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

Leading the News

On Party-Line Vote, FCC Approves Tough Net Neutrality Rules.

The FCC voted 3-2 on Thursday to approve strong net neutrality rules that include regulating both wireless and landline broadband providers as public utilities for the first time. The vote was split along party lines, with all three Democrats backing the rules and both Republicans opposing them, and that partisan division is a common theme in reporting. The media coverage is portraying the outcome as a historic win for Internet activists and a blow for Internet Service Providers. In addition, the President is also seen as a winner, as the FCC’s rules, crafted by Chairman Tom Wheeler, are in line with what Obama has called for.

NBC Nightly News (2/26, story 6, 1:40, Holt) reported that supporters say net neutrality “will ensure open access to the web for everyone” while opponents “say it amounts to government control over the Internet.” NBC (Costello) reviews the basics of the issue and adds, “Expected now, a vigorous legal challenge to this new law of the web.”

The CBS Evening News (2/26, story 6, 0:25, Pelley) called the vote one for “historic change,” with the FCC making “the Internet subject to Federal supervision. The result: big broadcasters, like Comcast and Verizon, will not be able to sell content providers like Netflix and Twitter faster data delivery service than everyone else. Lawsuits are next.”

ABC World News (2/26, story 11, 0:25, Muir) said the vote “will make Internet service providers subject to regulation. The decision is drawing sharp criticism from Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, who warned it could hurt the US economy, saying, ‘Overzealous government bureaucrats should keep their hands off the Internet.’ Tonight, that battle far from over.”

The AP  (2/27, Flaherty) reports that with the vote, “internet activists declared victory over the nation’s big cable companies.” The vote “ushered in a new era of government oversight for an industry that has seen relatively little” and “represents the biggest regulatory shake-up to telecommunications providers in almost two decades.”

Politico  (2/26, Byers, Boliek) reported that Wheeler said, “The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field.” However, Republicans “see the rules as drastic over-regulation and a federal government power grab.” GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai said, “The commission’s decision to adopt President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet.” The Washington Times  (2/27, Boyer) reports that backers “say the rules will give the government new power to prevent companies from blocking or slowing data” but FCC Republicans “said the move will lead to new utility-style taxes and inhibit competition.”

The New York Times  (2/27, Ruiz, Lohr, Subscription Publication) says that the “impact of the new rules will largely hinge partly on details that are not yet known,” as the rules won’t be published “for at least a couple of days, and will not take effect for probably at least a couple of months.” In addition, lawsuits are “widely expected.” Reuters  (2/27, Selyukh) says that the telecom industry is expected to file suit, arguing that the regulations will reduce investment and crush innovation.

Higher Education

Michigan College Students Make Mobility Device For 18-Month-Old With Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

WOOD-TV  Grand Rapids, MI (2/26, Shaw) reports on its website that a group of Grand Valley State University, Michigan students, using a National Science Foundation grant, created a “play and mobility device” for 18-month old Lylah Gritter, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. Using a small joystick, Lylah can “to cruise around and take in her surroundings.”

More Colleges Providing Aid To Undocumented Students.

The New York Times  (2/27, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports some colleges and universities “are taking it upon themselves to more freely, sometimes openly, make college more affordable” to undocumented students who are not eligible for “all Federal and most state forms of financial aid.” According to the Times, “admissions experts say the number of colleges” that provide this aid, and the number of “students that benefit, remains small.”

Job Market For Recent College Graduates Improves As Economy Rebounds.

The Wall Street Journal  (2/27, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that the job market for recent college graduates is improving as the economy recovers, citing results from the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ First Destination Survey, which reports that 52.9% of 2014 graduates had full-time employment this winter. According to the Journal, the data that the survey presented was more complete and streamlined than in previous years, as the value of a college degree is increasingly questioned.

New Jersey Governor’s Proposed Budget Cuts Direct Aid To State Colleges.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  (2/27, Lai) reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget “would cut direct funding to New Jersey state colleges and universities.” However, “the state pointed to broader measures of higher education support,” such as increased financial aid and Tuition Aid Grant funding.

