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

Leading the News

FBI Online Crime Investigators Lured Away By Private Sector.

The New York Times  (7/22, Goldstein, Subscription Publication) reports that in the last three months, “at least a half-dozen agents on the online security squad of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations have left the federal government for more lucrative jobs in the private sector,” and this “flurry of departures is beginning to concern top law officials at the F.B.I., who are struggling to figure out ways to recruit younger agents and retain veteran investigators.” The most recent FBI agent to depart is Leo Taddeo, “who oversees much of the online crime operation for the agency in New York.” Taddeo’s departure “was not a big surprise given that he has more than 20 years of service” with the FBI, but he was promoted to his position less than two years ago, “and the timing is an indication of how quickly private companies are looking to snap up any agent with experience in digital investigations.”

US Arrests Four In Florida, Israel Linked To JPMorgan Hack. USA Today  (7/22, Johnson, Whitehouse) reports that Federal law enforcement authorities arrested four people in Israel and Florida on Tuesday, “some of whom are believed to be tied to computer hacks of JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions.” This “spate of seemingly unrelated arrests weren’t publicly tied to JPMorgan’s 2014 computer breach, which compromised tens of million accounts,” but an unnamed federal law enforcement official told USA Today that “some of the suspects in the schemes, outlined in court papers Tuesday, are also suspects in the hack.” The officials said the suspects, who were “rounded up over an alleged pump-and-dump scheme and an allegedly illegal bitcoin operation,” initially “surfaced in the government’s investigation of last year’s bank breach.”

The New York Times  (7/22, Goldstein, Subscription Publication) reports that Federal investigators “were onto some of the names of the hackers at JPMorgan early on because the attack was not very sophisticated,” and it “succeeded largely because the bank failed to properly put updates on a remote server that was part of its vast digital network,” but sources told the Times that “investigators were unable to get sufficient evidence to charge any suspected hackers,” so they then “decided to see what other illegal activities the hackers were up to and that eventually led to the discovery of the pump-and-dump stock scheme.”

Vehicle Demonstrated To Be Vulnerable To Remote Hacking. NBC Nightly News (7/22, story 8, 2:05, Holt) reported that a “shocking new video” shows computer experts on their couch hacking an SUV on the highway. NBC (Jackson) added that, for a “Wired” magazine article, took control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee through its infotainment system. Chrysler, which owns Jeep, “says it has a team focused on identifying and implementing software best practices including cybersecurity for all vehicle content including on-board and remote services.”

Higher Education

Biden Makes Case For Free Community College In Denver.

The AP  (7/21, Riccardi) reports Vice President Biden “swung through Denver on Tuesday” to highlight the President’s push for free community college. Speaking at a round table at the Community College of Denver, “he argued that the United States’ 20th century rise was fueled by free public education and that making 2-year community colleges available to all is the next logical step.” The Denver Post  (7/22, Frank) quotes the Vice President as saying, “We have to have the most modern workforce in the world. Six in 10 jobs in the next decade require something beyond high school,” so “the idea that you can graduate from high school and live a middle-class life in 2020, 2025, 2030 is not probable.”

Black Students Facing Larger Increase In Student Loans Than Peers.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  (7/21, Davis) reported black students are seeing a larger increase in student loans than their peers.

ED Supporting Experimentation On Alternative Credentialing.

Inside Higher Ed  (7/21) reports that ED is working on “its plan to grant experimental federal aid eligibility to partnerships between accredited colleges and alternative providers, such as job skills boot camps, coding academies and MOOCs.” The piece notes that the White House is hosting a meeting at the end of this month on the topic, and quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying in a recent blog post, “We think that a new set of quality assurance questions will need to be developed to ask hard, important questions about student learning and outcomes. These questions will help students, taxpayers and those evaluating educational programs separate programs that are high quality from those that do not meet the bar.”

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Research and Development

Researchers Want Robots To Play Competitive Soccer By 2050.

Motherboard  (7/22) reports on the challenges that researchers face in giving robots to engage in complicated tasks, and describes RoboCup 2015, an annual tournament which “involves teams of four robots from all over the world playing 20-minute football matches,” noting that the goal of the competition is “to create robots that are agile, lithe, and robust enough to compete against pro human footballers by the 2050 World Cup.” The ultimate goal is to “produce better rescue, disaster, and domestic robots.”

Navy Considers Graphene Nanotechnology To Address Growing Power Distribution Needs.

ECN  (7/22) reports that is the U.S. Navy prepares for “powerful next generation weapons” and works to improve energy efficiency, it is thinking of ways to overhaul how electricity is distributed aboard oceangoing vessels. Researchers are considering “using graphene, which, since its discovery in 2004, has become the material of choice for researchers working to improve everything from solar cells to smartphone batteries.” The piece notes that the Office of Naval Research has given engineers at the University of Buffalo “an $800,000 grant to develop narrow strips of graphene called nanoribbons that may someday revolutionize how power is controlled in ships, smartphones and other electronic devices.”

Ohio State Engineering Students Help Improve Street Luge.

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch  (7/20) profiles David Dean, a competitive street luger and Ohio State University alumnus, who “worked with a group of OSU engineering students over two semesters to help him modify his sled” to break a world speed record. Aerospace engineering and physics engineering students took part in the project.

