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

Leading the News

Project Lead The Way Summit Highlights STEM Successes, Challenges.

Inside INdiana Business  (11/4, Ober) reports on the 2014 Project Lead The Way Summit currently underway in Indianapolis, addressing “the education and workforce development challenges” facing the US, particularly in STEM fields. More than 1,500 teachers and leaders from education, business, communities, and government are attending. The summit will feature keynote speeches from former US Secretary of Education Dr. William Bennett and 2013 National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau. The piece details the STEM programming efforts of PLTW and Chevron’s $18.4 million partnership with the nonprofit.

In its “STEM to the Core” blog, Control Design  (11/4, Massey) reports similarly, focusing on the STEM employment gap as Baby Boomers retire and jobs grow by an estimated 18% by 2018, double the rate of other professions. The piece features comments from Bennett on the need to push students toward STEM by combating early discouragement in math and science.

WIBC-FM  Indianapolis (11/4) reports with a focus on Charbonneau’s statements, arguing STEM courses should encourage learning in all fields, due to STEM skills’ wide applications, with a focus on whatever interests students. Charbonneau adds that teachers should innovate without fear of failing, and should encourage students similarly. The piece closes on publisher and Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes’ plan to deliver Tuesday’s keynote.

Higher Education

WPost Lauds Efforts To Clarify College Sexual Abuse Problems.

The Washington Post  (11/3) editorializes that the findings by a survey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “that nearly 17 percent of undergraduate women experienced sexual assault were consistent with other national studies and underscored yet again the serious problem this issue poses for colleges and universities.” MIT, by “undertaking such a detailed fact-finding mission – and publishing the results,” has “has signaled that it is serious about finding solutions, and it offered a model that other institutions would do well to emulate.” The Post notes that MIT “is not alone in its proactive approach; the University of Maryland at College Park, for example, last month adopted a new sexual misconduct policy, and that’s encouraging.” The Post notes that these efforts suggest that “after years of turning a blind eye to a widespread problem, schools are finally paying attention and taking needed action.”

Next Congress Facing Higher Education Issues.

Education Week  (11/5, Camera) reports that the next Congress is “expected to tackle a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,” which has not been reauthorized since 2008. The “mammoth law” pertains to “college-preparation programs for disadvantaged students, tuition-assistance grants for low- and middle-income families, and the entire federal student-loan program,” and the financial climate for colleges has changed radically since the law was last updated. The article describes efforts in both houses to reauthorize the law, including language to “allow institutions of higher education to experiment with competency-based programs that reduce the time or cost required to complete a degree, certificate, or credential.”

Alexander Would Work To Reduce College Regulation As HELP Chairman.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (11/4) reports that should the Republicans take over the Senate in the upcoming election, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) would take the reins of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, and would be well positioned to work on his efforts to “roll back regulations” that impact colleges. Alexander would have a major stake in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and the piece explains that Alexander has already “drafted legislation to shrink the Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” and “to reduce the overall number of student-aid programs.” The piece notes however that many in the higher education community, including financial aid administrators, are wary of Alexander’s agenda.

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Research and Development

Nano-Particle Paint May Help Solar Efficiency.

Roll Call  (11/4, Leonard, Subscription Publication) reports researchers have “announced the development of a nano-particle paint that could increase the efficiency of solar concentrating plants by about a third.” The nano-particle paint, “developed by a team at the University of California, San Diego, with funding from the Energy Department’s SunShot program, uses a range of particles from 10 nanometers to 10 micrometers to trap 90 percent of the concentrated sunlight that strikes it, the team reported last week.” Jacobs School of Engineering professor Sungho Jin said, “We wanted to create a material that absorbs sunlight that doesn’t let any of it escape. … We want the black hole of sunlight.”

Battery Coating Could Prevent Injury To Children.

NPR  (11/3, Bruzek) reports in its “Shots” blog that researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute “have created a shield that pastes directly onto the negative terminal” of small batteries such as those found in remote controls, laser pointers and toys. The results of experiments using the shield can be found in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

HealthDay  (11/4, Preidt) reports the researchers explained that, “if children swallow these batteries, they can suffer burns that cause permanent damage to the esophagus, tears in the digestive tract and even death” but the coating will prevent the batteries “from conducting electricity if they’re swallowed.”

