|SAGE Publishing reports continued growth in 2017 Journal Citation Reports|
Academic publisher SAGE Publishing has reported continued strong performance and growth across its journals portfolio in the 2017 Journal Citation Reports. SAGE continues to see consistent growth within the reports. In 2017, 70 percent of SAGE journals received an increased ranking with 49 percent of SAGE journals now ranking within the top half of their subject category.
|Duke University Press signs license agreement with ISTEX|
Publisher Duke University Press has signed a major agreement with ISTEX, a French national licensing program, to make the Duke Mathematical Journal (DMJ) available to French research institutions. With this agreement, 112 volumes of content from DMJ are made available to millions of users at over 330 French universities, grande écoles, research institutes, and libraries.
|Radiology program of Breitenseher Publisher now available in Thieme’s eRef|
Medical and scientific publisher Thieme has expanded its medical knowledge database eRef by the Radiology program of Breitenseher Publisher. As a result, specialist literature in radiology and related subjects are now available to the entire Breitenseher publisher’s specialist knowledge in the treatment process.
|PaperHive announces collaboration with Ingenta|
PaperHive has announced its collaboration with Ingenta, a provider of content solutions. The collaboration enables Ingenta Connect publishers and Ingenta CMS platform customers to offer annotations, group discussions, and sharing capabilities to their readers and drive reader engagement.
|MIT Press promotes Nick Lindsay to Director, Journals and Open Access|
The MIT Press has announced that Nick Lindsay has been promoted to Director of Journals and Open Access, effective immediately. Lindsay will be responsible for open access strategy and communications for the Press, and will put policies and procedures in place to further the Press goals in this important area.
|ShareLaTeX join forces with Overleaf|
Scientific writing and publishing tools provider Overleaf and ShareLaTeX have announced that they are joining forces. They will be bringing their teams and services together as they continue to build the world’s best tools for collaborative writing. Over the past 4 years, both ShareLaTeX and Overleaf have been hugely successful – seeing rapid, sustained growth in usage.
|Peerwith announces new supervisory board of industry leaders|
Technology company Peerwith has introduced its supervisory board with leaders in the digital / publishing industry that will contribute to the company going forward. Peerwith is a platform for expert-led researcher services, connecting researchers to experts directly, through its own marketplace peerwith.com or branded partner solutions.
Leading the News
FIRST Global Challenge Ends With Celebration.
US News & World Report (7/19, Galvin) reports, “As the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge…wound down Tuesday evening in Washington, a deafening roar took over DAR Constitution Hall as more than 150 countries’ flags waved in the air during a closing ceremony that celebrated collaboration, innovation and engineering excellence.” US News says that “the friendly atmosphere at the ‘Robotic Olympics’ made it clear that organizers and teams alike viewed the event as a challenge rather than a competition.” Afghanistan’s team “made headlines this month when its visa requests were denied twice and the group almost missed the competition,” until President Trump intervened. The AP (7/19) reports that the team “won a silver medal for ‘courageous achievement.’ The award recognized teams that exhibited a ‘can-do’ attitude even under difficult circumstances or when things didn’t go as planned.”
The Washington Examiner (7/19, Anderson) reports, “Afghanistan was not alone in fielding an all-female team. On Tuesday, first daughter Ivanka Trump stopped by FIRST Global to open the day with a celebration [of] the six all-female teams, which also included Jordan, Ghana, Brunei, Vanuatu, as well as Team USA.”
New York AG Investigates Debt Collection Practices Of Private Student Loan Giant.
The New York Times (7/19, Cowley, Subscription Publication) reports New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman opened an investigation into the debt collection practices of the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. National Collegiate has aggressively pursued borrowers in court, but dozens of lawsuits have been dismissed because of flawed or missing paperwork. A large part of the student loans Collegiate Student owns are from over a decade ago. As the debt was bought and sold, “crucial paperwork documenting the loans’ ownership appears to have been lost, according to court filings.” Schneiderman said, “I won’t allow a generation of New Yorkers to get victimized by the very system that was created to help them get ahead.” Schneiderman added, “We will conduct a full investigation and will hold the perpetrators of any fraud against our students accountable.”
Using National Collegiate as an example, Bloomberg News (7/19) pens an article about beating student debt collectors. According to the article, National Collegiate’s lawsuits are successful most of the time because the borrower doesn’t show up for court, so the court enters a default judgment against the borrower, forcing them to repay the debt through a court order. David Addleton, who has represented dozens of clients against National Collegiate, said, “All they care about is getting a default judgment,” adding, “All you have to do is show up and defend. They always dismiss.”
Veterans Group Opposes Rollback Of Student Borrower Protections.
In commentary for The Hill (7/19, Boulay) “Pundits Blog,” Matthew Boulay, executive director of the Veterans’ Student Loan Relief Fund, writes that despite President Trump’s assurances that he will focus on the needs of veterans, “his administration’s early moves indicate he is willing to keep that pledge as long as it doesn’t cut into the profits of for-profit colleges.” Boulay faults Trump’s ED for “working to roll back policies — implemented with bipartisan support — that protect student veterans from bad actors in the for-profit college industry.”
Some Educators Believe Community Colleges Should Abandon Algebra Requirement.
The NPR (7/19, Lattimore, Depenbrock) website looks at whether community colleges should abolish algebra requirements, writing that algebra “is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree – particularly for students of color and first-generation undergrads” – and is “also the single most failed course in community colleges across the country.” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley “is among a growing number of educators who view intermediate algebra as an obstacle to students obtaining their credentials – particularly in fields that require no higher level math skills.”
Indian Students Are Concerned About Safety When Studying In US.
The Huffington Post (7/19, Yam) reports that a study by the Institute of International Education “that looked at the number of international students who enroll after being admitted for fall of 2017 showed that 80 percent of colleges and universities in the report indicated that students said physical safety was the most pronounced concern of Indian students looking to potentially study in the country.” Indian students “have a ‘high level of concern’ about potentially studying in the US,” while “those from other countries in Asia were primarily concerned with post-graduation employment opportunities and program affordability.”
Number Of US Colleges Declining.
The Wall Street Journal (7/19, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports that the number of colleges in the US that were eligible to award federal financial aid declined by nearly six percent between the past academic year and the one prior, according to an annual survey by the National Center for Education Statistics. The rate of decline is increasing, with 6,760 colleges eligible last year, down from 7,416 in 2012-13.
Research and Development
Army Research Lab Seeking To Build Autonomous UAVs.
ExecutiveGov (7/19, Nicholas) reports that according to Defense One the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will fund projects to develop autonomous UAVs and “robotic technologies intended for electronic warfare operations.” ARL will attempt to “equip autonomous platforms with onboard tools that will work to counter anti-access/area denial system.” ARL Director Phillip Perconti said that ARL could award contracts later this year.
Researchers From Bechtel-Operated Los Alamos National Laboratory Perform Ultracold Reaction Simulation.
EurekAlert (7/18) reports, “Researchers have performed the first ever quantum-mechanical simulation of the benchmark ultracold chemical reaction between potassium-rubidium (KRb) and a potassium atom, opening the door to new controlled chemistry experiments and quantum control of chemical reactions that could spark advances in quantum computing and sensing technologies. The research by a multi-institutional team simulated the ultracold chemical reaction, with results that had not been revealed in experiments.”
Apple Launches Online Machine Learning Journal.
CNBC (7/19, Novet) reports Apple on Wednesday “introduced the Apple Machine Learning Journal, a website for highlighting its artificial intelligence research.” Similarly, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft all maintain blogs where they publish updates in connection with academic papers and projects. The launch of the online journal “is another sign of Apple’s interest in being seen as an active player in artificial intelligence research.”
Apple Names Isabel Ge Mahe As Vice President Of Greater China.
CNBC (7/19, Kharpal) reports “Apple has created a major new executive role in China and appointed the head of its wireless technologies unit to run it, reporting into CEO Tim Cook, as the technology giant struggles with falling sales in the world’s second-largest economy.” Isabel Ge Mahe will take up the role of Vice President and Managing Director of Greater China, Apple said in a statement on Tuesday. In Ge Mahe’s role heading up the wireless team, she focused on the development of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, and other technologies for many of Apple’s products. She has also overseen the engineering teams developing Apple Pay, HomeKit and CarPlay. CNET News (7/19, Chong) reports the story as well.
Engineering and Public Policy
Fresno County, California To Implement Bio-Engineered Mosquitoes In Effort To Reduce Pest Population.
The Washington Post (7/19, Wang) reports that officials in Fresno County, CA are teaming with technology companies to release millions of bio-engineered mosquitoes in Fresno. The venture is an effort to reduce the Aedes aegypti population, which carry “Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya viruses.” The Post says the mosquitoes “will be infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which changes the reproductive ability of males,” causing females’ eggs not to hatch, and officials hope the results will allow a “generation by generation” reduction of the mosquito population.
Report Says July 6 Penn Station Derailment Caused By Track Defect.
The New York Times (7/19, Fitzsimmons, Subscription Publication) reports that Amtrak officials on Wednesday said a July 6 train derailment at Pennsylvania Station was caused by a track defect. According to Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert, the derailment was the result of defective timber ties, which help widen the rails. This caused the wheels of a train car to come off the track. In a statement, Tolbert said, “This incident reinforces our decision to accelerate the infrastructure renewal work in this part of New York Penn Station this summer. … This proactive approach – compressing years of planned work into a couple of months – will strengthen operations and restore reliability at North America’s busiest rail station.”
