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

Leading the News

Summers Calls For Infrastructure Spending, Energy Exports To Boost Economy.

Bloomberg News  (9/22, Murray) reports that former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers on Fox News on Sunday “called for a ‘major’ plan to boost the country’s economic growth and said borrowing to fix aging infrastructure would help lower the jobless rate.” Referring to the GDP, Summers said, “What we need in the United States is a comprehensive growth strategy to get that rate from a struggling 2 percent to a 3 percent. Over time, that would be transforming of job opportunities for millions of Americans.” Summers added, “We could invest in infrastructure in a major way in this country.”

On Fox News Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo (9/21), Summers also pressed for increasing energy exports. Summers said, “If we started allowing natural gas exporting on a substantial scale, we would increase our strength and power in the world by being able to provide energy supplies to nations like Ukraine that are dangerously dependent.” He adds that we “would ultimately, by contributing to more supply, reduce gasoline prices. And we would create huge investment opportunities that would put large numbers of Americans to work.”

Higher Education

White House, Celebrities Launch Campaign To Stop Campus Sexual Assault.

Several national media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, covered President Obama’s launch on Friday of an initiative to fight campus sexual assault. NBC Nightly News (9/21, story 8, 2:25, Holt) reported on the White House’s new campaign to combat campus sexual assault, enlisting Hollywood celebrities to help encourage individual action. The segment focuses on the orientation programs of Rutgers University, a cited leader in the movement, going on to discuss the issue with a selected group of students who described themselves as atypical in their awareness. The piece closed with their stating the importance of conversation.

The New York Times  (9/20, Shear, Schneider, Subscription Publication) reports that President Obama “got some help” with his “It’s on Us” campaign, “aimed at urging young people to do more to prevent campus sexual assaults,” from “celebrities including the actors Kerry Washington and Jon Hamm, the musician Questlove, and the NBA star Kevin Love.” The Times mentions the context of the Administration’s recent efforts to address campus sexual assault, noting that in May, ED “released the names of 55 colleges and universities that are being investigated for their handling of sexual assault complaints.”

Bloomberg News  (9/19, Lauerman, Jamrisko) reports that the campaign is meant “to encourage college students, especially men, to speak out against and prevent sexual assault on campuses.” Bloomberg quotes Obama saying, “Campus sexual assault is no longer something we as a nation can turn away. It’s not just on the parents of young women to caution them. It is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women.” The piece notes that Administration officials say the campaign will use “social media, television advertising,” and “live sporting events” to spread its message. This article mentions that ED’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating “dozens” of colleges over potential Title IX violations over their handling of campus sexual assault complaints.

Noting that the White House “has been raising awareness of the problem this year,” the AP  (9/22, Pickler) notes that President Obama “launched the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault” in January, adding that ED “for the first time publicly exposed the list of colleges under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints.” Noting that the latest effort focuses on “reaching men on campus,” the AP reports that Obama said that “the nation’s military academies are among the collegiate partners in the campaign.” Moreover, “the NCAA, several collegiate athletic conferences and media companies with reach among students” are on board in spreading the message.

The NPR  (9/19) “The Two-Way” blog reports that the campaign is “built on guidelines introduced by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 to help colleges and universities understand federal civil rights laws aimed at preventing and responding to campus sexual assaults.”

Other media outlets covering this story include the Los Angeles Times  (9/19, Song), the Chronicle of Higher Education  (9/22), Inside Higher Ed  (9/22), Newsweek  (9/22), Politico  (9/22, Grasgreen), US News & World Report  (9/19), MSNBC  (9/22), Inside Bay Area (CA)  (9/22), and WWJ-TV  Detroit (9/19).

ED Submits Gainful Employment Rule To White House.

The Hill  (9/22, Goad) reports that ED “has submitted to the White House highly anticipated regulations meant to crack down on colleges” whose graduates are left with heavy debt but no gainful employment. The Hill reports that the rules are “aimed squarely at for-profit college programs seen as predatory,” and must be reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs before being issued. The article explains the provisions of the rules, noting that critics say they “unfairly target private institutions, and are likely to backfire.”

Commentary: ED Rating System Won’t Reduce Tuition.

Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy at the University of Michigan, writing at the New York Times  (9/20, Subscription Publication) reports in its “The Upshot” blog, praises the Administration for “working on an ambitious plan intended to rein in college costs” by establishing a college rating system, but writes, “I don’t think it’s going to work, at least not in controlling tuition at public colleges, which enroll a vast majority of students.” Dynarski argues that college tuition at public colleges has risen in recent decades because of a precipitous drop in state funding, and points out that “better-informed consumers can’t do much to hold down prices in public colleges, because those prices are not set in a competitive market.”

