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

Leading the News

Duncan, Gov. Haslam Address Tennessee Educators’ Conference.

The Tennessean  (10/28, Boucher) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam spoke to educators on Tuesday at the LEAD education conference in Nashville. They both noted the state’s “improved scores on national assessments and” praised it for “accepting an ‘honest’ system for student proficiency standards.” However, “neither mentioned the formal name of those standards: Common Core.” Duncan attributed Tennessee’s success on the National Assessment of Education Progress test in part “to the state ‘telling the truth’ and taking an ‘honest’ approach to student proficiency.” It says he expressed appreciation for the teachers and principals, saying “This is not about scores; this is about trying to change lives.”

The Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal  (10/29, Locker) also covers the Tennessee Educational Leadership Conference, focusing on Haslam’s speech. The governor also thanked educators for their hard work and promised that “higher teacher pay remains a top priority for him, despite having to scrap plans last spring for a pay raise due to a state revenue downturn.”

The AP  (10/29, JOHNSON) reports on the conference as well.

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel  (10/28) carries this AP coverage, while WDEF-TV  Chattanooga, TN (10/29)and WCYB-TV  Bristol, VA (10/29) carried a separate AP story.

Higher Education

New Jersey Institutions Offer Dual-Degree STEM Program.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  (10/24, Lai) reported in its “Campus Inq” blog that Stockton College and Rowan University have launched a dual-degree program that “will allow students to receive bachelor’s degrees from both institutions,” located in New Jersey. The program will be “limited to combinations that can be completed in five years; Stockton’s programs are chemistry, math, and physics, while Rowan’s are biomedical, chemical, civil, mechanical, and electrical and computer engineering.”

NJBIZ  (10/24) quoted Stockton President Herman Saatkamp as saying in a statement that “Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are increasingly the key to jobs in education and industry in our global economy.” Therefore, the new agreement will increase the value of students’ education while decreasing its cost, he added. Meanwhile, Rowan University President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand touted the program, saying “With two degrees, they will be uniquely prepared to work for leading technology-driven companies in New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Patch  (10/25, Bellano), the University Herald  (10/27, Baulkman), and the New Jersey Tech Council  (10/25) also covered this story

Cal Poly Working To Be On Cutting Edge Of Cyber-Security.

KCBX-FM  San Luis Obispo, CA (10/29, White) reports that a new Gallup poll shows that “hacking is the number one crime concern for Americans.” Professor Zachary Peterson is with Cal Poly’s Computer Science Department, says the school “is working to be on the cutting edge with new innovations,” such as with is “new, specially-constructed lab just for this purpose.” He added that students “are getting a hands-on look at the many facets of computer security.”

Obama Administration, ED Developing New College Ratings System.

Ideastream (OH)  (10/29) reports that the Obama Administration and ED plan to release a new ratings system for the nation’s colleges and universities next fall. The new system is expected to include analysis of “metrics like graduation rates and student loan debt,” it continues, noting that this is worrying some higher education institutions. According to “Roberto Rodriguez, the president’s special assistant for education,” those institutions may fear that “federal funding will be tied to performance.” However, he emphasized, “We’ve made clear that this is a ratings system. … It will not be used next year to drive financial aid decisions for those institutions, but it will be the entry point on a conversation about greater value and affordability in higher education.”

New CFPB Report Finds Loan Servicers Engaged In Illegal Practices.

Reuters  (10/29, Nawaguna) notes a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report found companies that service mortgages and student loans engaged in acts that violate US consumer laws. As to student loans, the report found some servicers inflated minimum payments due, made illegal debt collection calls, or charged unlawful late fees. With respect to mortgages, the report said some servicers unfairly delayed permanent loan modifications or misrepresented terms to borrowers.

The Hill  (10/29, Goad) further reports that the “accusations, outlined but not detailed by the CFPB,” are the result of a review of loan servicers in the two industries initiated under the agency’s “supervision program.” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “All borrowers should be treated fairly by loan servicers, and through our supervision program, we intend to hold them accountable for how they treat borrowers.” No company names were listed in the report.

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Accreditation and Professional Development

Educators Participate In West Virginia Professional Development Workshop.

The AP  (10/29) reports the West Virginia Center for Professional Development is hosting more than 300 educators as part of the Teacher Academy and Teacher Leadership Programs. The program will have a Coaching session and offer Teacher Academy training in order to help educators better manage students.