The derailment “occurred in an area where trains emerge from a tunnel under the Hudson River and pass through a crisscrossing network of tracks before they reach the station platforms,” the AP (7/19, Porter) reports. A prior derailment of an NJ Transit train took place on the same area of track on April 3. Then, the derailment was “blamed on aging wood crossties beneath the tracks that allowed the rails to separate,” which “led to a comprehensive review of the station’s entire infrastructure by the Federal Railroad Administration.”
Perry Says Energy Innovation Will Create Jobs, Shape US Energy Future.
The Daily Caller (7/19, Congdon) reports that in a recent interview, Energy Secretary Rick Perry highlighted the role clean coal will play in his U.S. energy agenda. Regarding innovative “cracker plants,” Perry said that these projects will “create jobs while simultaneously making energy cheaper, cleaner and more accessible.”
New Mexico Lawmakers Question PNM’s Plan To Exit Coal.
The AP (7/19) reports lawmakers in New Mexico “from coal industry-dependent regions” of the northwestern part of the state “urged utility regulators to consider the local economic consequences of utility plans to shut down two coal-fired power plants and related mining operations.” Public Service Company of New Mexico is proposing “phasing out the use of coal-fired electricity by retiring the San Juan generating station near Farmington in 2022 and abandoning the Four Corners power plant in Fruitland by 2031.” On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Patricia Lundstrom “questioned whether it makes sense for the utility to walk away from investments in the San Juan plant.” Lundstrom “says consideration should be given to attracting energy-intensive industries to share the San Juan site.”
U.S. Natural Gas Industry Lobbies Benefits of Gas To Trump Administration.
Bloomberg News (7/19, Dlouhy, Natter, Polson) reports that as the Trump administration pledges to support coal and nuclear energy, lobbyists for the natural gas industry are working to ensure that their fuel source has equal consideration in U.S. energy policy. “We’re not taking shots at coal and nuclear,” but it’s important to “tell the whole story,” said Marty Durbin, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at the American Petroleum Institute.
Pro-Ethanol Bill Creates Unlikely Bedfellows Of Opposition Between Enviros, Republicans.
The Washington Times (7/19, Wolfgang) reports that “an unlikely coalition” that includes environmentalists and “some of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans” are mobilizing against a pro-ethanol bill “that would allow E15 — gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol — to be sold year round.” Support for and against the bill breaks down along “regional, not party, lines.” Republicans that support the bill come from state’s that have experienced significant job growth and economic benefits from the ethanol industry, whereas some opponents want a “full overhaul of the Renewable Fuel Standard…before considering any bill that promotes more ethanol.”
Maryland Green Group Blasts Hurdle Congressman Added For Offshore Wind.
The AP (7/19) reports the Maryland Climate Coalition “is criticizing an amendment added to legislation by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris that they say could stop two offshore wind proposals near Ocean City.” The group said yesterday that “the amendment approved by the House Appropriations Committee this week would prohibit the Interior Department from approving project construction plans, despite six years of debate and approval by state lawmakers and regulators.” The AP adds “the amendment blocks federal funding for reviews of plans to put turbines less than 24 nautical miles from land, where they would be visible from shore.”
South Dakota County Upholds Rules For Wind Turbine Setbacks.
The AP (7/19) reports voters in Lincoln County, South Dakota “have upheld regulations for wind turbine setbacks that renewable energy supporters say will end wind development in the area.” The vote earlier this week “was 57 percent in favor of rules requiring that turbines be at least a half mile from habitable structures in the southeastern South Dakota county.” The AP adds “an investor group called Dakota Power Community Wind wants to build at least 150 turbines to produce 300 megawatts of electricity in Lincoln County.” Opponents are concerned about “property values and potential health effects in opposing the project.”
New Homes In Miami Suburb Required To Have Rooftop Solar Panels.
The AP (7/19) reports “rooftop solar panel installations will be required for all new residential construction, along with some home renovations, in a Miami suburb.” The ordinance in South Miami “that takes effect Sept. 18 was modeled after similar ordinances recently passed by San Francisco and three other California cities.” On Tuesday, “city commissioners voted 4-1” granting approval to “an ordinance requiring 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of roof, or 2.75 kilowatts per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less.” Mayor Philip Stoddard “championed the requirement, which is the first of its kind in Florida.”
States See Opportunities To Improve Science Instruction Under ESSA.
Stephen Sawchuk writes at the Education Week (7/19) “Curriculum Matters” blog that advocates for science education see ESSA as “an opportunity to get science on the radar screen in a way they couldn’t under” NCLB, which “didn’t count science tests towards anything, thereby relegating the subject, in many advocates’ eyes, to second-tier status.” States now “have a lot more flexibility to emphasize science in particular, and more generally, content in the STEM fields.” Sawchuk writes that such education consulting groups as Achieve and Education First have released white papers offering states advice on how best to improve science instruction under ESSA. The groups advise states to count science testing in their accountability systems, leverage federal funding streams, and too coordinate efforts at the state level.
Kansas City STEAM School To Serve More Students.
The Kansas City (MO) Business Journal (7/19, Subscription Publication) reports that Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, “a STEAM school focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, will serve 154 more students, pre-K through fourth grade,” through a two-year, $500,000 investment provided by SchoolSmartKC.
Wisconsin Has Developed K-12 Computer Science Standards.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (7/19, Axelson) reports that last month, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers approved state Computer Science Standards for K-12 education, making Wisconsin “the 9th state to establish such a model. Each school district will have the choice to accept the standards in full, use them as a foundation to write their own version, or disregard them.” The document “outlines learning objectives for students, but each district will decide on how to develop their own programs.”
Also in the News
Study: Humans Have Produced 18.2 Trillion Pounds Of Plastic, Most Discarded.
USA Today (7/19, Rice) reports that according to a new study, “Humans have produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastics since large-scale production began in the early 1950s and we’ve put most of it in the trash.” Researchers project that this figure will increase by 26.5 trillion pounds by 2050. The piece quotes co-author Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, saying, “Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years.”
The Washington Post (7/19, Fears) reports the study, which “tracked the global manufacture and distribution of plastics since they became widespread after World War II found that only 2 billion tons of that plastic is still in use.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• After Struggle For Visas, Afghan Girls Compete In First Global Robotics Competition.
• Renowned Engineering Professor Discusses New Role As Dean Of Purdue’s College Of Engineering.
• Notre Dame Breaks Research Funding Record.
• Lockheed, Amazon Top List Of Companies With The Most STEM Job Openings.
• Lockheed Competes With Boeing, Northrop For Next-Gen Nuclear Missile Contract.
• Perry Promotes Energy Exports, Awaits Electric Grid Study.
• New York State Official Calls For Work-Readiness Credential As Alternative Diploma Pathway.
|IOP Publishing and APS commit to ORCID scheme|
IOP Publishing and the American Physical Society (APS) have signed up to the ORCID Open Letter, committing to collecting ORCID iDs for authors submitting to their journals following stated best practices. ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) claims to be a not-for-profit organisation that provides a unique digital name, or iD, which identifies researchers and scholars, and distinguishes them from others with similar names.
|SAGE Research Methods Video and Index on Censorship magazine receive awards for Publication Excellence|
Academic publisher SAGE Publishing has announced that SAGE Research Methods Video has received an Award of Excellence and Index on Censorship magazine has received a Grand Award from the Annual Awards for Publication Excellence (APEX Awards). SAGE Research Methods Video is a collection of nearly 500 streaming videos launched in 2016 designed to teach students and researchers the research process. Index on Censorship is a magazine devoted to protecting and promoting free expression.
|CABI merges with SciDev.Net to create stronger organisation for sustainable development|
Scientific publisher CABI and SciDev.Net have agreed to merge, creating a stronger and more diverse combined organisation to help boost their shared mission to improve lives around the world. CABI claims to be an intergovernmental, not-for-profit organisation that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.
|RCUK confirms its Open Access block grant funding levels until 2020|
Research Councils UK (RCUK) has announced that the Open Access block grants will be continued at current levels for a further 2 years. The grants fund costs relating to articles published in peer reviewed journals that have resulted from RCUK funded research and which acknowledge Research Council Funding.
|Altmetric badges now live on CSIRO Publishing platform|
Alternative metrics provider Altmetric has announced that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Publishing has integrated Altmetric data into its journal platform to highlight the online shares and discussion surrounding published articles. CSIRO Publishing is part of the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia, and publishes books, journals and magazines across a range of scientific disciplines.
|Authorea integrates with bioRxiv to allow direct submission of preprints|
Authorea, an online collaborative document editor for researchers, has announced a partnership and direct submission agreement with bioRxiv, a preprint server for biological research. The agreement enables researchers writing documents on Authorea to submit preprints directly to bioRxiv with one-click.
|Equinox Publishing joins Aggregagent and ALPSP Collections|
ACCUCOMS and Equinox Publishing Ltd have signed an agreement to include Equinox journals in Aggregagent. The journals will also be part of the ‘ALPSP Collections’, a series of packages of content from ALPSP members, within the Aggregagent framework.
Leading the News
After Struggle For Visas, Afghan Girls Compete In First Global Robotics Competition.
The New York Times (7/18, Cochrane, Subscription Publication) reports that after “an international outcry and intervention from President Trump and other officials,” six members of an all-girl Afghan robotics team were allowed “to the United States for participation in First Global, an international robotics contest.” The Times portrays the girls as the “stars” of the competition, having drawn praise for their perseverance in their struggle to travel to the us. The article describes the competition, and says that while the Afghan girls “did not place in the top ranks overall, their final performance, they agreed, was better than they had hoped for.”
