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

Leading the News

Obama To Highlight Climate Change Threat To Everglades On Earth Day.

The Washington Post  (4/21, Nakamura) reports in its “Post Politics” blog that the President will travel to the Everglades on Wednesday to “tout his administration’s efforts to protect the environment,” as “the White House presses its go-it-alone climate-change agenda.” The Earth Day trip is “aimed at highlighting a region that the administration said is threatened by global warming.” In the White House blog, Obama senior adviser Brian Deese wrote, “The Everglades are flat, and they border a rising ocean,. As the sea levels rise, the shorelines erode, and that salty water travels inland, threatening the aquifers supplying fresh drinking water to Floridians.”

McConnell: Local Paper Comparing Climate Skeptics To Slave Owners A “Depressing New Low.” The Hill  (4/20, Henry) reports that on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “described an editorial  in the Lexington Herald-Leader equating those opposed to climate protections to slaveholders as a ‘depressing new low.’” In an op-ed in response to the editorial in Monday’s paper, McConnell wrote, “Drawing a moral equivalence between America’s original sin of slavery and the fight for Kentucky coal reveals a profound lack of moral seriousness — not to mention a troubling indifference to an industry that keeps this commonwealth and this country running.”

Higher Education

AACC Panelists Skeptical About Free Community College Plan.

The Hechinger Report  (4/21) reports that panelists at a session about President Obama’s proposal to make tuition free at community colleges at the American Association of Community Colleges convention in San Antonio, Texas on Monday expressed skepticism about the plan. Though some called it an ambitious plan, the consensus was that it likely will come to nothing “because of past funding cutbacks.” The article quotes Mark Mitsui, ED’s deputy assistant secretary for community colleges, saying, “I can’t think of another president since Sputnik who has been willing to mention community colleges in a State of the Union as a cornerstone of America’s economy. I want to jump in with both feet and see how far we can go. I don’t know when we’re going to see this opportunity again.”

ED Earmarks $4 Million For College Rating System.

A brief item in the Chronicle of Higher Education  (4/21) “Ticker” blog reports that ED “has budgeted more than $4 million to build its controversial college-ratings system,” and has contracted with RTI International, which has already received “at least $1.8 million to construct a website and test ratings models.”

Expert: Female Students Should Be Made Aware Of Broad Range Of Engineering Careers.

US News & World Report  (4/20) reports on the dearth of female undergraduate students in the STEM disciplines, noting that Women in Engineering ProActive Network President Jenna Carpenter says that “stereotypes about who is best suited to go into engineering” can stand in female students’ way. The piece reports that the group “works with a number of school administrators and corporations to help women thrive in engineering.” Carpenter, who is the associate dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering and Science at Louisiana Tech University, also said that “girls may also be unaware of the breadth of career options available within a discipline such as engineering,” noting that engineering is vital to industries that many girls identify with, such as cosmetics.

Groups Help Non-Legacy Students Succeed In College.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/21, Mitchell, Subscription Publication) reports that a number of groups, including one operating at Boston College called Bottom Line, are working to counsel underprivileged students whose parents have not gone to college on how to get admitted to college and to graduate.

Some Two-Year Degrees Command High Salaries.

Reuters  (4/20) reports that though associate’s degrees have traditionally been considered to be worth less than a bachelor’s degree, state statistics on graduates’ income levels indicate that some two-year degrees lead to lucrative careers, especially given the much lower cost.

Colleges Searching Applicants’ Online Presence.

Diverse Education  (4/21) reports that according to a new survey from Cornerstone Reputation, college admissions officers are increasingly searching the internet and social media platforms for information about prospective students. The firm’s founder, Carolynn Crabtree, says that students should “be more aware of how what they say or do online could undermine their efforts to get into the college of their choice.”

From ASEE
ASEE Member Named Founding Dean of New School
Louisiana Tech’s Jenna Carpenter will be the dean of the new school of engineering at Campbell University.

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

Research and Development

NSF Gives University Of Nebraska-Lincoln $9.6 Million Grant For Nanotech Research.

The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star  (4/21) reports that the National Science Foundation has given the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln a $9.6 million grant for “multidisciplinary nanotechnology research.” The article describes research in which lasers are used to create nanofilm materials that “could have big applications in electronics, including cellphones or laptops.”

NIH Funding Lacking For Scientists.

In a 2300-word story, the Boston University (MA) Today  (4/21, Moran) reports on the lack of available NIH funding for the thousands of scientist looking to advance scientific research.

Global Developments

BAE Systems Eye-Tracking Technology Shown For First Time In Bahrain.

The Gulf Daily News (BHR)  (4/21, Saxena) reports that a BAE Systems eye-tracking technology was demonstrated for the first time in Bahrain during the British Embassy’s “GREAT Advanced Engineering and Innovation” event. The technology tracks eye movement for airplane pilots to increase speed, efficiency, and safety in the cockpit. The Daily News quotes BAE Systems Military Air and Information head of research and technology Maureen McCue, who says that though eye tracking itself isn’t new, the company is “applying it in a different environment.”

