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

Leading the News


Nevada Wins Tesla Gigafactory Competition, Offers $1.3 Billion In Subsidies.

The AP  (9/5) reports that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced on Thursday that his state “won a high-stakes battle with four other states for Tesla Motors’ coveted battery factory.” However, the win “comes with a hefty price tag – up to $1.3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives over 20 years that state lawmakers still must approve.”

Bloomberg News  (9/5, Ohnsman, Nash) reports that Sandoval said at a new conference, “I know many of you are asking yourselves the same question: Is this agreement good for us? This agreement meets the test by far and this is why: This gigafactory will mean nearly $100 billion in economic impact to Nevada over the next 20 years.”

The New York Times  (9/5, Wald, Subscription Publication) says that the construction of the plan is “an audacious move, and it promises to double the global capacity to make lithium-ion batteries, the power plant behind Tesla’s innovative all-electric cars.”

Clinton Says Nevada Merging As Alternative Energy Leader. The AP  (9/5, Ritter) reports that Hillary Clinton, speaking on Thursday at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s annual energy summit in Las Vegas, “credited northern Nevada’s selection for a $5 billion Tesla automobile battery plant to the emergence of Nevada as a leader in solar, wind and geothermal energy projects.” The AP points out that “a focus on the Tesla plant upstaged an earlier announcement that a northern Nevada biofuel production plant would receive a federal loan guarantee for a little under 40 percent of its $266 million cost.”

Higher Education


King, Burr To Introduce Bill To Simplify Student Loan Repayment Options.

The Hill  (9/5, Cox) reports in its “Floor Action” blog that Sen. Angus King (I-ME) is planning to “introduce legislation that aims to simplify student loan repayment options.” He said the bill would be cosponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), and “would consolidate some benefits of existing repayment programs into an income-based repayment option.”


Some Maryland Colleges Raising Minority Graduation Rates.

The Baltimore Sun  (9/4, Wells, Sun) reports on efforts by the University System of Maryland schools to raise “the graduation rates of minority and low-income students,” saying the results have been mixed with some success seen at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, while “at other schools,” there has not been success. The schools have pledged to reduce the “so-called achievement gap by 2015 and eliminate it by 2020,” and so far, “some colleges are on course,” specifically the College Park and Baltimore County schools as well as Towson.


Olivet University Engineering Students Have 90 Percent Pass Rate On FE Exam.

The Chicago Tribune  (9/3) reports a 90 percent pass rate for engineering students at Olivet Nazarene University on the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exam for the 2013-14 school year. The “phenomenal achievement” was hailed by the school’s chair of the engineering department.


Purdue University EPICS Engineering Program Has Over 50 Percent Female Students.

The Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier  (9/3) reports that “in a first for the organization” more than 50 percent of engineering students in Purdue University’s EPICS Learning Community program this fall are women. Students in the program design engineering solutions to needs in local and global communities and have “become an international model for engineering education.” A spokesperson for the EPICS program noted that this is the first time “gender balance” has been achieved with a college level EPICS class.

The Purdue University (IN) Newsroom  (9/5) also reported the story.


Company Hopes Tech Firms Will Use Its Products To Contact, Encourage Women In Computer Science.

Bloomberg News  (9/5, Frier) reports Piazza Technologies Inc. is betting that Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.’s hunt for a more diversified workforce will give a boost to its business as it unrolls a product that lets companies find women in computer-science classes and contact them. The product will let hiring managers “target 65,000 women in” STEM fields and encourage them to explore computer science and invite them to recruiting events.

The Bloomberg BusinessWeek  (9/4) reported the story in an accompanying video.


University Of Tennessee Engineering Students Invited To Barbecue.

The Maryville (TN) Daily Times  (9/5) reports, “Barbecue was on the menu as the Labor Day weekend kicked off in style for University of Tennessee engineering students thanks to a cookout and meet-and-greet hosted by the Office of Engineering Professional Practice. Students were invited to come and grab a bite to eat while visiting with representatives from cookout sponsors ALCOA, Altec, DENSO, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Garmin, MAHLE and Southern Company.” Todd Reeves, director of the engineering professional practice office, said, “The ability to have our annual cookout is due to the generous support of sponsors like DENSO.” Reeves added, “We are grateful for their participation and commitment to our cooperative education program here at UT and for giving students an early chance to talk to employers in a relaxed setting before our fall 2014 Engineering Expo.”

Engineering Technology Leadership Conference
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Research and Development


Universities Lead The Way In Drone Testing.

USA Today  (9/4) reports universities are “playing a critical role” in the development and testing of drones for civilian use. Three of six drone test sites have been put in place at universities that llow clients to demonstrate concepts and test navigational instruments for the FAA, which can be used by the agency to develop safety regulations.

Donation Lets UNT Engineering Students Explore UAV Research. The Plano (TX) Star Local  (9/5) reports L-3 Mission Integration has donated UAVs and ground station equipment, and specialized laboratory equipment to the University of North Texas College of Engineering. A spokesperson noted that students will be able to test algorithms for “swarming,” road following, terrain following, and other complex tasks, thanks to the donation. The idea for the donation came from a UNT grad who now works for L-3 as a systems engineer.



