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

Leading the News

South Carolina Researcher Using Bacteria Enzymes To Develop Self-Repairing Cloth.

WSPA-TV  Greenville, SC (5/14) reports online that Mark Blenner, a researcher at Clemson University, is studying how to use the enzymes found in yeast and E. coli strains to “protect soldiers fighting in foreign lands – and the public here at home –in the case of chemical warfare by quickly degrading nerve agents used in chemical weapons.” He is also researching how the “fast-growing enzymes could be used to create clothing that repairs itself.” The piece notes that the Air Force has given Blenner a $360,000 grant to further his research.

WLOS-TV  Asheville, NC (5/14) reports online that the Blenner says he was inspired by the self-repairing processes in plants and animals, and quotes him saying, “When it’s ripped, cut, burned, degraded—any of those sorts of things can be repaired quickly. Either it will repair itself just by sensing the fact that it got cut or it could be activated by something you add to the cut on the shirt.”

Higher Education

Cal Poly Expands Cybersecurity Program.

The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune  (5/11) reports that Cal Poly has expanded its cybersecurity program “from two courses taught by computer science professor Phillip Nico to a new curriculum of five dedicated cybersecurity classes taught by three faculty members.” The school is also integrating cybersecurity principles into other computer science courses, and some 250 students currently take part in the program.

NSF Gives Texas College $500,000 STEM Grant.

The Longview (TX) News-Journal  (5/13) reports that the National Science Foundation has given Wiley College in Marshall, Texas “a $500,000 grant to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.” The grant is intended to “encourage more students to major in STEM fields,” and will be used to “establish a summer math program” and to “establish a program in which students can minor in physics or computer science.”

Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists Helping Low-Income Students Attend Top Colleges.

The Wall Street Journal  (5/14, Carlton, Subscription Publication) reports that a group of leading venture capitalists based in Silicon Valley have been discretely supporting QuestBridge, an nonprofit that helps to increase the number of poor students attending elite colleges, especially in the STEM fields.

North Carolina For-Profit Set To Close, Blames Gainful Employment Rule.

The Charlotte (NC) Observer  (5/14) reports that Brookstone College of Business, a small for-profit school with campuses in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, “said Wednesday that it is shutting down,” citing “the impact of federal regulations that aim to make career-training programs prove they lead to jobs and the ability to repay student debt.” Brookstone President Jack Henderson said compliance “drove up costs and ‘distracted the small college from its core mission of providing quality education and training.’”

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (5/14) reports in its “Ticker” blog that the school cited ED’s “impending gainful-employment rule,” noting that the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities “lobbied against the rule, suing successfully in 2012 to have portions of it thrown out.” The Greensboro (NC) News & Record  (5/14) also covers this story.

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Research and Development

NSF Gives University At Buffalo $9 Million For Supercomputer Monitoring Tool.

Buffalo (NY) Business First  (5/14, Miner, Subscription Publication) reports that the National Science Foundation has given the University at Buffalo a $9 million grant “to further improve the efficiency of its homegrown supercomputer tool,” noting that the school’s Center for Computational Research’s XD Metrics on Demand tool “monitors the performance of NSF’s supercomputers and the software programs that run on them.” The Buffalo (NY) News  (5/14) reports that the tool “makes sure the foundation’s network of supercomputers is used efficiently.”

UA Students Take Robot To NASA Robotics Challenge.

The WBMA-TV  Birmingham, AL (5/13, Edwards) website reports a student team from the University of Alabama (UA) will be taking a robot they built called the “MARTE” to compete in the NASA Robotics Mining Competition in Cape Canaveral. About 40 or 50 NASA representatives will be on hand at the competition to evaluate the robots and look “for things that they can use,” said Kenneth Ricks, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UA.

Global Developments

Solar Road In Netherlands “Exceeded Expectations.”

The Huffington Post  (5/14, Howard) reports that SolaRoad’s “experimental bike path that also functions as a giant solar cell,” which was placed down in November 2014 in a village outside of Amsterdam, has generated enough energy to power a one-person household for an entire year, according to the AP. The article notes that because the path has “exceeded expectations,” scientists are looking at using the technology “to power street lights, traffic systems, and electric cars.”

Industry News

Northrup Grumman Pitching Venus Plane To NASA.

SPACE  (5/14, Leone) reports that Northrop Grumman “is developing an inflatable, propeller-powered aircraft for a years-long cruise in the sulfurous skies of Venus,” and will enter the design in NASA’s New Frontiers planetary science competition. Northrup Grumman’s Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP) “could be ready to compete for about $1 billion in NASA funding as soon as Oct. 1.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Senate GOP Looks To Overturn Power Plant Rules.

