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

Leading the News

Senate Rejects Democrats’ Keystone Amendments.

The AP  (1/21, Cappiello) reports that on Tuesday, the Senate “rejected Democrats’ bids to ban exports from the Keystone XL oil pipeline and to require building the project with American-made steel.” The AP notes that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, “said such restrictions on a privately-funded energy project amounted to a ‘slippery slope.’”

The Hill  (1/20, Barron-Lopez) reported that a total of three Keystone amendments were voted on, and “only one — Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s (Ohio) trimmed down version of an energy efficiency bill — passed, in a 95-4 vote.” The other amendment that failed “would have banned the export of oil shipped through the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.”

According to the New York Times  (1/21, Davenport, Subscription Publication), Portman and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, “who have been working together for more than a year on the efficiency measure, say they hope the unusual display of support for” the amendment, which passed on 91-5 vote, “could pave the way for its eventual passage into law, even in a political environment in which energy issues have become fiercely partisan.” The Times notes that Murkowski “has said she hopes to incorporate the energy-efficiency measure into a broader energy package later this year if the Keystone bill founders.”

Obama Derides Keystone’s Job-Creation Potential. The Huffington Post  (1/20, Sheppard) noted that in the State of the Union address, President Obama “only obliquely referred to Keystone.” The President is quoted as saying: “Let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year.”

Canadian Firm Building Keystone Pipeline Attempts To Seize Land From 86 Nebraskans. McClatchy  (1/20, Cockerham, Subscription Publication) reports that also on Tuesday, TransCanada “went to court…to use eminent domain to force Nebraska landowners to give their property for the Keystone XL Pipeline.” According to McClatchy, “A 2012 Nebraska law grants the foreign company the right to use private property for the project through eminent domain but set Thursday as the deadline…to get started.” McClatchy says TransCanada “filed eminent domain actions against 86 Nebraska landowners…who have rebuffed the company’s offers for use of their land.”

In the Los Angeles Times  (1/21, Ganga), Nancy Allpress, “whose family farm is bisected by the proposed pipeline route,” is quoted as saying: “This is a foreign-owned company coming in and exercising eminent domain against our will for a project we believe is of no benefit to the United States.”

WSJournal/NBCNews Poll Finds Public Supports Pipeline 41% To 20%. The Hill  (1/20, Barron-Lopez) reported that a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 41% of respondents support building the Keystone pipeline, while “20 percent oppose building it, and 37 percent did not know enough to weigh in on the issue.”

Higher Education

Obama Calls For More Access To College, Pre-K In SOTU.

Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week  (1/20) “Politics K-12” blog that in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama called “for a dramatic expansion in college access and increased investments in early childhood, including help for parents in covering childcare costs.” However, the piece notes that congressional Republicans have already rejected “a broad overhaul of the tax system” that includes both proposals. Klein writes that Obama largely ignored K-12 education, adding that he “made his most prominent pitch yet for a sweeping proposal aimed at making the first two years of community college free for most students.”

Meanwhile, the NPR  (1/20) “NprEd” blog reports that Obama was expected to “focus on three big proposals” related to education: free community college, universal pre-K, and reauthorize NCLB. Moreover, “Obama is proposing something called the ‘Student Digital Privacy Act’ to make sure that the information schools collect about kids is used only for educational purposes.”

Bruni: Free Community College No Substitute For Preparedness. In a column in the New York Times  (1/21, Subscription Publication), Frank Bruni writes that his “one big problem” with President Obama’s call for free community college tuition is that “our focus on getting kids to and through higher education cannot be separated from, or supplant, our focus on making sure that they’re prepared for it.” Bruni writes that it’s simply more expedient to talk about college access than it is to support the Common Core Standards and standardized testing.

Gillibrand Invites Campus Sexual Assault Victim To SOTU. USA Today  (1/20, Tumulty) reports that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) invited Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, a “campus sexual assault victim,” to the State of the Union address, noting that the move highlights the issue “just days after Purchase College, SUNY, and Columbia University were added to the list of schools under investigation for possible Title IX sexual violence violations.” The piece explains that ED’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating 12 New York Colleges over their response to campus sexual assault cases.

The Huffington Post  (1/21, Kingkade) reports that despite Sulkowicz’s presence, “Obama didn’t mention college sexual assault,” instead choosing “to discuss higher education issues like the cost of a college degree, his free community college plan and simplifying the process of applying for federal financial aid.” Obama “skipped the chance to address college sexual violence as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) brought as her guest Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, who has been outspoken in criticizing her school after she reported being raped.”

DOJ Report: Two-Thirds Of US Campus Police Armed.

The AP  (1/20) reports that according to a new report from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, “nearly all campus police officers at public universities now carry guns, pepper spray and other weapons,” adding that “experts say more private schools are looking to arm police.” The report shows that overall, “about two-thirds of public and private campuses used armed officers during the 2011-12 school year.” The piece notes that “officers at public universities were more than twice as likely as those at private schools to carry guns,” and explains the pressure that universities face to give “assurances that officers are well-equipped and well-trained following high-profile crimes like the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the Penn State child sex abuse case.”

