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

Leading the News

Environmentalists Outraged At Obama Over Arctic Drilling.

The New York Times  (5/13, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that that President’s move “to open up vast, untouched Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling as he pursues an ambitious plan to fight climate change illustrates the inherent tensions in his environmental and energy agenda.” In this “latest decision,” the Times says, “some oil companies and top energy experts agree with environmentalists that drilling in the Arctic is dangerous enough to upset the balance” and put the President’s “environmental legacy at risk.” Similarly, the Los Angeles Times  (5/13, Yardley) reports that Obama’s approach to development in the Arctic “has always been a nuanced one, based both on preserving the Arctic wilderness and on ensuring US domestic energy supplies.”

In a separate piece, the New York Times  (5/13, Schwartz, Krauss, Subscription Publication) says that environmentalists were “outraged” not just by the decision, but “to give Shell, in particular, the green light.” They argue that Shell’s “track record in the Arctic should rule out another chance for it.”

In a third piece, the New York Times  (5/13, Johnson, Subscription Publication) reports that the board of the Port of Seattle voted 3-to-1 on Tuesday to “ask that the arrival of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs be delayed, bowing to a wave of public pressure by protesters and city officials over the company’s plans to drill this summer off the coast of Alaska and use Puget Sound as a home port.”

NYTimes: Arctic Drilling Rules Appropriately Restrictive. In an editorial, the New York Times  (5/13, Subscription Publication) endorses the Administration’s rules for drilling for oil in the Arctic, acknowledging the risks of environmental damage, but says that they are stringent enough to prevent a “free-for-all” by drillers.

Higher Education

SEC Files Fraud Charges Against ITT Educational Services.

The Washington Post  (5/12, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that according to charges filed on Tuesday by the SEC, ITT Educational Services CEO Kevin Modany and CFO Daniel Fitzpatrick “lied to investors about high rates of late payments and defaults on student loans backed by the company.” Noting that ITT is “one of the largest operators of for-profit technical schools,” the Post notes that the charges come as the for-profit sector is “buckling under government lawsuits, regulatory scrutiny and depressed student enrollment.” The piece cites the collapse of Corinthian Colleges Inc. and the recent restructuring of Education Management Corp. and Career Education Corp. SEC’s action accuses Modany and Fitzpatrick of “making false and misleading statements about the failure of two in-house student-loan programs.” The article alludes to the role that ED’s withholding of Federal student aid played in Corinthian’s implosion, and reports that “spokeswoman Denise Horn would not say whether the Education Department plans to pull ITT’s funding, but said the agency ‘has been monitoring the SEC oversight of ITT.’”

USA Today  (5/12, Mccoy) reports that SEC Alleges that Modany and Fitzpatrick “hid from investors the poor performance and looming financial impact of two student loan programs that had been financially guaranteed by the company.” The form formed the PEAKS and CUSO loan programs “to provide off-balance sheet loans for students at the company’s colleges following the collapse of the private student loan market,” and the SEC alleges that it “provided a guarantee that limited any risk of losses in a bid to induce others to finance the risky loans.”

ASEE Member Comments on Strategic Doing
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ASEE Call for Nominations
Officers to be nominated for society-wide positions are: President-Elect, Vice President Member Affairs, and Chairs of Professional Interest Councils I, IV and V. Deadline is June 1.

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Research and Development

Vanderbilt University Graduate Student Invents Exoskeleton.

The Tennessean  (5/12, Tamburin) reports that Andrew Ekelem, a Vanderbilt University graduate student, has created a “mechanical exoskeleton” that allowed him to walk for the first time since a 2010 snowboarding accident. The exoskeleton is undergoing clinical trials in five rehabilitation centers and is licensed by Parker Hannifin Corporation.

Microscope Allows Increased Brain Penetration.

The Denver Post  (5/13, Draper) reports that University of Colorado researchers have invented a microscope that can penetrate far enough into the human brain to see individual neurons in action. An electricity-driven lens will allow study of hither-to inaccessible regions of the brain, such as the amygdala. The research was carried out using a $1 million NSF grant.

US Navy’s LOCUST UAV Program Profiled.

Military & Aerospace Electronics  (5/12, Keller) reports that the US Office of Naval Research’s UAV experts have shown the potential of the US Navy’s LOCUST swarming program. ONR LOCUST program manager Lee Mastroianni notes that the swarming will “essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter.”

INL Scientists Say Fuel Rods Can Be Safely Studied.

The AP  (5/13) reports that “an eastern Idaho nuclear facility can safely handle two shipments of 25 spent fuel rods for research” and it is “not the start of turning the state into a nuclear waste dump, officials at the site say.” The Energy Department “wants to better understand ‘high burnup’ spent fuel that is accumulating at nuclear power plants in the U.S., said Todd Allen, deputy director of science and technology at the Idaho National Laboratory.” The lab “would examine the spent fuel, Allen said, to determine how its properties change and what that means for storage at power plant sites and eventually moving for permanent storage.”


Google Workshops Address Unconscious Bias In Corporate Culture.

USA Today  (5/12, Guynn) reports that Google has created “bias-busting” workshops to help Google employees combat “hidden prejudices” to foster a “more welcoming” corporate culture. Google people analytics director Brian Welle said that by making people aware of their biases, Google looks to change their thinking, and adds that the experience has been “tremendously eye-opening for people.”

