Leading the News
Since 2000, IBM Has Reportedly Cut Its US Workforce By Half.
With the sale of IBM’s commodity service business to Lenovo Group closed, the International Business Times (10/2, McDougall) reports that the company has effectively trimmed its US workforce by half since it began efforts in 2000. The completed sale means that as many as 7,000 IBM workers will transfer to the Chinese company, “with about 1,000 coming from U.S. operations.” Though IBM does not provide specifics on its workforce figures, the Times says “a group that is looking to unionize the tech giant maintains that, after several years of annual layoffs, IBM will have less than 80,000 workers stateside following the Lenovo sale,” which could be dampened even more if its rumored semiconductor business sale to GlobalFoundries proves true. Critics, including the pro-union group Alliance at IBM, accuse the company of engaging in “labor arbitrage;” although, an IBM spokesman reportedly disputed this claim, saying the Alliance “doesn’t represent the workforce at IBM.”
IBM Interactive Experience Appoints New Member To Team. The Drum (10/2, Macleod) reports that the former head of social and digital strategy at EE, Ben Kay, has been appointed by IBM Interactive Experience to join its team.
Wayne State University Opens $12 Million Technology Center.
The AP (10/2, AP) reports Wayne State University has opened a new $12 million Advanced Technology Education Center in Warren, Michigan. The facility houses engineering and engineering technology, instructional technology, computer science, and business academic programs for 900 students.
Judge Overrules ED’s Restrictions On For-Profit College Recruiting Bonuses.
Reuters (10/3, Edwards) reports that DC District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer has issued a ruling supporting the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities’ bid to overturn ED’s rules restricting for-profit colleges from offering their recruiters bonuses based on how many students they sign up. The piece notes that Collyer said that ED had not sufficiently explained why it wanted the practice banned.
ED Gives $75 Million To 24 Colleges In FITW Grants.
Campus Technology (10/2) continues this week’s coverage of ED’s first ever First in the World grant dispersals, noting that 24 colleges will share $75 million “to support efforts to improve post-secondary access and completion.” The funding is intended to “support the development of new approaches to improve educational outcomes and the establishment of evidence to support effective practices.” This year’s grants are intended to promote “programs looking to increase access to college, improve completion rates, facilitate transfers from community colleges,” and “increase enrollment in STEM disciplines.”
Other media outlets covering the FITW grants include the Humble (TX) Observer (10/3), the Queens (NY) Tribune (10/3), the Fairfield County (CT) Business Journal (10/3), and the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (10/1).
NYTimes: Government Should Act To Curb Student Loan Defaults.
In an editorial, the New York Times (10/3, Subscription Publication) says that data released by the Education Department shows that the default rate on Federal student loans has ticked slightly downward after rising through the recession. However, 650,000 borrowers who started repayment in 2011 had defaulted by 2013. The Times says that the government should press schools and loan servicing companies to educate students on affordable payment plans. The Times also concludes that the government should crack down on the abusive practices of for-profit schools that manipulate default data and push students into ruinous repayment plans.
New Program Helps Families Of Fallen Access Education Benefits.
The Military Times (10/2, Jowers) reports the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors has launched a new online program offering families of fallen soldiers individual help with identifying scholarships and education benefits. Since the pilot began in January, TAPS has aided 420 survivors with education benefits. The public-private partnership spans the Veteran Affairs Department, 45 states offering educational benefits for families of the fallen, private scholarships, and corporate contributors. The article goes on to cite the origins of the program by those with similar needs and portrays the demand generated by existing information gaps.
Research and Development
Satellite Data Used To Make More Detailed Map Of Seafloor.
Reuters (10/2, Dunham) reports that scientists led by David Sandwell of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography used NASA’s Jason-1 and the ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite data to develop a new map of the Earth’s seafloor, which revealed thousands of previously unknown sea mountains. University of Sydney geophysicist Dietmar Müller, who was part of the team, highlighted how little is known about the sea floor by explaining that there are more detailed maps of Mars than there are of the oceans. Müller added that while the satellite data may be less accurate than taking acoustic beam measurements from ships, it provides better coverage for less a cheaper price.
BBC News (10/2, Amos) notes that Jason-1 was “recently taken out of service.” Meanwhile, the two satellites used in the study have provided “a two-fold improvement in the gravity model” used to map the seafloor. Despite the improvement, the article notes that researchers would like to one day see a mission “specifically” designed to map the sea floor, like the ABySS mission proposed in 2001 that was ultimately rejected.
