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

Leading the News

Advances In Prosthetic Devices Simulate Sensation Of Touch.

Bloomberg News  (10/9, Cortez) reports on the latest advances in prosthetic devices, noting that people with artificial hands can tell “when they’re holding something without even looking, and pluck a stem from a cherry without bursting it,” citing two studies published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The article notes that separate groups working in the US and Europe “today reported key breakthroughs in connecting healthy nerves to a prosthesis, giving patients whose hands or arms have been amputated better control of the devices and, for the first time, returning at least some of the sensation of touch.”

HealthDay  (10/9, Mozes) reports that researchers with Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland “wanted to see if an effective connection could be made between existing nerve bundles in each patient’s arm and their artificial hands,” and if such “electrode-driven communication stimulated between the two” could “be transmitted to the brain” in order to restore sensation.

NBC News  (10/9) and CBS News  (10/9) also cover this story online.

Higher Education

AAAS Gives Seminaries Science Curriculum Grants.

The Washington Post  (10/8, Bailey) reports that the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced on Wednesday that it is giving “a diverse set of Christian seminaries…grants ranging from $90,000 to $200,000 provided by the John Templeton Foundation, which has funded various efforts to bridge science and faith, including $3.75 million to AAAS for the project.”

Tulane Professor Gets $3.7M Medical Research Grant.

The New Orleans CityBusiness  (10/9, Chandler) “City Business” blog reports that Yu-Ping Wang, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and biostatistics and bioinformatics at Tulane University, has received two grants totaling $3.7 million from the National Institutes of Health. Wang plans to “develop new approaches to combat osteoporosis and identify mental illnesses,” as well as “better methods of detecting biomarkers that can predict mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

New Jersey, Indiana CCs Getting TAACCCT Grants For Career Training Partnerships.

The Atlantic Highlands (NJ) Herald  (10/9) reports that Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey is receiving an $820,400 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant to foster partnerships “with area employers to offer an expanded suite of career training programs to eligible residents over the next four years.” The program “will provide career counseling, practical training and job placement services to an estimated 140 eligible residents, including veterans and the unemployed.” The article explains that the grant program is jointly administered by ED and the Department of Labor.

The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star  (10/9) reports that Ivy Tech Community College in Terre Haute, Indiana “has been awarded a $2.5 million grant for training in the high-growth career fields of information technology and cybersecurity.”

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Research and Development

New Wave Of Brain Research Aims At Understanding Every Function.

The San Francisco Chronicle  (10/8, Allday) reports in continuing coverage that the National Institutes of Health “last week announced $47 million in grants as part of President Obama’s Brain Initiative, a project announced 18 months ago to, in the simplest language, reverse-engineer the human brain.” The grants “were among the first in a roughly 11-year plan that could cost more than $3 billion.” The Chronicle notes that Bay Area scientists “were big winners in this round of funding, with money going to projects at UCSF, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, plus nearby UC Davis and a handful of biotech companies.”


State Policymakers Feel “Burned” By Boeing’s Plan To Move Jobs.

The Washington Post  (10/8, Wilson) reports in its “GovBeat” blog that policymakers, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who passed a package of tax breaks and incentives “aimed at keeping tens of thousands of Boeing jobs in the Puget Sound region” that “amounted to the single largest tax break any state has ever given to a single company” feel “burned” now that the company has announced plans to move thousands of jobs out of Washington State. Still, the jobs Boeing plans to move out of the Seattle area “aren’t technically related to the package of tax breaks.” The company announced last week that it plans to move about 2,000 “high-paying engineering jobs” in its defense division to facilities in Oklahoma City and St. Louis by 2017. The Post added that Boeing plans to build “significant portions of the wings and tails for its new 777X jet” in St. Louis.

Engineering and Public Policy

Boston Fed: Highest Demand For H-1B Visas In New England.

The Boston Globe  (10/8) reports that according to a report released Wednesday by the Boston Federal Reserve, “New England has some of the highest levels of regional demand for visas that help companies hire skilled workers from outside the United States.” The highest concentration of demand was found to be in urban parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, “notably Boston and Worcester.”

The Hartford Business Journal  (10/8) reports that the report found that Connecticut had the “most intense demand for foreign worker visas to fill computer and math-related positions.” The Boston Business Journal  (10/9, Subscription Publication) also covers this story.

Despite Fuel Economy Gains, EPA Is Short Of Pace To Hit 2025 Goal.

Brian Williams reported on NBC Nightly News (10/8, story 11, 0:20, Williams) that according to the EPA, “new cars last year have the best gas mileage ever,” averaging 24.1 mpg. Williams called the mileage numbers “revolutionary compared to when we started worrying about miles per gallon a few decades back.” However, the Washington Times  (10/8, Wolfgang) reports that the “rate of progress is far behind what’s needed to meet President Obama’s ambitious 2025 goal.”

Fracking Debate Surges Before Elections In Denton, Texas.

The New York Times  (10/9, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports on a proposed Denton, Texas ban on hydraulic fracturing despite the city’s placement atop the Barnett shale, polarizing the local community within the national debate. The article lists many campaign tactics employed by local fracking opponents, as well as a pro-fracking economic analysis that found a ban would prevent $251 million in growth, with $5.1 million in municipal tax losses and $4.6 million in lost funding to Denton school district. The article suggests much of the debate will be settled in courts, closing the piece with a lawsuit between Denton residents and EagleRide Energy, which redrilled permitted wells 300 feet from homes under vested rights.

Oil-Carrying Freight Trains Delay Other Goods, Passengers.

The New York Times  (10/9, Nixon, Subscription Publication) reports on the delay of Amtrak trains as well as industrial and consumer goods, due to increases in rail freight traffic carrying oil from the energy boom. Amtrak has reported an 18% loss in revenue from discouraged passengers, as long-distance travel requires travel on major freight railroads. The article goes on to discuss plans for $26 billion in rail upgrades and propositions of oil pipelines to improve shipping efficiencies, which critics argue may not be enough.

Elementary/Secondary Education

PLTW CEO Touts Group’s Efforts To Address Skills Gap.

In commentary for the Huffington Post  (10/8), Project Lead The Way CEO Vince Bertram writes about the workforce skills gap in the US, noting that the Department of Commerce projects that there will be “1.2 million unfilled jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by 2018 due to a lack of qualified workers.” He laments the lack of focus on steering students toward the STEM fields, and stresses the need to “increase the number of students receiving undergraduate STEM degrees by 34 percent annually over current rates to meet economic demands.” As an example of how to achieve these goals, Bertram having recently hosted South Korean science and technology leaders at “Da Vinci Science High School, a certified PLTW school, where they visited with students and teachers in several of the engineering courses.”

Maryland Elementary School Hosts World Space Night.

The Annapolis (MD) Capital Gazette  (10/8, Pegher) reported South Shore Elementary of Crownsville, Maryland, held its first Family World Space Night, in which astronaut Paul Richards and Naval Academy Midshipmen participated. During the event, organized by three volunteer parents and coinciding with the UN’s World Space Week, students engaged in several activities, receiving stamps in passports at each station. Local restaurants donated supplies for the activities.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories


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