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

Leading the News

Dawn Spacecraft Arrives At Ceres Today.

The AP  (3/5, Chang), in continuing coverage, lists “five things to know about Ceres” ahead of today’s arrival of the Dawn spacecraft. Once the spacecraft is in orbit, Ceres will no longer be “the largest unexplored space rock in the inner solar system.”

USA Today  (3/6, Watson) reports that it took “inventive engineering” to get Dawn to Ceres, as well as its “high-tech propulsion system.”

According to the ABC News  (3/5, Newcomb) website, Dawn’s arrival is another achievement in “a banner year for ‘firsts’ in space exploration.”

The Huntsville (AL) Times  (3/5, Roop) reports that officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center manage “the money, schedule and other management components of the $450 million mission.” The article posts a video of mission program office manager Keith Robinson explaining how the center is participating in Dawn.

Another AP  (3/6, Chang) article, NASA Space Flight  (3/5, Gebhardt), the Christian Science Monitor  (3/5, Spotts), Fox News  (3/5), BBC News  (3/6, Amos), Science News  (3/5, Crockett) “Science Ticker” blog, SPACE  (3/5, Howell), and Discovery News  (3/5, Klotz) also cover the Dawn mission.

Joseph Stromberg at Vox  (3/5), in listing six reasons why the Dawn mission to Ceres is so important, comments that the spacecraft’s arrival likely will not get “as much attention as a few recent space accidents” or last year’s Philae comet landing, which is “a shame.”

Higher Education

US News Unveils Top-Ranked Engineering Schools.

US News & World Report  (3/5) offers a “sneak peek” at its graduate school rankings in listing what it ranks as its top ten engineering schools, though it is actually more than ten due to ties. The schools are: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Illinois​Urbana-​Champaign, University of Michigan-​Ann Arbor, University of Southern California, and University of Texas-Austin.

Engineering Schools Lead Return On Investment Study.

Bloomberg News  (3/5, Otani) reports on a PayScale study ranking colleges on best return on investment. The top place went to “Harvey Mudd College, a tiny, engineering-focused liberal arts school,” and as a whole “engineering schools dominated” the list with California Institute of Technology in second, followed by the Stevens Institute of Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines. The only “non-engineering schools” listed were Princeton University, Stanford University, and Babson College.

Houston Engineering Students Preparing For Shell Fuel-Efficiency Competition.

The San Antonio Express-News  (3/6) reports that a pair of University of Houston engineering seniors and “their crew of local high school students” are taking part in the Shell Eco-marathon in Detroit next month, and are testing the methane-powered engine on “a bullet-shaped car” that was on display at Houston City Hall on Wednesday. The event in Detroit is “a fuel-efficiency competition that will draw more than 1,000 college and high school students from around the United States and from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Canada.”

Wisconsin Technical College Holds Manufacturing Show To Offer Glimpse Of Careers, Training.

WQOW-TV  Eau Claire, WI (3/5, Bohl) reports on Chippewa Valley Technical College’s annual Manufacturing Show. The show will “present the modern face of manufacturing, the technology involved, the jobs available, and the skills workers need to land those jobs.” Forty companies are participating in the show “to discuss career opportunities and their role in the manufacturing sector.” The school will also have representatives of its programs including: “Electromechanical Technology, Industrial Mechanical Technician, Machine Tooling Technics and Welding/Welding Fabrication, as well as Manufacturing, Nano and Industrial engineering programs.”

WEAU-TV  Eau Claire, WI (3/5, Kroeten) reports that the show offers “an inside look at manufacturing with hands-on demonstrations like race cars and robotic welders,” and “gives students a chance to explore careers at CVTC.”

Southern New Hampshire President To Advise ED On Competency-Based Education.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (3/6) reports that Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc will take a three-month sabbatical starting next week to serve as a senior adviser to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, and will be “involved with the department’s innovation agenda, specifically its experiments with competency-based education and with establishing new accreditation methods for innovative programs.” The piece explains that Southern New Hampshire has been heavily involved in “competency-based education with its College for America program, which was the first competency-based degree program approved by the department to award student aid based on the direct assessment of student learning.”

Inside Higher Ed  (3/5) also covers this story, quoting LeBlanc saying, “I hope to help the department, and all of us, answer the many questions we still have about competency-based education. The department’s innovation agenda has the potential to reshape and change higher education and ultimately to better serve students. The opportunity to play even a small part in that effort was irresistible.”

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

Study Suggests Learning, Recall Ebbs, Flows Over Time.

The Boston Globe  (3/6, Lazar) reports scientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital “are discovering that the ability to reason, learn, and recall information ebbs and flows over our lifespan, and if a picture were drawn to depict these changes, the image would not be of a single line with a sharp, steep decline, but of a line with many curves that plateau at different stages.” The study will be published Friday by the journal Psychological Science and was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

Federal Spending On Energy Innovation Said To Be Too Modest.

In an op-ed in TIME  (3/6), Colin Chilcoat of writes that US spending on renewables deployment and grid innovation is comparatively modest and is “stunting current growth and weakening the nation’s competitive advantage.” He disambiguates how funds are distributed and suggests that greater spending is needed.

His op-ed is duplicated in the Christian Science Monitor  (3/6).

Engineering Student Develops Prototype To Prevent Children Being Left In A Hot Car.

The Dallas Morning News  (3/5, Shamburger) reports that Nancy Dominguez, 23, a senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas, developed a device to prevent children from being left in “a car that’s overheated.” While an intern at the AT&T Foundry, she “designed and tested a prototype.” Each year, “approximately 38 kids die from heatstroke in cars” and in most cases, “parents unknowingly forget their child is in the car.” The device attaches to a car window and combines motion and temperature sensors to identify when the vehicle has an occupant and the temperature is dangerously high. The device will send a text message to programmed phone numbers, and may even call “emergency services.”

