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

Leading the News

Former Education Secretary Bennett Advocates for Challenging And Encouraging STEM Education.

The Deseret (UT) News  (9/29, Romero) reports former Secretary of Education William Bennett toured an elementary school in Ogden, Utah to emphasize “challenging but encouraging” STEM curriculum that start as early as kindergarten. The school has partners with Project Lead the Way in order to bring engineering, biomedical science, and computer science courses to their students.

The Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner  (9/27) reports that the students work on projects in 10-hour modules each week that are provided by PLTW. Teachers in charge of the program report that “The kids are loving it” and are constantly asking when they can work on their STEM projects. Bennett encouraged teachers to get students hooked on math and science early and to cultivate that interest through their instruction.

Higher Education

Navy Awards Ship Design Grant To University Of New Orleans.

The AP  (9/28, AP) reports the University of New Orleans’ School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering has received a $210,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research to test information gathering and analysis techniques intended to improve warship design. The study will predict changes in warfare to allow ships to be more easily repurposed for future demands.

Gregory: Liberal Arts Education As Important As STEM.

The Columbia (SC) State  (9/27, Eads) reported that when astronaut Fred Gregory was at Clemson University on Friday, he said that studying the liberal arts is just as important as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. He also spoke on the current state of NASA, saying that “without strong public support,” NASA’s budget can’t grow to the levels it needs to be at for “big missions, like sending people to Mars.” He thinks the US should be spending $30 billion on NASA annually.

California Governor Signs Campus Sex Affirmative Consent Bill.

Bloomberg News  (9/29, Marois) reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation mandating that publicly funded colleges in the state “must bolster policies on campus sexual assault,” noting that the law is “the first in the U.S. requiring students give consent before they have sex.” The law “requires public universities and private colleges that get financial grants to mandate students agree verbally or through some other affirmative signal before having sex.” The article places this story within the context of the national push to examine colleges’ policies on the issue and the “dozens of schools being probed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for alleged violations of Title IX.”

The San Francisco Chronicle  (9/29, Gutierrez) reports that the law “requires colleges and universities in the state to adopt anti-sexual-assault policies that radically rewrite what constitutes consent, a move that some critics have called an unfair shift of the burden of proof to the accused.” The Chronicle notes that the law “requires school officials who investigate sexual assault allegations to undergo ‘comprehensive, trauma-informed trainings’ and that students who report a rape are offered counseling and mental and health care services.”

WSJournal: Corinthian Colleges Did Not Engage In Predatory Lending.

The Wall Street Journal  (9/27, Journal, Subscription Publication) editorializes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges for predatory lending is misguided because the loans were not intended to make a profit, and the college was wit in its right to kick out students who did not repay loans.

Crovitz Applauds University Of Chicago’s Ouster Of Confucius Institute.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal  (9/29, Crovitz, Subscription Publication), L. Gordon Crovitz writes about the University of Chicago’s decision not to renew its Confucius Institute. Crovitz applauds the move as a defeat for Chinese propagandists, and expressed the hope that other colleges around the country will follow suit. Crovitz explains that though the program of Chinese-funded Mandarin language classes were assumed to be neutral, they are in fact rigidly controlled by the Communist Party and present a biased version of Chinese culture, politics, and history.

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.

ASEE Members on Networking and Peer Learning
Watch the short video

Research and Development

Michigan State Given Million Dollar Federal Grant To Improve Robofish.

The AP  (9/28, AP) reports that Michigan Sate University has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue developing a “robofish” with the US Geological Survey, allowing researchers to better track fish migrations and behavior. Current sensors are stationary, limiting range and precision; the new robofish will be equipped with acoustical transmitters creating an underwater tracking network. Earlier versions measured water quality and temperature, costing $300,000 per device.

University Of Minnesota Wins $20 Million Renewable Plastics Research Grant.

