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

Leading the News

Study Suggests That Many Could Be Made Carsick By Self-Driving Vehicles.

In a piece picked up by USA Today, the Detroit Free Press  (4/8, Bomey) reports that a study released on Wednesday by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute “projects that 6% to 12%” adults in the US “will experience moderate to severe motion sickness while riding” in self-driving vehicles. According to the article, the report “illuminates the very basic human issues that threaten the momentum of the autonomous car movement.”

In a piece for Forbes  (4/8), Jim Gorzelany writes that the “frequency and severity suffered can be expected to vary depending on what an occupant is doing at the time instead of driving.”

The Huffington Post  (4/9, Kleinman) reports that in order to determine how many people will experience motion-sickness in autonomous vehicles “researchers asked 3,255 people in different countries what they expect to do when riding in self-driving cars.” It adds that although several people reported they “would watch the road, even if they weren’t driving,” many indicated that they “expected to read, work and do other hurl-inducing activities.”

The Boston Globe  (4/8) sees the issue as one more “hurdle” for self-driving cars to overcome.

Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are the Washington Post  (4/9, Badger), Edmunds  (4/9, Lienert), and Forbes  (4/9, Visnic).

Higher Education

Software Engineer “Boot Camp” To Open In Santa Monica.

The Los Angeles Times  (4/8, Chang) reports that the software engineer boot camp group MakerSquare is opening a campus in Santa Monica, The piece explains that the “12-week, 11-hour-a-day program” is geared toward supplying workforce solutions to “industry needs,” and boasts “a 96% hiring rate within three months of completion and its graduates have gone on to work for companies including Apple, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.”

First-Generation College Students Banding Together At Top Schools.

The New York Times  (4/8, Pappano, Subscription Publication) reports that first-generation college students, often from impoverished backgrounds and lacking a legacy of higher education, are “organizing” at elite US schools, where many of their peers are more affluent and more at home amid middle-class trappings. Such students are “speaking up about who they are and what’s needed to make their path to a degree less fraught.”

As Tuition Rises, College Room And Board Also More Expensive.

The NPR  (4/8, Barshay) “NprEd” blog reports on the high costs of room and board at many four-year colleges, noting that the average at public colleges has “spiked by more than 20 percent since 2009,” matching the rate at which tuition has increased. At private colleges, the figure is 17%. The piece quotes Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, saying, “We focus on tuition but we should look at other costs, too.”

Howard University To Offer Free Dual Enrollment Classes To Some DC Students.

The Washington Post  (4/8, Chandler) reports that Howard University is offering free classes to students at Washington, DC’s Banneker and McKinley Technology high schools through a new dual enrollment program. The Post quotes Mayor Muriel Bowser saying, “Imagine this: You can go to two great D.C. public high schools and get credit at the great Howard University.”

From ASEE
March+April Prism now online (members only)
Cover Story: “Growing Pains.” Ethiopia is pushing engineering education harder than any other country In Africa, creating challenges for its academics.

VIDEOS – Watch the speakers and presentations from the Engineering Research Council meeting, held in March.

VIDEOS – Watch a collection of talks from the Public Policy Colloquium, held in February. (Due to audio problems, not all talks were captured.)

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

Research and Development

NYU, AT&T Program Solicits Tech Solutions For Disabled.

WNYC-FM  New York (4/9) reports online that New York University and AT&T are taking part in a “new effort to help people with disabilities, using the devices many of us now feel we can’t live without, like smartphones.” The piece explains that the Connect Ability Challenge “focuses specifically on software and wearable technology.” The program is “making four ‘exemplars’ with four different disabilities available as testers.”

Kent State Looking To Double Research Funding.

The Akron (OH) Beacon Journal  (4/9) reports that Kent State University is looking to double the money it takes in for research over the next five years “with the goal to become one of the top 200 research universities in the country.” The piece notes that according to current National Science Foundation figures, Kent State now ranks 251.

New FeatherCraft Spacecraft Will Launch From The ISS.

Space News  (4/8, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports that Surrey Satellite Technology US (SST-US) is developing the FeatherCraft, a 100 kilograms spacecraft designed to launch from the ISS from NanoRack’s new Kaber launcher scheduled to be installed later this year. During the announcement of the spacecraft’s design, SST-US engineer Michael Brown reportedly said that the FeatherCraft could be used fro several missions, such as “space and Earth science and technology development.” However, the article notes that the company has yet to reveal any customers for the spacecraft, which is “much larger” than the cubesats now being launched from the ISS.

“Ralph” Camera To Take First Clear Pictures Of Pluto.

The KUSA-TV  Denver (4/8, Rodriguez) website reports on “Ralph,” the camera aboard the New Horizons spacecraft that is expected to capture “the first clear pictures ever” of Pluto. Lisa Hardaway of Ball Aerospace, which developed the camera, said that Ralph is a “unique instrument,” so employees have been “very tense” when thinking about whether it will perform as designed. Sharon Dixon, Ralph’s lead electrical engineer, stress that there was “no room for error” in space.

Researchers After Naming Convention Suggestions. Science News  (4/8, Crockett) reports that in a recent paper, scientists have recommended themes for names for features on Pluto and Charon. This is separate from NASA and the International Astronomical Union’s call for names from the public. The article notes that there will likely be “plenty of work” for taxonomists once New Horizons makes its pass.

Blog Coverage. Leonidas Papadopoulos at AmericaSpace  (4/8) writes that New Horizons is now in “Approach Phase 2, during which Pluto science observations will start to swing into high gear.” These observations will include “the first long-range studies of the brightness and color variations on Pluto’s frozen surface.” Papadopoulos comments that while the term “history-making” is a cliché, it “perfectly” fits New Horizons’ upcoming flyby.

