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

Leading the News

 

Some Policymakers Have Buyer’s Remorse Regarding Common Core.

The AP  (8/31, Hefling, Smyth) reports on “buyer’s remorse” among policymakers regarding Common Core. As evidence the article points to Ohio state Rep. Andy Thompson, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who are opposing the standards, Indiana and Oklahoma which abandoned them this year, and North Carolina, South Carolina, and Missouri where governors “have signed legislation to reconsider the standards.” It also notes that while teachers’ unions “endorsed the standards and helped develop them,” many “now complain about botched efforts to put them in place.” In response to complaints, “Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently said he would allow states to delay using students’ test scores in teacher evaluation systems.”

U-T San Diego  (8/31, Magee) reports on San Diego County, where “some schools and districts have been using the new standards to guide curriculum for nearly four years, while others are still in the early stages.”

The Oregonian  (9/1, Hammond) reports on the Smarter Balanced assessment of “reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills” coming this spring. It explains that Oregon played “a leading role” in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that developed the test. In a related story, The Oregonian  (9/2, Hammond) reports that “Oregon has one of the nation’s worst chronic absenteeism problems – and that is contributing to the state’s mediocre levels of reading and math achievement.”

The AP  (8/30, Volz) reports on Montana’s implementation of Common Core standards, explaining that the state’s students “will be tested for the first time on Common Core” this year.

The AP  (8/30, Blankinship) reports that Washington state “is plowing ahead with its plans to embrace Common Core” this school year, and is doing so, “despite opposition from Washington teachers and their union.”

The Denver Post  (9/2, Gorski) reports on Colorado’s adoption of a new test for Common Core developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It notes growing opposition to the standards and the testing, but also points out that both came from state school officials and the legislature.

Editorials Criticize Jindal, Duncan. The Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate  (9/2) editorializes on the lawsuit by Gov. Bobby Jindal against the Common Core standards, saying, “Nothing good can come of this, except for the lawyers.” The paper criticizes the lawsuit and embraces Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s view that it is “politics.” It also describes the idea that ED “is interested in taking over the day-to-day teaching of English and math in Louisiana public schools” as “a fantasy.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  (9/2) in an editorial criticizes Duncan’s move to “delay basing teacher-performance evaluations on the results of standardized tests,” as “a fresh bone to teachers” that has been given “just as they’re about to go to the polls.”

Higher Education

 

ED Announces Revisions To Student Loan Contracts.

The Wall Street Journal  (8/29, Zibel, Mitchell, Subscription Publication) reports that ED announced Friday revisions to student loan contracts with Navient Corp., Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc., Nelnet Inc., and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The revisions are in response to complaints, and concerns about the needs of borrowers. The story quotes Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell saying that loan servicers need to be attentive to borrowers.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (9/2, Thomason) reports, “The new contracts are just one part of the Obama administration’s push to reduce student-loan debt.”

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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

 

NASA Tests 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Injector.

The Huntsville (AL) Times  (8/29, Roop) reported that NASA tested a 3D-printed rocket engine injector, “the most complex rocket engine part ever 3D-printed.” By printing the injector, NASA only had to make two pieces instead of the typical 163. Chris Singer, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Engineering Directorate, said, “We wanted to go a step beyond just testing an injector and demonstrate how 3-D printing could revolutionize rocket designs for increased system performance. … The parts performed exceptionally well during the tests.” Propulsion engineer Jason Turpin added, “One of our goals is to collaborate with a variety of companies and establish standards for this new manufacturing process.”

TIME  (8/29, Glanzman) and Examiner  (8/29, Whittington) “Houston Space News Examiner” blog also covered the story.

Blog Coverage. Jason Rhian at Spaceflight Insider  (8/31) wrote that the work was also done in part “to assist NASA in developing” the Space launch System.

Workforce

 

Tech Industry Searches For, Courts Young Software Developers.

In a front-page story, the Wall Street Journal  (8/30, A1, Wakabayashi, Subscription Publication) reports on how the tech industry is searching for and courting young software developers to create apps for mobile devices. Over the last year, Google has paid more than $5 billion to developers, while Apple paid almost $10 billion.

