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

Leading the News

Administration Set To Roll Out Rules To Sharply Cut Methane Emissions.

The AP  (1/14, Lederman) reports that the Administration is “putting the energy industry on notice that it intends to curb methane emissions by nearly half through regulations affecting oil and gas production,” according to two individuals familiar with the plans. The plan “aims to cut emissions up to 45 percent by 2025, compared with 2012 levels,” through a combination of a “mix of voluntary steps by industry and regulations from” both the EPA and the Interior Department.

The New York Times  (1/14, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that the President will use “executive authority” in his latest move to “tackle climate change.” The White House says that it can make the move under authority granted by the Clean Air Act. The EPA “will issue the proposed regulations this summer, and final regulations by 2016.”

The Washington Post  (1/14, Warrick) reports that the proposal would include new EPA requirements “to control methane emissions from new or modified drilling equipment anywhere in the country,” while Interior “will impose tighter regulations of both new and existing oil and gas facilities located on U.S. lands.” The plan will be formally unveiled as “early as Wednesday.”

Higher Education

For-Profit Sector May Begin To Push Shorter Course Programs.

Noting that the for-profit college sector has seen declining enrollments in recent years, Reuters  (1/14, Vijayaraghavan) reports that some smaller schools are seeing gains in enrollment in shorter, more skills-oriented “boot camps” or “nanodegree” programs. The article touches on stepped-up ED regulation of the sector, amid rising student debt burdens.

New Hampshire Report Highlights Need For Better STEM Education.

The AP  (1/14, Ronayne) reports a New Hampshire report from a gubernatorial task force found New Hampshire ranks thirty-second nationally in terms of the percentage of students graduating with STEM bachelor’s degrees. The task force has proposed eight recommendations to be funded through a STEM K-12 Education Innovation Fund, formed through public and private partnerships: allow students to pursue statistics and computer science rather than traditional math trajectories, adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, offer more applied learning competitions, develop personal learning standards, create a STEM focused school, promote STEM education among girls, integrate math into other subjects, and better prepare STEM teachers.

Engineering Professor Profiled For Research On Ergonomics.

MLive  (1/14, Schuch) reports “one Kettering University professor’s ideas and gadgets are gaining him some attention in ‘Fast Company,’ an international technology publication.” Assistant professor of industrial engineering Justin Young “was recently featured in an article, titled ‘Meet The Man Who’s Figuring Out The Ergonomics Of The Office Of The Future.’” Young’s research is focused “around studying ergonomics and how people work and function throughout the day.”

From ASEE
December ASEE Prism Online
COVER: Since 2011, NSF’s Innovation Corps has sent 365 research teams out of their labs to scout potential customers, and helped launch 208 start-ups.

NAE’s E4U2 Video Contest
Win $25,000 with a 1-to-2 minute video. Registration open through March 2.

#ASEEYoADiversity Three-minute video – Patricia Campbell: Math as a poor filter

ASEE Perks
Learn about the broad collection of benefits available to ASEE members.

Research and Development

Upcoming Alaska Rocket Launches Should Provide More Information About Auroras.

USA Today  (1/13, Rice) reports that “over the next couple of weeks,” NASA will launch several research rockets from Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range to study the aurora. The article specifically focuses on the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe (ASSP) headed by Charles Swenson of Utah State University to study “how heat from the aurora can impact satellites orbiting the Earth.” According to the article, when all of the projects launch, scientists should know more about “the physical and electrical makeup of the upper atmosphere, along with how auroras and geomagnetic storms affect power grid infrastructure around the world.”

Clark State Gains Permission To Fly UAV For Agricultural Program.

The Springfield (OH) News Sun  (1/13, Sanctis) reported that the FAA gave Clark State Community College a Certificate of Authorization to fly a UAV “to collect photos and other data as part of the college’s new precision agriculture program” starting as early as this spring. Students will only be allowed to analyze the information, not fly the UAV themselves. Aimee Belanger-Haas, assistant dean of Business and Applied Technologies at Clark State, said that by flying a UAV, researchers should gain data much faster than from satellite imagery or manned flights. According to the article, Clark State may “likely” apply for permission to fly another UAV later this year.

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Workforce

High-Tech Worker Visas Bill Introduced In Senate.

Reuters  (1/14) reports that Republican and Democratic senators have introduced a bill to ease the hiring of foreign STEM specialists by US high-tech firms. The article says Sen. Orrin Hatch’s bill is a re-introduction of legislation first offered in 2013. The article says the fate of the bill is unclear, though Hatch is quoted saying it could be used for “more progress on immigration reform.” The article notes, however, the sour relations between the White House and Republicans in Congress after the immigration executive actions were announced. The Hill  (1/14, Hattem) reports that “many industry groups’ to-do lists” for 2015 featured the issue “near the top,” while “bipartisan support for the new bill may hint at the chances of progress.” The article notes that “multiple industry groups applauded the bill after it was introduced on Tuesday.”