Industry News

IBM Beats 1Q Profit Forecasts While Revenue Decline Continues.

The AP  (4/20) reports that IBM released its first quarter report for fiscal 2016 on Monday, posting first-quarter net income of $2.33 billion, or $2.91 per share, which topped analysts’ forecast of $2.84 earnings per share. Revenue, however, was $19.59 billion for the quarter, falling short of analysts’ predictions of $19.65 billion.

The New York (NY) Times  (4/20, Lohr, Subscription Publication) notes that IBM’s new mainframe computers sales helped the results. IBM CFO Martin J. Schroeter called the performance a “pretty strong start to the year.” The Times highlights IBM’s dramatic shift in focus to its strategic initiatives, including cloud computing and data analytics, and explains the revenue decline as “almost entirely attributable to a strong dollar and the company’s planned exits from less-profitable businesses.” The article features opinion of Bernstein Research analyst A.M. Sacconaghi, who asserted that the benefits of IBM’s new strategy may be coming, but have yet to be seen.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/20, Mcmillan, Subscription Publication) portrays the first quarter report as indicative of IBM’s ongoing difficulty resulting from the company’s transition into the software and services industry, noting this is IBM’s twelfth straight quarter of year-over-year revenue declines.

Reuters  (4/20, Rigby, Maan) notes IBM’s sharp increase in cloud sales, which have generated $7.7 billion in revenue over the past year.

The Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal  (4/20, Wolf) describes analysts’ opinion of IBM as “so-so,” with the company’s share prices increasing 3.4 percent in regular trading following the quarterly report’s release.

Bloomberg News  (4/20, Barinka) points out that Street estimates had been cut following IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s October statement that the company would fall short of profit goals. The article calls IBM’s reorganization “drastic,” and features analyst opinion that “the jury is still out” on the impact of those changes. Wells Fargo Securities LLC analyst Maynard Um said, “IBM has taken the right steps to realign its portfolio.”

Additional coverage is provided by Business Insider  (4/20, Bort), a separate article in Business Insider  (4/20, Bort), RTT News  (4/20), Forbes  (4/20, Konrad), and in a brief in Seeking Alpha  (4/20, Jhonsa).

IBM CEO Rometty Is Working Hard To Transform IBM. The Wall Street Journal  (4/20, Langley, Subscription Publication) features extensive analysis of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s efforts to transform IBM, asserting the company’s reorganization needs to pay off soon in order for it to continue garnering investors’ confidence. The Journal casts Rometty as a down-to-earth, assertive leader who is working hard to encourage investment and motivate workers.

Engineering and Public Policy

Panelists Call For Research Investments Despite Oil Slump.

The Houston Chronicle  (4/20, Grattan) reports that panelists from the energy industry said cutting research when oil prices plummet can prove detrimental. Muhammad Al-Saggaf, the acting head of Saudi Aramco’s shared operations and services, said, “It is easier to find collaborators who are eager to work with you during a down cycle. Many times it’s also cheaper.” Fellow panelist Steve Bolze, General Electric’s Power and Water division’s chief executive, “said that research and development during tougher times must be more focused and aim even higher,” according to the article. For his part, panelist Nawaf Al-Sabath, the CEO of the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, “said that cutting too deeply during a slump can stunt growth,” the article reports.

Murkowski To Introduce Bill To End Crude Export Ban.

Reuters  (4/21, Scheyder) reports that on Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) said that she will introduce legislation to lift the US ban on crude oil. Speaking at the IHS CERAWeek conference, a gathering of oil executives, Murkowski said, “We shouldn’t lift sanctions on Iranian oil while we are keeping restrictions on American oil. It just doesn’t make sense.”

US Crude Up On Monday. Reuters  (4/21, Krishnan) reports that oil prices rose on Monday due to a combination of ongoing tensions in the Middle East and reports of a drop in oil stockpiles held at Cushing, Oklahoma, a major US crude delivery point. US benchmark crude rose 64 cents per barrel to $56.38, while international benchmark Brent crude closed flat at $63.45 per barrel, despite a drop of more than $1 over the course of trading.

Elementary/Secondary Education

North Carolina Students Participate In Science Olympiad.

The Burlington (NC) Times-News  (4/21, Groves) reports that students from the Alamance-Burlington School System came to Alamance Community College in North Carolina for the Elementary Science Olympiad tournament. The state Science Olympiad is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting STEM subjects in schools, according to Executive Director Kim Gervase, and around 16,000 students in the state compete in the Olympiad each year.

Monday’s Lead Stories

Administration Considers Drilling Fee Hike On Federal Lands.
DOE Gives Out More Than $5 Million In Nuclear Energy Scholarships, Fellowships.
Marines Testing ‘Kamikaze’ Drones.
Lockheed Is Hiring The Most Tech Talent.
DOT Issues Emergency Order On Oil Train Safety Measures.
Junior High Students Make Artificial Hand For Third-Grader With 3-D Printer.

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