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

Leading the News

Harvard School Of Engineering To Receive $400 Million Endowment.

The New York Times  (6/4, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports that billionaire hedge fund manager John A. Paulson, a Harvard Business School graduate, has given the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences a $400 million endowment, “the largest gift in the university’s history.” The article describes Paulson’s career in finance, and notes that his endowment “helped the university’s $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign, which started publicly in September 2013.” The announcement of the gift sparked “a chorus of criticism…much of it mocking Mr. Paulson for choosing to add to Harvard’s wealth rather than extend his generosity to causes or institutions that help the needy.”

The Washington Post  (6/3) reports that the school will be renamed in Paulson’s honor, noting that it has “recently developed wonders such as an implantable cancer vaccine and a robot that can build itself from a flat sheet.”

The Bloomberg News  (6/3, Lauerman) reports that Harvard said the gift will support “research, faculty development and financial aid.” Paulson said in a statement that “he hopes his gift will make the engineering school ‘a 21st-century engineering leader.’” Boston  (6/3, Wilder) also covers this story.

WSJournal Derides Those Who Take Issue With Paulson’s Harvard Donation. In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal  (6/4, Subscription Publication) criticizes those who mock billionaire John Paulson’s donation of $400 million to Harvard’s School of Engineer and Applied Sciences. Some don’t like the way Paulson made his money while others say that Harvard already has enough, but the Journal says that Americans should be pleased he has chosen to give it away at all.

Higher Education

University Of Houston Receives $1.2 Million In STEM Scholarships.

The Houston Business Journal  (6/4, Smith, Subscription Publication) reports that the University of Houston has been awarded a “fat investment” of $1.2 million to fund STEM scholarships by the NSF. One grant has been awarded to Xiaojing Yuan, who will receive $639,895 to allot to around 40 engineering technology students over five years. Rakesh Verma, meanwhile, received $583,597 for 15 computer science students over three years. Workshops and field trips are also included. Houston is ranked ninth for STEM graduates, with mean salaries for STEM employees around $94,800.

Congress Should Consider Creating Pell Grant Supplement Funds.

Stephen Burd writes in a column for the Hechinger Report  (6/3) that colleges have “little incentive” to enroll poorer students, and many colleges are currently using merit aid to ensure they receive the best students rather than given financial help to poorer students. Burd claims Congress could “begin to reverse these trends” if it gave colleges that increased the proportion of students they serve that receive Pell Grants supplementary funding, similar to the original Pell Grant system’s “cost of education allowances” program from the 1970s. The “Pell Bonus” program also would help “financially strapped” community colleges and non-selective four-year college, he claims. Burd concludes that while the proposal “has begun to catch the attention of policymakers,” and while President Obama has proposed a similar plan, “Republican Congressional leadership has yet to express much interest in the idea,” which is “too bad.”

Experts Urge Congress To Work To Slow Increase in Cost Of College.

McClatchy  (6/4, Baccellieri) reports that with college costs rising, Congress is “taking a fresh look at federal financial aid and considering ways to stop states from driving up tuition at their public universities.” At a hearing of the Senate HELP Committee on Wednesday, higher education experts warned that “more comprehensive financial aid policies will be useless if costs continue to skyrocket,” and “urged lawmakers” to “hold states accountable for funding public colleges and universities.”

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
…is right around the corner!

Workforce

Warner: Technology’s Impact On Workforce Should Be Part Of National Debate.

USA Today  (6/4, Page) interviews Sen. Mark Warner, “who earned a fortune as a tech entrepreneur before entering politics,” about how politics is changing “in the age of Uber.” Warner said, “This next generation, where they are in the ‘sharing economy,’ the millennials, 80 million strong, they have no safety net at all: no unemployment, no workman’s comp, no disability. Somebody may be doing very, very well as an Etsy seller and Airbnb user and Uber driver and part-time consultant…but if they hit a rough patch, they have nothing to stop them until they fall, frankly, back upon government assistance programs.” Warner is not seeking national office in 2016, but “hopes to spark a debate…about how to respond to the complications of the new American workforce.”

Global Developments

Volkswagen Signs Agreement To Increase Electric Vehicle Production In China.

Reuters  (6/3) reports Volkswagen said it reached a cooperation agreement with SAIC Motor Corporation to increase production, research and development of electric cars in China. Volkswagen will localize over 15 different electric vehicle models in China over the next four years plus expand the primary plant of the joint venture SVW in Anting.

