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

Leading the News

Google, Udacity Create Android Developer Nanodegree.

Fortune  (5/28, Rao) reports that Udacity and Google announced Thursday that they will be collaborating to offer the Android Nanodegree, the first Google-created and certified engineering certificate. Google owns the Android mobile phone operating system. Udacity’s online “Nanodegree” offers online certification for technical jobs. Udacity founder and former Google roboticist Sebastian Thrun said that the partnership was an easy decision as demand for Android apps skyrockets. The top fifty students will be invited to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California for additional training and an interviewing workshop.

Forbes  (5/28) reports that Thrun estimates “hundreds of thousands” of Android developer jobs are currently available. The program will run about six to nine months and begins enrollment Thursday. The course content is free, but the “non-scaleable” components of the degree, such as grading and mentorship, cost $200. Thrun calls the education the most “bleeding-edge” available.

Higher Education

Texas College Prioritizes STEM Education.

The Houston Chronicle  (5/29, Peng-Armao) reports that over the past two years, San Jacinto College “has made STEM education a top priority in its goal to prepare community college students for the workforce and for university transfer.” The school has formed a STEM Council to oversee “all events and initiatives relating to” STEM fields. In a separate article, the Houston Chronicle  (5/29, Rose) reports that the school is responding to rising demand for engineering education by offering “an associate degree in engineering science beginning in the fall this year.”

“The Big Bang Theory” Creates UCLA STEM Endowment.

The Los Angeles Times  (5/29, Gordon) reports that the “real-life brainiacs at UCLA” will receive an endowment from the scientific comedy TV show “The Big Bang Theory.” The endowment currently has $4 million donated thus far and will support STEM undergraduates. Grants will be given to 20 students of different sizes depending on financial need and achievement. The endowment has received funding from show co-creator Chuck Lorre and 50 others, including actors on the show and corporate sponsors.

Navient Corporation To Refund Veterans For Excessive Student Loan Charges.

The Hill  (5/29, Devaney) reports that Navient Corporation, formerly Sallie Mae, will refund $60 million to 77,795 military veterans charged excessively on their student loan interest. The case marks the first time the Department of Justice and the federal government as a whole has sued a student loan company over violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which caps veterans’ interest rates on some loans at six percent. The average reimbursement will be for $770.

From ASEE
ASEE Member Comments on Strategic Doing
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ASEE members get a steep discount on this engaging webinar when using code ASEE2015.

ASEE’s Annual Conference in Seattle
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Research and Development

NASA’s Greased Lightning Plane Designed To Take Off From Anywhere.

The WTKR-TV  Norfolk, VA (5/28, Brown) website interviews David North, an engineer at the Langley Research Center, about NASA’s Greased Lightning plane, which could one day be used “for mapping, research, and much more.” With its ability to take off like a helicopter and the electric motors that power it, North said, “It’s not like any other aircraft I’ve ever seen. … We wanted to create a vehicle that could take off from anywhere in any space. So if you have a 15 x 15 ft. space, you could take off and then transition into airplane like flight.” The article notes that North stated that the plane is “in its testing phase right now.”

Code Developed At Sandia National Laboratories Selected For Supercomputer Project.

Green Car Congress  (5/28) reports that the RAPTOR combustion code developed by Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Dr. Joseph Oefelein has been selected as one of thirteen projects that will partner with the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness to optimize “computer codes for the next generation of supercomputers.” The goal of running the RAPTOR code is to gain “insight into transient combustion processes such as thermal stratification, heat transfer, and turbulent mixing.”

Air Force Efforts To Create Fighter Lasers Detailed.

Popular Mechanics  (5/28, Schechter) frequently and playfully references Star Wars as it notes that the US Air Force Research Laboratory has said it wants to place laser cannons on fighter jets by 2022. The article notes that it would be “a daunting feat” to create a system that would fit the pod and that adding lasers to the AC-130 would be “an interim step.” The article then details failed programs, current programs such as the ATHENA and the HELLADS project, and the ways in which the new lasers will work.

Scientist Make Biodegratdable Computer Chip From Wood.

Business Insider  (5/28, Tani) reported that a paper by University of Wisconsin at Madison scientist that was published in Nature Communications announces the group “successfully built a semiconductor computer chip made almost entirely out of wood-based material.” The article noted that the group used a “wood-based nanomaterial” to create the chips substrate, a process that “could eventually make” mobile computer devices “more affordable.” The scientists stated that they “reduced the use of semiconductor material by 99.9 percent,” replacing it with materials that could help “reduce the growing environmental impact of smartphones and mobile devices.”

