Leading the News
DOE Announces Funds For Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Technology Research.
The Hill (1/23, Cama) reports the Department of Energy is offering over “$55 million to companies, universities and laboratories to develop and deploy fuel efficiency vehicle technology.” The grants are designed “to increase the efficiency of the country’s vehicle fleet, reducing petroleum use and help attain the Obama administration’s goal of making electric vehicles’ pricing on par with traditional vehicles by 2022.” The funding was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show. In a statement Moniz said, “Energy Department investments in advanced vehicle technologies have had a major impact on the industry, driving down costs for consumers and reducing carbon emissions. … These projects will continue America’s leadership in building safe, reliable, and efficient vehicles to support a strong, 21st century transportation system.”
The Washington Post (1/22, Harrison) notes that Moniz “announced the start of a $56 million lending initiative intended to support private companies that have bold ideas about ways to build more sustainable vehicles — what he called ‘blue-sky ideas that will take us into the future.’”
Moniz Says US Will Not Meet Obama’s EV Goal In Time. The Detroit News (1/22, Shepardson) notes that Moniz said yesterday the US “will not meet President Obama’s goal of getting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by the end of this year and said hitting the target could be a few years away.” In an interview with the paper, Moniz said, “We’re going to be a few years after the president’s aspirational goal of the end of 2015, but I think that we are within a few years of reaching that goal.” The energy secretary says that “he is still very bullish on EVs.” He said, “The costs did not come down to where we need them to be in time.”
The National Journal (1/23, Foran, Subscription Publication) reports that Moniz “also talked up the need to keep investing in electric cars even as gas prices dip to just over $2 a gallon, saying that ‘we should certainly enjoy the price of gasoline now, but let’s not count on it being the new normal as we go forward.’”
URI Professors Receive Science Grant.
The Providence (RI) Journal (1/22, Arditi) reports “the University of Rhode Island announced Thursday that three of its engineering professors have been awarded a four-year $850,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.” The funds “will be used to develop the sensors and computer architecture to better manage public transportation, communication networks, water systems, healthcare, and security in future ‘smart cities,’’ according to a statement from URI.”
Groups Address How Colleges Should Prepare Students For Future Jobs.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (1/23) reports that the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute, and Augsburg College hosted a gathering of “leaders from higher education, business, government, and other fields” in Washington, DC on Wednesday “to begin what the organizations hope will be a national conversation on the question of how colleges should adapt to a working world changed by technology, globalization, and the aftermath of the recession.” The article notes that Deputy Under Secretary Jamienne S. Studley delivered opening remarks, quoting Studley saying, “To me, the answer to the question you pose is pretty simple. What should we ask of higher education? The answer: a great deal.”
Survey: Few Students Aware Of Planned College Rating System.
US News & World Report (1/22) reports in its “Data Mine” blog that according to a new survey from textbook rental company Chegg, “fewer than 1 in 7 high school or college students — 11 percent and 13 percent, respectively — said they had heard of the administration’s plan to rate colleges,” notwithstanding the controversy the plan has generated in higher education policy circles. Roughly half of high school students said that they would find such a tool useful, but “some of the factors students said they would like to see included in the ratings are missing from the administration’s current framework.”
NYTimes Analysis: Obama Plan Would Undermine Popular College Savings Plan.
The New York Times (1/22, Bernard, Subscription Publication) says President Obama is “proposing a radical change to the 529 college savings plans held by millions of families,” and “one of the 529 plan’s most attractive benefits would be eliminated: Money could no longer be withdrawn tax-free.” Joe Hurley of SavingforCollege.com is quoted as saying: “I was very surprised by the Obama 529 proposal because in many ways it is anti-middle class for families trying to afford college.” But the Times also reports that “some experts” contends that 529 plans, “which are used by seven million families and hold $217 billion, disproportionately benefit the most affluent families, which can afford to save.” Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that Congress will not seriously consider the President’s proposal.
Bloomberg News (1/22, Wallbank) reports that on Thursday, Cory Fritz, a spokesman for Speaker Boehner said, “We don’t need more top-down policies from Washington or new tax hikes on middle-income families saving for their children’s college education.”
WSJournal Notes That Obamas’ Own 529 Funds Would Not Be Taxed Under His Proposal. The Wall Street Journal (1/23, Subscription Publication), in an editorial, notes it has been reported that the Obamas themselves contributed $240,000 into a 529 plan for their daughters. The Journal notes that if the President’s proposal to make 529s less attractive to families were implemented, the Obamas would still be able to withdraw their contribution tax free because the President’s proposed change would only hurt those families who have not yet begun to save for their children’s college education.
Research and Development
Researchers Create Hydrophobic Metal.
KABC-AM Los Angeles (1/23) reports “University of Rochester scientists Chunlei Guo and Anatoliy Vorobyev have developed a technique using extremely precise laser patterns that renders metals superhydrophobic: in other words, incredibly water-repellent.” The project was partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which hopes the new invention can be applied to “sanitation in poor companies.”
Controlled Environments Magazine (1/23, Eudy) reports the materials the researchers have “created are much more slippery than Teflon—a common hydrophobic material that often coats nonstick frying pans.” Other uses for the material include rust prevention and ant-icing.
Engineering Students Create Device To Cure Jaundice.
The Arizona Republic (1/22) reports a team of engineering and business students at Arizona State University have created a portable, cost-effective incubator that cures jaundice in newborn babies. Two versions of the device are manufacturing read, according to the team. The device uses 5 watts of either solar or AC power to power LED lights and “can be easily backpacked.” The device comes in two forms, one geared towards US markets and another to be used in developing nations.