MarketWatch  (6/4, Houston-Waesch) notes when counting its joint ventures in China, Volkswagen delivered about 3.7 million vehicles in the country in 2014, a 12% increase from 2013.

According to Investors Business Daily  (6/4), China’s EV market “is heating up as the government promotes cleaner-technology vehicles to help ease pollution.”

Industry News

Manufacturers Using More Advanced Robots.

The Wall Street Journal  (6/3, Hagerty, Subscription Publication) reports that manufacturers are rolling out a new more advanced generation of robots that are more agile and work in a more cooperative manner. The new robots are safer in their interactions with humans, and could impact how companies and nations compete with each other.

Shipments Of Wearables Triple During First Quarter Of 2015.

The CNET News  (6/3, Whitney) reports a report released Wednesday by market researcher IDC found that “during the first quarter of the year, a total of 11.4 million wearable devices shipped around the world, triple the 3.8 million shipped during the same quarter in 2014.” The gain was notable “as the first quarter usually sees a dip in sales and shipments for tech products following the strong holiday season.” The wearables market has “taken time to catch on among consumers,” but now more products are being introduced, customers enjoy a “greater diversity, triggering more interest.” IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani also cited lower prices as reason for the growth in a press release: “We now see over 40 percent of the devices priced under $100, and that’s one reason why the top five vendors have been able to grow their dominance from two-thirds of the market in the first quarter of last year to three-quarters this quarter.” It remains to be seen how consumers will respond to the Apple Watch and its premium pricing.

The Los Angeles Times  (6/3, Chang) notes the top five wearable vendors in the quarter were: Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin, Samsung and Jawbone.

Engineering and Public Policy

Republicans Take Aim At EPA’s Ozone Regulation.

McClatchy  (6/4, Adams) reports that Republicans are opposing the EPA’s proposal to introduce a new standard for ground-level ozone, announced in November. The Administration “said doing so would help curtail the rising problem of asthma and other respiratory ailments,” but Republicans, along with “business and industry in general,” have “pushed back.” For example, Sen. James Inhofe said the proposal “will have negligible environmental benefits, is based on questionable health benefits and comes with unequivocal economic costs.” The Washington (DC) Examiner  (6/4, Colman) reports that the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, of which Sen. Inhofe is the chairman, previewed three bills one Wednesday that would “delay or handcuff” the regulations, but says that nothing has been committed to and the chances of passage before the rules take effect are “slim.”

Opinion: “Energy Freedom” Reforms Needed. Writing in The Hill  (6/4, Bradley), Institute for Energy Research CEO Robert Bradley, Jr. argues that America can become the world’s largest oil and gas producer by passing reforms to ensure “energy freedom.” He calls for increased access for drilling and fracking on Federal land, blocking new ozone regulation, and preventing new caps on methane emissions.

Column: Renewable Fuels Will Move Forward In US.

In his column for Reuters  (6/4, Stock), Harvard economics professor and former member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers James Stock argues that the narrative over the EPA’s update of the Renewable Fuels Standard should shift from a win-or-lose mentality by the American petroleum industry to the opportunity to expand renewable energy usage in the world’s largest energy market. He argues that the most practical way forward on the RFS is to expand usage of cellulosic ethanol and for research to allow the industry to break the E10 Blend Wall.

Democrats Look To Confront GOP Over Transportation Funding.

Politico  (6/4, Caygle, Everett) reports that Democrats are “threatening an aggressive confrontation” with the GOP over Federal highway funding, “foreshadowing yet another round of brinkmanship with the GOP and raising the specter of a temporary shutdown of transportation construction sites nationwide.” Democrats in both chambers are “weighing a hard-line strategy” designed to force the GOP to hold a “series of painful short-term highway extensions” if they don’t address the Highway Trust Fund’s “long-term funding woes.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Atlanta Area Teachers To Participate In STEM Professional Development.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  (6/4, French) reports that teachers in the Atlanta area will work with the Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency and Discovery Education for tips and training on creating STEM curricula on Friday at Cobb County, Georgia’s Marietta High School. The free event will provide professional development and will feature 130 attendees.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Environmental Groups Turn To Court To Challenge Arctic Ocean Drilling.
Illinois AG Calls On Duncan To Protect Student Loan Consumers From Scammers.
USAF Working With DARPA On Hypersonic Weaponry.
US Firms Look To Game H-1B Visa Lottery.
European Oil Companies Promote Replacement Of Coal.
Former Tesla Engineer Developing Electric Engines For Heavy Trucks.
Brown Refusing To Impose Hydraulic Fracking Ban.

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