Industry News

 

Solar Power Expected To Continue Rapid Growth This Year.

The Washington Examiner  (9/2, Colman) reports “the amount of US electricity generated from solar power is slated to more than double for the seventh consecutive year.” According to the US Energy Information Administration, “solar has provided 7.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity through June, enough to power about 685,000 homes per year.” Helped “by a mishmash of Federal and state incentives, coupled with plummeting solar panel prices, installations are increasing all over the country — generation this year is more than double the 3.5 million megawatt-hours over the same period last year.” The Examiner adds that “while solar’s slice of the U.S. electricity pie is still small — it accounted for just 0.2 percent of total generation in 2013 — the electric utility industry is viewing it as a disruptive force.” That is “because once residents turn to solar, utility revenues take a hit because they lose a customer.”

 

Los Angeles Area Home To Nation’s Largest Manufacturing Hub.

The Los Angeles Times  (9/2, Hsu) reports data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the area of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Ana is home to the largest manufacturing workforce in the country, with 510,900 manufacturing workers. The area beat out Chicago and the New York/Northern New Jersey area. The article attributes the label to the area’s “massive size and long history as a manufacturing base.”

Engineering and Public Policy

 

Utilities Seek Fees To Expand Electric Vehicle Charger Networks.

The Wall Street Journal  (8/30, Sweet, Subscription Publication) reported that US utilities are turning to electric vehicle chargers as existing electricity sales stagnate. The Journal explained that utilities are seeking to tack on fees to fund charging station pilot projects but consumer advocates complain that they are making all customers pay for experimental equipment that may only benefit a few affluent people. Meanwhile, the Journal noted that there remains disagreement over how quickly Americans are likely to adopt electric vehicles with critics pointing toward the slow adoption by consumer thus far and advocates saying that a bigger network of chargers would speed adoption.

Elementary/Secondary Education

 

Group Holds Meeting To Discuss K-12 Computer Science Curriculum.

The Los Angeles Times  (9/2, Hayden) reports on the Silicon Valley Education Foundation’s public meeting to “discuss the future for a formal computer science curriculum for California’s K-12 schools.” The group held a meeting “to identify what students should learn, how to raise awareness about computer science courses and how to increase access to them.” The meeting included “representatives from schools, the College Board, Computer Science Teachers Assn., tech companies,” and others.

 

STEM High School In Suffolk County To Open Wednesday.

Newsday  (9/2) reports that “fifteen high school juniors will be the first students in Suffolk County’s newly created STEM high school when it opens Wednesday.” The Regional STEM High School “has nine students enrolled in its full-day program and six in its half-day program.” The school is “partnered with Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Long Island Matrix of Science and Technology and the Long Island STEM Hub” and “it will incorporate rigorous project-based learning and a strong emphasis on engineering.”

 

Innovator Suggests STEM Would Benefit From Focus On Problem Solving Process.

The Washington Post  (8/30, Overly) interviews Aaron Saunders, CEO of software design and development company Clearly Innovative, and teacher of an afternoon STEM class and summer camp. In the interview Saunders describes how the STEM program at Howard came about and developed. He also explains his interest in focusing on middle school children, and says that the biggest challenge for STEM education is “continued support through all ages.” He also encourages people not to focus on the math portion of STEM, but to look at the skills that go into solving a complicated problem.

 

Financial Incentives Improve Scores and Enrollment In AP Science And Math.

A recent STEM column by Kenneth Chang in the New York Times  (9/2, Chang, Subscription Publication) reports on the success of the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit incentivizing STEM education by providing $100 to each student with a passing AP score and $100 to the teacher, citing an average 85% increase in passing scores the first year while nearly tripling by three-year program’s end. The column focuses on Pittsburgh’s Science & Technology Academy and Brashear High School, the two schools with the largest percentage increases in passing scores last year. In addition to improving scores, schools are witnessing increased AP enrollment.

Also in the News

 

Man Builds Castle Using 3-D Printer.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune  (9/2, Smith) reports a Minnesota man has built a 12-foot-tall castle using a 3-D concrete printer. The man has announced that his next goal is build the first house using the 3-D printer. The project took him almost three months to complete.

Friday’s Lead Stories

 

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