Workforce

Amazon Diversity Figures Find A “White Male Dominated” Workforce.

TechCrunch  (11/3) reports that Amazon is the latest tech company to release its diversity reports which find the company to be overwhelmingly “white male dominated.” The figures show that “globally Amazon’s workforce skews towards white men, with an overall workforce that’s 63% male to 37% female.” The lack of diversity in employee demographics is especially apparent at the managerial level, with 75 percent of Amazon managers being men versus just a quarter being female, with only four percent of managers being black.

The Hill  (11/3, Hattem) (11/3, Hattem, 241K) also covers this story, adding that Amazon was pressured to disclose its diversity figured by prominent civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson who said, “The virtual lack of inclusion in Silicon Valley and other tech companies like Amazon is a systemic problem,” as Jackson’s coalition “Rainbow Push” criticized Amazon specifically for failing to release its data earlier.

Softpedia  (11/4) also covers Amazon’s workforce gender and race disparity but portrays the company positively, writing that “a lot of work is left to be done at Amazon, just like in a lot of other companies in the United States. The company is, however, working on improving things” such as launching initiatives like “Affinity Groups” and Amazon Women in Engineering that aim to increase gender and race representation at Amazon.

Retail Online Integration  (11/3) also reports on the findings adding that Amazon” isn’t alone in having a predominantly white, male workforce” indicating similar trends at “Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, [and] eBay.”

Consumer Electronics Net  (11/3) reports also published this story with similar details.

Industry News

DOE Aims To Make Power Cords For Charging More Energy Efficient.

The Hill  (11/4, Devaney) reports the Energy Department “is trying to make the power cords that charge computers and cellphones more efficient, the agency said Monday.” The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy “announced it will hold a public meeting later this month to discuss the proposed rules for external power supplies that charge the devices.” DOE “proposed new efficiency standards for certain fast-charging power cords last month, which will be the topic of discussion at the meeting on Nov. 21.” The new “rules would update the test procedures for these external power supplies to measure their standby and active-mode efficiency.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Grassley Could Shape H-1B Policy As Judiciary Chairman.

ComputerWorld  (11/4) reports that should the GOP take control of the Senate in the upcoming election, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), “the H-1B visa program’s strongest critic,” would take over the Senate Judiciary Committee, “putting him in a commanding position to shape legislation.” However, “divisions among Republicans over the H-1B visa run deep,” potentially curbing Grassley’s power to curb the program.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Oklahoma Teacher Wins Award For Advancing Elementary STEM Education.

The Tulsa (OK) World  (11/4, Habib) reports former Oklahoma elementary school teacher Andrea Sagely, now Broken Arrow School District’s STEM Instructional Specialist, was awarded the International STEM Education Association’s STEM Champion Award last month. Her original K-5 curriculum, which she explains strives “to teach science concepts through engineering practices,” seeks to answer growing STEM job demand by engaging students before they are disinterested or discouraged. Beginning in Rhoades Elementary, the pilot has expanded by three schools last year, expecting similar growth next year to eventually span the district. The program rotates hour-long STEM classroom “challenge blocks” in with art, music, and physical education, with “project block” weeks three times each year to work on extended projects. The program also incorporates homeroom teachers for “embedded professional development.” The piece highlights the opportunity for open-ended, creative thinking, tied to specific careers, while presenting students’ solutions to an agricultural engineering design problem.

Johns Hopkins University Engages Local Neighborhoods Through K-12 STEM Education.

Diverse Education  (11/4, Morris) reports Johns Hopkins University has engaged local, “urban, and occasionally troubled” K-12 schools through its STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools engagement program. The collaboration between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins’ schools of education and engineering are supported by a five-year $7.4 million National Science Foundation Grant, focusing on in-school programming, after-school development, and community events in which students share their projects with their parents and community. The program engages the predominantly Hispanic Greektown/Highlandtown neighborhood, the foreign-born Black neighborhood of Park Heights, and the Greater Homewood area which directly surrounds the university. The remainder of the piece focuses on the program’s volunteers and community organizational partnerships, such as that with the Family League.

Monday’s Lead Stories

 

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