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

Leading the News

Casualty List From Aging Natural Gas Pipelines Growing.

NBC Nightly News (9/23, story 7, 2:30, Williams) reported on a combined USA Today/NBC News “investigation about a growing concern in this country, the aging network of underground pipes that carry natural gas to so many homes.” Many are a hundred years old and “now at the rate of several times a week they begin to leak,” resulting in at least 135 deaths from explosions over the past 10 years. NBC (Costello) reports on a variety of tragedies from pipe problems, including many from construction work.

Heritage’s Moore, Griffith: Trans-Alaska Proves Concerns About Keystone Overblown. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal  (9/24, Subscription Publication), Stephen Moore and Joel Griffith, both of the Heritage Foundation, write that despite the concerns on the left about the Keystone XL pipeline, Alaska’s experience with the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline, completed in 1977, prove them unfounded. They argue that despite ugly predictions about environmental damage from conservation groups, the Alaska project has delivered significant economic benefits while doing little harm to the environment.

Higher Education

Federal Grant Cuts Force Harvard To Seek Corporate, Foundation Funding.

The Boston Globe  (9/23, Jan) reports reduced Federal research funding has driven Harvard researchers to appeal to corporations and philanthropists, going on to cite a top global pharmaceutical chemist, an acclaimed physicist, and US Army Major and biomedical engineer conducting nanotechnology research. The article cites a tripled corporate fund since 2006 and 50% increases in foundation support, while 75% of funding still comes from the Federal government. Researchers are spending more than a quarter of their time applying for a greater number of grants, while research groups are being downsized 25%. In response, Harvard is connecting researchers with its top benefactors. The article provides testimony from several researchers feeling the pinch, closing on discouragement among future generations of prospective researchers.

Texas Instruments CEO, Wife Donate $2 Million To SMU For New Faculty Chair.

The Dallas Morning News  (9/24, Jean) reports on the donation of $2 million to Southern Methodist University to fund a new electrical engineering faculty position, made by Texas Instruments CEO Richard Templeton and his wife, Mary. SMU has already begun searching for a candidate. The gift will provide a $1.5 million endowment to SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and $500,000 in operational support. Texas Instruments has strongly supported STEM education through $150 million in donations to strengthen global education in the last five years.

ED Gives Texas College $2.9 Million Grant To Support Hispanic Grad Students.

The San Antonio Express-News  (9/24) reports that officials with St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas have announced that ED is giving the school “nearly $2.9 million to expand graduate program opportunities for Hispanic students. The article explains that according to ED’s website, the Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans grant is aimed at schools ‘educating the majority of Hispanic college students and helping large numbers of Hispanic and low-income students complete postsecondary degrees.’”

The San Antonio Business Journal  (9/23, Subscription Publication) reports that in addition to this grant, St. Mary’s also recently “received $2.6 million for its ‘Fostering Success in STEM Education’ project that encourages more Hispanic students for careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.”

Hong Kong Tops List Of Foreign Donors To US Universities.

The Wall Street Journal  (9/22, Chow, Subscription Publication) surveys the history of Hong Kong wealth and philanthropy to US universities, following the $350 million donation of Gerald Chan to Harvard University’s School of Public Health and his brother Ronnie’s donation of $20 million to the University of Southern California’s occupational science and therapy program. According to a WSJ analysis of Education Department data, Hong Kong donations between January 2007 and November 2013 top the list at $181 million, making up 17% of international donations to US universities, overshadowing the UK’s $147.6 million and Canada’s $136 million. The biggest beneficiaries of Hong Kong philanthropy during that period were Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkley, and, in fourth, Harvard.

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

SpaceX Breaks Ground For Texas Spaceport.

The Houston Chronicle  (9/24, Nelsen) reports SpaceX has broken ground near Boca Chica Beach on its new Texas Gulf Coast spaceport, while expectations include: construction starting mid-2015, one monthly commercial orbital flight by late 2016, $100 million to pour into the development over the next three to four years, and the creation of 300 jobs. CEO Elon Musk spoke of interplanetary settlement and promised to address environmental concerns should any arise. The company received a combined $20 million in state and local incentives, driving it to select the Brownsville site. Additionally, Gov. Rick Perry announced the investment of a total of roughly $10 million into the a research and technology commercialization partnership STARGATE, a radio frequency technology park adjacent to the launch site, for use by University of Texas Rio Grande Valley students and faculty researchers. The article also lists future prospective initiatives.

