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

Leading the News

Obama Blasts “Fossil Fuel Interests” In Speech At Clean Energy Summit.

Print and online coverage of the President’s speech at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas focuses on two main areas: the announcement of new executive actions aimed at promoting more clean power projects across the country, and the President’s criticism of “fossil fuel” interests that oppose his agenda. The Washington Post  (8/25, Mooney) says the President’s appearance at the summit “was the first stop in a climate and energy-focused tour that will also take the president to New Orleans and Arctic Alaska this month.” USA Today  (8/24, Korte) reports that during the tour, the President “will deliver a three-pronged message: The United States needs to increase the use of alternative energy sources, make coastal communities more resilient and urge a global response to climate change.”

The Washington Times  (8/25, Boyer, Wolfgang) says that during his address Monday night, the President accused “conservative opponents of his climate change agenda…of carrying out an un-American campaign to protect their fossil fuel interests at the expense of the country.” He also “chided congressional Republicans for fighting higher spending on his clean energy agenda and instead ‘chasing mindless austerity.’”

An AP  (8/25, Ritter) story noted that Obama was using the summit “to announce new executive actions and other efforts aimed at making it easier for homeowners and businesses to invest in green energy improvements.” Reuters  (8/25, Edwards) says the President discussed new financial incentives to encourage the development and use or solar power including $1 billion in loan guarantees for new research projects and savings for homeowners who use renewable energy.

The New York Times  (8/25, Harris, Subscription Publication) provides more detail on the Administration measures “to encourage the use of solar power,” which were announced “hours before President Obama was scheduled to fly to Nevada to speak at the National Clean Energy Summit there,” and notes that for the President, the measures and the speech Monday “are part of an increasingly intense effort to highlight the dangers of climate change and implement policies to address them.” The Washington Post  (8/25, Mooney) says the announcement that the Administration will seek to expand the loan program was “heralded by the solar industry.”

Higher Education

Online Systems Engineering Degree Comes From Corporate Education Roots.

Engineering  (8/24, Wasserman) describes the history of the George Washington University’s online systems engineering Master’s degree. The article says this degree began as “on-site education for employees of such companies as Lockheed Martin Corporation and Science Applications International Corporation,” and was made available online because employees were “too far away to participate.”

WPost: Clinton, Sanders Both Miss Mark On College Debt Issue.

The Washington Post  (8/25) editorializes that as the Democratic presidential candidates “look for crowd-pleasing solutions to the college debt ‘crisis,’” they “aren’t making the right distinctions.” Sen. Bernie Sanders “would make public higher education free, an expensive proposition that would subsidize a lot of rich people.” Hillary Clinton wants to “pour money into public colleges on the condition that they ask no student or family to make any more than an ‘affordable and realistic family contribution’ toward tuition.” But “more-targeted policies could channel aid to needy student debtors and fight cost inflation.”

Bush Supports Same State-Based Tuition-Free Community College Plan As Obama.

The Hill  (8/24, Kamisar) reports in its “Ballot Box” blog that GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush embraced a “Tennessee plan to give two years of community college to students tuition free on Monday, the same plan that helped inspire President Obama’s similar proposal earlier this year.” Bush said one of the “great programs” in this country is a “projected called Tennessee Promise, where every student that participates gets their community college education, at least for the first two years, debt free, free of tuition.” He also said that universities should “have skin in the same” when it comes to fulfilling the promise of a four-year degree. The Hill notes that Bush has opposed Obama’s plan to federalize Tennessee Prime in a new initiative called “America’s College Promise.”

CFPB Considers Suing Navient For Cheating Borrowers.

The Huffington Post  (8/25, Nasiripour) reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering suing student loan giant Navient Corp. for “allegedly cheating borrowers.” Navient disclosed Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the CFPB sent the company’s executives a letter on Aug. 19 “that the agency’s enforcement staff had found enough evidence to indicate the company violated consumer protection laws.” Navient has been under investigation for nearly two years by federal and state authorities for “allegedly overcharging borrowers and otherwise mistreating them in violation of the law.” The CFPB is also investigating the company for “numerous allegedly dodgy practices, such as the way its debt-collection unit treats distressed debtors and how its loan-servicing operation interacts with borrowers.”