Boeing Expects To Deliver 900 Planes Per Year.
Aviation Week (1/22, Norris) reported that at a recent AIAA conference, John Tracy, chief technology officer and senior vice president of Engineering, Operations and Technology at Boeing, said that airplane deliveries are increasing and Boeing could deliver more than 900 planes per year at some point in the near future. This “remarkable annual total” almost doubles what the company shipped back in 2010, according to the article. The article noted that the Tracy’s estimates are made possible by “stabilization and improvements” in production at existing plants in Washington State, as well as the addition of the new plant in South Carolina.
The Wichita (KS) Business Journal (1/22, McCoy, Subscription Publication) also covered the story, citing Aviation Week.
Engineering and Public Policy
Study: $90 Million Of Natural Gas Escapes Boston Area Pipes Each Year.
The AP (1/22) reports scientists at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on Thursday published a study that indicates “millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas escapes from the Boston area’s aging pipes and tanks each year.” The 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas is worth about $90 million.
Senate Rejects More Climate Change Amendments Related To Keystone.
The New York Times (1/23, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, the Senate rejected a pair of measures “related to the Keystone XL pipeline that declared that humans are a cause of climate change — the second set of votes on the issue in two days.” The Senate also rejected a GOP measure that “called on the Senate to nullify a climate change agreement in November between the United States and China in which both nations pledged to reduce their carbon emissions.”
Some Farmers Fighting Keystone. The New York Times (1/22, Smith, Subscription Publication) reports that owners of a number of properties along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline are continuing to fight the project. The Times portrays these individuals primarily as farmers attempting to protect their livelihood. Meanwhile, TransCanada this week “began eminent domain proceedings in Nebraska county courts, seeking to gain access to almost 90 properties where the owners have not agreed to terms.”
Federal Government Accepting Public Comments On Wind Energy Development Off North Carolina.
The AP (1/22) reports the Federal government “is inviting the public to comment on an environmental assessment that supports wind energy development off North Carolina.” The North Carolina Sierra Club “issued a statement saying that wind energy is a better offshore option than drilling.”
Vermont Bill Would Set New Standards For Renewable Energy.
The AP (1/23, Gram) reports that a change is being considered by Vermont “to its energy policy that would end a practice that critics said amounted to double-counting the environmental benefits of its renewable sources of power.” A bill “to be described to the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee” today “would also allow utilities to collect renewable energy credits for reducing fossil fuels used in home heating and sets new standards for energy generation.” The new bill “would scrap a decade-old program that had allowed Vermont utilities to meet in-state goals for renewable energy production by developing wind, solar and other projects, while at the same time selling so-called ‘renewable energy credits’ on those projects to utilities” outside of Vermont.
High School Seniors Encouraged To Apply For $1.2 Million Edison Scholars Program.
EGP News (1/22) carries a City News Service story reporting on the upcoming Feb. 1 deadline for the 2014-15 Edison Scholars Program. The program, available to high school seniors “who either live in or attend public or private high schools in Southern California Edison’s service area,” offers “$1.2 million in scholarships to students planning to pursue college studies in science, technology, engineering or math fields.” Edison will award “thirty scholarships valued at $40,00” and scholarship recipients “may also be eligible for summer internships at SCE after completing their second year of college.”
This story was also covered by the Precinct (CA) Reporter (1/22, A2).
Wyoming House Makes Move To Allow National Science Standards.
The AP (1/23, Neary) reports the Wyoming House of Representatives yesterday “gave preliminary approval…to rolling back last year’s prohibition against the Wyoming State Board of Education and adopting national science standards that teach burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming.” In 2014, lawmakers “slipped a prohibition into a spending bill prohibiting the board of education from considering the Next Generation Science Standards.” Some legislators in the state “objected last year to the standards’ assertion that fossil fuels cause global warming.”
PLTW CEO: SOTU Highlighted Need To Improve STEM Education.
Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way, writes in a Huffington Post (1/23, Bertram) piece that President Obama’s calls during his State of the Union address for “expanding access to community college and addressing the growing challenge of cyber security…highlight the urgent need to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings in the U.S. education system.” Bertram writes that expanding access to community college could narrow the skills gap and improve workforce preparedness, adding that in addition, “we must also ensure that all students in America’s K-12 classrooms today have access to high-quality STEM education.”
Viral Photo Sparks Debate About School Science Fairs’ Value.
An essay in the Christian Science Monitor (1/22, Suhay) reports, “Last February, actor George Takei launched into the issue of how stale science fair fare has become by posting a photo of a mom’s poster mocking elementary school science fair projects.” The article suggests that the poster “illustrates the frustration of parents and kids preparing for the annual science fair,” and argues that the events are too rigidly controlled, don’t give students the freedom to explore topics of interest, and curb interest in science.
Florida Governor Proposes STEM Education Funding Plan.
On its website, WINK-TV Fort Myers, FL (1/21, Victoria Kasselman) reports that when Gov. Rick Scott unveils his full budget proposal “in the coming weeks,” it will include $1 million to create a paid summer residency program for STEM teachers to work with high-tech firms. Gov. Scott said, “We want Florida to be the global leader for jobs, and we must have a skilled workforce to reach that goal. By investing in science, technology, engineering and math education, we are ensuring our students are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.”
Washington State School District Holding STEM Early Learning Conference.
The Centralia (WA) Chronicle (1/23) reports the Centralia, Washington School District is holding the Invest in STEM Early Learning Conference to give “parents and early childhood educators an opportunity to network with each other, attend classes with hands-on opportunities, listen to keynote speakers and eat lunch.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Microsoft Gets Positive Coverage For New HoloLens Headset.