Engineering Students Develop Device To Use Kinetic Energy To Power Cell Phone.

CBS News  (3/6), reports on three Northwestern engineering doctoral students who have developed a device to charge a cell phone using kinetic energy. The device can be placed in a purse or pocket or strapped onto an arm or leg to charge its internal battery and then can be attached to a cell phone to provide a charge.

Industry News

Head Of Leidos’ Solar Group Discusses Company’s History.

Solar Industry Magazine  (3/5, Puttre) features an interview with Leidos Engineering’s head of the photovoltaic solar energy group Heidi Larson, who describes the company’s history in solar power, how Leidos differentiates itself from others doing work in the area, and her personal background.

Engineering and Public Policy

GOP Contenders Risk Iowa Ire With Anti-Ethanol Stance.

The Wall Street Journal  (3/6, Reinhard, Subscription Publication) reports that traditionally, presidential candidates have backed the ethanol industry when wooing Iowans, but this cycle, a number of key republicans are calling for phasing out the ethanol blending mandate. In response, the interest group America’s Renewable Fuel is planning to sponsor a multi-million campaign to boost ethanol backers and chastise those that oppose its mandated use.

Meanwhile, the Washington Times  (3/6, McLaughlin) reports that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) warned that Republicans who oppose the blend mandate “could be kissing their White House hopes goodbye.” The “fuel standard has been a boon for corn farmers, which means it’s a major political issue for Iowa and its first-in-the-nation presidential nomination contest.”

Christie Administration Releases Details Of Settlement With Exxon.

The New York Times  (3/6, Weiser, Subscription Publication) reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Administration has released details “about its settlement of a longstanding legal battle with Exxon Mobil Corporation over contamination in which the company agreed to pay a fraction of the damages that the State of New Jersey was seeking.” While a joint statement from the state attorney general and environmental commissioner said that Exxon “agreed to pay $225 million to resolve the 2004 lawsuits,” the state’s experts “had placed the cost of environmental restoration and other damages resulting from the company’s refinery operations in northern New Jersey at $8.9 billion.” Nonetheless, the officials “strongly praised the deal, saying in the statement that it was ‘the single largest environmental settlement with a corporate defendant in New Jersey history,’ and that it also preserved certain other claims the state has against Exxon in environmental cases.”

A pair of opinion pieces this morning blast the settlement. An editorial in the New York Times  (3/6, Board, Subscription Publication) calls the amount of the settlement “stunningly low,” and argues that it is “a pittance compared to what Mr. Christie could and should obtain.” The settlement, the Times adds “shortchanges the people of New Jersey, challenges his environmental credentials and casts doubt on his reputation as he looks to the national arena in 2016.”

In her column for the Washington Post  (3/6), Catherine Rampell also criticizes the settlement, saying Christie is “selling out future taxpayers to fix a cash crunch of his own design.” Rampell adds that the degree to which “budget gimmickry drove his decision to force a bad deal upon his constituents,” speaks to how “Christie might handle federal fiscal challenges should he become president.”

Former Idaho Governors Announce Intention To Sue Federal Government Over Spent Nuclear Fuel Being Shipped To INL.

The AP  (3/6, Ridler) reports former governors of Idaho Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt “filed a notice” yesterday “of their intent to sue the federal government over a proposal to ship spent commercial nuclear fuel rods to Idaho. The notice was sent to the U.S. Department of Energy involving shipments scheduled to arrive in June and December at Idaho National Laboratory.” Batt and Andrus “both fought commercial nuclear waste shipments during their terms” and their “efforts culminated with a 1995 agreement, often called the Batt Agreement.” The governors argue “in their notice that the Department of Energy would be violating federal environmental laws by shipping the waste to Idaho.” In a letter earlier this year to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, “Idaho Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden agreed to a waiver of the 1995 agreement that would allow 50 spent commercial nuclear fuel rods into Idaho for research.”

The Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review  (3/6, Russell) reports Batt indicated that he is “not soothed by Gov. Butch Otter’s earlier comment that it’d only be 50 spent fuel rods. ‘I almost got recalled over bringing in eight,’ Batt said.”

Reuters  (3/6, Zuckerman) reports the former governors said, “It is vital that the citizens of Idaho be fully informed before the federal government again tries to turn Idaho into a nuclear waste dumping ground.”

FuelCell Testing Device To Reduce Coal Plant Carbon Emissions.

Bloomberg News  (3/6, Martin) reports that FuelCell Energy Inc. is testing a fuel cell system it claims can generate electricity while absorbing up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants for under $40 a ton, half the cost of current technologies. The cost is lower than the target set by the Department of Energy which backed the research. FuelCell plans to set up pilot tests in coal producing states within 2 years.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Washington State Residents Voice Concerns Over Lack Of STEM Programs.

eSchool News  (3/5, Cornacchini) reports “Washington residents are concerned about the state’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, according to a survey conducted by Washington STEM, a nonprofit aiming to improve innovation in STEM education in Washington state.” The study showed that “only 45 percent of Washington residents surveyed believed that schools are providing adequate STEM education programs, as opposed to 94 percent who believe every child should have access to suitable K-12 STEM programs.” Those who were surveyed said “that they view STEM education as critical for preparing students for success.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

Senate Fails To Override Keystone Veto.
Louisiana Governor’s Office Tweaks College Student Fee.
Scientists Thinking, Planning How To Fund Research In The Midst Of Budget Cuts.
New Engineering University Set For Launch In UK.
Lower Gas Prices Lead To Decline In EV Sales.
USGS: Not Enough Data To Establish Fracking-Pollution Link.
STEM-Fueled Competitions Increasing In Popularity.

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