The Hill  (5/13, Cama) reports that on Wednesday, Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would “overturn” the Administration’s “landmark climate rule for power plants and make it nearly impossible to rewrite them.” The bill represents the GOP’s “first major legislative effort” in the Senate to “confront” the EPA’s CO2 limits it proposed last year. In addition to the 25 GOP senators that have signed on to the legislation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is also backing the effort.

Rise Of Drones Raises Privacy, Regulatory Questions.

The Wall Street Journal  (5/14, Nicas, Subscription Publication) reports that across the nation, communities are dealing with a sharp rise in drone use that is raising both safety and privacy concerns, which come with difficult legal questions. In particular, there are few laws governing the use of drones below the altitude of 500 feet, where manned aircraft are generally prohibited.

EPA Emissions Rules Under Fire From Industry And GOP.

NPR  (5/14, Fehling) reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil yet tougher ozone emissions standards this fall, but the hydrocarbon and chemical industries are pushing back. Industry consultants say that the new standards would harm growth in already-polluted areas like Houston, while the EPA and environmentalists say that the fact that current standards have not caused sufficient change is reason for tougher rules. The article notes that Houston, with its high concentration of refineries, has seen marked improvement in air quality since standards were introduced in 1990 but still does not meet them. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton plans to challenge the regulations.

The Hill  (5/13, Cama) reports that on Wednesday, Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would “overturn” the Administration’s “landmark climate rule for power plants and make it nearly impossible to rewrite them.” The bill represents the GOP’s “first major legislative effort” in the Senate to “confront” the EPA’s CO2 limits it proposed last year. In addition to the 25 GOP senators that have signed on to the legislation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is also backing the effort.

Kansas Senate Approves Emissions Control Plan.

The AP  (5/14) reports that the Kansas Senate voted 35-1 to approve a process by which the state will go about complying with new power plant emissions standards set by the EPA. It now goes to the House and, if passed there, to the governor for signature. The bill would authorize the state’s Secretary of Health and Environment to draft a proposal to be approved by a legislative panel before submission to the Federal government.

Utah Students Join Battle Over Solar Net Metering.

The Deseret (UT) News  (5/14, O’Donoghue) reports “a couple hundred” students in the Salt Lake “jumped into Utah’s fray over a proposed net metering fee for residential solar customers, urging the Public Service Commission to chose a ‘cleaner and more sustainable’ future for the state.” The Rowland Hall students “put their names on a petition to the commission, which held one of four study meetings on Tuesday as the utility regulator begins crafting the framework for a cost-benefit analysis on rooftop solar.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Arkansas Students Visit NASA Engineering Academy.

The Stuttgart (AR) Daily Leader  (5/13, Fischer) reports five Stuttgart, Arkansas High School seniors spent a week visiting the US Space and Rocket Center and its Advanced Space Academy. The students and their teacher traveled to Huntsville, Alabama last month to work on hands-on drills and learn about what is required of astronauts, engineers and technologists. The article reports the Advanced Space Academy’s website states trainees “are immersed in science, technology, engineering and math education while focusing on college and career preparation.”

College Board To Work With Project Lead The Way.

US News & World Report  (5/13, Neuhauser) reports that the College Board is partnering with Project Lead The Way to create a credential for students that finish a combined AP class with “integrated” Project Lead The Way coursework for engineering, biomedical science or computer science. Companies have “long lamented” that the ways in which the US teaches STEM subjects, and have argued “dry” coursework has “repelled” students. The partnership will have a class with Project Lead The Way guidance, an AP class after, and a specialized Project Lead The Way class on the topic, with examples including electronics engineering, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and aerospace engineering.

Indiana University Study Shows STEM Stereotypes Hurt Women.

AP  (5/13, Harris) reports that a study by Indiana University “carries frustrating implications” about the effects of female stereotypes on STEM performance. While lead researcher Kathryn Boucher said STEM representation has improved, representation in certain fields, like physics and computer science, it “doesn’t appear to be getting that much better over time.” Boucher also notes that women are often drawn to fields like biology where women can help others. Learning science specialist Kylie Peppler “wants to reimagine the way STEM topics are taught to girls” and looks to integrate practices such as sewing and robotics.

University Of Virginia To Create Readership-Boosting Science Lessons.

WVIR-TV  Charlottesville, VA (5/14, D’Ambra) reports in a video on its website that the University of Virginia will work with Albemarle County schools to create science lessons that boost reading and literacy. A $700,000 grant from the Virginia DOE will fund the program over three years. The site also hosts a press release from the university on the program.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Environmentalists Outraged At Obama Over Arctic Drilling.
SEC Files Fraud Charges Against ITT Educational Services.
Vanderbilt University Graduate Student Invents Exoskeleton.
Google Workshops Address Unconscious Bias In Corporate Culture.
Raytheon Completes Design Review For US Navy AMDR.
House Considering Legislation To Block EPA Water Rules.
Colorado High School Students To Send Experiment To ISS.

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