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

Leading the News

MAVEN Spacecraft’s “Real Work” At Mars Now Will Begin.

The CBS Evening News (9/22, story 10, 0:25, Pelley) continued coverage of the MAVEN spacecraft’s arrival at Mars on Sunday, whose goal is to understand how the planet became the “cold, dry planet” observed today. Among the articles providing new coverage of the event, the AP  (9/23, Dunn) notes that MAVEN will now start its “real work” at the planet. According to the article, MAVEN and future landers heading to the planet in coming years from various space agencies will help astronauts live on the planet. John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for Science, said, “This really is a quest of humanity.”

According to the Los Angeles Times  (9/22, Khan), the orbital entry went so well that the spacecraft has “potentially enough” fuel to remain in orbit around the planet for a decade past its one-year mission. Principal investigator Bruce Jakosky said that this could allow the spacecraft to see how the planet behaves during on full solar cycle.

The Denver Post  (9/22, Keeney) notes that some of MAVEN’s instruments have already sent back some data even though it will be several weeks before the spacecraft is fully commissioned.

Nature  (9/22, Witze) also reports on the “jubilation” at the Goddard Space Flight Center following the insertion. As for India’s spacecraft arriving at the planet tomorrow, Grunsfeld noted, “Mars is still really hard — half the spacecraft we lose,” so arriving at Mars “will be a nail-biter for the Indians as well.”

Discovery News  (9/22, O’Neill) noted that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a release, “As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet. … It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

The Christian Science Monitor  (9/22, Spotts), WAAY-TV  Huntsville, AL (9/22, Barrett) website, and ABC News  (9/22, Newcomb) website also cover the story.

India Successfully Tests Its Mars Orbiter’s Engine. Reuters  (9/22, Kalra) reported that the ISRO successfully tested the Mangalyaan spacecraft’s main engine yesterday, performing a needed course correction ahead of arriving at Mars tomorrow. The article notes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using the mission to help him establish India further into the space market.

The NPR  (9/22, McCarthy) “Parallels” blog carries a broadcast from “All Things Considered.” According to the article, India’s mission has “no exotic experiments,” which has caused some to criticize that the country cannot afford such a project now. Columnist Aakar Patel reportedly called the mission “wasteful symbolism.” However, Roddam Narasimha of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, noted that by “frugal innovation,” India can afford the mission and “get something out of it” that can benefit the nation.

The Economic Times (IND)  (9/22, Kumar) reports that India plans to obtain its first color images of the planet by Wednesday afternoon.

Universe Today  (9/22, Kremer), AmericaSpace  (9/22, Evans), Press Trust of India  (9/22), Daily News and Analysis (IND)  (9/22), Asian Age  (9/23, Srikanth), Latin Post  (9/22, Hill), Times of India  (9/22, Ram), also cover the story.

Higher Education

Shift In Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Toward STEM Majors.

Leigh Gallagher writes in Fortune  (9/22) about the shift in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women from creative to STEM fields, with none of this year’s top 10 in retail, media, marketing, or advertising. Gallagher cites the shift as indicative of a milestone achievement for women in corporate America, adding that most of the women at the very top majored in “seriously hard sciences,” going to list a dozen leaders and even newly-named US CTO Megan Smith (not on the list). Gallagher closes by citing the increase in Fortune 500 CEOs on the list over the years: 25 now, 10 in 2006, two in 2002, and one in 1997.

Boxer, Davis Praise Cal State Sexual Assault Changes.

The Los Angeles Times  (9/23, Rivera) reports that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) released a statement this week praising a plan under which “California State University will appoint advocates for victims of sexual assault on all 23 of its campuses,” saying that the move “may spur other colleges around the nation to take similar action.” The Times notes that “Cal State is also hiring for the first time a systemwide Title IX compliance officer to ensure its campuses are aware of their legal obligations, coordinate preventive training and response, and share best practices, among other efforts.”

Black College Grads Face Greater Student Loan Burden Than Whites.

The PBS  (9/23, Calvert) reports 78% of black college graduates withdrew loans to finance college, compared to 61% of whites and 63% of all graduates, according to Gallup and Purdue University polling; additionally, 50% of black grads borrowed at least $25,000, as compared to 34% of whites and 35% in total. The piece goes on to cite the estimated reduced home buying power of student loan indebted households, census data reflecting the increasingly lesser net worth of black and Hispanic families compared to white and Asian families, and Pew Research Center findings that debt-free college grads were seven times wealthier than indebted counterparts.

