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

Leading the News

Missouri University Of Science And Technology Earns Awards At ASEE Conference.

The Rolla (MO) Daily News  (10/6) lists the awards won by Missouri University of Science and Technology’s electrical and computer engineering faculty and students at the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education’s Midwest Conference. The article closes stating Missouri S&T and the ASEE Midwest section will host the 2015 Zone III Conference in September in Springfield, Missouri.

Higher Education

College Hacking Programs Raise Ethical Concerns.

The Washington Post  (10/8, Nakashima, Soltani) reports that professors at colleges across the country are teaching students “how to hack into oil pipelines and electric power plants,” “how to write software to break into computer networks,” and other “cyberoffense” skills. The article reports that “businesses, the military and governments rely on computer systems that are potentially vulnerable,” and that “having the ability to break into those systems provides a strategic advantage.” The article addresses the ethical concerns surrounding teaching such potentially dangerous skills, and says that some experts “say the academic community is not taking ethics seriously enough, and professors are not accepting responsibility for the potentially dangerous skills they are teaching.”

Porter Criticizes Federal College Aid System.

In an “Economic Scene” piece for the New York Times  (10/8, Porter, Subscription Publication), Eduardo Porter writes that the “government’s overall strategy to subsidize higher education is failing at its core task: providing less privileged Americans with a real shot at a college degree.” In addition, it is “burdening low-income students with risks they cannot bear and steering them into low-quality educations.” In particular, Porter is critical of the aid given to for-profit universities. He argues that the US should move towards a system of loans whose repayment is based on the student’s post-graduation income.

Congressional Democrats Call For Stricter For-Profit College Oversight.

The Hill  (10/8, Cox) reports in its “Floor Action” blog that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) “are calling for more federal regulations and oversight of for-profit colleges,” and said that over a dozen state attorneys general support their Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act, “which would allow the federal government to increase accountability standards for the colleges.” The measure would set up “an interagency committee that would provide Congress with annual reports on for-profit colleges.”

Pew Study: Student Loan Borrowing Increases Sharply Among Affluent.

The Hill  (10/8, Shabad) reports that according to a new study from the Pew Research Center, “the rate of student loan borrowing in the last 20 years increased faster among affluent families than any other income group.” The center found that while only around 25% of high-income families took out student loans 20 years ago, that number had risen to some 50% in 2012.

US News & World Report  (10/8, Peralta) also covers this story, noting that “while low-income students are still more likely to graduate with student debt in general, their increased rate of borrowing has been much more modest” during that period.

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Research and Development

Nobel Prize In Physics Goes To Inventors Of Blue LED.

The Washington Post  (10/8) reports that the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura, who developed blue light-emitting diodes, which “are taking over lightbulbs as we know them, but already see universal use in smartphone flashlights and displays.”

The Wall Street Journal  (10/8, Naik, Subscription Publication) reports that in the announcement on Tuesday, Staffan Normark of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said, “You just have to go out on the street and see that these LED lamps are taking over, replacing Edison bulbs completely, making much longer-lasting, much stronger light to illuminate the world. And it saves a lot of energy.”

Newsweek  (10/8) reports that according to the Nobel Assembly, this invention “has already changed the way we light buildings as well as the screens in our living rooms, on our desks, and in our pockets, and has the potential to provide light where electricity is hard to come by and clean polluted water, according to the assembly.”

The Los Angeles Times  (10/8, Khan) reports that the blue LED was “the missing link that in the 1990s paved the way for energy-efficient LED lighting.” GigaOM  (10/7, Fehren) and the MIT Technology Review  (10/7) also reported on the award.

Industry News

Rochester Institute Of Technology Unveils Digital Manufacturing Lab.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle  (10/3) reports that the Rochester Institute of Technology has unveiled a new $3 million Digital Manufacturing and Product Realization Lab, which “will help firms evaluate and apply digital manufacturing to their operations.” The article notes that the school “opened what it and others hope is a way for state and local businesses to bring their concepts and ideas to life,” noting that the lab “includes such cutting-edge equipment as a 3-D visualization unit that can give heft and depth to a concept.”