FBI Recruiting Tech Specialists For Cybersecurity Jobs.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News  (1/14, Service) reports that in the wake of the Sony Entertainment hacking, the FBI is conducting a nationwide recruitment effort and seeking “tech talent” to help protect the nation from cyber-based attacks and other technology crimes. The Bureau is focusing its recruitment efforts within the Bay Area. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Malcolm Palmore said, “What we’ve found historically is that agents come from lots of various backgrounds,” Palmore said. “It’s easier with regard to the cyber realm if the agents come on board with some knowledge.” The FBI is recruiting cyber experts as special agents, computer scientists, or information technology forensic examiners. “We’re looking for folks who are technically inclined, and by technical we mean an emphasis on math, science and engineering backgrounds,” Palmore said, adding, “We’re looking for the same cadre of people that we’ve always looked for, which primarily are folks that can pass an FBI background investigation.”

Obama Touts Manufacturing Growth.

USA Today  (1/10, Korte) reports “President Obama touted growth in manufacturing sector as he toured a factory in Tennessee as part of a three-state tour to preview his State of the Union Address.” The president noted “the economy created more jobs last year than at any time since the 1990s and that factories are opening at the fastest pace in two decades.”

Industry News

Engine Test Called “Good News” For Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Chances Of Future NASA Contract.

The Sacramento (CA) Business Journal  (1/13, Anderson, Subscription Publication) reported that last week’s test of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-25 engines at the Stennis Space Center for the Space Launch System, specifically for a “new computer control for the engine,” is “good news” for the company because it wants to win a potential contract to build more of the engines for NASA in the future. Marshall Space Flight Center spokesperson Kim Henry said that NASA is considering restarting the RS-25 engine line, which was last in use during the shuttle program.

Blog Coverage. Weston Morrow at the Fairbanks (AK) News-Miner  (1/14) “Whiteboard” blog writes that NASA engineer Steve Creech will conduct a free live webcast from the Marshall Space Flight Center on Thursday about the Space Launch System (SLS). Morrow thinks this is a good event for anyone “looking for a fun, educational activity for your classroom.” Morrow comments that after reading how NASA describes the SLS, the correct response is to get “excited.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Automakers Laying Groundwork For Reduction In CAFE Standards.

The Wall Street Journal  (1/14, Spector, Rogers, Subscription Publication) reports that automakers are looking to set the groundwork to seek relief from fuel economy standards when they come up for review by regulators on 2017, according to executives at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. The fleetwide standard for cars will rise to 37.8 mpg and 28.8 mpg for trucks in 2016, before rising again to 54.5 mpg for both in 2025. However, with gas prices dropping, consumer interest in higher fuel economy vehicles is on the wane.

NTSB Focusing On Railroad Tank Car Safety This Year.

McClatchy  (1/14, Tate, Subscription Publication) reports that the NTSB on Tuesday “added railroad tank car upgrades to its list of ‘Most Wanted’ safety improvements, reflecting a heightened awareness about problems in transporting crude oil and ethanol by rail.” It was the first time that tank cars have appeared on the annual list of priorities since the first one was issued in 1990.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Harvey Mudd Creates Massive Open Online Courses In Computer Science, Mechanics For Middle, High School Students.

Forbes  (1/13, Klawe) interviews Harvey Mudd’s massive open online course coordinator Elly Schofield, as well as physics professor Peter Saeta, about the creation of two middle and high school MOOC courses to increase STEM gender and racial diversity. The pair discuss their reasons for creating such courses in computer science and mechanics, stressing the importance of reaching younger students in these areas.

Illinois Elementary School Students Participate In “STEM Museum.”

The Chicago Daily Herald  (1/12, Boucher) reports almost 250 K-5 students at Adler Park Elementary School in Libertyvillle, Illinois participated in a STEM Museum Monday, featuring 10 STEM activities. The event was produced by Mobile Ed Productions, with funding provided by the Adler Park Family Association. Demonstrations ranged from electrical generators to 3-D printers and robots.

Georgia High School Stresses Art In STEM Education Through Design.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  (1/14, Cauley) reports on the incorporation of art into STEM education at Georgia’s Chattahoochee High, as part of what educators have coined STEAM curricula. The piece focuses on various interdisciplinary design projects with testimonials from students and teachers.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Automakers Unveil New Electric Cars.
Lifelong Texas Engineering Student Profiled.
Bucknell Engineering Students Develop Disaster Relief Technologies.
Senate Set To Vote On Rash Of Keystone Amendments.
Utah Program Aims To Introduce Elementary Students To STEM Courses.
University Of Delaware Robot Used To Find Submerged WWII Planes.

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