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

Grant Funds Creating Of Ebola “Spit” Test.

WITI-TV  Milwaukee (2/26) reports the National Science Foundation awarded an almost $100,000 grant to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Georgia Institute of Technology engineers to create a sensor for an Ebola “spit” test. A sensor platform developed by UWM professor of mechanical and materials engineering Junhong Chen “will target seven specific proteins associated with Ebola infection that are present in human saliva.” Additionally, the team will make “a modeling tool to help health care workers make on-the-spot decisions, including using resources efficiently and choosing strategies for disease containment.”


Companies Look To Woman To Address Skills Gap In Manufacturing.

Manufacturing  (2/27, Szal) reports that ExxonMobil will be hosting “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” events in the coming months in hopes of “bolster[ing] the number of women in the industry.” The article notes that research by the Manufacturing Institute found that “women represent more than 46 percent of the overall U.S. labor force, but they comprise just less than one quarter of workers in durable goods manufacturing.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Obama Says Keystone Pipeline Has Been “Hyped” By Oil Industry.

During an interview yesterday, KMBC-TV Kansas City, MO (2/26, 6:02 p.m. CST) asked the President a question from a viewer about his veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill. President Obama: “Unfortunately, the Keystone pipeline has been hyped a lot by the oil industry but the fact of the matter is this is Canadian oil being shipped through the United States and creates approximately 250-300 permanent jobs. Now, 250-300 permanent jobs is important, but we could be creating millions of jobs all across the country if we were building American infrastructure.”

WDAY-TV Fargo, ND (2/26, 6:00 p.m. CST) also asked the President about his veto. President Obama: “Part of the reason North Dakota has done so well is because we have been very much promoting domestic, US energy use. I’ve already said I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for US oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil, to send that down to the Gulf. It bypasses the US, is estimated to create a little over 250 maybe 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing more broadly on American infrastructure for American jobs for American producers, and that’s something we very much support.”

Obama Touts Bill That Would Tax Corporations’ Overseas Profits To Finance Transportation.

During an interview yesterday, KGW-TV Portland, OR (2/26, 6:00 p.m. PST) asked the President about Portland’s congested freeways, noting that they “slow down our freight and a new report says that jeopardizes our economy. The President says he’s introduced a bill he thinks could get bipartisan support.” The President was shown saying, “I put forward a specific piece of legislation. It would change the rules for how corporations that make money overseas have to send some of that money back and we can use that to finance transportation. My hope is we get it done this year.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Deere Hosts STEM Event For Girls.

The Ottumwa (IA) Courier  (2/27) reports on the tour Deere held at its Ottumwa works, which “brought dozens of local Girl Scouts and 4-H members to the plant to celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.” Deere program manager Amber Pargman commented that women tend to be underrepresented in engineering, and that the event was meant to boost interest in STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) fields.

Engineering Competition Links Technical Knowledge With Social Change.

The US News & World Report  (2/26, Bidwell) reports that, this week, five teams of finalists presented their projects for SourceAmerica’s Design Challenge, which “seeks to connect technical knowledge with social change.” The nonprofit, focuses on “improving employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.” First place went to an automated machine for plastic nozzle assembler Weaver Industries that allows all their disabled employees to assemble nozzles. The article goes on to detail the other entries.

New York City Gets Grant For AP Computing Curriculum.

The New York Daily News  (2/27, Colangelo) reports New York City received a four-year $5.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to start up the Advanced Placement curriculum “Beauty and Joy of Computing,” which was developed at the University of California, Berkeley, as an effort “to make computer science fun and engaging” for students who aren’t computer science majors. About 30 classes will use it in the fall, and more are expected as teachers are trained.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

FCC’s Net Neutrality Push Driven By Lack Of Broadband Options For Many.
Negotiated Rulemaking For Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Begins.
Universities Worried About Dearth Of Federal Research Funding.
Keystone XL Veto Discussed.
Newport News Shipbuilding Engineer Aims To Encourage Female Students.

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