Federal Act Pushes Training Programs To Match Education With Available Jobs.

The McClatchy-Tribune News Service  (9/4) reports on the “public stake” in work training programs developed by the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Despite the law, “there remains a mismatch between skills demanded…and the supply of qualified workers” available, prompting councilors in the program to act “less like a guidance counselor and more like a case manager.” This means that people involved in the program are being “steered to consider more in-demand fields” than what they want to aspire to. The ACA will also put pressure on businesses and training programs to collaborate more in the future, notes the article.


Former Vermont State Representative Will Head Workforce Development.

The VTDigger  (9/4) reports former state representative Michele Kupersmith will be the head of the state’s Workforce Development and Training Coordinator, after she handed in her resignation in July to take over the “long-vacant” position. Kupersmith “helped design the news created group” that will lead Vermont’s charge to tackle the state’s workforce development efforts, and “stood out” among the candidates, according to a spokesperson from the state’s Labor Department.


Virginia Program Trains Workers For Film Industry.

The AP  (9/5) reports on the new Film Industry Training pilot program in Virginia. The program will train workers for jobs in film, television and commercial projects. A two-day seminar will be held next month for people seeking entry level positions in the industry.

Industry News


Boeing, Airbus Both Top 1,000 Jet Orders For 2014.

Reuters  (9/4, Hepher, Scott) reports that both Airbus and Boeing have received over 1,000 new jet orders this year, but Boeing has 941 net orders compared to Airbus’ 772 after accounting for cancellations. Airbus sold 21 aircraft in August, boosting its total gross orders for 2014 to 1,001 aircraft. Comparatively, Boeing booked 107 orders last month to reach a year-to-date total of 1,004 aircraft. Airbus said 279 cancellations were due to conversions from its current generation A320 into the newer, more efficient A320neo.

Airbus A320neo To Fly For The First Time This Month. The Puget Sound (WA) Business Journal  (9/4, Wilhelm, Subscription Publication) reports that Airbus plans to fly the first A320neo this month, two years before Boeing plans to do the same with the 737 Max. According to the article, Airbus will conduct an “unusually complex” flight test program because of the number of engines and models it plans to build. Meanwhile, Boeing officials reportedly say that the lead Airbus has in A320neo orders is only due to its head start in development.


Bombardier May Have News On CSeries Flights Soon.

Reuters  (9/4, Ho) reported that an unnamed source familiar with Bombardier said that there should be news within the next week about plans to restart CSeries test flights, which have been grounded since a May engine failure. The source said that the exact day of when flights would resume is still being determined and would be based on issues like the weather. According to the article, experts believe the plane should be flying this month.

New Unit Will Ensure On-Time Introduction Of New Planes. Bloomberg News  (9/4, Tomesco) reported that Bombardier has decided to form a new engineering and product development business unit whose function is to make sure that new planes are introduced on time. The article noted that the company has experienced delays with both its CSeries and Learjet 85 aircraft. Francois Caza will run the new unit, reporting to Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin.

Elementary/Secondary Education


South Carolina School To Use 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant For Robotics Camp.

The Summerville (SC) Journal Scene  (9/5, Kreber) reports, “State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais announced that $5.3 million in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grants have been awarded to 19 districts to establish after-school programs this school year.” Some of that funding will go to Oakbrook Middle School to expand its after school robotics camp.


Louisville To Host 2015 Robotics Championship.

The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal  (9/4) reports the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville will play host to the 2015 VEX Robotics World Championship, officials announced Thursday. The Mayor referred to the event as “edgy and fun… in our sweet spot” during the announcement. The event comes with four one year renewal options for Louisville to host the event.


Seven Schools Will Contact ISS On Monday.

CLTV-TV Chicago (9/5, 2:27 a.m. ET) broadcast that Saint Joan of Arc Elementary School and six other schools will have the chance to speak with astronauts aboard the ISS on Monday afternoon. The article notes that there will only be 10 minutes for students to ask questions. The story was broadcast three other times during the day.

Two other TV broadcasts continued coverage of how students from Evansville, Indiana spoke with astronaut Reid Wiseman on Wednesday.

Also in the News


Pretesting May Improve Classroom Performance.

The New York Times  (9/5, Carey, Subscription Publication) reports that pretesting may “change how we think about and store the information contained in the questions” and prepare more efficiently in the future. A new study from UCLA found that “pretesting raised performance on final-exam questions by an average of 10 percent compared with a control group.” The study concludes pretesting “primes the brain, predisposing it to new information.”


Study: Even small amounts of exercise may help kids improve focus, academic performance.

The New York Times  (9/4, Reynolds) “Well” blog reported that according to a study  published in 2013 in the Journal of Pediatrics, “even small amounts of exercise enable children to improve their focus and academic performance.” Researchers arrived at that conclusion after studying 40 eight- to 10-year-olds, 50 percent of whom had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The study’s “results should make administrators question the wisdom of cutting” physical education classes.

Thursday’s Lead Stories


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