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

Leading the News

Chevron Announces $20 Million STEM-Focused Program.

The AP  (10/22) reports that Chevron is spending $20 million on the launch of a STEM-focused program dubbed the Appalachia Partnership Initiative. The program is designed to “improve schools and workforce development in 27 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  (10/21) reports that the project will fund scholarships for community college programs and pay for energy labs in two PA school districts that will have graduate student staff from Carnegie Mellon University. Chevron Appalachia president Nigel Hearne explained, “An educated and skilled workforce leads to economic success.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (10/21, Gannon) notes other aspects of the program will feature “hands-on STEM projects in K-12 schools” along with training for teachers. Chevron Appalachia president Nigel Hearne announced the initiative on Tuesday, saying, “Our success is deeply linked to the region’s progress, and we believe the Appalachia Partnership Initiative will act as a catalyst for social investment that addresses workforce development and helps to build a new energy economy that creates jobs and economic development opportunities.”

Higher Education

PayPal Co-Founder, Yelp Chairman Addresses University Of Illinois On Computer Science.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette  (10/21, Des Garennes) reports on Max Levchin’s visit to the University of Illinois to celebrate the Department of Computer Science’s 50th anniversary; Levchin, a graduate himself, co-founded PayPal and is chairman of Yelp. Levchin and other spoke of the need to bring more women into the field and start computer science education sooner. The piece profiles Levchin’s work and success, as well as his influences and future interests, before providing his comments on the need for Illinois to adequately incentivize economic growth and start-ups rather than simply push state pride.

UT To Use DOE Funds To Study New Energy Source In Gulf.

The Houston Chronicle  (10/22, Dlouhy) reports “the University of Texas at Austin has won $58 million to investigate a potentially massive energy resource: methane trapped in ice-like crystals under the Gulf of Mexico and oceans around the world.” The Energy Department “is providing $41.2 million toward the grant, one of the largest government grants ever awarded to the university, with the rest coming from industry and research partners.” UT “plans to use the funding to harvest and analyze core samples of methane hydrate from sandstone reservoirs thousands of feet under the Gulf – the first time the deposits have been retrieved from U.S. waters.”

California Community Colleges Consider Adding New Accrediting Agencies.

The San Francisco Examiner  (10/22) reports that the Consultation Council, a group of representatives of California colleges, “met to discuss a recent recommendation by State Auditor Elaine Howle for the Chancellor’s Office to remove language from its regulations naming the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges as the sole accreditor for schools.” Noting that the ACCJC “voted to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation last year,” the article reports that the commission “has been under fire from state lawmakers and college officials following its June 2013 decision to revoke CCSF’s accreditation, effective this past summer.”

Researcher Calls Attention To Bullying In Colleges.

USA Today  (10/21, Krasselt) reports that though there is a “widespread” view that bullying ends in high school, Brian Van Brunt, President of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association, has focused his attention on college bullying, noting that it can actually become worse when “you’re adding [the] stress” of the college environment, particularly for “first year college students and those in the Greek system.” He also believes there is an increase in bullying at the college level, and is focusing his work on “rampage violence,” such as school shootings as the result of college bullying.

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Industry News

Drone Technology Being Developed To Aid Firefighters.

WAVY-TV Norfolk (VA)’s News 10 (10/21, 12:37 p.m. EDT) ‘s Anita Blanton reported that NASA Langley Research Center is developing drone technology that could make firefighting less dangerous. NASA aerospace engineer Mike Logan, head of NASA Langley’s unmanned air vehicle laboratory, was shown pointing out the fire-spotting drone’s two cameras, which will allow scientists to detect smoke or hotspots.

Airbus, Aerion Teaming Up On Supersonic Business Jet.

Paul Thompson at Jalopnik  (10/21) wrote that at this year’s National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention, Airbus and Aerion have partnered to get Aerion’s supersonic business jet “off the ground” by 2021. Noting the “brilliant engineering minds” from both sides, including Aerion’s Richard R. Tracy, and the research Aerion has done at the Armstrong Flight Center, Thompson predicted that the project can succeed. Airbus’ contributions especially make it “almost a sure thing.”

Marshall Partnerships Have Led To Dozens Of Technologies.

