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

Leading the News

Boeing Beats Analysts’ Expectations.

The AP  (1/28) reports that Boeing “surpassed” analyst forecasts when it reported its fourth-quarter earnings, profits, and earnings.

Another AP  (1/28, Koenig) article notes that commercial aircraft demand, which countered “weakness in the defense business,” helped raise profits by 19%. Meanwhile, Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney “discounted fears” that the drop in the cost of oil will ultimately hurt plane sales. According to the article, McNerney believes that “airline profits,” and not oil prices, dictate demand.

According to the Wall Street Journal  (1/28, Ostrower, Subscription Publication), Boeing did deliver some bad news when it reported that its Dreamliner costs continue to rise.

The New York Times  (1/28, Drew, Subscription Publication) reports that Boeing did show “signs” that it would be able to start generating more funds from the Dreamliner this year. Reuters  (1/28, Scott) focuses on the questions raised by Boeing’s earnings report, such as when the Dreamliner will be profitable.

Also covering the story are USA Today  (1/28, Jones), Chicago Tribune  (1/28, Karp), Bloomberg News  (1/28, Johnsson),another Reuters  (1/28, Singh) article, a third Reuters  (1/28, Scott) article, Times (UK)  (1/29, Frean), Forbes  (1/28, McGrath), Telegraph (UK)  (1/28, Tovey), CNBC  (1/28, DiChristopher), and AFP  (1/29).

McNerney Says He Respects SpaceX And Its Focus On Costs. The Puget Sound (WA) Business Journal  (1/28, Wilhelm, Subscription Publication) “TechFlash” blog reports that during a call with analysts, McNerney said he does “respect” SpaceX and its business focus on reducing launch costs. According to the article, NASA’s commercial crew contracts is “pitting” SpaceX against Boeing. McNerney said that SpaceX will drive his company to become “better competitor in some segments,” but “where manned missions go a long way into many type of places,” Boeing should eventually come out on top.

Higher Education

ASEE-Managed I-Corps For Learning Program Profiled.

In a piece for Forbes  (1/23), contributor Neil Kane writes about the genesis of the Innovation Corps program, which sprang from an effort on the part of former National Science Foundation head Subra Suresh, who “asked the NSF Engineering and Computer and Information Sciences directorates to develop a ‘mentorship’ program to increase the economic impact of its research portfolio.” The piece explains that “in the I-Corps program, teams are comprised of three members: A PI (principal investigator) who has received funding from NSF in the past for his/her research, an entrepreneurial lead and a mentor.” Kane writes about his involvement in the program, and writes that eventually, “Don Millard had the bright idea that educators, distinct from scientists and engineers, could also benefit from the I-Corps curriculum,” leading to the birth of the “I-Corps L (for learning) program.” Near the end of the piece, Kane notes that the American Society for Engineering Education “is providing all the logistic support for I-Corps L.”

USF Cybersecurity Program Receives $300k Grant.

The Tampa Bay (FL) Business Journal  (1/29, Millward, Subscription Publication) reports “the National Science Foundation is giving University of South Florida $300,000 to teach students cybersecurity using actual cases.” The grant will fund “information systems professor Grandon Gill’s 18-month research project of faculty and student researchers interviewing people involved in the cases and how they made their cybersecurity decisions.”

California’s Experience Suggests Potential Problems For Obama’s Community College Plan.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post  (1/28, Kurlaender, Jackson), Michal Kurlaender, an education professor at UC-Davis and Jacob Jackson, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California, write that President Obama’s proposal to make community colleges “free” is a “valiant effort to address the rising demand for skilled workers throughout the nation and to improve college access for low-income students.” However, they say that California’s experience with very-low tuition community college should educate states considering the President’s plan. They says that “even with high participation levels and nearly free community college, many California students do not complete degrees.”

#ASEEYoADiversity 3-minute video. Pat Campbell: Getting high-achieving, low-income students to competitive colleges (it’s easier than you think)

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Research and Development

Navy To Use Robots To Train Marines.

The International Business Times  (1/29) reports that the Office of Naval Research “has unveiled new plans to employ robots to train marine forces in the future,” and on Tuesday “launched a new experiment that it hopes will help create robots and other human surrogates for military training purposes.” Researchers at the University of Central Florida “have placed a human surrogate, which will greet and interact with people passing through the lobby of the university’s Institute for Simulation and Training.” The piece quotes ONR program officer Peter Squire saying, “Marine Corps training concepts continue to merge virtual and live components to create the most realistic, effective and affordable training for Marines. The way people react to and interact with the different surrogates in this study is crucial to understanding how we can improve our military training systems.”

Industry News

Drone Maker To Offer Update Disabling Devices In District Of Columbia.

The Wall Street Journal  (1/28, Nicas, Subscription Publication) reports the Chinese manufacturer of the drone that landed near the White House this week is creating an update to disable the device from flying over a large portion of the District of Columbia. SZ DJI Technology Co. spokesman Michael Perry said, if downloaded, the update will prevent the a drone from taking off in the area. Perry said the company wants to allow consumers to be “innovative and creative with the technology,” while also “using it responsibly.”

