ASEE First Bell – Breaking news in the engineering and technology field

Leading the News

Federal Grants Help Professors Bring Research To Marketplace.

The Kansas City (MO) Star Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20) reports that “thanks to nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation,” Purnedu Dasgupta, a researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington who has “developed an environmentally friendly field analyzer for arsenic levels in water,” is now “a step closer to bringing his analyzer to market.” The piece notes that professors at colleges around the country are “working to take their research from the lab and classroom to the marketplace,” and are able to do so with similar Federal grants.

Higher Education

Senate Democrats Call On Duncan To Provide More Education Tax Credit Information.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20, Needham) reports that 11 Senate Democrats and one Independent have signed a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calling on the Administration to “provide more information to families about higher education tax credits.” The letter calls for “an easy-to-understand guide about the education tax benefits that are available through the federal government.” The letter also calls for “an estimate of education tax benefits” tied to the FAFSA.

Parents Discuss Sexual Assault With College-Bound Children.

NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Quevedo) reports on the range of conversations parents are having with their college freshmen children about the sexual assault. The article collects an array of comments from families who haven’t broached the subject to those that have been discussing the issue for years. The report concludes that it’s “awkward” discussing sex with parents, but that the issue “may soon show up on more parents’ checklists” as their children prepare for college.

From ASEE
New ASEE-NAE Report on Barriers to Ethnic Diversity
Surmounting the Barriers” has recommendations for the university-level engineering and engineering technology education community to improve diversity.Former ASEE President Ernest Smerdon Dies
Smerdon was dean of engineering at the University of Arizona, vice-chancellor for the University of Texas System in Austin, and senior education associate in the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation, among other roles. Read his obituary.

I-Corps for Learning
NSF will provide up to $1.2 million to support research into how the I-Corps program’s focus on the “ditch of death” between research and development can help address the gap associated with bringing a promising education practice to a common, widespread utilization. Learn more about participating in I-Corps for Learning. Proposals must be submitted by September 30, 2014 to be considered for participation in the January 2015 cohort.

Research and Development

Engineers Testing Pathfinder At Goddard Space Flight Center.

Mika McKinnon at io9 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) writes about the unveiling of Pathfinder, the primary support structure for the James Webb Space Telescope. Pathfinder’s 18 segments will “compose the 21-foot diameter primary mirror for the telescope, instruments, thermal control systems, and any other hardware for the mission will be mounted to Pathfinder.” It was assembled and tested at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California and later delivered to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Penn State To Be Part Of Chile Telescope Undertaking.

The State College (PA) Centre Daily Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) reports that Penn State is taking part in the creation of the $678 million Large Synoptic Survey Telescope which is to be built in Chile. The piece notes that the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy recently approved construction of the telescope.

Workforce

Brookings Study Finds Details Of Skills Gap.

US News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) reports that Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institution has released a study indicating that the STEM labor market “suffers from a very particular kind of skills gap,” explaining that “the skills workers have aren’t specific enough.” The piece explains that Rothwell used job posting data “to look at how long STEM jobs remained vacant, and he was able to shed light on which STEM skills are valued in the marketplace.”

Industry News

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Capable Of Speeding For Safety Reasons.

Popular Mechanics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Moseman) reported that Google’s “self-driving cars are programmed” to grant “a little leeway” regarding the speed limit. Popular Mechanics notes that because “it’s actually safer to drive at a speed close to that of the car’s around you, even if it means speeding a little.”

        Gizmodo Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Walker) reported that Dmitri Dolgov, Google’s lead software engineer for the project, said the car could go up to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Venture Beat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19), SlashGear Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Swanner), and UberGizmo Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Kee) also reported on the story.

Engineering and Public Policy

Texas Groups Receive Federal Grants To Study Clean Vehicle Tech.

FuelFix Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Meyers) reports that the Energy Department has announced $55 million in grants for 31 projects mostly designed to help the auto industry to build plug-in electric vehicles by 2020 that are as affordable and easy to use as gasoline-powered vehicles. “Investments in the next generation of vehicle technologies will both strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel-efficient, clean energy future,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. In particular, FuelFix notes that the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station in College Station was awarded $990,000 to help “develop battery technology that is cheaper and has higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, most commonly used in today’s electric vehicles.” Meanwhile, the San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute “received nearly $800,000 to study the potential of using fuels that require less refining with an institute-developed engine technology that recirculates exhaust gas to improve engine efficiency and fuel economy.”