Research and Development

Biomedical Engineer Writes About Development Of “Virtual Hearts.”

For the IEEE Spectrum  (10/29), Johns Hopkins professor Natalia A. Trayanova writes about the development of “virtual hearts” within the field of computational medicine. Work she and her colleagues are doing can now model each person’s individual heart “with marvelous accuracy,” which she says “may soon transform medicine, ushering in a new kind of personalized health care with radically improved outcomes.” Trayanova explains how the models are created and how they are used to protect patients from “needlessly risking surgical complications, infections, and device breakdowns.”


Companies Employ Diverse Methods To Lure Engineers.

The Chicago Tribune  (10/24, Elahi) reports that “companies must fight to grab the best” engineers for in-demand fields. According to the article, companies are having to promote their culture, pay, and advancement opportunities to attract talented engineers. Though there may not be a best formula, the article says, companies are trying a variety of methods, such as relying primarily on employee referrals, holding patent awards dinners, and offering project based profit sharing to attract and keep the best talent.

Industry News

Wells Fargo Launches $10M Clean-Tech Incubator.

The Denver Business Journal  (10/29, Draper, Subscription Publication) reports Wells Fargo & Co. yesterday “launched the Innovation Incubator (IN2) program, a $10 million environmental grant program for clean technology startups.” The company said that “the Innovation Incubator was announced at the NREL Industry Growth Forum in Denver and is the first of its kind in the banking industry.” The startups “will be identified and recommended by Wells Fargo’s network of technical, financial and industry advisers at laboratories and research facilities across the country.” The article notes that “the startups will be funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to foster the development of early stage clean technologies for commercial buildings.”

The Dow Jones Newswires  (10/29) also provides coverage of this story.

Engineering and Public Policy

Gray: Energy Policy Should Utilize Market Forces, Not Constrain Them.

Providing his analysis and opinion for the Washington Times  (10/29, Gray), former Administration official C. Boyden Gray writes that President Obama’s climate policy is “difficult to justify” given the President’s remarks to the UN that no single nation can reverse climate change on its own. Referring to EPA’s emission reduction goals, Gray believes that the US can do little to alter the course of global warming “without any corresponding action from the world’s other major greenhouse gas emitters.” Ever the acolyte for free-markets, Gray claims that, rather than using “heavy-handed mandates and empty promises” to make a difference in energy usage, the Administration should pursue “policies that promote competition in the energy sector,” specifically from “alternative fuels like natural gas” and nuclear, as well as non-petroleum based transportation fuels.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Parents Fight For STEM Program Accessibility.

The Charlotte (NC) Observer  (10/29, Dunn) reports parents at Palisades Park Elementary School are fighting to have their children continue in “a science, technology, engineering and math program when they get to middle school,” saying “It is unfair to take this unique program away from so many children.” As the Charlotte-Mecklensburg school board deals with school overcrowding, its current system only guarantees magnet students “a spot in a STEM middle school program.”

High School Robotics Competition Takes Place In San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle  (10/28, Anthony-Petersen) reports that a San Francisco-area high school hosted the annual off-season FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) earlier this month. The competition, which is part of FIRST, an organization that promotes engineering and robotics in schools around the world, allowed students to “decide upon a strategy, build a robot, and program it.” FIRST sponsors robotics competitions for children and adults at levels that range from local to international.

Op-Ed On “Academic Credibility” Notes Bell’s Partnership With Local School.

Senior aeronautics professional Vernon M. Anderson writes on the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram  (10/28) op-ed about “academic credibility” and the role it plays “in determining specific partnerships between local industries and local schools.” Anderson argues that “strong partnerships today provide security as the next-generation workforce leads our industries into the future.” One major industry that Anderson highlights is aviation, noting Bell Helicopter’s sponsorship of Fort Worth ISD’s Dunbar High School Engineering, Aeronautics and Aviation Program, as well as the company’s contributions to their curriculum and program development.

North Dakota Wind Energy Tech Students Helping To “Fuel” Industry’s Growth.

The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press  (10/29, Burleson) reports that “with the only wind energy technician program in the state,” students at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake “are some of the few who experience the thrill of working on machinery as it sways slightly in the breeze about 24 stories high.” According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “North Dakota has the potential to produce 770,000 megawatts through wind energy turbines, which is more capacity than all the fossil-fueled power plants in the United States combined.” LRSC wind tech students “are helping fuel the industry’s growth.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories


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