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

Leading the News

Interior Announces Approval Of New Solar Projects Through Streamlined Reviews.

The Hill  (6/2, Cama) reports that the Interior Department on Monday announced approval of the first three solar power facilities to receive expedited permitting under the Administration’s climate strategy. According to the article, “The three projects are all on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property in Clark County, Nev., and will together have a capacity of 440 megawatts, enough to power about 132,000 homes.”

The Environment & Energy Publishing  (6/1) reports that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the BLM’s “approval of the projects, which are planned for six federal tracts covering 3,083 acres inside the Dry Lake solar energy zone (SEZ) in Clark County, about 25 miles northeast of Las Vegas.”

The AP  (6/2, Ho) reports that Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said “establishing the zones encouraged development, providing for more certainty in environmental approval while also ensuring wildlife-protection measures will be accounted for.” She said, “Firstly, we’re looking at the notion that thoughtful planning upfront that includes the permitting agency, the public and industry helped get everybody on the same page to begin with.”

The story is also reported by the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal  (6/2, Tetreault).

Higher Education

ED Tightens Monitoring Of ITT.

Inside Higher Ed  (6/1, Stratford) reports that the ED started overseeing ITT Educational Services more closely in May following an SEC fraud charge against the college and two executives. The ED now requires bi-weekly cash flow projections and information on finances, school closures, enrollment, and programs. The company says that it believes it will be able to process the information and submit it on time. The ED has previously subjected the company to “heightened cash monitoring” after the company’s audits were not filed on time. Officials have said they were “caught off guard” as aid restrictions hit Corinthian Colleges with liquidity problems. The ED has also been attacked for lacking the ability to monitor large companies properly.

Anxiety Is Most Common Mental Health Diagnosis For College Students.

The New York Times  (5/28) reports that according to new research from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State and the American College Health Association, “anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students,” with nearly one out of six college students having been “diagnosed with or treated for anxiety within the last 12 months.” students cite causes ranging from “mounting academic pressure at earlier ages to overprotective parents to compulsive engagement with social media.”

College Pricing Deemed In Line With Cable Pricing.

In a column for the Washington Post  (6/1), Jeffrey Selingo argues that “college tuition pricing is just as maddening as the family cable bill” because it students do not pay by the credit-hour, but rather pay a flat fee. He claims that pricing “works largely in the favor of the college” because full-time students often don’t take enough credits, which forces them to pay for more semesters, while at the same time, students take excessive credits that are not needed because they changed their focus or added a major. Oftentimes, he notes, this is because credits such as APs are declined by the campus itself. While “the credit transfer business is arbitrary at best,” and while colleges claim they don’t take credits because they aren’t “worthy,” he concludes “what they are really doing is trying to protect their bottom lines, just like the cable companies.”

MSU Engineering School Names New Dean.

The Columbus (MS) Commercial Dispatch  (6/2) reports that Jason Keith, interim dean at the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University, will continue his role “on a full-time basis” this month. Keith took up the interim spot in March of 2014, and “was the top applicant yielded by a national search process.” The article briefly relates Keith’s CV and quotes him saying in a statement, “Our undergraduate program continues to maintain a very strong reputation among industry leaders. We want to maintain that excellence and continue to grow the competitiveness of our graduate and research programs.”

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Research and Development

Researchers Test LED Wavelength Combinations In ISS Crew Quarter Replicas.

Wired  (6/1, Boyle) reports that researchers have replicated ISS crew quarters to see “how different wavelength combos” from adjustable LEDs can “affect alertness” and improve sleep in space, where the amount of sunrises can negatively affect an astronaut’s circadian rhythms. According to the article, researchers hope to install the special bulbs at the station next year.

Study Shows Next-Generation Laser Facilities Could Reveal More About Gamma-Ray Bursts.

SPACE  (6/1, Cofield) reports that in a new study led by Frederico Fiuza, a staff scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists say that the “next-generation laser facilities” could recreate the conditions necessary to produce the shockwaves from which researchers believe “the incredibly energetic gamma-rays burst forth.” The article notes that Hui Chen of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who participated in the study with Fiuza, is already conducting similar research in the lab, previously setting “the record for the amount of antimatter produced in a lab.”


Journal Pulls Column Telling Science Student To Accept Adviser’s Harassment.

Bloomberg News  (6/1) reports that Science magazine has pulled an advice column from its website after uproar about the columnist writing that a female science student should “suppress her discomfort” and accept her academic adviser’s “gawking at her chest.” The unnamed student expressed discomfort about the situation and sought advice, to which the columnist, Caltech molecular biologist Alice Huang, wrote, “I suggest you put up with it, with good humor if you can.” Huang wrote that the ogling “‘doesn’t seem unlawful’ and probably is not covered by federal discrimination protections.”