Virginia Legislature Advances College Affordability Bills.

The Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress  (1/21) reports that the Virginia House Appropriations Committee has approved a pair of bills “aimed at making college more affordable,” noting that the measures “would cap student athletic fees and give certain schools more administrative flexibility.”

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.

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#ASEEYoADiversity 1-minute video. Pat Campbell: Should uni faculty blame “failing” high schools, or work on changing their own institutions?

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

Research and Development

Princeton Researchers Aim To Push Toward Fusion Energy.

The Huffington Post  (1/20, Grandoni) reports on the efforts of Princeton University researchers working on the National Spherical Torus Experiment, an effort to research fusion energy in Plainsboro, New Jersey. The piece notes that the experiment “was created to study the physics of plasma, in the hopes that one day humans will be able to harness a new source of energy based on the reactions that power stars.”

University Of Rochester Scientists Develop Method Of Making Metal Surfaces Water-Repellent.

In a piece picked up from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, USA Today  (1/21, Goodman) reports that a pair of University of Rochester scientists “have found a way of using powerful laser beams to make metal surfaces last longer and be more suitable for a wide range of practical purposes.” In a process detailed in a Tuesday article in the Journal of Applied Physics, Chunlei Guo and Anatoliy Vorobyev, they “developed changes the surface of metals by repeatedly subjecting the surface to bursts of lasers. Water tends to stick and spread on metal surfaces, but that doesn’t happen on the treated ones.”

University Of Kentucky Researchers Use X-Ray Breakthrough To Read Roman Scrolls.

The Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader  (1/20) reports that computer scientists at the University of Kentucky “think a new technological breakthrough finally might provide the key” to reading “some 2,000-year-old Roman scrolls” that are too fragile to be unrolled. Researchers are using the new technology “called X-ray phase contrast tomography” to show “some individual handwritten letters inside one rolled-up scroll, and two complete words inside a fragment of another scroll that had been forced open long ago.”

Virginia Tech Engineer Develops Building Component To Withstand Earthquakes.

WSLS-TV  Roanoke, VA (1/21) reports online Virginia Tech civil and environmental engineering professor Matt Eatherton “has been using a National Science Foundation grant to develop a structural building component called a self-centering beam,” noting that the “beam would serve several purposes for the community: protect lives, limit or eliminate structural repair costs, and reduce business downtime due to earthquakes.”


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Industry News

Monterey Technologies Beats Lockheed For $40M NASA Contract.

The Monterey County (CA) Herald  (1/21, Molnar) reports that Monterey Technologies, Inc. of Monterey, California has won a $40 million contract with NASA to develop rotorcraft and vertical lift capabilities. Lockheed Martin also bid on the contract.

Engineering and Public Policy

Demoltion Strategy, Not Bridge Design, Blamed Likely Cause Of I-75 Overpass Collapse.

USA Today  (1/21, Pilcher, Williams, Enquirer) reports construction and engineering experts stated that the overpass collapse on Interstate 75 in Ohio “appeared to be a major construction accident and not a failure of the bridge itself.” Experts opined that the “demolition process could have triggered the accident,” noting that the demolition should have started in the middle of the overpass, but money and time consideration may have prompted the contractor to take out the sides first. University of Cincinnati architecture professor Tom Bible stated that according to pictures, the western joint failure “wouldn’t have happened” if the eastern end had not already been removed. Ohio DOT and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have started separate investigations.

Minnesota Governor Critical Of Southwest Light-Rail Transit Plan.

The Hopkins (MN) Sun  (1/20, Rowe) reports that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has “questioned the viability of the Southwest Light Rail Transit plan,” and the City of St. Louis Park officials are “worried about how the uncertainty could affect the city budget.” The story adds that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, has asserted that the Metropolitan Council wants the light rail trains routed in a tunnel under a channel instead of utilizing a bridge. The park board has approved about $500,000 to pay for engineering work for the tunnel option. The Sun says the Park Board sent a letter to the FTA “asking the agency to intervene on its behalf. The letter states that the light rail project is in legal jeopardy.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

US Senators To Introduce CTE Bill.

The Augusta (VA) Free Press  (1/21) reports on a bill being sponsored by US Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that “would raise the quality of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs” in US schools. Some of the things the bill would do to raise the quality of CTE programs in schools, include, defining “what constitutes a rigorous CTE curriculum and requiring Perkins grant recipients to incorporate key elements in their programs” and allowing “states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

SpaceX Announces Satellite Internet Venture.
Judge Rules CCSF Accreditor Violated Law In Revoking Accreditation.
Researchers Increasingly Turning To Crowdfunding To Finance Projects.
Robinson: Obama Needs To Focus On EPA Emissions Regulations.
Researchers Helping Girls Learn Computer Skills Through Dance.

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