PBS NewsHour (7/18) aired a segment on the competition, also focused on the Afghan girls. This piece explains that the competition “is part of an effort to get more young people, particularly from underrepresented countries, to enter STEM fields.” The AP (7/18, Gresko) reports on some of the other stories from the competition.
Renowned Engineering Professor Discusses New Role As Dean Of Princeton’s College Of Engineering.
The Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier (7/18) interviews Mung Chiang, who in May was named the Purdue University College of Engineering dean. Purdue President Mitch Daniels described the electrical engineering professor and former Princeton University Keller Center for Innovations in Engineering Education director as “one of the genuine superstars of American engineering and higher education.” Notably, Chiang “won the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, one of the highest honors given to U.S. scientists and engineers under 35, in 2013 for his research to design simpler and more powerful wireless networks.” In the interview Friday, “Chiang discussed his admiration for the university, Purdue engineering and what he’s learned during his first two weeks as dean.”
Mitchell Pushes Bill To Get Information On College Academic, Employment Outcomes.
Politico Morning Education (7/18) reports that Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), a former CEO at a for-profit college, “co-sponsored the House bill that’s part of a new, bipartisan effort in Congress to overturn a decade-old federal prohibition on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students. The goal is to arm consumers with better data about colleges and universities.”
Roe, Walz Propose Expanding Education Benefits Under GI Bill.
The Washington Post (7/18, Shapiro) reports Rep. Phil Roe, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, and Rep. Tim Walz, the ranking Democrat, introduced Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which is aimed at significantly expanding the education benefits under the GI Bill “by allowing a longer time frame for using that assistance.” Specifically, the proposed measure “would remove the 15-year cap for benefits that had forced veterans to ‘use it or lose it,’” therefore allowing eligible veterans to return “to school at any time for life.” The measure would also “open eligibility for future generations of veterans,” and “restore benefits to veterans affected by school closures, including a retroactive provision to offer relief for those who lost benefits because of the recent shutdown of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian College.” The Post says the so-called Forever GI Bill “is receiving widespread support among veterans groups, including Student Veterans of America, Got Your 6 and the Travis Manion Foundation.”
Commentary: Modernized GI Bill Can Help Fill Anticipated Manufacturing Job Vacancies. George W. Bush Institute Military Service Initiative director Miguel Howe, in a piece for The Hill (7/18, Howe, Contributor) “Pundits Blog,” says “nearly half of the veterans transitioning from military to civilian life enter higher education, and two-thirds of them are first generation college students,” according to the Student Veterans of America. Howe says, and adds that veterans are particularly “well-positioned to fill” the anticipated two million unfilled “new manufacturing” jobs in the next decade. “Since the post-9/11 GI Bill was signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, early reports have found a possible $8 return for every $1 spent, correlating to a positive economic impact,” and lawmakers are “finally addressing the skills gap by modernizing the post-9/11 GI Bill.” Howe commends the measure, but adds that “the onus now falls on higher education leaders and institutions to step up and recruit this valuable population of veterans.”
New GI Bill To Include Restoration Of Benefits For Students Of Shuttered For-Profits. Politico Morning Education (7/18) reports that the GI Bill Expansion bill being fast tracked through the House will “include a full reinstatement of educational benefits for veterans affected by the sudden closures of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech.” The previous version of the bill would only have restored a single semester of benefits.
Research and Development
Notre Dame Breaks Research Funding Record.
The South Bend (IN) Tribune (7/17) reports that officials at the University of Notre Dame have announced that the school “has received $138.1 million in research funding for fiscal year 2017, surpassing the previous record of $133.7 million set in fiscal year 2015.” President Rev. John I. Jenkins “credited the efforts of the faculty as well as the work of Robert Bernhard, vice president of research,” saying, “It advances Notre Dame’s reputation as a national research university, and it represents a welcome infusion of spending in South Bend.”
Inside INdiana Business (7/17) reports that Bernhard “says fundraising success by Indiana’s highest-profile research institutions is bucking national trends.” The article reports that sizable grants went to the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory, the College of Engineering’s Center for Low Energy Systems Technology, and the Department of Theology.
Stony Brook Researchers Create Smart Watch Text Entry Technology.
The Deccan (IND) Chronicle (7/18) reports that researchers at Stony Brook University’s Department of Computer Science have developed “a rotational keyboard that will be used to enter text into smartwatches without the need for a touchscreen.” The COMPASS technology “is a text entry method that is based in the bezel of the watch, allowing the user to rotate three cursors that will enable them to select which letter they want to type. After selecting their letter, the locations of the cursors are then dynamically optimised to reduce the distance of the next rotation.”
DOE Gives Clemson Grant To Study Energy Efficiency Through Automated Vehicle Technology.
The Greenville (SC) News (7/18) reports the Department of Energy has given researchers at Clemson University “roughly $1.16 million to research the use of connected and automated vehicle technology to help boost energy efficiency.” The grant is part of DOE’s “$19.4 million investment package through the Vehicle Technologies Office for more than a dozen projects nationwide.” The project is focused on “research of advanced battery, lightweight materials, engine technologies and energy efficient mobility systems.”
GM, Army Engineers Develop Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Powered Electric Truck.
The Los Angeles Times (7/19, Cardine) reports General Motors and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) have developed a “hydrogen fuel-cell powered electric truck…that can move quickly and stealthily over sand and rocks, acting as a zero-emissions power generator capable of creating water as a by-product.” The team showed of a ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell electric Chevy Colorado prototype last week.
NASA Looking Into Creating Rocket Fuel On Mars.
Wired UK (7/4, Beall) reports that NASA is looking into creating rocket fuel on Mars with the 2012 start of the In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) research. The researchers are working to find the best way to create rocket fuel. Michigan Tech University Senior Lecturer Paul van Susante believes that mining space resources is required for long-term space travel to become reality.
New Planet Formation Research Published.
SPACE (7/18, Emspak) reports that finding thousands of “alien planets” with most categorized as “super-Earths” or rocky worlds, ranging in size from Earth to Neptune, contradicts astronomer understanding of planet formation. University of Arizona Postdoctoral Researcher Ruobing Dong with his colleagues suggest that “super-Earths can carve out multiple gaps in the disks of gas and dust that surround young stars.” The university’s team used computer simulations to reproduce and synchronize telescope observations made of younger stars with its protoplanetary disks still intact. The Astrophysical Journal published the results in its July 13 issue that may help explain disconnects between planet-formation theories and the known exoplanet population in that, “Gas giants may not be necessary to carve out gaps.”
Ars Technica Review Says Bosch-Modified Autonomous Car “Performed Flawlessly.”
Ars Technica (7/18, Gitlin) reviews a modified Tesla Model S sedan at the Bosch Mobility Experience that is “one of a number of research vehicles that the engineering company is using to develop autonomous driving components and systems to sell to car companies.” Ars Technica outlines the differences between the levels of autonomous vehicles and contends that “on the demonstration drive, the system performed flawlessly.” Ars Technica added “vehicle-to-vehicle communication alerted it (and us) to the presence of other vehicles on the road, and the car negotiated the tight turns of the handling track at Bosch’s proving ground without issue.”
NASA Successfully Tests Space Station Airlocks Developed By NanoRacks.
The Houston Chronicle (7/18, Rumbaugh) reports the Houston-area NanoRacks announced Tuesday that an airlock it designed for the International Space Station was successfully tested in an astronaut training exercise using “a NASA-built, full-scale air lock mockup.” The test, which was “conducted in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6.2-million-gallon pool,” confirmed “spacewalking astronauts will be able to use handrails to maneuver around the air lock structure and mounted external payloads.”
Startup Seeks To Replace Office Jobs With Augmented Reality Holograms.
Bloomberg News (7/18, Wang) profiles Meta, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2012 by Meron Gribetz “that makes augmented reality headsets that overlay holographic images on the real world.” Gribetz, who studied neuroscience and computer science at Columbia University, has said he is determined to use augmented reality to replace the “tyranny of the modern office” – namely, “monitors, keyboards and eventually even cubicles.” Bloomberg notes “Meta raised $50 million from investors like Lenovo Group Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.” last year, and its devices are currently being “by developers and companies – ranging from architects to designers to auto manufacturers.” The company anticipates that by the end of this year, more than 10,000 people will be using its headset.
Lockheed, Amazon Top List Of Companies With The Most STEM Job Openings.
According to Forbes (7/18, Kauflin), Lockheed Martin and Amazon are the top two companies in the nation with the most STEM job openings right now. Forbes states that it “searched Lockheed’s careers page and found 530 openings in software engineering, 423 in systems engineering and 238 in information technology, among many other vacancies.” Meanwhile, Indeed Senior Vice President of Product Raj Mukherjee said that “Amazon more than tripled the number of STEM job postings in 2017 from last year.”
Lockheed Competes With Boeing, Northrop For Next-Gen Nuclear Missile Contract.
The Denver Business Journal (7/18, Avery, Subscription Publication) reports Lockheed Martin is in competition with Boeing and Northrop Grumman the design the next-gen nuclear missile fleet. According to the story, Lockheed Martin “could add 250 engineers if it lands the missile work.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Perry Promotes Energy Exports, Awaits Electric Grid Study.
The AP (7/18, Daly) reports Energy Secretary Perry said Tuesday that the Trump Administration is pushing for increased exports of natural gas, oil, and coal as the US seeks “energy dominance” in the world market. Perry also said he is waiting to receive “a widely expected” Energy Department study into the reliability of the electric grid, a draft version of which has been leaked to the press.