ED Places Financial Restrictions On ITT Educational Services.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (9/22) reports that ITT Educational Services Inc. disclosed in an SEC filing Thursday that ED “has placed financial restrictions on” the firm over its “failure to submit financial statements by a mandatory deadline.” The piece notes that the company is now on “‘heightened cash monitoring’ status, which restricts how it can receive student-aid funds.” The article notes that this is the same restricted status that “helped precipitate the dissolution of Corinthian Colleges Inc. this year,” though ED also imposed “a 21-day waiting period before Corinthian could gain access to financial-aid funds.”

The AP  (9/22) reports that the filing also said that the SEC “may take enforcement action against” the firm, noting that the “notice said the recommendation may seek remedies such as an injunction, a cease-and-desist order and financial relief like civil monetary penalties.” This piece also mentions ED’s having placed the firm on “heightened cash monitoring” status.

Corinthian Facing Two More Subpoenas.

Bloomberg News  (9/19, Staiti) reports that Corinthian Colleges Inc. disclosed in an SEC filing last week that it is “facing two further criminal probes related to financial aid and reporting student outcomes.” The firm reported that it has received Federal grand jury subpoenas in Florida “related to employee misconduct and the return of student-aid funds” and in Georgia “seeking documents on job placement, attendance and graduation rates.” The article notes that Corinthian “said in July it will close or sell its 107 campuses in the U.S. and Canada after the U.S. Department of Education imposed a 21-day delay on its access to federal aid, creating a cash crisis.”

From ASEE
Video Interviews – Leaders at NSF and the Navy Discuss the Future of Engineering
Watch interviews with NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Pramod Khargonekar, who talks about exciting NSF projects and opportunities for ASEE members, and Rear Admiral David Johnson, who discusses the importance of technology to the U.S. Navy and where naval research is headed.

ASEE Perks
ASEE launches “ASEE Perks” a new collection of discounted products and services, only for members.

Advances in Engineering Education – New Issue; Call for Papers
AEE released its Fall 2014 issue. In addition, AEE has put out a call for papers on flipped classrooms in STEM. Read more.

Research and Development

Federal Algorithm Seeks To Identify Emergent Technologies, Prioritize Research Funding.

The Washington Post  (9/22, Ravindranath) reports on Foresight and Understanding from Scientific Exposition (FUSE), an algorithm that identifies key future technologies by scanning large volumes of academic literature, patents, and formal scientific documents in English and Mandarin to gauge technological maturity and growth. Overseen by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a Federal group, the system could help prioritize future research and funding. FUSE teams also include members from BAE Systems, Columbia University, Raytheon, and SRI International with an annual budget of $10 million to $15 million. Though there is reportedly still noise in the system, it has identified quinone and perovskite as emergent technologies.

Engineering and Public Policy

Energy Companies Try To Balance Pipeline Expansions With Local Tension.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  (9/22, Conti) reports that “the pipes that energy companies need to move record amounts of natural gas from Pennsylvania shale to profitable markets run between 36 inches and 42 inches wide” and “the line companies must walk between the rush to build and trampling over communities in their path can be much narrower.” Billions of dollars have been dedicated by pipeline builders “for numerous projects to help alleviate a supply backup of Marcellus shale gas — infrastructure that will help the industry satisfy growing demand but has created tension with local communities.” The article notes that “energy industry leaders and government officials, from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, want more infrastructure now.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

University Of North Georgia Looks To Increase Science Content Knowledge Of Teachers.

The AP  (9/22, Brown) reports the University of North Georgia is making use of a state Department of Education grant to provide professional development sessions to teachers in the area of science education. The goal of the program is to improve content knowledge of science and provide teachers with a way of teaching it. The program will provide 20 session over the course of the next two years.

Jordan Shapiro Criticizes Modern Education System’s Values, Tech.

Author Jordan Shapiro argues in Forbes  (9/20, Shapiro) for the cautious adoption of technology in education. Shapiro criticizes the industrial model of education, citing how “students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points.” Trying to hold education tools to higher standards, Shapiro argues the “need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics.” In particular, Shaprio sees educational gaming as a unique platform that offers narrative structures in line with educational values.

Friday’s Lead Stories

 

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