NSF Gives University Of Texas Grant To Design Earthquake-Resistant Structures.

The Dallas Morning News  (7/21) reports that the National Science Foundation has given researchers at the University of Texas “a $13.7 million federal grant to develop a software platform and other cyber tools to help engineers construct buildings, levees, bridges, highways and other structures that are better able to withstand earthquakes and other natural hazards.” The grant will pay for data tools “that will allow engineers to simulate how various designs of structures, including residential housing, would hold up in earthquake, hurricane, tornado or coastal storm surge.”

Industry News

Unconventional Resources Technology Conference Held.

The San Antonio (TX) Business Journal  (7/22, Chapa, Subscription Publication) reports that the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference was held in San Antonio this week, with 3,000 participants in attendance. Among the speakers were several oil and gas executives who said that innovation can help cut costs and make the industry more profitable. Among the techniques discussed were coordination with other companies for efficiency, optimizing flow pressure in wells, and using remote equipment to reduce the number of workers.

Engineering and Public Policy

Dominion Considers Ways To Reduce Cost Of Offshore Wind Power.

Electric Light & Power/AP  (7/22) cites the Richmond Times-Dispatch in reporting that Dominion Resources is considering “less technologically advanced” offshore wind turbines, because “the bid for a test project off the Virginia coast” was “nearly double the company’s $230 million estimate.” The company is working on a new proposal to present to the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority in October. Mary Doswell, Dominion’s senior vice president for retail and alternative energy solutions, said, “This project is very important to Dominion, but it’s very important to the offshore wind industry as a whole,” adding, “The results of it will help us to develop the picture of offshore wind for the U.S. in the future.” Mark Mitchell, Dominion’s vice president of general construction, said that “some of the state-of-the-art aspects are needed” in order to “know what it will take to install large arrays of wind turbines off the East Coast.” Mitchell said, “What you don’t want to do is cut yourself short where we don’t put the hurricane resilience piece on it because we don’t think it’s needed, then — lo and behold — we have a failure because of that.” Power Engineering  (7/22) also carried the AP story.

Environmental Groups Petition SCOTUS To Support FERC Rule On Demand Response.

The Washington Examiner  (7/22, King) reports that environmentalist groups “are the latest to add their voices to a flurry of briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in support of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission’s regulations” dealing with demand response in the power industry. Led by the Environmental Defense Fund, the groups maintain that demand response is essential to preventing grid interruptions during peak times, and so consumers who reduce their energy use during these times should be compensated by utilities.

Washington State’s Utility Regulator Probes Cost Of Shuttering Two Coal Plants.

The AP  (7/22) reports that Washington state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission is “looking into how much it would cost to retire Puget Sound Energy’s two older coal-fired electric generating plants in Colstrip, Montana,” which are jointly owned between Puget County Energy and Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy Corp. The Commission’s cost-benefit analysis will account for any “environmental remediation and possible customer rate increases to pay for energy from more expensive sources.”

Wind Tax Credits Make It Into Senate Bill.

The Washington (DC) Examiner  (7/22, King) reports that the Senate Finance Committee has reported the tax extenders bill with provisions that extend the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit. The measure received support from several senators, including Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “We urge the full Senate and the House of Representatives to follow the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan lead and quickly pass this tax extenders package,” said American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan.

Elementary/Secondary Education

NASA Education Wing Partners With Ohio District.

The Cincinnati Enquirer  (7/21, Mayhew) reports that NASA’s education wing has partnered with Campbell County, Ohio, featuring astronaut and firefighter suit comparisons and hands on science activities for children. The partnership aims to promote STEM education beyond the school’s current curriculum.

NSA Sponsoring Cybersecurity Summer Camps.

CNN  (7/21, Perez, Bruer) reports that some 200 high school students from around the country are taking part in a summer camp in Madison, South Dakota during which they spend “rigorous hours…in classrooms learning everything from how to exploit computer network security and writing code for rudimentary websites to automating a robot made of Legos.” The piece notes that the camp is one of 43 set up by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation as part of an effort to “boost US cybersecurity defenses.”

University Of New Orleans Offers Cybersecurity Training For Teachers.

According to the WVUE-TV  New Orleans (7/22) website, the University of New Orleans said “20 teachers from 12 states are participating” in the GenCyber program the university is offering this week “to teach middle school and high school teachers about cybersecurity technology.” Supported by funding from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, the program is intended to show teachers how “to develop their own curricula so they can train future generations of cybersecurity experts.”

Georgia DOE Launches Career And Technical Education Initiative.

The Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post  (7/21, Farner) reported the Georgia DOE launched a career and technical education initiative entitled “Educating Georgia’s Future Workforce.” State Superintendent Richard Woods spoke about the program, “Georgia’s students must leave our schools with skills that prepare them for higher education or to immediately begin a career.” The initiative will start off with listening sessions and regional meetings with economic development communities around the state.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Musk: Snapped Strut, Complacency Caused SpaceX Launch Failure.
Urban Institute Finds Few Low-Income Students Enroll In College Despite Available Aid.
Miami Dade Faces Teacher Shortage In Building STEM Program.
Video Game Helps Stroke Victims To Recover.
New Plan Outlines Way NASA Could Afford To Go To The Moon And Mars.
Astronaut Promotes Engineering To High School Students.

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