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

Leading the News

IBM Reports Breakthrough In Chip Technology.

NPR  (7/9) reports in its “The Two-Way” blog that IBM has announced that “it has overcome a technological hurdle by producing a prototype chip with transistors that are just 7 nanometers wide,” half the size of the smallest transistors which are currently in use. The piece notes that the research took place at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

ABC News  (7/9) reports that the breakthrough “could allow as many as 20 billion transistors to be placed on a chip the size of a fingernail,” and notes that the announcement continues the relevance of Moore’s Law, which postulates that the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip would double every two years. The Wall Street Journal  (7/9, Clark, Subscription Publication) also covers the story.

Higher Education

University Of Illinois Set To Open Medical Simulation Center.

The Chicago Tribune  (7/9, Macarthur) runs a Q&A with Rashid Bashir, a professor of engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who heads up the university’s bioengineering department about the use of simulation to train doctors. The piece notes that the schools knew “engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine… will include a high-tech medical simulation center” which is being financed with a $10 million gift from Chicago finance technology firm Jump Trading and will be called the Jump Simulation Center. The interview touches on the kinds of training that will take place at the center, which will include “mock facilities” simulating intensive care units and operating rooms.

NASA Grant Helps Fund Student-Built Payload Launching Next Month.

The Pacific Business News (HI)  (7/9, Gill, Subscription Publication) “Morning Call” blog reports how students from Kauai Community College, Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College and Windward Community College are participating in Project Imua, which involved designing and building a payload to monitor UV radiation. The article notes that next month, it will join other university projects to be launched from the Wallops Flight Facility. Meanwhile, according to the article, the NASA grant that helped fund the work should also be used for “100 scholarships…to UH community college students to participate in aerospace engineering projects.”

Research Finds Correlation Between Parents’ Income, Students’ Majors.

Caralee Adams writes at the Education Week  (7/10) “College Bound” blog that according to researchers reviewing data from the National Center for Education Statistics, college students from less affluent families tend to “choose useful majors, such as computer science, while those from wealthier families often are drawn to history and the arts.” The researchers found a correlation between students’ parents’ income and students’ majors.

University Police Gaining Power.

The Washington Post  (7/10, Moraff) reports university police are becoming increasingly powerful and militarized in resemblance to their municipal and state counterparts. The article highlighted several stories illustrating the expanding role of campus police forces such as their involvement in undercover drug string operations and their jurisdiction being extended off-campus.

Admissions Process Broken For Chinese Students Coming To America.

Inside Higher Ed  (7/9, Redden) reported there is a widespread perception that the admissions process is broken for Chinese students wishing to studying at American colleges. Many people believe the system is rigged with prolific corruption and cheating.

Oregon Passes Bill To Pay For Community College.

USA Today  (7/9, Samuels) reported the Oregon legislature passed a bill, the “Oregon Promise”, that will pay for community college for Oregon students who apply within six months after graduating from high school, apply for federal and state grants, and maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.5. Eligible students will only have to pay $50 per term to attend community colleges in Oregon.


Short VIDEO highlights – Maria Klawe’s plenary talk at the ASEE Annual Conference
The President of Harvey Mudd addressed diversity issues.

VIDEO Interview with President Joe Rencis
The new ASEE President discusses the next Society year.

Coverage of Boeing CTO John Tracy’s talk on Geekwire
What I look for in hiring recent grads.”

Research and Development

Cal Poly Researchers Examining Pool Cover Efficiency.

The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune  (7/8) reports that researchers at Cal Poly’s National Pool Industry Research Center are “testing a variety of pool covers and liquid chemical additives to see which are most effective in helping pool owners reduce evaporation and conserve water.” The article notes the timeliness of the research given the drought currently afflicting California, and reports that associate Prof. of civil and environmental engineering Misgana Muleta is leading the research.

University Of New Orleans Wins Grant To Work On Cybersecurity For Infrastructure.

The AP  (7/10) reports that the University of New Orleans will receive a $96,000 grant from the US Army Research Office which it will use “to build equipment that will help address cybersecurity risks to the nation’s critical infrastructure.” As part of that effort, the researchers will build “scale versions of a pipeline, a water treatment plant and a power plant.”


Tech Policy Fellowship Program Discussed.

The Washington Post  (7/10, Overly) discusses Tech Congress, a program established by former Capitol Hill aide Travis Moor that “aims to provide lawmakers with a pipeline of skilled technologists who can lend their expertise to the policy-making process.” The first fellows may arrive in Washington in January “if the pieces fall into place.”

Global Developments

Chinese Market For Industrial Robots Surging.

Bloomberg News  (7/9, Curran) profiles Li Zexiang, an electronics and computer engineering professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, as part of a larger article on the growth of robot technology in China for the purpose of manufacturing. According to the International Federation of Robotics, China surpassed Japan two years ago to become the top global market for industrial robots, but is still significantly behind the world’s advanced economies. Data from HSBC shows that China right now has about 30 industrial robots for every 10,000 manufacturing workers; the worldwide average is 62. Near the end of the article, Bloomberg News mentions a few robotics companies “specializing in high-tech design for manufacturers,” and notes that Alibaba has a collaboration with Softbank “to sell the Japanese company’s Pepper humanoid robot.”

