Highlands College, located in Georgia, has about a dozen 3D printers, and all manufacturing students use the technology to “learn transferable design skills that they can use in other industries: engineering, welding, architecture, and construction.”
NYU Engineering Students Develop Chair To Help Limited-Mobility Children Explore.
Engadget (4/20) reported New York University Tandon School of Engineering students Tanaya Bhave and Gang Haiming, alarmed over studies suggesting that “disabled children may have developmental problems” because of their inability to explore, developed the “incredibly intuitive” Tot Bot system. The students’ Tot Bot is a chair specifically designed to increase a child’s mobility and, as a result, restore the child’s ability to thoroughly investigate the surroundings. Instead of the joystick typically found on a traditional wheelchair, Bhave and Haiming installed a touchscreen. The parent can install an app on any mobile device attached to the Tot Bot, and the device’s camera displays “a video of whatever’s in front of the child, who simply taps on the image of whatever they want to examine.” Bhave and Haiming showcased the Tot Bot on Friday at NYU Tandon’s Research Expo.
University Of Michigan To Name New Robotics Laboratory After Ford Motor Company.
Automotive World (4/21) reported the University of Michigan announced on Friday that it will name its new state-of-the-art robotics laboratory the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building. Ford Motor Company’s $15 million contribution is expected to expedite construction on the $75 million building, which is located on the university’s Ann Arbor campus. The university moved up the building’s targeted opening from the winter of 2020 to late-2019. Ford will co-locate more than 100 of its researchers and engineers to the laboratory, “creating the company’s first research lab on a university campus in an effort to accelerate Ford’s development of autonomous vehicles.”
University Of Arizona, Maricopa County Begin Testing Car-To-Infrastructure Connectivity System.
On its website, KJZZ-FM Phoenix (4/20) reported Maricopa County Department of Transportation and University of Arizona Transportation Institute director Larry Head co-developed a system that connects vehicles and traffic signals. “So the idea is the cars are talking to each other, they can also talk to the infrastructure,” Head explained. He continued, “They can talk to the traffic signals and say ‘here I am!’ and the traffic signals can say ‘oh I see you’re there, let me give you a green light and let you go through.’” Currently, MCDOT is testing the system with emergency vehicles. The county is one of only seven in the nation testing such a system.
Researchers Develop Nanotube Structure To Strengthen Thin Films Used In Electronics.
Nanowerk (4/21) reports researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were able to “[synthesize thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.” Sameh Tawfick, an assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois explains, “The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including biological and structural health monitoring sensors…Aligned carbon nanotube sheets are suitable for a wide range of application spanning the micro- to the macro-scales including Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), supercapacitor electrodes, electrical cables, artificial muscles, and multi-functional composites.”
Boeing Issues 429 New Layoff Notices In Washington State.
The Seattle Times (4/21, Gates) reported that The Boeing Company issued 429 new layoff notices to union employees in Washington State as part of the company’s continuing cost-cutting drive, according to the workers’ two unions. Non-union employees also likely were issued notices, although Boeing did not provide figures. The layoffs included 217 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and 277 members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). A SPEEA spokesman said that affected members included 246 working in the Commercial Airplanes unit and 30 in the company’s defense unit. IAM District 751 President Jon Holden expressed concern that the looming 777 production cut in August will result in many more layoffs.
Obtained Government Filing Reveals Details About Apple Self-Driving Car Testing.
Business Insider (4/21, Leswing) has obtained Apple documents through a public-records request that show a first look of the “Automated System” technology that Apple is constructing for self-driving vehicles. Additionally, Apple “is planning to put staffers through a training program to operate the vehicles ahead of testing on California roads.” Apple has kept quiet about the details after receiving a California permit to test autonomous vehicles, but Business Insider obtained a walk-through of the “Development Platform Specific Training” and “details about an autonomous-vehicle system called the ‘Apple Automated System.’” TechCrunch (4/21, Etherington) reports the system “can control steering, acceleration, deceleration and ‘portions of the dynamic driving task,’ according to forms filled out by Apple officials.” The documents show also “that cars used for testing include steering equipment culled from consumer gaming controller equipment (Logitech wheel and pedals, specifically) to provide them with the means to take over control of the vehicle.” Mashable (4/21, Morse) quotes the documents as stating, “Vehicle will make a sudden maneuver to the right or left turn of a wide straight lane…[the] safety driver should intervene by grabbing the steering wheel and correct the path to stay within the lane.”