WSJournal Analysis: Authorities Concerned About Drones Being Used In Attacks. In an analysis piece, the Wall Street Journal  (1/29, Nicas, Subscription Publication) reports drones are being used by criminals and terrorists, and US authorities are becoming increasingly concerned they could be part of plans to conduct attacks.

FAA Warns Against Drones At Super Bowl Site. ABC World News (1/28, story 11, 0:15, Muir) reported the FAA is “calling for a no drone zone” for the Super Bowl. The FAA is “telling everyone, leave your drone at home if you have one. Violators will land in jail.”

WPost: “Balance” Needed Concerning Drone Regulations. The Washington Post  (1/29) editorializes that “the federal government poorly regulates the booming drone industry.” The Post says the correct “response is not overreaction but rather tightening rules and procedures in some ways – and loosening them in others.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Drop In Oil Prices Threatens President’s Green Legacy.

Bloomberg News  (1/28, Plungis, Drajem) reports that the benefits of dropping oil prices “may come at a steep price” for the President’s “climate-change initiatives.” Bloomberg says that some of Obama’s “most cherished achievements,” such as “cars on the road that burn less gasoline, reductions in greenhouse gases and a plan to cut emissions from power plants,” are threatened by the drop in oil prices. In addition, the oil industry says that the revenue decline “means it can’t afford new climate regulations.”

Keystone XL Claims Examined. The AP  (1/29, Cappiello) runs a “fact check” piece on the Keystone XL debate. Among the claims examined are the idea that Keystone is “worse for global warming.” The AP suggests that this isn’t true, as the oil in question would be shipped to market one way or another. Another is that Keystone is “good for jobs.” The AP says that the project is unlikely to create more than a handful of long-term jobs.

Sasol Delaying Huge Louisiana Project As Oil Prices Drop. The New York Times  (1/29, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that Sasol, a major oil firm, has “delayed an expansive $14 billion project in southwestern Louisiana to make diesel out of natural gas.” The project, “which had not yet been approved by the company, was to create at least 1,200 permanent jobs and 7,000 construction jobs, and begin production in 2018.” However, with the price of oil dropping, the “highly speculative, and expensive, project was economically impractical.”

Chevron, BP Working Together To Find Oil In Deep Gulf Waters. Meanwhile, the New York Times  (1/29, Reed, Subscription Publication) reports that Chevron and BP announced on Wednesday that they would “work together to explore, appraise and, possibly, develop 24 offshore leases in a deepwater part of the Gulf of Mexico known as the lower tertiary.” That “geological zone has in recent years been considered a new frontier” but “because it is deeper under the seabed than previously worked areas, the oil there tends to be hotter and under more pressure and thus more difficult and costly to bring to market.”

Oklahomans Concerned Fracking Is Causing Earthquakes. The Washington Post  (1/28, Montgomery) reports that in Oklahoma last year, “567 quakes of at least 3.0 magnitude rocked a swath of counties from the state capital to the Kansas line, alarming a populace long accustomed to fewer than two quakes a year.” Scientists “implicated the oil and gas industry,” but state officials “have been reluctant to crack down on an industry that accounts for a third of the economy and one in five jobs.” Still, state officials “insist they are doing all they can to develop new regulations.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

ED Program Provides States With Major STEM Funding.

The Afro American Newspaper  (1/29) reports on increasing Federal funding for STEM education, but notes that “limited evidence is available about which programs are most effective, making increased investment a blind gambit.” The piece reports on President Obama’s calls for increased funding, and notes that according to James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition, “the single largest program solely focused on STEM…is the Math and Science Partnership Program at the U.S. Department of Education, which has an annual budget of about $150 million and was established by the No Child Left Behind Act under the George W. Bush administration.” The piece quotes Brown saying, “For a lot of states, that program is the only source of dedicated funding for the STEM subjects.”

Computer Programming May Be Treated As Foreign Language In Kentucky.

The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal  (1/28, Wynn) reports “Senate President Pro Tem David Givens has filed a bill in the 2015 General Assembly that would let school districts teach computer programming as a credit in foreign language.” The bill “also would allow programming courses to satisfy foreign language requirements for admission into Kentucky’s public universities.” Said Givens,”Computer programming is truly a language, and let’s be honest, it’s foreign to a lot of people.”

TWISTER Conference To Focus On STEM Opportunities.

The Tennessean  (1/28, Allison) reports “the 13th annual TWISTER (Tennessee Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Research) conference takes place 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14.” The conference is “sponsored by a variety of STEM-related organizations in the area” and “is designed to encourage high school aged women to pursue career paths in the field by providing opportunities and real-life experience and connecting participants to female role models.”

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Study Finds Women Falling Behind In Receiving STEM Bachelor’s Degrees.
In Face Of Bipartisan Opposition, Obama Drops Plan To Limit 529 Plans.
North Carolina Recommends Changes to Teacher Training Programs.
Drones May Change Energy Exploration.
Oklahoma Official Proposes Teacher Pay Increase.
Maryland College To Host Satellite Event For Climate Change Conference.
Senate Holds Hearing To Revise NCLB, Focuses On Teacher Evaluations.

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