Raytheon Continues To Challenge Pentagon’s Demand For $354M In Refunds.
The Washington Business Journal (10/2, Aitoro, Subscription Publication) reports in its “FedBiz Daily” blog that Raytheon Co. has submitted four different lawsuits against the Federal government in the US Court of Federal Claims since 2013 in an effort to block the Pentagon’s demand for more than $350 million in refunds. DOD’s audit agency, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), accused Raytheon of “charging the government for expenses tied to such things as business conferences, engineering, expendable equipment, consultants and travel,” which prompted the Pentagon’s call for a total of $354 million in refunds. Raytheon filed two lawsuits over the matter in 2013 and two additional suits this year, with the latest coming on September 25. According to the Journal, all of Raytheon’s suits claim that the DCMA’s audits were “off the mark” and that “all the expenses were allowable as overhead that can be charged back to contracts under federal acquisition regulations.”
Engineering and Public Policy
World’s First Large-Scale CCS Plant Opens In Canada.
The New York Times (10/3, Fountain, Subscription Publication) reports that “the world’s first large-scale project to capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant opened” yesterday “in Western Canada with a ceremony attended by government officials and utility executives from around the world.” The Times notes “work to modify the Boundary Dam plant in Estevan, Saskatchewan, took five years and cost $1.2 billion.” The carbon dioxide “will be piped to a nearby oil field where it will increase oil production from wells and remain permanently underground.”
Groups Ask Maryland Regulators To Reject Exelon, Pepco Merger.
The Baltimore Sun (10/2, Sherman) reports that a coalition of groups “called on state regulators to reject a proposed merger between Chicago energy giant Exelon Corp. and Pepco Holdings Inc., citing Exelon’s track record on the environment and fears the deal would give it too much power in the state.” Exelon “in April announced a $6.9 billion deal to acquire the smaller Washington-based utility company, which owns Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric as well as Pepco.” If granted approval, “the merger would give Exelon among the highest number of ratepayers in the country, adding about 2 million Pepco Holdings clients to its 7.8 million customers.”
Students Asked To Submit Tools That Can Be Made On ISS’ 3D Printer.
SPACE (10/2, Gannon) reported that on September 21, NASA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation launched a competition asking students to submit ideas for tools that could be printed on the Made in Space 3D printer that recently arrived at the ISS. The winners, which will be announced on January 30, will be selected for “creativity, usefulness and adherence to design guidelines.” The “winning teen entrant” will be given a trip to NASA’s Payload Operations, while the winning submission from those aged five to 19 will be given a 3D printer for his or her school.
ED Grant To Support STEM Education In Rural Colorado Schools.
The Pueblo (CO) Chieftain (10/3) reports that ED is giving $2.9 million to Adams State University “to improve science, technology and math education at rural schools.” The grant “will train teachers in those subject areas to teach at elementary and middle schools at 15 rural school districts in the state.”
ED Gives Montclair State $6.2 Million For STEM Teacher Training.
The New Jersey Local News (10/3) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that ED is giving Montclair State $6.2 million “to continue the ‘Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency Program,’ which is aimed at training STEM teachers to work in Newark public schools.” The piece explains that the program “allows participants to earn Masters degrees in early childhood education, teaching students with disabilities, and mathematics and science certifications.”
Robotics Catches On In Classrooms.
The Boston Globe (10/2) reports in a 2200 word article that schools in Boston and across the US are “deciding it’s worth the investment to add course work in robotics” in order to promote STEM education and prepare students for an technologically advanced workforce. The school explains how several elementary and middle schools are using robots to cover curriculum. The article also explains that obstacles to using the robots include teachers with the ability to use the technology and the funds to start a program.
More Schools Hiring Math Specialists To Train Common Core Teachers.
The Atlantic (10/3, Wingert) reports schools nationwide are hiring math specialist to coach teachers toward better teaching the Common Core’s curriculum, citing Springhurst Elementary in New York’s Westchester County as an example. The Springhurst program included ten weekly classes after school, as well as classroom observation and substitution. While no official statistics exist on the trend, Francis Fennell, a former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and an early proponent of math specialists, said some states have hundreds of specialists. The bulk of the article explains the demand for the service, its history, how Common Core has changed math curricula, and how hiring a math specialist is a unique solution to the issue through professional development.
Thursday’s Lead Stories