The WAAY-TV  Huntsville, AL (10/21, Barrett) “Space Alabama” website reports that the Marshall Space Flight Center is able to facilitate needed “partnerships with industry, government and academic entities” through its Flight Programs and Partnerships Office, managed by Jody Singer. Singer said, “We’re like the front door for companies who want to partner with Marshall.” The article notes that these partnerships have led to the development of “dozens of technologies,” which will be displayed at the US Space and Rocket Center on Monday. Singer said, “We’ll be talking about missions, what we’re supporting such as the Space Launch System mission that is to occur in 2018, we’ll also be talking about the International Space Station, the activities we have in increasing utility and research there, we’ll also be talking about partnerships and how that within the community and other experts in the area that we can find ways to partner together for mutual benefit to be able to seek and help solve each other’s issues on doing deep space exploration or solving issues that affect their business and make them economically robust.”

WAAY-TV Huntsville (AL)’s News At 10PM (10/21, 10:07 p.m. CDT) also carried a broadcast.

Engineering and Public Policy

Obama’s H1-B Visa Reform Fails To Authorize Some Skilled Spouses For Work.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek  (10/21, Kitroeff) reports on the inability for spouses of H1-B visa holders to work until those H1-B holders earn green cards, a backlogged process that can take more than a decade. The piece discusses President Obama’s proposed broadening of the H-1B visa process, including H-4 visas for H1-B spouses, which the Department of Homeland Security estimates will initially authorize 100,600 people for work. The rule, which has received criticism from Republicans, has been stalled due to perceived impact on midterm elections. The rule will only apply to those whose spouses have visa extensions or are in the later stages of green card issuance. The piece is contextualized within the personal story a spouse now pursuing an MBA to convince an employer to sponsor her for an H-1B visa.

8Minuteenergy, Gehrlicher Solar America To Build 60 Megawatt Redwood Solar Farm In Kern County.

The Sacramento (CA) Business Journal  (10/21, Anderson, Subscription Publication) reports that 8Minutenergy Renewables LLC announced recently it signed agreements with Gehrlicher Solar America “to engineer and build three massive solar projects in Kern County,” which together will be called the Redwood Solar Farm. The project has a combined 60 megawatts of generation, which will be sold under power purchase agreements to Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the city of Palo Alto Utilities.

WPost Condemns Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.

In an editorial, the Washington Post  (10/22) condemns the practice of “mountaintop removal mining” to gain easy access to coal. The Post says that new examinations of the practice show that its environmental consequences are severe, and says it is another example of why the EPA is “right” to move to limit coal.

Pentagon In Process Of Building Independent Power Network For US Military Bases.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/22, Smith, Subscription Publication) reports on the Pentagon’s efforts to build independent power grids at its American military bases in response to growing concern over the vulnerability of the power grid to hackers and terrorists, or even natural disasters. For instance, while the Twentynine Palms military base continues to buy power from Southern California Edison, it is completing its own power system that will allow the base to withstand potential blackouts in the future.

Elementary/Secondary Education

NSF Grant To Help Georgia State Professor Develop Computer Science Curriculum.

The AP  (10/21) reports that a three-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to Georgia State University associate professor Caitlin McMunn Dooley will be used to “develop curriculum to bring computer science to urban elementary school classrooms.” She is working with the International Society for Technology in Education and the Georgia Institute of Technology to “improve elementary students’ capacity for learning, creativity and motivation” while learning about computer science.

Houston Area Nonprofit To Transform Bus Into STEM Lab.

The Houston Chronicle  (10/22, Peyton) reports on Cy-Hope, a local nonprofit in an unincorporated area of Houston who recently purchased a bus which they hope to transform “into a mobile science, technology, engineering and math lab.” Cy-Hope was founded by a local church and is located in the third-largest independent school district in Texas and the “largest non-urban” school district in the US. Since it is unincorporated and there is no “central government in the area,” many residents “in poverty” are left to “face the issue themselves.” The bus is the latest project Cy-Hope has taken on in addition to providing food for needy children on the weekends, providing “dual credit and certification and scholarship opportunities” for at-risk children, running a counseling center, and various camps for kids.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories


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