Industry News

Ford Follows Tesla, Opens Up EV Patents To Competitors.

USA Today  (5/28, Priddle, Woodyard) reports that Ford has announced it will join Tesla Motors in opening up its “electric vehicle patents to competitors to try to foster the technology.” In a release, Ford Electrification Programs Director Kevin Layden stated that the company hopes to “accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers” by sharing its research with others.

NYTimes Cites Safety Concerns From Hands-Free Driving.

An editorial in the New York Times  (5/29, Subscription Publication) cites safety concerns about new automotive technologies “that can do a lot of driving without the help of drivers,” noting that drivers, “lulled into believing they can safely take their eyes off the road to text — might not be prepared to take control when something goes wrong.” Citing NHTSA data on the role of distracted driving in traffic accidents, the Times notes that “experts are urging automakers and regulators to address the added distraction risk,” and says that most of the “numerous promising technologies coming down the pike” should “make driving safer, as long as they are used sensibly.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Pipeline Plan Needs Many North Dakota Landowners Approval.

The AP  (5/28, MacPherson) reports, “A Texas company that already has obtained shipping commitments from oil companies to build a 1,100-mile pipeline from western North Dakota to Illinois is having a tougher time getting permission from North Dakota landowners.” Chuck Frey, vice president of engineering for Energy Transfer Partners LP, “told the state’s Public Service Commission on Thursday that subsidiary Dakota Access LLC has acquired only 56 percent of the easements needed despite wanting to begin construction on the $3.8 billion project this year,” the article reports. “Our goal is to reach voluntary agreement with all landowners,” Frey told the three-member panel. He said his company “would be forced to use the eminent domain process” should landowners refuse to reach agreements.

FAA Changes Approach To NextGen Implementation To Demonstrate Benefits.

The National Journal  (5/28, Plautz, Subscription Publication) reports that after several years and $6 billion, the FAA has decided to change the way it will implement its NextGen air-traffic-control system moving forward. Ed Bolton, assistant administrator for NextGen at the FAA, says that from now on, the agency will be looking to target upgrades at key airports and work with airlines, airports, and pilots’ groups “to identify heavy-congestion areas” so that it can highlight the benefits of the NextGen upgrades. Keith Hagy, director of engineering and air safety for the Air Line Pilots Association, is quoted on the upgrades, “When we get together and rally the community, we’re able to implement more, and then we see more benefits.” Hagy continued, “Once we start increasing capacity in and out of airports, we’ve got more flights, and that’s going to help us grow in the market and become even more profitable.”

Administration Moves To Limit Drilling In Sage Grouse Habitat.

The New York Times  (5/28, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that the Administration on Thursday moved to “limit petroleum drilling on some of the wide-ranging habitat of the greater sage grouse, a native of the American West that many environmentalists say is threatened if emergency action against industrialization is not taken soon.” The Times says that the announcement “may stave off a possible Interior Department declaration by October” that the bird is endangered.

McClatchy  (5/29, Adams) reports that the Thursday action also “includes environmental impact statements and plans to guide land management on federal lands in 10 Western states” and is “now undergoing a 60-day review period.” However, energy “interests pushed back against the plan,” arguing that the issue is better handled locally.

The Washington Times  (5/29, Richardson) reports that Western Republicans opposed the plan because it is being implemented by the federal government; they argue that it should be handled by the individual states, and that the new move is basically just a land-grab.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Illinois District Gets $1.5 Million Grant For STEM Teacher Training.

The Peoria (IL) Journal Star  (5/29, Kravetz) reports that the Illinois Board of Education has given the school district in Peoria a $1.5 million grant to set up a summer training session for “select area math and science teachers” to learn “how to better teach their subjects and help students apply them in the real world.” Dozens of teachers will “will undergo two years of training.”

Illinois District Gets $1.5 Million Grant For STEM Teacher Training.

The Peoria (IL) Journal Star  (5/29, Kravetz) reports that the Illinois Board of Education has given the school district in Peoria a $1.5 million grant to set up a summer training session for “select area math and science teachers” to learn “how to better teach their subjects and help students apply them in the real world.” Dozens of teachers will “will undergo two years of training.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

Officials Speak At NBAF Groundbreaking Ceremony.
Federal Judge Tosses APC Challenge To Gainful Employment Rule.
NASA Seeking Tech Research Proposals From Universities.
Michigan Business, Government Leaders Launch Driverless Car Initiative.
Coal’s Supporters Will Fight Clean Power Plan.
California Vocational Program Awards $250 Million.

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