The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press  (9/29, Lemke) reports the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers received the five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to research disposable, non-toxic plastics created from renewable resources. The program aims to make these renewable plastics more competitive in a petrochemical dominated market, while also providing opportunities for student research. Following proposal judgments by a panel of 15 international experts in DC, Minnesota won the grant, making it one of eight Centers for Chemical Innovation. The research will incorporate partners from Cornell University, the University of California-Berkeley and more than 30 companies nationwide. In 2011, the university won an initial three-year $1.5 million NSF grant which got the program off the ground.


Massachusetts Looks To Add To Manufacturing Workforce.

The Boston Herald  (9/29) reports that Massachusetts will need 100,000 new manufacturing workers over the next decade to keep employment level, according to a report from the state’s head of economic development. The state is using the report to advocate for a boost in training programs for advanced manufacturing, and to get the word out convincing new young workers that manufacturing is a desirable industry for a career.

Industry News

General Dynamics Wins $311M Contract For Nuclear-Sub Support Work.

Seapower Magazine  (9/26) reported that the wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, Electric Boat, has been awarded a $311 million contract from the US Navy “to provide planning yard work, engineering and technical support for nuclear submarines.” According to the article, the deal has a total potential value of $1.5 billion over five years, if the Navy exercises all its options.

Engineering and Public Policy

“Dark Side” Of North Dakota’s Oil Boom Said To Hit Indian Lands Especially Hard.

The Washington Post  (9/29, A1, Horwitz) reports in a front-page story on the “dark side” of North Dakota’s oil boom, which has seen production increase from “about 200,000 barrels to 1.1 million barrels of oil a day in” five years, noting that the “arrival of highly paid oil workers living in sprawling ‘man camps’ with limited spending opportunities has led to a crime wave – including murders, aggravated assaults, rapes, human trafficking and robberies – fueled by a huge market for illegal drugs, primarily heroin and methamphetamine.” The Post notes that “the Indian lands at the heart of the Bakken” formation are especially hard-hit by the problems.

Samuelson Says Export Ban Needs To Be Lifted To Keep Oil Boom Going. In his column for the Washington Post  (9/29), Robert J. Samuelson writes that one of the US economy’s “good-news stories is the oil boom,” and adds that “by all logic, we should be working to sustain the boom,” but we aren’t. He says the US should lift the export ban in order to “promote continued exploration.”

Officials Continue To Grapple With Oil Train Safety Issues.

McClatchy  (9/27, Tate, Subscription Publication) reported on the controversy surrounding how many people are required to “safely operate a freight train.” Railroad labor unions, the Federal Railroad Administration and some lawmakers claim that two are necessary, and point to “a series of deadly accidents involving trains with a solo engineer, including last year’s disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people were killed after an oil train jumped the tracks.” However, the railroad industry argued “there’s no data to prove multiple-person crews are safer.”

In a related article, Reuters  (9/27, Hirtzer, Plume) reported on how a booming US harvest is expected to impact the train system, where capacity in some regions is largely booked by oil trains.

Elementary/Secondary Education

ED Gives American Museum Of Natural History Grant To Train Science Teachers.

The AP  (9/26) reports that ED is giving the American Museum of Natural History in New York a $5.3 million grant “to further its training of science teachers” through its Masters of Arts in Teaching program. The article explains that the grant is part of a push “to help address a teacher shortage, especially in high-needs schools.”

Dakota School Districts Use Grant Money To Support Innovative Learning.

The Bismarck (ND) Farm and Ranch  (9/27) reports thirteen school districts in North and South Dakota receive $160,000 in grants to support “innovative approaches to teaching math and science” in rural public schools. One school district will be using the money to create an online alternative learning center, equipped with 20 laptops, while another district will use touch screen tablets to analyze and collect data from local water, land, and air samples.

Education Technology Companies Focus On Teaching Computer Programming To Elementary Students.

The New York Times  (9/27, Martin, Subscription Publication) reports that several education technology companies are focusing on using robots to teach children computer programming skills. The article looks at two companies, KinderLab Robotics and Wonder Workshop, who have been working on getting their products in schools to get students as young as four to learn programming skills. One robot has students arrange wooden blocks arranged in sequences to get the robot to perform actions like dancing. Another robot uses tablets and smartphones and lets users make more complex programs or develop their own apps for the robot.

Friday’s Lead Stories


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