The Rochester (NY) Business Journal  (10/8) reports that the lab is “designed to help entrepreneurs turn ideas into prototypes that will lead to new products.” The labe “will include three machine tools and four workstations for computer-aided design drawings and analysis and the application of 3-D printing technologies in plastic and metal.” WXXI-TV  Rochester, NY (10/8) also covers this story online.

Engineering and Public Policy

Coal Regulation Pushing West Virginia Into GOP Camp.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/7, Maher, Subscription Publication) reports that this year’s election might see the GOP emerge victorious in West Virginia, which is likely to elect Shelley Moore Capito as the state’s first Republican senator in 55 years. The GOP also has a chance to take control of the House of Delegates for the first time in 80 years, and the share of voters registered as Democrats has fallen below 50%. The Journal add that the driving factor is the EPA’s new regulation of the coal industry, which has turned much of the population against the Democrats.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Hornbeck Offshore Gives Louisiana School Grant For Engineering Program.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune  (10/8) reports that Hornbeck Offshore has given Saint Paul’s School in New Orleans “a generous donation” to support “the school’s burgeoning engineering program, first implemented in 2010.” The school has used the donation to implement “comprehensive improvements to the program, including the addition of new classes, intensive faculty training, lightning-fast computers, and a few shiny gadgets—including, but certainly not limited to, a massive 3-D printer.”

Ford Donates $200,000 To Detroit Schools.

WWJ-TV  Detroit (10/7) reports Ford Motor Company Fund, in conjunction with the United Auto Workers, donated $200,000 to support extra curricular programs in Detroit Public Schools as part of more than $1 million in outreach the company’s philanthropic arm has launched this month. The announcement was made at the Ford Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math Conference on Tuesday, and the money will fund arts, music, and athletics programs in the district’s schools.

Study Compares STEM And Foreign Language AP Exams By State.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies, and Jenn Hatfield, education policy research assistant, argue in the pundit blog of The Hill  (10/8, Hess, Hatfield) that the national focus on reading and math leaves us unaware of students’ STEM and foreign language performance, citing growing demand for both STEM jobs and proficiency in Spanish and Chinese. A recent Chamber of Commerce analysis co-authored by Hess surveyed the number of students in each state passing Advanced Placement tests in STEM fields and world languages, suggesting room for improvement and variation between states. In STEM testing, performance ranged from 1.2% (Mississippi) to 16% (Massachusetts), with a median of 7.5% and only 17 states above 10%. Language passing rates ranged from .04% (North Dakota) to 8.78% (California), with a median of 1.2%, two states above 5%, and 20 below 1%. Additionally, the strongest language states have large Spanish speaking populations, leaving data likely indicating learning at home rather than schools.

Brooklyn Kids Get World-Class STEM Education Through Charter, Robotics Club.

The New York Daily News  (10/8, Marcius, Chapman) reports on after-school robotics clubs and STEM focused curricula in low-income Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bushwick and Bedford-Stuvesant, focusing on the initiatives of Achievement First University Prep High School, a newly opened charter serving almost entirely black and Hispanic students. The article features comments from the school’s founding principal Claire Shin on the challenging curricula and extra-curricular activities, as well as general comments on STEM education from Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

ED Gives UNC-Greensboro $7.7 Million Grant For STEM Teacher Training.

THE Journal  (10/7) reports that ED has given the University of North Carolina-Greensboro “a $7.7 million grant, to be disbursed over the next five years, to recruit, train and support local teachers of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).” The grant will fund a partnership with several area schools, where the college “will install a tailor-made Makerspace, a technology workshop based on the theory that students learn most effectively by making things, along with all the necessary technology.” Campus Technology  (10/7) also covers this story.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories


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