NYTimes Analysis: Perry’s Clean Coal Support Contrasts With Administration Policy. In an analysis, the New York Times (7/18, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that Energy Secretary Perry’s message supporting “clean coal” contrasts with key Administration energy policies, such as his proposal to cut 54 percent of the budget of the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which “focuses on researching technologies to use coal, oil and natural gas more cleanly and safely.” The Times highlights several energy policy experts who say that the “carbon capture technology” being developed in the 17 research facilities operating under the Office of Fossil Energy offers the “only” way to address climate change concerns while using a majority of the US’s fossil fuel assets. The Times also says that President Trump “has shown little concern” for climate change, evidenced by his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and EPA Administrator Pruitt’s attempts to remove Obama-era climate regulations.
NYTimes Analysis: Perry’s Clean Coal Support Contrasts With Administration Policy.
In an analysis, the New York Times (7/18, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s message supporting “clean coal” contrasts with key Trump Administration energy policies, such as the proposal to cut 54 percent of the budget of the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which “focuses on researching technologies to use coal, oil and natural gas more cleanly and safely.” The Times highlights several energy policy experts who say that the “carbon capture technology” being developed in the 17 research facilities run by the Energy Department offers the “only” way to address climate change concerns while using a majority of the U.S.’s fossil fuel assets. The Times also says that President Trump “has shown little concern” for climate change, evidenced by his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s attempts and removing Obama-era climate regulations.
New York State Official Calls For Work-Readiness Credential As Alternative Diploma Pathway.
Chalkbeat (7/18) reports New York state Education Commissioner Maryellen Elia, at a state Board of Regents discussion about graduation requirements and diploma options on Tuesday, proposed a “local diploma” option that students can obtain with a Career Development and Occupational Studies, or CDOS, work-readiness credential. Chalkbeat explains New York’s “CDOS credential was originally crafted in 2013 as an alternative to a diploma for students with disabilities” who exhibit employment readiness “by completing hundreds of hours of vocational coursework and job-shadowing or by passing a work-readiness exam.” Last year, the rules were changed “to also allow general education students to obtain the credential, which can substitute for a fifth Regents exam for students who pass four.” While the move would “mark a huge victory for advocates who argue those exams unfairly hold students back,” it could “also raise questions about whether standards are being watered down.”
“Zero Robotics” Camps Introduce West Virginia Students To STEM Fields.
The Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram (7/18) reports Zero Robotics, which receives funding from ED and through the 21st Century Community Learning Grant, is hosting camps at four West Virginia schools this month. Cassandra Sisler, a camp coordinator, described the program as “part of a nationwide competition to write computer code to move Synchronized, Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (S.P.H.E.R.E.S.) on the International Space Station.” She added that participating students “will be exploring different Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.” Camp instructor Amanda Rehe said participating students also have access to Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who can “assist with coding help in addition to what we are teaching them.” On Monday, the Exponent-Telegram notes, “the students traveled to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Fairmont.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Legislators Introduce Bipartisan “Invent And Manufacture In America Act.”
• NYTimes A1: Up To $5 Billion In Private Student Loan Debt Uncollectable Due To Shoddy Paperwork.
• Jet Propulsion Laboratory Designing Robotic Landers.
• Researchers Expect First ITER Operation In A Decade Or So.
• Pipeline Building Boom Fuels Climate, Landowner Concerns.
• Afghan Teens Win First Round Of Robot Competition.
Leading the News
Legislators Introduce Bipartisan “Invent And Manufacture In America Act.”
The Washington Examiner (7/17, Weaver) reports that “Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Ron Kind (D-WA), with Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) have introduced the Invent and Manufacture in America Act, a bill that would give a tax credit to companies that not only conduct research and development, but also manufacture products resulting from that R&D as well.” The article quotes Rep. Kelly saying, “I’m from the private sector. What we’ve found that works best: If you want to do something, you usually incentivize any good behavior.” Rep. Kelly emphasized the importance of tax reform to manufacturing, saying, “So, we’re looking at the loss of jobs we’ve had – manufacturing jobs, the number of manufacturing plants have closed, and when you ask them why is it that you’ve closed … why did you choose to actually assemble it someplace else, it’s usually because of a more favorable tax situation.”
NYTimes A1: Up To $5 Billion In Private Student Loan Debt Uncollectable Due To Shoddy Paperwork.
The New York Times (7/17, A1, Cowley, Silver-Greenberg, Subscription Publication) reports that at least $5 billion in private student loan debt for tens of thousands of people who have been unable to maintain on-time payments may be eliminated because documentation proving who owns the loans is missing. A review of court documents by the Times in cases in which the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts is “aggressively” pursuing student borrowers shows that many collection cases are “deeply flawed,” similar to previous cases judges have dismissed against former students, “essentially wiping out their debt.” National Consumer Law Center lawyer Robyn Smith said that the group’s situation is particularly acute, noting that they repeatedly drop lawsuits when borrowers contest them.
University Of Massachusetts System To Increase Tuition Cost By Three Percent.
The Boston Globe (7/17, Fernandes) reports the University of Massachusetts’ governing board approved on Monday a three percent tuition increase across its four campuses this fall amid “slow enrollment growth, limited state aid, and rising expenses.” Students “will see their tuition increase to an average of $14,253 this year, and thousands of undergraduates who live on campus will see their costs for room and board rise by hundreds of dollars.” The Globe says Massachusetts’ public higher education system “already has among the most expensive public university tuition costs in the country, and the 3 percent increase comes on the heels of a 5.8 percent increase this past year, and a 5 percent increase in 2015. The UMass system did not raise tuition in 2013 and 2014.” University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan called the tuition hike a necessary and “modest increase,” and noted tuition is still lower than what many neighboring public universities and private colleges offer.
California Community Colleges To Vote On Plan To Raise Graduation, Transfer Rates.
“There is a clear need for more workers to gain access to the skills and credentials,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, and added that if the colleges “can’t organize ourselves in a way that catches up with that demand, then we are going to make ourselves irrelevant,” reports EdSource (7/16). Oakley’s challenge came shortly before the California Community Colleges Board of Governors’ vote Monday “on a new vision document detailing how the state’s largest educator of college students will both prepare and graduate the workers of tomorrow.” The state’s community colleges educate more than two million students; however, 52 percent of community college enrollees dropped out last year. EdSource says if the plan is approved and implemented, it could “lead to more Californians with two- or four-year degrees entering the workforce,” a much-needed shift because the state needs 1.1 million more “workers with bachelor’s degrees by 2030 to remain economically competitive.”
Research and Development
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Designing Robotic Landers.
BBC News (UK) (7/17, Hollingham) reports that the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA are working on missions to explore whether life exists beyond Earth. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers are designing robotic landers meant to take samples on the icy surfaces. NASA is planning a mission for the mid-2020s known as Europa Clipper, in which a robotic space probe will fly past Europa roughly 40 times to conduct a detailed surface study.
Researchers Develop New Optical Fiber That Retains Light Properties.
Nanowerk (7/17) reports the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the Kotelnikov Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics (IRE) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), and scientists from Finland “have developed a new type of optical fiber that has an extremely large core diameter and preserves the coherent properties of light.” The article says that the findings are “promising for constructing high-power pulsed fiber lasers and amplifiers, as well as polarization-sensitive sensors.” The paper was published in the journal Optics Express.
Virginia To Allow Testing Of Autonomous Cars On Express Lanes.
The AP (7/17) cites WTOP-FM in reporting the state of Virginia’s transportation board “is set to approve an agreement on Wednesday that would permit” the testing of autonomous vehicles “on express lanes of Interstates 95 and 495 in northern Virginia.” The AP adds “the deal involves the state Department of Transportation, the company operating express lanes, and the Federal Highway Administration’s Operations Research and Development office.”
Researchers Expect First ITER Operation In A Decade Or So.
Inside Science (7/17, Bardi) reports on the “huge experimental nuclear fusion reactor in the south of France” on which the U.S. and 34 other nations “is making a massive investment in time and money to help…build.” While critics attack the project’s large budget, “its ability to keep on schedule and other issues,” supporters say the ITER “has the potential to prove out the ability of fusion power plants to provide limitless, clean energy and secure the planet’s future.” The ITER is a “nuclear fusion experiment and engineering effort to bridge the valley toward sustainable, clean, limitless energy-producing fusion power plants of the future.” According to Dennis Whyte of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers “expect the very first operations of it in about a decade. And by the latest schedule, the first time it will actually try to get net energy is roughly 20 years away.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Pipeline Building Boom Fuels Climate, Landowner Concerns.
NPR (7/17, Lombardi, Hopkins) reports a boom in new and expanded natural gas pipeline infrastructure is fueling climate worries and concerning landowners, detailing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s review process for such projects. The article reports, “Pipeline companies, for their part, say the review process is exacting.” Dominion Energy Senior Policy Director Bruce McKay said of the FERC, “They’re not here to do our bidding,” mentioning that the companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline “have submitted 100,000 pages of documentation to FERC and made 300 route adjustments to avoid ecologically sensitive areas at the agency’s request.”
FBI Warns Parents About Dangers Posed By Toys Connected To The Internet.
Reuters (7/17, Moon) reports that on Monday, the FBI “warned parents of privacy and safety risks from children’s toys connected to the internet.” According to Reuters, “in an advisory posted on its website,” the FBI “said that such toys may contain parts or capabilities such as microphones, cameras, GPS, data storage and speech recognition that may disclose personal information.” Tod Beardsley, director of research at cyber security firm Rapid7, is quoted as saying: “I think this is the first time the FBI has issued such warning. … A lot of people tend to trust the FBI as a government organization, so it definitely raises awareness of the risk associated with internet-connected toys.”