Engineering and Public Policy

DOT IG Report Questions Value Of Air Traffic Control Upgrade.

In a front-page story, the Wall Street Journal  (9/24, A1, Carey, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) reports that an audit of the effort to modernize the US air traffic control system by the Transportation Department’s IG finds that the new system is going so poorly that the costs associated with its most important technology outweigh its benefits.

Six Companies Agree To UN Pact On Methane Emissions.

The Wall Street Journal  (9/23, Mauldin, Harder, Ailworth, Subscription Publication) reports BG Group PLC, ENI SpA, Pemex, PTT PCL, Statoil, and Southwestern Energy Co. agreed to a new United Nations framework to partner with various government on reducing methane emissions. With the international community unable to agree on binding regulations for the green house gas, officials have been turning to such voluntary agreements, with the US taking a leading role.

The Hill  (9/23, Barron-Lopez) reports the companies agreed “to monitor and disclose their methane emissions.”

State Department Giving World Bank $15 Million For Anti-Methane Funding. The Hill  (9/24, Cama) reports the state Department said the US is contributing $15 million in an effort to “kick start” a World Bank program funding “projects to reduce methane emissions.”

Bay Area Officials Criticize California Climate Change Plan.

The Los Angeles Times  (9/24, Barboza) reports Bay Area public officials say California’s plan to clean “the air in some of California’s poorest and most polluted communities” is flawed. the California Environmental Protection Agency decides where to spend money from the state’s cap-and-trade program according to 19 criteria involving environmental exposure, health risk, and socioeconomic status, with most going to the Los Angeles area and other places in Southern California. However, 20 state legislators from the Bay Area said in a letter that the analysis “overlooks a large number of communities that, by any measure, are some of the most polluted and disadvantaged in the state.” They are calling for the screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, to be changed “to include more of the region’s most vulnerable census tracts near refineries, transportation corridors and ports.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Delaware Math Course Guarantees Students In College Can Earn Math Credits.

The Wilmington (DE) News Journal  (9/23, Albright) reports that since half of Delaware public school students are taking remedial math classes in the state’s colleges, state education leaders and universities have developed a “Foundations of College Math” course. The class is designed for high school seniors and guarantees that students who pass will be eligible to take math courses in college that count for credit towards their major. The state’s governor and secretary of education visited a pilot high school on Tuesday to promote the initiative and talk with students enrolled in one of the courses. The state is looking to scale up the initiative to all schools in the upcoming year.

Florida Elementary Schools Receive Robots Through DOD Grant.

The Crestview (FL) News Bulletin  (9/24) reports five elementary schools in Okaloosa, Florida wee the recipients of a five-foot-tall robot through a Department of Defense Education Activity grant. The schools will use the robots to teach students how to program, and will incorporate it into other lessons as well.

California Nonprofit Launches STEM Mentoring Program.

The Sacramento (CA) Bee  (9/23) reports the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair Foundation has launched a STEM pilot program. The new STEM Mentoring Program will pair trained mentors to volunteer in after-school programs and will encourage students to explore local STEM jobs as well as provide hand-on experiments.

Utah Senator Wants Students To Learn Computer Coding.

The AP  (9/23, AP) reports Republican Sen. Howard Stephenson says he wants to create legislation in January pushing for Utah students to learn computer coding as early as elementary school, to better prepare them for high-tech jobs. The Deseret News reports 14 other states begin to teach coding that early, while Utah doesn’t.

Michigan Bill Looks To Promote CTE.

The AP  (9/24) reports the Michigan Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that will require the Education Department to pow information about best practices in career and technical education programs on its website. The legislators are aiming to increase awareness of how CTE classes can fulfill graduation requirements. The also requires that students be given information on how they can meet graduation requirements through CTE.

Indiana High School Program Lets Students Participate In Job Shadowing Program.

The Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter  (9/23, Steele) reports students at Greenfield-Central High School in Indiana are taking part in capstone job shadowing course in the school’s high-ability program. Students have to commit to spending 40 hours throughout the school year shadowing an employee in a career field that they are interested in. The program makes use of mentor volunteers who agree to let students follow them and “nurture their interests.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories


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