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

Leading the News

SpaceX Will Launch DSCOVR On The Same Day Dragon Returns To Earth.

In continuing coverage, media reports of the upcoming DSCOVR launch characterize it as another delay for the spacecraft that has been waiting to be sent into space for years. The coverage changed its focus from the history of the spacecraft to SpaceX’s multiple operations on Tuesday.

The AP  (2/9, Dunn) reports that the launch of the DSCOVR satellite aboard a SpaceX falcon 9 rocket was delayed again until Tuesday. This time, the delay was due to bad weather conditions. The article briefly notes that on the same day as the launch, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will undock from the ISS in order to return “science samples, broken spacesuit parts and other unneeded gear” to Earth. The Dragon is scheduled to land in the Pacific Ocean “off the Southern California coast.”

The Orlando (FL) Sentinel  (2/9, Powers) notes that there is a 70 percent chance that the weather conditions will be good enough for the launch on Tuesday. Those conditions improve if the launch has to be delayed again until Wednesday evening.

Florida Today  (2/9, Dean) notes that SpaceX will be “busy” Tuesday with the dual operations. According to the article, NASA claimed that launch managers did not even want to try to launch on Monday because the weather conditions were so poor. Had they done so, Air Force rules would have required launch teams to rest and operators would have missed “one of the better weather opportunities ahead.”

According to Reuters  (2/9, Klotz), SpaceX’s simultaneous rocket launch and spacecraft recovery has never been done before.

Spaceflight Now  (2/9, Clark) reports that Tuesday could be “the most active operational day in the history of SpaceX.”

Also covering the story are the CFLN-TV  Orlando, FL (2/9, Pallone) website, WESH-TV  Orlando, FL (2/9) website, WFTV-TV  Orlando, FL (2/9) website, Voice of America  (2/9), SPACE  (2/9, Kramer), NASA Space Flight  (2/9, Bergin), Forbes  (2/9, Knapp), Science Times  (2/9, Wallace), Sen  (2/9, Klotz), Spaceflight Insider  (2/9, Jelen), and Discovery News  (2/9, Klotz).

Student Experiments Will Be Brought Back To Earth. The NBC News  (2/9, Pepitone) website reports that on Tuesday, 17 student experiments will return back to Earth after astronauts “finally” had a chance to conduct them. These experiments, part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), were initially lost during the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket failure back in October, but then were re-worked and launched with SpaceX to the ISS in January. The article focuses on the experience of the student team from Wilkinson Middle School in Michigan. The students’ teacher said the youths were “just amazed” to hear that astronauts had tested their experiment. Local officials praised the students, all of whom are girls who fled Iraq with their families, for the way they brought recognition to the region and generated local interest in “science and space education.”

Higher Education

Clemson Pilot Program Aids Engineering Students In Creating Businesses.

USA Today  (2/8, Cary) ran a story from the Greenville (SC) News  (2/8) on a pilot program at Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science intended to help students turn their projects into businesses after graduation. During the 2013-14 year, three bioengineering majors “created a wrist brace designed to help people plagued by tremors, including Parkinson’s disease” that started the program.

University Of Illinois Academic Senate Backs New Medical School.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette  (2/10, Wurth) reports the University of Illinois Academic Senate voted Monday “to establish a small, engineering-focused medical school,” though a “more significant test will come in March” when the school’s Senates Conference and trustees weigh in. Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who backs the plan, said, “This is really a historic vote. We do not start colleges very often.” President Bob Easter is reviewing the plan.

Cal Poly, School District Receive California State STEM Grant.

The Lompoc (CA) Record  (2/7, Bullock) reported that the California Polytechnic State University and the Santa Maria-Bonita School District “received a $1.8 million California Mathematics and Science Partnership grant from the state Department of Education to fund a program” aimed at improving STEM performance in elementary and middle school student achievement in mathematics.

APSCU Asks Judge To Issue Summary Ruling In Gainful Employment Case.

Inside Higher Ed  (2/9) reports that on Friday, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities “filed a motion calling for a judge to issue a ruling without a trial on the for-profit trade group’s legal challenge to the U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment rules.” The piece notes that APSCU “quickly sued” after the latest version of the rules were leased, “calling them arbitrary.” However, and ED official “said at the time that he was confident the regulations would withstand legal scrutiny.”

NYTimes Blasts For-Profit Colleges For Taking Advantage Of Veterans.

In an editorial, the New York Times  (2/10, New York (NY), Times, Subscription Publication) criticizes for-profit colleges that it says are “luring veterans who receive G.I. Bill benefits to take advantage of a loophole in federal law” known as the as the 90-10 rule. While a proposal in President Obama’s 2016 budget “would close this destructive loophole” and calls on Congress to support the measure.

Regional Public Colleges “Struggling To Survive.”

The Washington Post  (2/9, Selingo) reports on the relative lack of public awareness of “so-called regional public universities that got their start in the early 1900s as ‘normal schools’ to train teachers” as compared to such prominent universities as Harvard or major state universities. The piece explores the evolution of the regional public colleges which enroll some 40% of all US undergrads, noting that many are “tucked into out-of-the-way corners of their states.” To raise their profiles, “their administrators and faculty have tried to remake them in the image of campuses where they were trained, mostly private colleges or large state schools.” The piece notes that many such schools are “struggling to survive.”

From ASEE
ASEE Members Elected to National Academy of Engineering. Mory Gharib (Cal Tech), Jack Hu (University of Michigan), Clayton Radke (UC Berkeley), Vigor Yang (Georgia Tech), and Ajit Yoganathan (Georgia Tech) were elected to the honorific society.