Engineering and Public Policy

Instagram Creator’s H-1B Experience Discussed.

Bloomberg News  (4/8) says that “if not for some lucky breaks navigating the country’s immigration process” for Brazilian national and Instagram creator Mike Krieger, “our world of artfully filtered, boxy photographs might look very different today.” Bloomberg says that “one of the first technical challenges” Krieger faced was transferring his H-1B visa to a new company, for which he “says he waited for more than three months,” adding that “it took less time to build Instagram than it did for me to get my work visa.” Bloomberg notes Krieger’s advocacy for changes to immigration policy, particularly visa allocation: “Lotterying it out year after year, basing it on timing—as a software engineer, it feels wrong. It’s like applying a random function to your immigration.”

Obama: Climate Change Science Is “Indisputable.”

President Obama discussed climate change in an interview which aired on the CBS Evening News (4/8, story 8, 2:30, Lapook), saying, “With climate change and rising temperatures, some of the effects are slow in registering in the mind of the public. But what we know is this – the planet is getting warmer. The science is indisputable. As a consequence, we know that wildfires are going to be more frequent and longer in intensity. That means more particulates in the air. That’s going to have respiratory impacts on people.” The President added that he is “trying to communicate…that there is a cost to inaction.” Dr. Jon LaPook, who conducted the interview, noted, “One reason for the new initiative may be that climate change legislation has stalled in Congress. The President told me political will typically does not come from the top-down. It comes from parents and communities who say let’s go ahead and do something about this.”

The Washington Times  (4/8, Chasmar) reports that the White House this week announced “series of initiatives to deal with the impact of climate change on public health, including the upcoming White House Climate Change and Health Summit.”

Bloomberg, Allies Back Sierra Club’s Anti-Coal Effort. Politico  (4/9, Restuccia) reports that Michael Bloomberg and his allies on Wednesday pledged $110 million to the Sierra Club for its “Beyond Coal” campaign. The piece looks at the lengthy process that Bloomberg put the Sierra Club through before making his $30 million donation, particularly his need for a set of metrics to measure the success of the program.

Some California Areas Will Have To Cut Water Use By 35%.

The New York Times  (4/9, Fitzsimmons, Subscription Publication) reports that a number of California water officials were “left reeling” on Wednesday by the “magnitude of the drought-related cutbacks they will have to make.” The State Water Resources Control Board late Tuesday issued preliminary recommendations for meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) mandated 25 percent cut in water use, “dividing communities into four tiers of water use.” Of 400 water agencies around the state, 135 will have to reduce water use by 35 percent, the highest amount, due to their currently high water use.

Nevada’s Sandoval Looks To Cut His Own Water Use. The Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal  (4/9, Delong) reports that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), “one of the top water users in the Reno area,” announced on Wednesday that he is “taking steps to cut back on outdoor irrigation and plans to remove turf in his yard to set an example during this time of drought.” The move came “the same day Sandoval signed an executive order establishing a panel of drought experts to come up with recommendations how to respond to a drought in Nevada that has now lasted four years.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

ED Releases Guide For Algebra Teachers.

Liana Heitin writes at the Education Week  (4/9) “Curriculum Matters” blog that ED’s Institute for Education Sciences has published an “algebra practice guide” which says that algebra teachers “should show students both correctly and incorrectly solved problems and have students discuss them.” The guide “includes three specific, evidence-based strategies for teaching algebra.”

Kansas Elementary School To Premiere Space Discovery Institute Program.

The Wichita (KS) Eagle  (4/8, Tobias) reports that Mueller Elementary School will be the first school to take part in the “NASA-inspired Space Discovery Institute program.” Arthur Eldridge, an education ambassador for NASA, said that the school will be the “flagship” for the program, which according to the article aims to give children “hands-on experience with aerospace technology.” Part of the program includes building “a working laboratory for 30 students – as well as fully operational lunar and Mars rovers” – at the school’s playground. Eldridge said, “They’ll actually be learning to drive those as our jet propulsion laboratory folks do: You have to propose a plan … and then fit in the mathematics that will take it from one point to another. This is real stuff.” NASA funding and donations will pay for the work. Eldridge added that much of the equipment was “NASA hardware that we repurpose for education (programs).”

Stipends Available For Hawaii STEM Conference’s Teacher Professional Development Workshop.

Maui (HI) Now  (4/9) reports that stipends are available through the Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology program for Hawaii teachers looking to attend the sixth annual Hawaii STEM Conference’s Teacher Professional Development Workshop. The workshop will take place April 17 and 18 at the Wailea Marriott Resort on Maui and costs $25. The Conference is designed to allow students and educators to work with new technology and software and give educators an opportunity to discuss real world challenges.

Engineer Creates Endowment, Provides STEM Education At Queens Library.

The New York Daily News  (4/8, Colangelo) reports that engineer Husam Ahmad will give $50,000 to the Queens Library, which he said “provid[ed] a haven” for him when he was studying. Employees from his company will work with students on STEM projects and experiments in addition to providing funds. He is creating the endowment for the library as a way to “pay it forward” and maintain the institution for future generations of engineers.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

California’s Efforts To Reduce Water Use Faltered In February.
Budding Scientific Entrepreneur Offers STEM Advice To Girls.
Argonne National Laboratory Developing ‘Super Batteries’.
Demand For H-1B Visas Dramatically Outstrips Supply.
UAVs Are Now Being Used As Flying Billboards.
Company Says Technology To Contain Blown Wells Far Advanced From Five Years Ago.
Teacher Argues STEM Needs To Bring In The Arts.

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