The Washington Post  (6/1, Feltman) “Speaking of Science” blog reports that the student described her adviser as “an otherwise solid scientist who can’t seem to help himself from trying to peek down her shirt every time they’re together,” noting that Huang’s response “sparked an uproar from many readers.” The Post says the response “says that the female student’s career will suffer if she stands up to being leered at repeatedly by someone in a position of power over her, and that it isn’t worth the risk.” The Post laments that the response is “emblematic of the institutional problem of sexism in the sciences.”

The Huffington Post  (6/2, Cooper-White), Forbes  (6/1), and Salon  (6/1) also cover this story.

Global Developments

Apollo Plan Aims To Make Clean Energy Cheaper.

Bloomberg News  (6/1, Downing) reports economists and scientists “are inviting governments to join a $150 billion program that aims to make clean energy cheaper than coal.” Called the Global Apollo Programme to Combat Climate Change, the 10-year plan “will fund research into renewables, power storage and smart-grid technologies to make them cheaper than fossil fuels.” The plan “aims to create an international task force of scientists, entrepreneurs and policymakers.” Apollo founder David King said, “There is a looming catastrophe that can be avoided. … What we need to do is create clean energy that is less costly than fossil energy, and once we get to that point, we’re winning all battles.” Already, Apollo “has attracted considerable interest from countries including India, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, King said.”

The Financial Times  (6/1, Clark, Subscription Publication) also provides coverage of this story.

Industry News

Northrop Grumman Lands US Air Force Spares And Repairs Contract For $401 Million.

Zacks Equity Research  (6/1) reports that Northrop Grumman has won a $401 million contract with the US Air Force for spare parts, repairs, and engineering. The contract will last until May 30, 2020.

Engineering and Public Policy

Lack Of FDA Guidance On Biosimilar Labeling Leaves Questions For Industry.

The Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News  (6/2, Pascal) reports that although the Food and Drug Administration “has not yet issued guidance for biosimilar product labeling,” the “labeling for the first approved biosimilar suggests that it is following the path of small molecule generics.” Noting the product label “closely replicates the package insert for the reference biologic” and “does not identify the drug as a biosimilar,” the article questions whether this first approved biosimilar label will “establish a precedent for identical labeling between biosimilars and the reference biologic.” BioPharm International  (6/2, Hernandez) also covers the story.

Opinion: Use Facts, Not Talking Points, On Clean Power Plan Debate.

Writing in Roll Call  (6/2, Cohen), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) argues that the debate over the Administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan should be based on fact and informed opinion, not talking points or political scoring. He points to studies by academics and the Tennessee Valley Authority that show the plan would not result in more expensive electricity and would save lives, leading him to conclude that “All the real-world indications are that clean energy will bring down prices, improve health and, of course, help fight climate change.”

Kansas Putting Together Plan To Comply With Clean Power Plan.

The Hill  (6/2, Henry) reports that despite opposition within the state government, “Kansas will formulate a plan to comply with the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants.” Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation “directing the state’s Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Corporation Commission to work on a strategy to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan, which looks to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.” The legislation “acknowledges the state attorney general’s lawsuit against the forthcoming rule, telling agencies to find ways to delay compliance as long as possible, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.”

NextGen Climate To Protest At Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Presidential Forum.

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times  (6/2, Leary) reports that environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate will bring its model “Koch” ark to a protest outside Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Presidential Forum in Orlando on Tuesday. “In the coming months, the Koch Ark will highlight whether Republicans are willing to do anything to earn the Koch Brothers favor, including denying the science of climate change,” a statement from the group said.

DOE Delaying Efficiency Rules For Residential Furnaces, Boilers.

The Hill  (6/2, Devaney) reports the Energy Department “is delaying new efficiency rules for residential furnaces and boilers.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the Energy Department “proposed new test procedures for these household appliances in March, but said Monday it is reopening the comment period to give the public more time to respond.” The public will have until July 10 to comment.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Michigan Middle School Named NASA/ED STEM Challenge Finalist.

The Oakland (MI) Press  (6/1) reports that students at Pontiac Middle School in Pontiac, Michigan have been named finalists in the NASA/US Department of Education STEM Challenge Program, noting that students there “chose the Spaced Out Sports category and created a game to be played in space, called Work For Your Candy.” Students developed the game over the course of the 10-week challenge, which “featured discussions with representatives with NASA and the U.S. Department of Education.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

Google Rolls Out Wearable Radar Chip, Interactive Fabric At I/O.
Kline Supports Debt Forgiveness For Former Corinthian Students.
LANL Researchers Looking To Develop “Battlefield MRI” Device.
China, India Pushing To Boost Manufacturing Sectors.
Elon Musk’s Companies Benefiting From Government Subsidies.
EPA Unveils New Ethanol Proposal.
Chesapeake Public Schools Using 3-D Printers.

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