Net Metering To Remain In Place In Michigan.
E&E Publishing (7/17, Subscription Publication) reports that in Michigan net metering “will remain in place for at least another year while regulators preside over what’s likely to be a contentious proceeding to decide how future rooftop solar owners are compensated for excess generation.” The state’s “energy laws, which took effect in April, required the commission to establish a distributed generation (DG) program within 90 days.” The Public Service Commission last week “ruled that the state’s existing net-metering program, which credits customers for excess generation put back on the grid at retail rates, should stay in place until new tariffs are approved after June 1, 2018.” And those “who connect distributed generation to the grid before the new tariffs are implemented will be grandfathered under the existing net-metering program for a decade.”
Editorial: States Should Support Net-Metering, But With More Careful Considerations.
An editorial in the Bloomberg View (7/17) assesses the net-metering debate, concluding that while the practice makes sense, state needs to calculate the net-metering subsidy more carefully to ensure that all customers are treated fairly and to reduce uncertainty about the program.
Utilities Ramp Up Direct Rebates For Electric Vehicles.
ClimateWire (7/17, Kaenel, Subscription Publication) reports utilities in California and Vermont are now offering direct rebates for electric vehicles, in a trend marking “an expansion of efforts by electric companies to boost the market.” The article reports Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric “offer credits between $200 and $500 to customers who drive an electric vehicle,” which “are paid for by the sale of California Air Resources Board credits aimed at lowering the carbon intensity of fuels.”
Afghan Teens Win First Round Of Robot Competition.
The CBS Evening News (7/17, story 10, 2:10, Mason) reported that some teams competing in the International Robotics Competition had more challenges than others, “but perhaps no group overcame more adversity than this team from Afghanistan, where girls are discouraged from pursuing education.” CBS (Reid) added, “To get to the US, they twice had to make the 500-mile journey from their home in western Afghanistan through Taliban-controlled territory to the capital Kabul to get visas. Both time they were denied until President Trump intervened and authorized special visas. But concerns about terrorism delayed their package of robot parts. They had only two weeks to build theirs. Other groups had much longer. But in their first round today, they won, working with the teams from Estonia and Gabon. Despite all the challenge, this group of future engineers and computer scientists made clear they will not be deterred from their dreams.”
NPR Profiles Gambian Robotics Team.
NPR ’s (7/17) “Goats And Soda” profiles members of Team Gambia, who along with Afghanistan’s team were initially denied US visas to compete at the First Global Challenge 2017. Khadijatou Gassama, one of the two girls on Gambia’s five-student team, said they all lacked robotics experience prior to the competition, and they “didn’t have anyone to help us with the design.” Gassama’s knowledge of physics prompted “her professor to recommend her for the robotics team,” and she now “hopes to study nanotechnology.” Gassama and the other female teammate, Fatoumata Ceesay, said they “would like to inspire more young women in their home country to get into robotics.” NPR notes 48.4 percent of Gambia’s population lives in poverty, and “along with many other countries, still has a STEM gender gap.” Gambian embassy charge d’affaires Hamba Manneh said the Gambian government is striving to include girls in all government-sponsored events. “If you neglect half of your population, you are likely to fail in any undertaking,” he stated.
Boeing Official Touts Early Start To STEM Curriculum In South Carolina.
The Florence (SC) Morning News (7/17) reports that Tommy Preston, director of Boeing’s national strategy and government operations, speaking Monday at a Rotary Club meeting in Florence, South Carolina, said that “implementing the STEM curriculum at an early age is the way to go for Boeing South Carolina. … In the nine years of Boeing South Carolina’s existence, it has 7,500 employees, and in five years half of the company’s engineers will be eligible to retire.” The piece quotes Preston saying, “We need to get aggressive with getting the next generation involved in advanced manufacturing.”
Kansas City Nonprofit To Convert Jumbo Jet Into STEM Education Lab.
The Kansas City (MO) Star (7/17) reports Kansas City nonprofit TriStar Experience is transforming a Lockheed L-1011 jumbo jet into a regional interactive lab aimed at sparking “children’s early interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” TriStar educational program director Phil Liming remarked, “Imagine several busloads of kids show up, board the aircraft and the whole STEM program can take place on board.” The jet field trips will be tailored for Kansas and Missouri state education standards, said Liming, and the nonprofit is “applying for grants so we can use those funds to subsidize disadvantaged schools if they can’t afford that fee.” TriStar program development director Deborah Caywood “said only 18 percent of high school students graduate with an interest in STEM fields,” and a 2017 National Science Foundation Report found “race and gender gaps for students going into STEM careers are even more challenging to bridge.”
Connecticut Program Offers “Hands-On Aerospace Internship Experience.”
The AP (7/17, Conner Lambeck) profiles Milestone C, launched by former fighter pilot Cemocan “Gemo” Yesil and Sikorsky Aircraft systems engineer Dave Conelias in January “to give participants a hands-on aerospace internship experience.” Milestone C is currently offering a two-week Engineering & Aviation Summer Camp in Connecticut “to motivate and empower future leaders in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM.” Yesil said all participating students “are interested,” and some “are actually passionate,” but “Yesil wants to build confidence by giving participants a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of foundational skills and a whole lot of hands-on experience.” Yesel stated, “There are a lot of STEM programs out there – robotics projects, electronic projects, but they are just snapshots,” unlike Milestone C, which “is comprehensive in nature. We simulate what a real world engineering development program would be like over the course of a 40-hour program.”
New York University Program Introduces Girls To Computer Science, Cyber Security.
THE Journal (7/17) reports 45 female high school students are attending New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s four-week Computer Science for Cyber Security program. The free program is one of NYU’s STEMNow camps, which recruit “from New York City public schools with an emphasis on those who come from families in which no one has attended college and within communities typically underrepresented in STEM.” At CS4CS, participants “are tackling programming, virtuous hacking and digital forensics this week,” and will culminate their education “with a cyber-mystery that involves, aptly, the theft of Wonder Woman’s iconic lasso.” THE Journal notes “Tandon’s population of female students for the coming academic year is 40 percent, compared to a national average of 20 percent among engineering undergraduate programs in 2015, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Draft Report: Renewable Energy Doesn’t Put Grid At Risk.
• Math Scholar Maryam Mirzakhani Dies At 40.
• Administration Finalizing Plans To Revamp Military Cyber Operations.
• WPost A1: Silicon Valley Uses Technology To Combat Growing Sexual Harassment Problem.
• Irish Energy Networks Targeted By Hackers.
• Some Texans Protest Proposed Use Of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes To Combat Zika.
• Rights Activists, Experts Criticize Trump’s Decision To Grant Visas To Afghan Robotics Students.
Leading the News
Draft Report: Renewable Energy Doesn’t Put Grid At Risk.
Bloomberg News (7/14, Dlouhy) reports “wind and solar power don’t pose a significant threat to the reliability of the U.S. power grid,” staff members at the Energy Department “said in a draft report, contradicting statements by their leader Rick Perry.” According to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News, “The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards.” The findings of the report, which are still being reviewed by DOE leadership, “contrast with Perry’s arguments that ‘baseload’ sources such as coal and nuclear power that provide constant power are jeopardized by Obama-era incentives for renewable energy, making the grid unreliable.” Two sources “familiar with the report, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, confirmed the early conclusions though cautioned they were subject to change.” Bloomberg adds it’s “customary for administration officials to put their own stamp on reports prepared by career staff at federal agencies.” The Washington Examiner (7/14, Siciliano) reports Energy Department spokeswoman Shayln Hynes said, “Those statements as written are not in the current draft.” Hynes added that the draft is “constantly evolving.”
The Daily Caller (7/15, White) reports the Energy Department “study comes after Perry said in early April that he and international counterparts discussed the need for a diverse supply of electricity during a G-7 Energy Ministerial meeting in Rome.” Axios (7/14, Vavra) and Greentech Media (7/14, Subscription Publication) also provide coverage of this story.
Math Scholar Maryam Mirzakhani Dies At 40.
The Washington Post (7/15, Schudel) reports Iranian-born mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman ever to win the prestigious Fields Medal, has died at age 40. Mirzakhani’s “work was deeply theoretical, but other mathematicians considered it boldly original and of untold future importance.” After moving to the US, Mirzakhani studied at Harvard and taught at Stanford University.
Noting that the Fields Medal is “often described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics,” the Boston Globe (7/16, Chang) reports Princeton University mathematician Peter C. Sarnak said “her death is ‘a big loss and shock to the mathematical community worldwide.’” The San Francisco Chronicle (7/15) also covers this story.
Illinois Budged Deal Grants Public Universities Short-Term Financial Relief.
The Chicago Tribune (7/16, Rhodes) reports that for the first time in 736 days, public universities in Illinois will “start the school year with the promise of state money from Springfield.” State universities had “received a fraction of their typical state funding before the spigot was shut off in 2017,” triggering “campus shutdowns, layoffs, program cuts, maintenance failures and construction delays along the way.” While the budget provides short-term relief, many school leaders “say they face a daunting challenge to undo the havoc that the impasse wreaked upon the reputation and fiscal stability of public higher education in Illinois.” For example, the University of Illinois “will have to go forward with a $467 million hole in its operations.” Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, which was already in a financial situation “so dire that the administration lent the campus dollars from the Edwardsville site to keep it running,” will still be “in the hole for $37.8 million for 2017.”
Study: Wyoming, New Mexico Universities Offer Best Financial Rate Of Return.