Gardner Blasts Moniz Comments On LNG Export Applications.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20, Cox) reported in its “Floor Action” blog that Rep. Cory Gardner says Energy Secretary Moniz “sounded ‘belligerent’ when he said criticisms of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export application process were unfounded.” Gardner said, “I very much disagree with Secretary Moniz that criticism for his Department’s lack of urgency in approving LNG export applications is ‘B.S.,’” adding, “The only player that doesn’t believe that the Department of Energy needs to expedite permits to export LNG is the Department of Energy. Secretary Moniz’s belligerent tone on the issue shows just how out of touch he truly is.” Garner “said more than 20 applications are pending approval to export LNG.”

EPA Regulations Would Achieve Half The Carbon Reduction Of Failed Waxman-Markey Bill.

Roll Call Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20, Leonard, Subscription Publication) reported in its “Energy Xtra” blog with a graph showing how EPA regulations “could obtain half the carbon reductions that were envisioned under” the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade scheme, which “fell apart in 2009.” According to the report, EPA’s proposals for restricting emissions at the nation’s power plants “would cut carbon levels in 2020 by 2.95 billion metric tons from 2005 levels, about 47 percent of the reduction that had been expected under the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that was passed by the House but not the Senate,” with the further “cuts from regulations” amounting to “13.6 billion tons, more than half of Waxman-Markey reductions” by 2030.

McCarthy, Cardona Write In Support Of EPA’s Climate Rules.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20, Cama) reports that Democratic strategist Maria Cardona “joined” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in writing a joint op-ed for the Orlando (FL) Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter in support of EPA’s proposals to lower power-plant emissions. The two authors “said the rule would particularly benefit Latinos who live in areas with poor air quality,” observing that a larger majority of Latino Democrats support the Clean Power Plan than other Democratic demographics. McCarthy and Cardona wrote, “Latinos, like most Americans, want to build a clean energy future with greater energy efficiency.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Idaho Education Chief Accepts Position With Project Lead The Way.

The Idaho Statesman Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) reports that Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna has accepted a job as vice president of policy, advocacy and research for Project Lead the Way, to begin early next year. Noting that the group provides “K-12 STEM programs and teacher training,” the paper explains that Luna “will oversee a team focused on advancing federal, state, and local policies, as well as research initiatives that support STEM growth across the United States.”

        The Twin Falls (ID) Times-News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/20) reports that Luna “will start work with a nonprofit education vendor” when he leaves office next year, noting that the organization provides “programs and teacher training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” The piece notes that it was unclear how Luna would handle any conflicts regarding state policies involving the Indianapolis-based group.

        The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) also covers this story, noting that Luna “announced in January that he would not run for re-election.” the AP reports that he “will oversee four regional directors and a team of policy analysts.”

        Other media outlets covering this story include the Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19), KMVT-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Twin Falls, ID (8/20), NWCN-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Seattle (8/20), and KIVI-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Boise, ID (8/20).

New STEM Elementary School Opens This Week In Aurora, Illinois.

The Aurora (IL) Beacon-News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Belsha) reports the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School of Aurora University will accept its first students Wednesday after “five years in the making.” A total of 150 students in third through eighth grades was selected by lottery after meeting academic requirements for attendance. The $12 million building was funded by $3.5 million from the state, with the rest raised by the university. The building is a lesson in itself – “much of the piping, plumbing, insulation and shelving is exposed so that students can learn about how they work,” while “a garden and a greenhouse are up on the roof and even the school’s boiler room and data center are enclosed with glass so that students can peer in.”

STEM Teachers In Laramie, Wyoming Will Use Drones, Robotics.

The Laramie (WY) Boomerang Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19, Tippin) reports on a training session for Laramie High School math teachers on how to equipment for STEM training this year after one teacher, Dennis Hogsett, successfully applied to a trust fund operated by the Wyoming Department of Education for a $69,000 grant to use the robots, software, and 3D printers in STEM classes this year. The training was conducted by Elad Inbar, CEO of RobotsLAB of San Francisco, who showed the teachers how to use a tablet computer to operate a quadcopter drone, among other things. The report adds that all math teachers in the program will be getting kits that contain “a quadcopter drone, robotic rover, robotic ball and robotic arm” and a tablet computer “packed with various lessons – geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, pre-calculus and the like – that tie into the robots’ functions.”

        The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/19) picked up the local coverage and distributed it nationally.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

 

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