Industry News

Raytheon Completes Design Review For US Navy AMDR.

ExecutiveBiz  (5/13, Forrester) reports in its blog that Raytheon has finished its critical design review of the US Navy AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar, addressing risk mitigation, producibility analysis, and cost assessments. According to a statement Tuesday, the AMDR program has finished 40 percent of its engineering and manufacturing development phase. According to Raytheon integrated defense systems division VP of seapower capability systems Kevin Peppe, production will continue to advance as delivery of the radar for the Navy’s DDG 51 Flight III destroyer nears.

The Examiner  (5/12, Selinger) reports that the $386 million AMDR will be used to track “increasingly sophisticated” ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. The AMDR is set for installation in 2016.

Toyota Rolls Out First Mass-Market Hydrogen-Powered Car.

In a front-page story, the Washington Post  (5/13, A1, Harwell) looks at Toyota’s $57,500 Mirai, the “first mass-market car to run off hydrogen,” saying it has “quickly become a powerful force in the battle for tomorrow’s roads.” The vehicle “can drive farther and refuel faster than any electric car a driver can buy,” but Toyota is still “placing a massively risky bet” on hydrogen fuel cells.

Engineering and Public Policy

House Considering Legislation To Block EPA Water Rules.

The AP  (5/13, Jalonick) reports that on Tuesday, the House debated legislation crafted by Republicans to block EPA rules that “would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from development and pollution under the Clean Water Act.” The rules “have fueled political anger in the country’s heartland,” where farmers and landowners say that they are already over-regulated. The legislation would “force the EPA to withdraw the rule and further consult with state and local officials before rewriting it,” though the White House has issued a veto threat.

Hoyer Criticizes GOP For Weighing Short-Term Highway Funding Fix.

Roll Call  (5/12, Emma Dumain) reports that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Tuesday “ripped” Republicans for “looking for another patch job for the Highway Trust Fund before the current patch expires at the end of May.” Hoyer said that the GOP has had enough time to craft a long-time fix, adding, “It is irresponsible that we have not come to an agreement.”

Derailment Comes As House Appropriations Prepares Work On Bill That Cuts Amtrak Funding. Politico  (5/12, Wolfe) reports that the derailment of an Amtrak train near Philadelphia on Tuesday night is likely to enliven a House Appropriations markup on Wednesday of a bill the funds, among other things, Amtrak. The version “approved earlier by an appropriations subcommittee contains language that would slash Amtrak’s funding to $1.13 billion, less than the roughly $1.4 billion it typically receives annually.”

FBI Admits Guidelines Violated In Investigation Of Keystone Opponents.

The New York Times  (5/13, Schmidt, Subscription Publication) reports that the FBI “acknowledged” Tuesday that it “violated its own guidelines in 2013 when it investigated environmental advocates who opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.” The FBI had “received information about plots to damage” existing parts of the pipeline, and as part of the investigation, agents had “gathered information” about environmental advocates without first receiving approval “from the head of their office and from its chief lawyer.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Colorado High School Students To Send Experiment To ISS.

The Denver (CO) Post  (5/13, Vaccarelli) reports that Chatfield High School engineering students will send an experiment on biofuel-producing algae to the International Space Station with the help of a National Design Challenge grant from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. The engineering class worked with partners at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

Interview With 2011 Google Science Fair Winner Shree Bose Discusses New Startup.

US News & World Report  (5/12) interviews Shree Bose, a Harvard Junior who won the 2011 Google Science Fair, on her new startup and the results of her research on chemotherapy resistance. Topics include Bose’s background, her interest in science, the effect of the death of her grandfather on her research, her science fair project, current activities, her startup, and her career goals.

Maker Movement Promotes Creativity In Libraries.

Education Week  (5/13, Bell) reports that the “maker movement” is a trend to incorporate material like crafts, sewing machines, Lego sets, and 3D printing in libraries as a way to promote “education through tinkering and creating.” American Association of School Librarians President-elect Leslie Preddy calls the spaces “the next evolutionary step in school libraries.” The spaces and their promotion “revolve, at least partly,” around Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, but around 50 percent of maker space representatives said that the spaces were used to encourage “problem identification, effective communication of ideas, and evaluation and refinement of creative ideas.”

Pennsylvania Students Use NASA Hexacopter To Investigate Pennsylvania Coal Fire.

The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News  (5/13, Beauge) reports that students in a Pennsylvania high school used a NASA hexacopter to collect soil, air, and temperature information on an underground coal fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania. Funding for the project comes from a grant administered by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, which uses ED funds. David Morgan, a consultant for the CCIU, says the program targets teacher development in math and science. Data will be stored by NASA for use by any government agency. The fire began in 1962 and is estimated to last another 100 years.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Administration Gives Shell Conditional Approval For Arctic Drilling.
First Class Of Corrosion Engineers Graduates From University Of Akron.
NASA’s NIAC Program Funds “Outstanding” Batch Of Concepts.
US Agriculture Department Expects Industry Skill Gap To Worsen.
Advancements In Airport Security Draw Questions Of Privacy Concerns.
Delaware School Wins Regional SeaPerch Competition.

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