Leading the News
Federal Grant To Encourage Minorities To Enter STEM Doctoral Programs.
Alabama Live (8/29, Belanger) reports that the National Science Foundation has awarded Alabama State University’s Department of Biological Sciences a $778,329 four-year grant to encourage underrepresented minorities to enter STEM doctoral programs; ASU, in combination with Auburn and Tuskegee Universities, are receiving nearly $3 million. In 2010, minorities earned 16.4% of science degrees and under 13% of physical science or engineering degrees, despite constituting 18.6% of undergraduates.
California Community Colleges Look To Increase On-Time Graduations And Transfers.
The Los Angeles Times (8/29, Song) reports community colleges in California will begin giving priority registration to students who participate in orientation and educational planning. The new system will give more academic counseling and provide targeted remediation to students. The new system is part of an effort to ensure that community college students throughout the state graduate or transfer on time by reducing the number of remedial courses they take. Officials are hoping to increase graduations by 15 percentage points in order to achieve their goal.
For-Profit Anthem Education Files For Bankruptcy, Closes Campuses.
Inside Higher Ed (8/29) reports that for-profit college firm Anthem Education filed for bankruptcy on Monday and then “abruptly shut down a number of its campuses, leaving state agencies struggling to funnel displaced students into other institutions.” Noting that the firm–which had 41 campuses last week–has faced “years of enrollment losses,” the article notes that Anthem “sold 14 campuses to International Education Corporation” before filing for bankruptcy. Anthem “is in the process of selling an additional 14 campuses to IEC,” but ED must approve the transaction, and “has not received an application to approve, a department spokeswoman said around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.”
MIT Enhances Reddit Course For Second Year.
The Boston.com (8/29, McMahon) reports Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be offering a spring Reddit course for the second year, to a select group of students through the Comparative Media Studies / Writing program. The course covers Reddit’s function as a social media network as well as topics such as “cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, Tinder, and the best performing headlines.”
Executives Warn US Losing Technical Edge.
The Denver Post (8/29, Svaldi) reports Jeff Immelt (chairman and CEO of General Electric) and Safra Catz (Oracle co-president) warned against undervaluing STEM education, as well as its future economic consequences. Their comments arose on separate days of the Colorado Innovation Network Summit in Denver, where they cited significant statistics, such as the small fraction of students pursuing STEM education and the 60% of computer science graduates returning home to other countries with American degrees. The Denver Post goes on to quantify failures in racial and gender diversity in the sciences as evidence of the trends Immelt and Catz addressed.
Research and Development
USC Aims To Expand Maintenance Program With IBM Partnership.
The Columbia (SC) Regional Business Report (8/28, Hammond) reports on an agreement signed between IBM and the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing to collaborate on USC’s condition-based maintenance research and development program. According to the article, USC currently works with the US Army “to improve performance on its fleets of Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters,” and its partnership with IBM will help to expand the maintenance program to other industrial uses.
Astronauts To Test More Techniques During NEEMO Mission In September.
Aviation Week (8/28, Carreau) reported that on September 8, astronaut Randy Bresnik will start a “seven-day training session” at the Aquarius undersea laboratory. The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 19 (NEEMO 19) mission will work on “some of the obstacles human explorers can expect to face as they venture into deep space.” Because the underwater lab is similar in ways to the weightless environment of the ISS, the astronauts will be able to test spacewalking techniques and tools for a time when there could be communication delays. The team will also use a “diver delivery system from Sharkmarine Technologies” to examine uses for “robot scouts.” Bresnik said, “Imagine we land humans on Mars and we have five to 10 robots we can send out to areas of interest for our researchers to look at.”
As Volpe Researches Wake Turbulence, 15 US Airports Implement New Separation Standards.