Santa Fe New Mexican (7/16) reports the Texas-based student loan management company Student Loan Hero released a study this week that found “New Mexicans with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $43,257 per year after graduation, while residents with only a high school diploma earn about $26,000 annually.” The state’s average five-year rate of return was more than 150 percent of tuition costs, exceeded only by Wyoming’s nearly 203 percent five-year rate of return.
Research and Development
Administration Finalizing Plans To Revamp Military Cyber Operations.
After “months of delay,” the AP (7/15, Baldor) reports, the Administration “is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials.” Under the plans, US Cyber Command would “eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.” While details are still being worked out, officials “say they expect a decision and announcement in the coming weeks.” The officials said the goal is to give US Cyber Command more autonomy, which the AP says will free it “from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA” and “put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in space.” However, experts “said the command will need time to find its footing.”
UCSD Researchers Create Glove That Translates Sign Language To Text.
Newsweek (7/15, Marcin) reports that a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego has created at glove that can render letters in American Sign Language into text. The researchers built the device “for less than $100 using flexible electronics that are available commercially.” The glove “uses flexible sensors to detect the movement of the signer’s knuckles, which creates a nine-digit binary key (0s and 1s) that corresponds to a letter.”
Researchers Develop High-Resolution Printing Method For Graphene Inks.
Nanowerk (7/16) reports research (7/12) published in ACS Nano demonstrates “a transfer printing method based on a hydrophobic mold suitable for high-resolution patterning of graphene inks.” The researchers found the “robust thermal stability of the mold (∼250°C) allows broad process compatibility, enabling printing of conductive, flexible, sub-5 µm graphene patterns.” The authors conclude: “This promising platform for transfer printing offers significant potential for expanding the design space to integrate functional inks with precise, high-resolution patterning methods, ultimately advancing the development of high-performance, flexible, printed electronic systems.”
Research At Colorado’s Center Of Excellence For Aerial Firefighting Seeks To Give Firefighters Better Location Tools.
The Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel (7/16) reports about how solving “data-transmission challenges” can help firefighters in the western United States fight fires more effectively by providing them with “real-time maps” and “technology to let fire managers know individual firefighters’ locations in relationship to the fire, if that location information can be transmitted.” The story focuses on the data transmission research being conducted by wildland fire technology specialist Brad Schmidt of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting. Schmidt says, “We really want to help them get the same data an Uber driver has, a FedEx driver has. … I think it’s a shame wildland firefighters don’t have that yet.”
WPost A1: Silicon Valley Uses Technology To Combat Growing Sexual Harassment Problem.
In a front-page article, the Washington Post (7/14, A1, Dwoskin) reports that some Silicon Valley leaders have devised a new way to deal with the “burgeoning sexual harassment crisis,” which is to “use technology to create a blacklist.” The influential start-up incubator Y Combinator emailed a reporting form to 3,500 entrepreneurs, urging them “to blow the whistle on sexual harassment by venture capitalists.” Y Combinator partner Kat Manalac said, “We don’t call it a blacklist, but that is essentially what is happening. … There has always been a whisper network, where investors and entrepreneurs know which other investors are bad actors.” According to the Post, this effort by Y Combinator and others is “part of the industry’s urgent search for answers in the wake of sexual harassment scandals that have cemented Silicon Valley’s reputation as hostile to women.”
Irish Energy Networks Targeted By Hackers.
The Independent (UK) (7/15, Dearden) reports, “Hackers have targeted Irish energy networks amid warnings over the potential impact of intensifying cyber attacks on crucial infrastructure.” Senior engineers at a company that supplies energy to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “were sent personalised emails containing malicious software by a group linked to Russia’s GRU intelligence agency, The Times reported.” The Independent adds, “Analysts told the newspaper the cyber attack intended to infiltrate control systems, giving hackers the power to take out part of the electricity grid with similar tactics that have caused mass outrages in Ukraine.”
Chinese Wind Power Giant Outlines Vision Of Digital Platform For Energy World.
Bloomberg News (7/14, Doan) reported that the chief executive of the Chinese wind power giant Envision Energy outlined his vision of a “global ‘ecosystem’ of energy” during an interview in San Francisco. Lei Zhang described a system in which “solar and wind farms, power plants, utilities, big electricity customers and all of the application and software developers that support them are connected to each other on a single, digital platform.” Envision Energy also plans to supply that platform, and recently announced an alliance with companies including Microsoft Corp. and Accenture Plc. To promote digitalization in the energy industry.
Engineering and Public Policy
Some Texans Protest Proposed Use Of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes To Combat Zika.
The Dallas Morning News (7/16, Caldera) reports Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which “carry the Zika virus,” are spreading in Texas, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in June, and “389 Texans” are “registered in the Centers for Disease Control’s Zika Pregnancy Registry.” According to the article, biotechnology company Oxitec, which genetically modifies mosquitoes to make its “offspring die in the first two to three days of life,” says it can stop the spread of mosquitoes and is awaiting approval to begin a trial in Texas. The article says some Texans are protesting the proposed use of genetically altered mosquitoes, though the FDA last August “found the mosquitoes had ‘no significant impact on the environment and human health.’”
Grants Help South Carolina Cities Upgrade To Low-Emission Vehicles.
The Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail (7/15, Hardesty) reported that public transportation agencies in Clemson and Anderson, South Carolina have received approvals of grant applications that will accelerate the move away from diesel engines and toward low-emission alternatives. The Clemson Area Transit system will use its grant to replace as many as 10 aging diesel buses with new electric ones. Anderson plans to add two additional natural-gas fueled buses to its fleet.
New Nebraska Wind Farm Expected To Significantly Boost Wind Power.
The AP (7/14) reports a new Northeast Nebraska wind farm “is expected to boost wind power to about 40 percent of the Omaha Public Power District’s electricity generation by the end of 2019.” On Thursday, OPPD President Tim Burke “told the utility’s board of directors…that NextEra Energy Resources will build the Sholes Wind Energy Center in Wayne County.” OPPD “will purchase the electricity generated from the 160-megawatt farm.” It is expected that the project will “boost the utility’s overall renewable generation to more than 1,000 megawatts, which includes hydropower OPPD purchases from the Western Area Power Administration and landfill gas it extracts from the Douglas County landfill.”
Wyoming Wind Projects Short On Workers.
The AP (7/16, Richards) reports that in Wyoming “wind energy has found favor with some and stoked anger in others” as “loyalty to oil, gas and coal is strong, and wind has a reputation for being a liberal industry, propped up by taxpayers’ subsidies, pushed onto the electricity grid by unfair policies in green states.” But some contend “there is another, more fundamental problem with wind: Where will the people come from?” Wind capacity in the state “would double if all the proposals on the table for new farms are realized,” and all the developments “will need workers — first to build the farms and then to staff them for maintenance and repairs.” But the small towns in the rural part of the state “don’t have people, and they can’t keep the new people who arrive, said Gary Jones, a resident of nearby Hanna, population 814.”
California Lawmakers Consider $3B Rebate For Electric Car Purchases.
The Wall Street Journal (7/15, Lazo, Higgins, Subscription Publication) reported that a bill to provide $3 billion worth of rebates toward electric car purchases has passed in California’s state Assembly, and is now being considered in the state Senate. Assemblyman Phil Ting, who introduced the bill, said the rebates are necessary to reach California’s goal to build 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles by 2025 and meet aggressive mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Critics, however, say the rebates are a giveaway to an industry that is overly reliant on public funding.
North Carolina Gov. To Decide Fate Of State Wind Energy.
The AP (7/15, Robertson) reported that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper must decide whether to sign or veto a law that would “make solar power production more competitive, and less expensive for Charlotte-based Duke Energy and its customers,” but would also establish a 3½-year moratorium on state permits for wind energy projects. Republicans in the state Senate say the moratorium would give time to chart acreage where wind turbines should be prohibited to ensure they don’t interfere with aircraft training from eastern North Carolina military bases.
Rights Activists, Experts Criticize Trump’s Decision To Grant Visas To Afghan Robotics Students.
President Trump’s “last-minute intervention” to secure US visas for female Afghan robotics students “drew praise from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway,” but human rights activists and critics “pointed to the administration’s travel ban, saying it’s the reason the team was barred in the first place and suggesting that the president shouldn’t take credit for reversing the consequences of his own policies,” reports the Washington Post (7/15, Phillips). A State Department spokesperson, however, clarified visa applications are “adjudicated on a case-by-case basis,” and University of Massachusetts at Amherst political science professor Paul Musgrove described such a correlation between the visa policy and the Afghan girls’ difficulty in entering the US as misplaced criticism. He added, however, that the situation reflects “the kind of policy errors you get from the administration that imposes the travel ban.”
Miami Summer Camp Encourages Latina Girls To Pursue Careers In Technology.
The Miami Herald (7/16) reports nearly 30 elementary school-aged girls from Miami’s Little Havana and Hialeah are participating in “an eight-week tech entrepreneurship and coding immersion program for young Latinas, one of the most under-represented groups in the tech world.” The summer camp is sponsored by CODeLLA, the healthcare-technology company CareCloud, and Centro Mater Child Care Services. Nereida Rosado, a software engineer who volunteers at the camp, told the girls, “A lot of people tell me, ‘I’ve never seen anyone like you before.’ There’s a stereotype for people in tech.” She continued, “They’re expecting geeky guys. But these women? We break those stereotypes.”
Alaska’s “Robot Girls” Represent US At FIRST Global Robotics Challenge.