#ASEEYoADiversity. These institutions have model programs for student retention, many focused on minorities and women.

Diversity Committee Newsletter. Read the Winter edition, with updates on the Year of Action.

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

Research and Development

DKIST Expected To Obtain Unprecedented Views Of The Sun.

The Newcastle (UK) Chronicle Live  (2/9, Henderson) reports on the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) now under development in Hawaii. When completed, DKIST is expected to capture “unprecedented detail on the Sun’s surface – the equivalent of being able to examine a £1 coin from a distance of 100km.” The article highlights that a group of UK universities are taking part in the “biggest and most revolutionary solar telescope” project, including Northumbria University.

The Engineer  (2/10) notes that Queens University Belfast is developing cameras for DKIST which will “improve the forecasting of space weather events.”

Air And Space Museum Curator Calls For Funding For Solar System Exploration.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post  (2/10), Michael J. Neufeld, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, warns against disinterest in exploring the solar system. He says that if “we are to continue exploring our home system, Congress and the president need to commit to new funding.” He concludes, “While the human spaceflight program falters from uncertainty and lack of convincing purpose, we know that planetary exploration provides enormous returns for the dollars invested.”

Industry News

Purdue Mechanical Engineering Professor Named To Forbes “30 Under 30” List.

The Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier  (2/10, Paul) has a feature on Purdue University mechanical engineering professor Rebecca Kramer, who has been named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” manufacturing and industry list. Kramer is researching soft robotics and “is the founder of Purdue’s Faboratory – a mashup of ‘fabric’ and ‘laboratory’ – which since 2013 has worked to create robotic fabrics capable of accomplishing tasks more traditional, rigid robots can’t.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Obama Expected To Downplay Upcoming Keystone Veto.

The Hill  (2/9, Barron-Lopez) reported that President Obama “is just days away from issuing the biggest veto of his tenure, with Republicans poised to send him legislation that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.” But The Hill said the veto, “just the third of his presidency and the first since 2010 – is expected to come with little fanfare, with even opponents of the pipeline arguing the White House should avoid further angering Democrats and unions who want Keystone to be built.” The Hill added that if the President “vetoes too many bills, especially ones with Democratic support, Republicans could have success portraying him as partisan and unwilling to negotiate.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Virginia School Team Head To Finals For Future City Competition After Winning Regional Level.

The Washington Post  (2/9, Polus) reports that “Nine kids from the Edlin School in Reston, Virginia, created a concept for an innovative city that won the Mid-Atlantic regional level of this year’s” Future City Competition. The students “advanced to the national finals, which begin Saturday in Washington, where they’ll compete against 36 other regional winners.” This year’s city model theme “is feeding future cities, and teams had to select one vegetable and one protein and come up with a way to grow enough of each in their city to feed its residents.” The students from Edlin proposed growing food for their city – Fortuna – “in a lab using stem cells from chickens and kale,” which eliminates the need for farmland. This is the first year a team from Edlin placed in the Future City.

York County Expands STEM-Focused Studies.

The York (PA) Dispatch  (2/10) describes how York County schools have grown their emphasis on “STEM education, sometimes referred to as STEAM with an added arts initiative,” for the past several years. Although the schools have always incorporated math and science in all grades, “offering hands-on activities to show how all of those disciplines interact is a newer undertaking.”

Montana School Team Heads To Robotic Competition After Winning State Level.

The Helena (MT) Independent Record  (2/10) reports that a sixth-grade team from St. Andrew school “brought home the champion trophy from the FIRST LEGO League competition in Bozeman on Jan. 31, and will be headed to the LEGOLAND North American Open in Carlsbad, California, in May.” The article notes that “FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national organization that aspires to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math through programs such as a robotics competition.”

Texas School Said To Dominate In Robotics.

The San Antonio Express-News  (2/9) reports that 315-student Natalia High School “is quietly developing a reputation as a top center for learning a decidedly 21st Century discipline: robotics.” It “will send three teams, and possibly a fourth, to the TCEA, or Texas Computer Education Association, state robotics championship in May based on scores from the regional contest in Alamo Heights last month,” marking the seventh year in a row of being represented at the championship. According to a TCEA director, “They dominate,” attributing the program’s success “to several factors: support from the school and the administration, students who want to work hard, and a teacher ‘with commitment and a real passion for what she does.’” Natalia’s principal “said the school district believes in the robotics program ‘wholeheartedly’ and has invested tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and programming for teams,” but also “felt that the commitment of the teachers and the students to put in the hours was key.”

Group Asks Science Teachers To Help Field-Test Energy Assessment Items.

Education Week ’s (2/10) “Curriculum Matters” blog reports that this week the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which partnered in developing the Next Generation Science Standards, called for science teachers to volunteer in administering a 45-minute field-test of multiple-choice items for an assessment on energy, although “it’s not required that students have had instruction on the topic.” According to the group, the test items “will be designed to reveal misconceptions students might have about energy while also requiring them to engage in important scientific practices such as making predictions, explaining energy phenomena, and interpreting tables, charts, and diagrams.” The study “is not intended to evaluate teachers or students,” but is seeking “to learn how students respond to these test items so that we can design items that are valid measures of what students know about important energy ideas.” The article notes that “as of yet, there are no standardized assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

JPL Scientists Excited By Proposed Europa Clipper Mission.
Obama Drops Plan To Scale Back 529 Savings Accounts.
Navy Debuts Electromagnetic ‘Rail Gun’.
Advances Expected To Make Space Ripe For Investment.
Debate Over Geoengineering Ongoing.
Surgeon General Speaks At Miami STEM Expo.

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