According to AppleInsider (4/21, Campbell) reports “Apple’s application incorporates a copy of the testing process it used to certify the six drivers who will pilot three modified 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs.” The informational packet includes instruction sets, training goals, and diagrams for testing including: “low speed driving, high speed driving, tight U-turns, sudden steering input, sudden acceleration, sudden braking and lane change.” The obtained document also lists the “six Apple employees who passed the company’s autonomous vehicle tests and are thus certified to operate the platform.”
A separate AppleInsider (4/21, Campbell) piece notes that although the document doesn’t provide much insight into the future of Apple’s plans for autonomous driving, the company “has long been rumored to be working on autonomous vehicle technology under its ‘Project Titan’ initiative.” Apple “reportedly abandoned efforts to create a branded car in late 2016 when former project leader Steve Zadesky left Apple and handed the reins over to senior VP of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio.” Furthermore, Reuters (4/21, Sage) reports the permit doesn’t automatically indicate Apple is building a full vehicle, but that instead could “be designing a self-driving platform that can be integrated into other manufacturer’s cars.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Judge Levies $2.8 Billion In Criminal Fines Against Volkswagen For Emissions Fraud.
The Wall Street Journal (4/21, Rogers, Spector, Subscription Publication) reports US District Judge Sean Cox on Friday order Volkswagen AG to pay $2.8 billion in criminal fines as part of its conviction into rigging diesel-powered vehicles to pass government emissions tests. The auto-maker admitted that for a decade it had decided US officials with the emissions rigging. The judge also ordered that an independent monitor be brought in to investigate the company’s compliance practices for the next three years. The Journal notes that this criminal penalty follows a civil penalty of $1.5 billion.
Indiana Robotics Team Attends World Tournament Despite Funding Challenges, Racial Slurs.
The Washington Post (4/23, Phillips) reports the Pleasant Run Elementary School Panther Bots, a group of five fourth-grade students from a low-income Indianapolis community, “have become the face of a success story about a group of kids who were taunted with racial slurs but were too determined to let that affect their confidence.” At one local robotics competition in early February, the Panther Bots won amid other students’ taunts of “You need to go back to Mexico!” Parents at the event also referred to the robotics team students as Mexicans. The incident prompted “scores of strangers” to show support for the Panther Bots, and more than 200 people raised approximately $12,000 to send the students to VEX IQ world robotics tournament, which began in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday. “Before joining the robotics team,” writes the Post, “none of the children had expressed an interest in engineering. But they’ve now discovered passions they didn’t have before.”
Idaho Elementary, High School Partner In Food Computer Project.
The AP (4/22, Beck) reported Lowie Watkins, a fourth-grade student at Idaho’s Hemingway Elementary, was inspired by Caleb Harper’s Ted Talk about so-called “food computers,” which can help people efficiently grow their own food with computer-maintained, climate-controlled boxes. Watkins “gave an impassioned speech” that secured his classmates’ desire to make a food computer for their classroom. Their teacher, Lydia Flynn, partnered with Wood River High School teacher Kevin Lupton and his engineering class to make a food computer for both classrooms. The Blaine County Education Foundation donated $1,000, Power Engineers contributed $1,500, and the Hemingway Parent Auxiliary awarded the final $500 needed to purchase the supplies. Webb Nursery donated seeds and dirt, and The Hunger Coalition’s Bloom Garden program agreed to teach the students about gardening. Lupton told the AP that he had never build anything similar to a food computer, but that they would “figure it out” because that “is what engineers do,” they are “programmed to solve problems.”
Investigation Finds Once-Promising Iowa STEM Academy Now “Fast Waning.”
At the request of Des Moines-area resident Eric Kelderman, the Des Moines (IA) Register (4/22) launched an investigation into a planned STEM-centered high school in the small logging town of Clinton, Iowa. The Register discovered Clinton Regional Development Corp. president Mike Kirchhoff, who helped establish the renowned Illinois Math and Science Academy, launched the idea, and Oregon state Rep. Brian Clem agreed to help jump-start the initiative. Soon after, the investor group Clinton Catalyst LLC pledged to turn around and sell the former Ashford College campus, valued at $28 million, to the Asian Education Foundation for only $1.6 million. A press release constituted “big news in an eastern Iowa city struggling to create jobs and opportunity.” Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, both advocates of expanding STEM education in Iowa, told Clem they loved the idea, but could not fund it “in a budget-trimming year.” The initiative is now “fast waning as a possibility for Clinton.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Toyota Tests Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Semi Trucks At Port Of Long Beach.
• George Mason Students Design Prosthetic Arm For 10-Year-Old Violinist.
• Notre Dame Professor Honored For Transitioning Data Software To Marketplace.
• At F8 Conference, Facebook Stresses Commitment To AR Technology.
• People Preparing For March For Science Events Across US.
• Tennessee Robotics Teams Battle In Houston For Championship.