The National Journal  (9/23, Boschma, McGill, Subscription Publication) reports at greater length, adding that while black and white college enrollment rates are nearly equal, blacks students have fewer resources to afford that education. The average black home has less than one-tenth the average white home’s wealth, a growing gap estimated by Brandeis University to have tripled over the past 25 years. Due to the lasting impact of student loans, Gallup called the debt levels “a concerning statistic.” The piece goes on to quote the concerns of Elizabeth Baylor, the associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, as well as Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and an economics professor specializing in the economics of labor and education. The piece closes with concerns that students do not understand or are unaware of available repayment options, citing new Department of Education requirements to inform students.

University Of Illinois Computer Science Program Seeing More Female Students.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette  (9/21) profiles Marrissa Hellesen, a 25-year-old computer science student at the University of Illinois, who “is a teaching assistant and has been involved in organizing hackathons.” Hellesen “recently wrapped up an internship at Groupon in Chicago where, to her surprise, she found herself among more women than men on her project team.” The article reports that the University of Illinois has seen a significant uptick in the percentage of female undergraduate computer science students, noting that “women make up 24.6 percent” of the program’s incoming freshmen this year, “triple what it was two years ago.”

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

University of Pittsburgh Researchers Receive $450,000 To Improve 3-D Printing.

In its Innovation blog, the Pittsburgh Business Times  (9/23, Coyne, Subscription Publication) reports the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been awarded a three-year $300,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop quality standards for 3-D printed items, as well as a $150,000 grant, co-funded by America Makes and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Discovered in PA, Developed in PA program, to improve modeling and simulation. Pitt will partner with RTI International Metals on the project. The article closes by listing the researchers involved.

New Polymer Makes Polymer Solar Cells 15% More Efficient.

Futurity  (9/23, Conover) reports PID2, a new polymer developed by the University of Chicago, improves solar cell efficiency by 15% to a total 8.2% efficiency when added to a standard polymer-fullerene mixture, following insights gained through collaborative advanced imaging techniques of the molecule’s structure. The polymer functions as a charge donor to fullerene, a small carbon molecule, which facilitates the intermediary transport of electrons between polymers that behave at different, previously disconnected energy levels. Future research aims for 10% efficiency. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and US Department of Energy.

Dragon Capsule Arrives At The ISS Today With Rodent Habitat.

The Florida Today  (9/22, Dean) reports that SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft is on track to arrive at the ISS this morning. The article focused its coverage on the 20 mice and the Rodent Research Habitat System the Dragon is carrying. The article notes that a report back in 2011 found that the lack of rodent research facilities at the ISS was “a major research impediment that will hamper the ability to obtain information important for maintaining astronaut health and fitness for duty.”

Alex Knapp at Forbes  (9/22) writes about the 3D printer heading to the ISS developed by Made in Space. Knapp details what Made in Space had to do to its printer to allow it to safely and successfully function at the station. For instance, the company developed a new environmental control unit to prevent gases and particles from flying into the station’s atmosphere. Brad Kohlenberg, a Business Development Engineer at Made in Space, said that the company is already in talks with others to spin that technology off because it is so efficient.

Industry News

FDA Approves Devices To Help Patients Suffering From Migraines.

HealthDay  (9/23, Dallas) reports the FDA gave the green signal to “two new prescription devices,” Cefaly and Cerena, that could provide “some relief for people with migraine headaches” who can’t tolerate migraine medications well. The piece, citing an FDA statement, notes Cefaly is designed to block migraines, while Cerena is “meant to be used when migraines first start.” Michael Hoffmann, a biomedical engineer with the FDA, said in a statement: “Patients have been looking for alternative migraine treatments. Because these devices aren’t ingested or metabolized like drug therapies, they don’t necessarily have the same types of side effects.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Kerry Says Upgraded National Energy Grid Could Open $6 Trillion Market To Renewable Energy.

Reuters  (9/23, Volcovici) reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry, in an address to Climate Week NYC, said that the US, by improving its electrical grid, could open a $6 trillion market to renewable energy. He argued that the US grid currently is inefficient and hampers development of renewable energy because of its inability to transmit energy nationwide.

Monday’s Lead Stories


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