The Washington Post (7/16, Silber) reports profiles 16-year-old Katie Johnson, 18-year-old Colleen Johnson, and 17-year-old Sanjna Ravichandar, the members of Team USA competing at the inaugural FIRST Global Robotics Challenge on Monday and Tuesday. The Post explains the competition is “designed to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) around the world.” The Johnsons began competing in FIRST’s Lego and tech challenges almost as soon as they were eligible, and in 2015, their team, Schrodinger’s Hat, “won the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, the top award in the international competition.” The two sisters are known in their Fairbanks, Alaska community as the “robot girls,” and they “have taken advantage of their reputation to promote STEM in their community, especially to young girls.”
Clemson University Launches Summer Camps Aimed At Increasing Diversity In STEM Fields.
The Greenville (SC) News (7/15) reported Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, with the help of an $85,000 grant from the Duke Foundation, is offering two summer programs aimed at encouraging “more diversity in the ‘STEM’ subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, university officials said recently.” One camp, Project WISE, introduces middle school girls to “the opportunities awaiting them in science, technology, engineering and math.” The second camp, the PEER and WISE Experience, grants “50 incoming freshmen a head start on academics and campus life.” Over the years, the Clemson initiative has received financial assistance from the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Duke Energy, and Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program.
Friday’s Lead Stories
• House To Act On Bipartisan Measure To Expand GI Bill.
• NCAN Sees Surge In FAFSA Applications.
• MSU Mechanical Engineer Craig Gunn Named ASEE Fellow.
• Princeton Scientist Developing Technology To Turn Regular Windows Into Smart Windows.
• NNSA Releases RFP On LANL Management.
• New US Sanctions To Target Chinese Firms Over North Korea Ties.
• Outlet Highlights Siemens’ “Digital Twin” Factory Setup.
Leading the News
House To Act On Bipartisan Measure To Expand GI Bill.
The AP (7/13, Yen) reports House Republicans and Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday “that would provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade, removing a 15-year time limit to tap into benefits and increasing money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.” House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe said he would schedule a committee vote next week. The bipartisan measure represents “a sweeping effort to fill coverage gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly changing job market.”
NCAN Sees Surge In FAFSA Applications.
Diverse Education (7/12, Abdul-Alim) reported data compiled by the National College Access Network (NCAN) show “the percentage of high school seniors who by June 30 had filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA) “reached a new high level this year after several years of decline.” NCAN Director of Policy and Advocacy Carrie Warick called the increase “exciting,” saying, “It’s very exciting to see those numbers increase, which means more students – both high school seniors and adults – are considering higher education.”
NYTimes Says Courts Should Enforce ED Rule On For-Profit College Debt.
The New York Times (7/13, Board, Subscription Publication) says in an editorial that “states are still fighting the good fight” against for-profit colleges “that saddle students with crushing debt in exchange for degrees that are essentially useless.” Earlier this year, the Education Department “abruptly suspended federal rules that allow students who have been defrauded by colleges to have their federal loans forgiven,” so 19 states and the District of Columbia took legal action. The Times says that until the department crafts new rules, courts “should require the department to enforce the rules that are already on the books.”
Commentary Considers ED’s Revision Of Student Loan Consumer Protection Rules. Responding to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ plans to revise Obama-era student loan consumer protection rules, the MetroWest (MA) Daily News (7/13) editorializes that while it is “reasonable for DeVos to review the regulations inherited by her from the previous administration,” federal law “ordinarily requires agencies to go through just as open and evidence-based a process to change a rule as to create one.” Forbes (7/13) cartoonist Ed Hall expresses concern that students are “drowning” in debt.
Chronicle of Higher Education (7/13) contributor Nell Gluckman provides an analysis of how the “lawsuit filed last week by a group of state attorneys general against the U.S. Department of Education may indicate that states will ramp up their regulation of the for-profit sector” in response to the rule revision. Bloomberg News (7/13, Dlouhy, Levin) also mentions the lawsuit. Behind a paywall, the Charlotte (NC) Business Journal (7/13, Chemtob, Subscription Publication) focuses on the rule revision’s impact in North Carolina.
Accreditation and Professional Development
MSU Mechanical Engineer Craig Gunn Named ASEE Fellow.
Michigan State University – Today (7/13) reports ASEE named “Craig Gunn, senior academic specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Mechanical Engineering” as an ASEE fellow. The article adds, “ASEE bestowed the honor to 11 new fellows during its 124th annual conference in Columbus, Ohio, June 25-28. The event is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering education.”
Research and Development
Princeton Scientist Developing Technology To Turn Regular Windows Into Smart Windows.
The Wall Street Journal (7/13, Akst, Subscription Publication) reports a team of scientists from Princeton University have developed a new technology to transition regular windows into smart windows that essentially work as sunglasses for a house. The team coated regular glass with a transparent laminate containing solar cells and invisible electronics that turn the glass panel dark blue on command.
Scientists Develop Silicon Carbide Fibers Capable Of Increasing Heat Resistance Of Rocket Engines.
Scientific American (7/13, Patel) reports about the potential for “fuzzy” silicon carbide nanotubes to “make rocket engines more heat-resistant” and able to be “more fuel-efficient, produce more thrust and…carry larger loads – all key for Mars-bound spacecraft and advanced aircraft.” Scientists at Rice University and NASA’s Glenn Research Center have devised “a possible breakthrough” to prevent the fibers from coming out of their ceramic medium using the “fuzzy” silicon carbide fibers, which are “less likely to slip or pull out of a surrounding ceramic medium because their fuzzy tangles lock them together.”
NASA Finds “Huge Hole” In The Sun.
The Independent (UK) (7/13, Khan) reports that NASA has found a “huge hole” in the Sun that is estimated to be 75,000 miles wide. The hole is being referred to as AR2665. Experts warn that the hole is big enough to produce flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory made the discovery. The same experts said it is premature to predict the sun hole’s future behavior. This news is also reported by SPACE. (7/13, Elin Salazar)
Researchers Say Quantum Mechanics Could Shake Up Our Understanding Of Earth’s Magnetic Field.
Gizmodo (7/13, Mandelbaum) reports new research from the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Würzburg in Germany suggests “quantum mechanics could shake up our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field.” Study author Giorgio Sangiovanni said, “This is a new idea put into the geophysics research line that nickel has been neglected for the explanation of the geodynamo, the mechanism for creating the magnetic field.” In short, the researchers believe “nickel could reduce the overall conductivity of the core, causing it to retain extra energy that drives convection,” and this new insight “might have a large enough effect that models of the Earth’s magnetic field need some reconsidering.”
Scientists Devise “Fancy 3D Printer Ink” That Could Lead To Self-Healing Phone Screens.
Next Web (7/13, Greene) reports scientists at the University of Melbourne on Thursday “unveiled a new 3D printer ink-gel that is entirely self repairing,” paving the way for “self-healing” smartphone screens. According to the researchers, “Self-healing materials are capable of recovering from damages and restoring their functionality, just like the natural ability of living creatures to repair their tissues, this unique property offers the ability to extend the lifetime of products, which is usually limited by mechanical failures.” The Next Web says the team makes the gel with “a polymer substance that responds to ‘dynamic covalent chemistry,’ which means they can manipulate the ink intentionally over time.” However, the article warns “it might be years before they’re able to solve the problem of making the gel work with touch-screen capability.”
Caltech Changes Manufacturing Process For Reflective Material.
Pasadena (CA) Now (7/13, Velasco) reports that Caltech has discovered how use computer-chip manufacturing technologies in the creation of reflecting materials in safety vests, road signs and running shoes. Support for the project was provided by Northrop Grumman, the Japan Student Services Organization, the US Department of Energy, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and DARPA.
NNSA Releases RFP On LANL Management.
The AP (7/13, Bryan) reports that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “draft request for proposals” (RFP) to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) covers “everything from worker safety to cybersecurity and transparency. It also suggests that the contractor will be responsible for measuring its own performance and identifying problems without relying solely on federal government oversight.” But the “Los Alamos Study Group and other critics have argued that the federal nuclear agency should play more of a role in management and that the contract should not separate authority from responsibility.” Greg Mello with the study group said, “Federalizing management would allow tremendous streamlining and cost savings, while better protecting employee rights and providing for a less-politicized environment.”
Albuquerque (NM) Business First (7/13, Sapin) also reports on the NNSA’s draft request for proposal for LANL’s management contract. The “48-page document details several requirements for applicants that include ‘providing research and development and scientific capabilities that enable safe nuclear explosive operations’ as well as ‘remediating and restoring the Los Alamos National Laboratory site.’” The lab employs “11,200 in New Mexico and had a fiscal year 2016 budget of $2.45 billion.” In late June, as bidding process for new management to oversee LANL got underway, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Greg Wolf “said…the contract announcement had nothing to do with safety issues that have been cited at the LANL.” The NNSA’s RFP documents “released July 12 state that an applicant’s ‘past performance’ during the past five years and ‘key personnel’ are the two most important criteria being considered, according to a document describing how bids are evaluated.”
UNM Evaluates Submitting A Proposal. The AP (7/13) reports that the University of New Mexico is “interested in the competition to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.” Joseph Cecchi, a UNM senior adviser on national laboratory relations, “said Thursday that school officials are evaluating the bidding process.” In late 2015 it was announced that Los Alamos National Security LLC “would be losing its contract to manage” LANL “since it failed to earn high enough performance reviews.” Also Thursday, the “National Nuclear Security Administration released its draft request for proposals” detailing the “qualifications that will be required of the next manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory.” In its RFP, the NNSA “calls for the contractor to foster a ‘security conscious culture,’ something watchdog groups have said has been missing.”