The FierceGovernmentIT (8/28, Kanowitz) reported that new research by the Transportation Department’s National Transportation Center, Volpe, along side the FAA, suggests that the separation standards for large aircraft may could be modified. For example, the heavier Boeing 747 will only need 2.5 nautical miles distance behind the lighter 767, whereas previously both were required to keep 4 nautical miles distance. Indeed, fifteen US airports plan to implement the new standards by 2017. The article notes that Memphis International Airport was the first airport to adopt the new standards, and FedEx has “reported a 20 percent increase in airport capacity and $1.8 million in fuel savings per month” at the airport.
Boeing Moving Closer To Expanding South Carolina Facility.
MarketWatch (8/28, Jelter) “The Tell” blog reports that Boeing’s plans to expand its South Carolina manufacturing facilities will be reviewed by North Charleston’s city council Thursday evening. There is some concern by Boeing’s employees in Washington state that the company may move jobs to the business-friendly South as a result of a bitter contract dispute between Boeing and Washington machinists earlier this year. Boeing previously announced plans to move 1,000 engineering jobs out of state by 2015. Last month, it also announced it will build its 787-10 Dreamliner in South Carolina than at its Everett, Washington facility.
U.S. Air Force Mulls Air Force One Replacement Options.
Bloomberg News (8/28, Capaccio) reported that the U.S. Air Force will decided by December whether Boeing or another contractor will win the bid to outfit the next Air Force One jetliner for the president, according to an emailed statement from Air Force spokesman Charles Gulick. Currently, the Air Force has budgeted $1.6 billion for research through 2019 and is “working toward release” of a RFP early next year as it seeks to replace the aging Boeing 747-200 currently serving as Air Force One. The Air Force said it plans to purchase the first Boeing 747-8 in fiscal year 2016.
Engineering and Public Policy
Shale Production, Particularly In Texas, Cushioning US From Overseas Oil Shocks.
The New York Times (8/28, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that in the past, overseas crises have resulted in a spike in gasoline prices. However, the vast new production from Texas shale and other locations in the US and domestic refinery production “in recent weeks reached record highs and left supply depots flush, cushioning the impact of all the instability surrounding traditional global oil fields.” The national average price for a gallon of regular was $3.43 on Thursday, according to AAA, about 10 cents lower than a month ago.
BLM To Resume Issuing Oil And Gas Leases In California. The AP (8/28) reports that the Bureau of Land Management announced on Thursday that it will “resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques.” That will end a halt that has been in effect since a 2013 ruling by a Federal judge that the BLM “failed to follow environmental law in allowing” fracking on public land in one county.
Shell Proposes New Alaskan Arctic Oil Exploration Plan. The New York Times (8/28, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, Shell submitted a plan to the Federal government to once again “explore for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, following years of legal and logistical setbacks as well as dogged opposition from environmentalists.” The Times says that the plan is “just a first step,” but reflects “the energy potential in the Arctic.” The moves, “even in this preliminary stage, are likely to rankle environmentalists.”
Former FCC Commissioner Says Cable Backs Net Neutrality To Stifle Competition.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (8/29, McDowell, Subscription Publication), Robert M. McDowell, a former FCC Commissioner, writes that the cable industry is now backing the net neutrality argument because the FCC’s oversight would make it far harder for smaller competitors to emerge.
Kettering University To Open $15.5 Million High School Robotics Center.
MLive (8/29, Roelofs) reports Flint-based Kettering University will open a community robotics center on September 19 for eight high school teams, its laboratory equipped with a machine shop and software, as part of a $15.5 million pledge by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The program aims to provide opportunity and promote diversity in engineering, a field where black students held 5.1% of bachelors degrees in 2003 and only 4.2% in 2012. Kettering’s program follows the University of Michigan, whose Michigan Engineering Zone in Midtown Detroit hosted 16 Detroit high schools in 2014, with 98% minority membership. Older programs such as the FIRST Robotics competitions service 2,700 high schools with 68,000 participants. Kettering has a history of robotics philanthropy, awarding $3.5 million in robotics scholarships since 1999.
Thursday’s Lead Stories