Industry News

Congressional Caucus Promotes Maker Technology.

The Washington Times  (7/9, Shapiro) reports on the Congressional Maker Caucus whose 25 members are “determined to educate colleagues about maker technology with the belief that it one day could help America declare independence from Chinese-made generic goods.” The “Maker Movement,” is described as combining “traditional craftsmanship techniques” and “modern designs and production technologies.” It makes use of “electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking, 3-D printing and traditional arts and crafts.” The story says that “schools nationwide are starting to use makerspaces” in STEM programs. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) said that “a U.S. economy driven by the maker culture and rooted in 3-D printing is inevitable.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Utilities Lobby Top Obama Officials To Roll Back Climate Rule Provisions.

The Hill  (7/10, Cama) reports that this week “lobbyists representing major electric utilities met with top Obama administration officials” to urge “them to roll back provisions of the upcoming climate rule for power plants.” The two “meetings were unique in the number of high-ranking Obama administration officials attending.” According to OMB records, “Top Obama adviser Brian Deese attended the meetings on Monday and Wednesday, as did Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution chief Janet McCabe, top OMB regulatory director Howard Shelanski and others.”

Exelon Begins Expansion Of Gas-Fired Power Plants.

The Fuel Fix (TX)  (7/10, Blum) reports that Exelon has begun expanding two power plants outside Houston and Fort Worth. The new units will be fired by natural gas and will reduce water usage. The total cost of the project is about $1.5 billion. Dave Sikora, Exelon’s head of engineering and projects, said that “It’s a clean-burning technology and you’re able to produce larger amounts of power.” The company also took scare water supplies into account in the designs.

Study: Clean Power Plan Could Result In Lower Electricity Bills In Virginia.

The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch  (7/10, Ramsey) reports that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan “could result in lower electricity bills in Virginia that save customers up to $145 a year,” according to a report released Thursday from nonprofit Public Citizen. Dominion Virginia Power “has estimated that complying with the plan will cost billions of dollars and could cause bills to spike by 30 percent” while the State Corporation Commission “also has warned that the federal rules mean Virginians ‘will likely pay significantly more for their electricity.’” The report from Public Citizen “predicts that power bills could drop about 8 percent if state lawmakers…focus on energy efficiency.” Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said the study “fails to take into account the true, all-in costs of complying with the Clean Power Plan, which will entail retiring and replacing coal generation with lower carbon but more expensive sources, such as renewables and new nuclear. In addition, it overstates the potential savings through energy efficiency.”

The Roanoke (VA) Times  (7/10, Ramsey) also carries the story.

Massachusetts Governor Files Hydropower Bill.

The AP  (7/10, Leblanc, Salsberg) reports that under a proposal from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker “hydroelectric power would become a more prominent piece of the state’s energy puzzle.” The legislation “submitted to the state Senate requires Massachusetts utilities to work with the Department of Energy Resources to pursue long-term contracts for bringing hydropower into the state.” Baker “called the measure a critical step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also helping ratepayers by providing a cost effective alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Interview: Louisiana School Librarian Award Winner Talks About 21st Century Libraries.

THE Journal  (7/9, Gordon) interviewed Susan Gauthier, the head librarian in a Louisiana school district, about her work modernizing school libraries for the twenty-first century. Gauthier was awarded the 2014 School Library Media Specialist Award from the Louisiana Association of School Librarians.

Florida Students Earning Job Skills Certifications.

NPR  (7/9, O’Connor) reported that Florida students are learning a variety of job skills due to the Career and Professional Education Act. Among the most popular certifications earned by students are software, food protection, and healthcare positions.

NYU, NSF, NYC ED Training Public School Teachers To Teach STEM Lessons.

The New York Daily News  (7/10, Chapman) reports New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering is working with the National Science Foundation and the New York City Education Department to train 500 public school teachers how to teach lessons on STEM topics such as entrepreneurship, cyber security, and robotics. NYU School of Engineering Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan said the program should reach 50,000 kids by 2025.

Alabama Teachers Attend STEAM Education Workshop.

WHNT-TV  Huntsville, AL (7/9, Wood) reported teachers from schools in the Huntsville, Alabama area attended a three-day workshop this week titled “STEAM Into Math: Igniting Greater Student Engagement Through the Arts.” The workshop, taught by teachers and artists, showed teachers how to use the STEAM education model in their classrooms.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

Democrats Unveil Plan For Free Community College.
Gates Foundation Calls For Overhaul Of FAFSA.
Space Battery In New Horizons Spacecraft Made In Idaho National Laboratory.
GE Will Build Education Facility On Business And Wind Energy In China.
Cloud Startup DigitalOcean Raises $83 Million In New Funding.
Coal Mining Towns Threatened By Environmental Rules, Natural Gas.
Education Conference In Philadelphia Highlights Importance Of Learning Through Projects.

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