New US Sanctions To Target Chinese Firms Over North Korea Ties.
Two “senior US officials” told the Reuters (7/13, Spetalnick, Brunnstrom) that the Administration “could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks.” The new measures would target Chinese entities considered “low-hanging fruit,” including smaller financial institutions and “shell” companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to the officials. They declined, however, to name the targets.
Intelligence Officials Closely Watching Key North Korean Scientists. CNN’s Situation Room (7/13) reported that at a “high-profile” awards ceremony to express gratitude for the North Korean scientists responsible for the ICBM tested last week, Kim Jong-un “may have inadvertently given enemies key intelligence about three scientists who drive his missile program.” Sources tell CNN that intelligence agencies “around the world” are watching the three men “carefully – their body language and behavior toward Kim are different from other elites.” According to CNN’s Brian Todd, “they share hugs, smiles and cigarettes with their vicious boss and enjoy privileges not given to most North Koreans.”
Outlet Highlights Siemens’ “Digital Twin” Factory Setup.
The Economist (7/13) reports the Siemens plant in Amberg, Bavaria churns out “industrial computer-control systems, which are essential bits of kit used in a variety of automated systems, including the factory’s own production lines.” The Amberg plant “produces 15m units a year – a tenfold increase since opening in 1989, and without the building being expanded or any great increase in the 1,200 workers employed in three shifts,” with approximately 75 percent of the work automated. The Economist says the “defect rate is close to zero, as 99.9988% of units require no adjustment, a remarkable feat considering they come in more than 1,000 different varieties.” According to The Economist, “such achievements are largely down to the factory’s ‘digital twin’” – another factory, “a virtual version of the physical facility that resides within a computer system.” The digital twin is “identical in every respect and is used to design the control units, test them, simulate how to make them and program production machines,” and then, once “everything is humming along nicely, the digital twin hands over to the physical factory to begin making things for real.”
Business Insider Profiles 3D Printing Company Focused On Helping Businesses.
Business Insider (7/13, Weinberger) reports that Boston-based Formlabs “is one of the companies on the vanguard of a new wave of 3D printing – focusing not on consumers, but rather on helping businesses rethink how they do manufacturing.” CEO and cofounder Max Lobovsky spoke to Business Insider about how the company envisions the dental industry and others could use 3D printing.
Engineering and Public Policy
AAAS Scholar Kei Koizumi Expresses Confusion Over Proposed Climate Debates.
E&E Publishing (7/13, Holden, Subscription Publication) reports American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) visiting scholar in science policy Kei Koizumi said EPA Administrator Scott “Pruitt’s proposal to launch a ‘red team, blue team’ exercise to debate climate science is causing ‘collective head scratching.’” Koizumi said, “Personally, I’m still at a loss. If an AAAS member came and said, ‘I was invited to serve on an EPA commission, what should I do?’ I’m not sure what the answer would be. I’m not sure whether AAAS would have an answer.” Koizumi added that AAAS leaders “as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union, have chatted only informally about Pruitt’s initiative.”
Afghan Girls Allowed To Travel To US For Robotics Competition.
The New York Times (7/13, Chokshi, Subscription Publication) reports, “A group of six girls from western Afghanistan will be able to attend an international robotics competition for which they had spent months preparing after the United States this week reversed a decision to deny them entry to the country.” The girls “had twice been denied visas, according to Joe Sestak, the…president of First Global, the nonprofit organizing the event.” Sestak “said that he did not know why the Afghan team’s visa applications were not approved, but that he suspected it stemmed from a backlog of requests or cautious officials concerned that they may overstay their visas.” The Times notes the girls were granted parole, “a process by which United States Citizenship and Immigration Services may temporarily authorize otherwise ineligible visitors on humanitarian grounds or because it benefits the public.” The Times quotes a spokesman saying parole was requested because it would be “in furtherance of U.S. foreign policy interests.”
Another New York Times (7/13, Subscription Publication) article reports, “News of the girls’ rejected attempts to obtain visas went viral last week and stirred up global outrage. The girls had made two separate 500-mile journeys to the American embassy in Kabul, but had still been denied visas,” and “criticism mounted and after Trump was made aware of the case, Politico reported, he called on the National Security Council to look into finding a way for the girls to be given travel permissions.”
The AP (7/13) quotes one of the girls and their mentor, Alireza Mehraban, expressing their happiness at the decision. The Christian Science Monitor (7/13, Velasco) and TIME (7/13, Lui)provide additional coverage.
Trump Reportedly Working On Plan “To Dramatically Scale Back Legal Immigration.”
Politico (7/12, Johnson, Dawsey) reported that President Trump “and his aides are quietly working with…conservative” Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) “to dramatically scale back legal immigration – a move that would mark a fulfillment of one of the president’s biggest campaign promises. Trump plans to get behind a bill being introduced later this summer by” the two lawmakers “that, if signed into law, would slash in half the number of legal immigrants entering the country each year by 2027, according to four people familiar with the conversations.” Cotton and Perdue “have been working closely with Stephen Miller, a senior White House official known for his hawkish stance on immigration. The issue is also a central priority for Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist.”
Trump Considering Quotas, Tariffs On Chinese Steel.
Reuters (7/13, Rascoe) reports President Trump said he is considering quotas and tariffs to deal with the “big problem” of steel dumping from China. “They’re dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they’ve been doing it for decades, and I’m stopping it. It’ll stop,” he told reporters on Air Force One en route to France. “There are two ways: quotas and tariffs. Maybe I’ll do both,” he said. Politico (7/13, Palmer) reports the President’s comments came as the Commerce Department is “preparing to make its recommendation in two separate investigations into whether it is necessary to restrict steel and aluminum imports in order to protect national security.”
New Memphis Summer Learning Programs, From STEM To Art, Help Fight “Learning Loss.”
Chalkbeat (7/13, Brighenti) reports that this summer, for the first time, Memphis offered a variety of new education programs in an effort to prevent “summer learning loss”, a phenomenon that is “a large contributor to the achievement gap.” The programs, ranging “from STEM and robotics to art and test prep,” were introduced to provide opportunities for low-income students who “usually don’t get the same summer enrichment opportunities as their more affluent peers.” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland “estimated that 10,000 children and teens are being reached this summer.”
“Elevate [Math]” Summer Program Aimed At Helping Kids Improve Math Skills.
The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (7/13, Brassil) reports that the Silicon Valley Education Foundation is sponsoring “Elevate [Math],” a new summer program which “covers Common Core-aligned topics, like variables, linear equations and graphs as well as beginning algebra and geometry.” Elevate [Math] is targeted towards “Bay Area students between 6th and 10th grade who just barely missed meeting the required standards on California’s annual standardized exams.” The goal of the program is to help improve students math skills and to help them become more engaged in school by providing out of classroom activities like college visits and “corporate guest speakers lead in-class activities, called STEM workshops.”
Dev Bootcamp Announces It Will Close Its Doors.
The Chicago Tribune (7/13, Meyerson) reports that Dev Bootcamp, “one of the earliest companies to launch an intensive coding school program,” announced Wednesday in an email to alumni that it will be closing its doors on Dec. 8. Dev Bootcamp President Tarlin Ray stated in the letter, “Despite tremendous efforts from a lot of talented people, we’ve determined that we simply can’t achieve a sustainable business model without compromising our mission of delivering a high-quality coding education that is accessible to a diverse population of students.”
Flight Night Drone Institute Teaches Tulsa Educators To Build, Fly Drones.
The Tulsa (OK) World (7/13, Pickard) reports that Flight Night Drone Institute, “a nonprofit focused on STEM programs and projects,” has trained 85 teachers and staff from more than 20 school districts to fly drones. The program was aimed at instructing teachers “to design, develop, program and fly drones so they can train their students to do the same.” Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance communications coordinator Sabrina Bevins said, “Learning to build and fly drones helps students develop problem-solving skills needed in the workforce of various industries in Oklahoma.”
Six Students From Hunterdon County, New Jersey Compete And Win At FCCLA Leadership Conference in Nashville.
NJ News (7/13, Roberts) reports that “six students from Hunterdon County Polytech’s Teacher Academy and Early Childhood Education Program recently competed at the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference,” held earlier this month in Nashville. Each member of the group “earned either a gold or a silver national medal.”
Preliminary Findings Of New Study Suggests Wearing Lab Coats May Help Inspire Kids To Be Scientists.
NJ News (7/13, Rojas) reports that education professors Lauren Madden and Marissa Bellino and recent graduate Rachel DiVanno, along with researchers from North Carolina State and East Carolina universities, teamed up to study “how elementary school students view themselves as scientists and engineers when wearing lab coats and whether it influences their learning.” The study consisted of 80 students at Bear Tavern Elementary School – “two traditional classes and two classes from the school’s STEM Academy” – with one class from each program wearing the lab coat for 10 lessons. Madden stated, “Preliminary findings suggest that those who wore the lab coats had improved self-efficacy, or confidence in their abilities, and could better identify careers in science.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Tech Giants Join Online Protest Against Net Neutrality Repeal.
• ED Begins Process Of Revising Student Loan Consumer Protection Rules.
• Carnegie Mellon Researchers Make Progress In Exoskeleton Technology.
• Scientists Around The World Advance Biofuels Research.
• iPhone 8 Could Face “3 to 4 Week” Delay Amid Touch ID, Software Issues.
• WSJournal Analysis: Aging Waterway Infrastructure In US Near Breaking Point.
• Research: Students Who See Science As Collaborative Field More Likely To Pursue STEM Careers.