Deans Pledge Diversity Efforts
Over 130 deans of engineering signed a letter pledging support for diversity initiatives. The letter was presented by University of Southern California Dean Yannis Yortsos at the first-ever White House Demo Day.

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Research and Development

Dallas Researchers Develop Wearable Sign Language Reader.

The Dallas Morning News  (8/25) reports that researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have “developed a wearable American Sign Language Recognition system to detect gestures in real-time that looks like something from a sci-fi movie.” The article describes the sensors, crediting the idea to electrical engineering professor Roozbeh Jafari. The technology “uses sensors to capture muscle activity and wirelessly send the information to a computer to be translated into text or speech.”

National Science Foundation Gives Northeastern Professor Grant For Bio-Nanotechnology Research.

The Newton (MA) Patch  (8/25) reports that the National Science Foundation has given Northeastern University engineering professor Hanchen Huang a $97,000 grant “for his work with ‘Injectable, Biocompatible, Programmed-Bioresorbable Nanosensor Array for In-Vivo Continuous Glucose Monitoring.’” The research deals with “how nanotechnology, biomaterials, and biosensing technologies can be meshed together for injectable, biocompatible, bioresorbable nanosensor array for continuous glucose monitoring.”

Microsoft MobileFusion Designed to Scan Objects For 3D Printing.

PC World  (8/25, Hachman) reports that Microsoft Research announced on Monday that it is developing a technology called MobileFusion “for the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms that will allow users to pan a smartphone camera slowly around a 3D object, creating a 3D model that they can later print.” Principal researcher Shahram Izadi said, “The great starting point was to take a sensor that everyone has in their pocket, which is the camera you have on your mobile phone.”

The Verge  (8/24, Kastrenakes) reports that “some of the models created in the demo video look rough, but they’re pretty impressive when you consider that the iPhone wasn’t designed to make them.” Engadget  (8/24) reports that while “you can’t try MobileFusion yet, there are hopes to release it soon with support for Android, iOS and Windows.”

Industry News

PlanetiQ Starts Production Of Micro-Satellites In Boulder, Colorado.

The Denver Business Journal  (8/25, Subscription Publication) reports in its “Techflash” blog that weather satellite startup PlanetiQ is starting production of its first two micro-satellites in Boulder, Colorado, and aims to eventually build an additional 10 satellites as part of a constellation. The company has 12 employees working on its satellites and technologies currently and has plans to hire more, particularly in the field of electrical engineering. PlanetiQ is partnering with Boulder based Blue Canyon Technologies to build its first two small satellites and plans to launch them in 2016 on a likely Indian rocket.

US Manufacturing Remains Weak, Think Tank Argues.

IndustryWeek  (8/24) says a “critique” issued Monday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation asserts that a report in March by the independent Congressional Research Service “paints a rosier picture of U.S. manufacturing than is actually warranted” and warns that the sector has “barely recovered from the Great Recession.” ITIC, as the Washington, DC think tank is known, also calls on Congress to pass legislation to “reinvigorate American manufacturing before it is too late” by reducing the effective corporate tax rate, increasing “investment incentives, including for R&D,” ensuring better enforcement of trade rules globally, and backing “innovation and workforce development” in the sector.

Texas Researchers Testing Tires Made In Part From Arizona Rubber.

The Arizona Republic  (8/25, Randazzo) reports that Texas researchers “have been spinning tires made in part from Arizona-grown rubber around the Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. test track outside San Antonio this month, setting a new milestone for the emerging guayule industry.” The tests “were part of a $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative grant,” a joint effort of the Energy Department and USDA.

Engineering and Public Policy

Smith Wants McCarthy To Testify Over Gold King Mine Spill.

The Washington Times  (8/25, Richardson) reports House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith says he has asked the head of Environmental Restoration LLC to testify before a September 9 hearing on the Gold King Mine spill. Alexander has also called on EPA Administrator McCarthy to testify. In a statement, he said, “Both parties should be prepared to be more forthcoming with Congress than EPA has been up to this point.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Study: Parents Can Transfer Math Anxiety To Children.

The New York Times  (8/24) reports that according to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, “children of highly math-anxious parents learned less math and were more likely to develop math anxiety themselves, but only when their parents provided frequent help on math homework.” The piece reports that the study found that “the more the math-anxious parents tried to work with their children,” the further their children fell behind their peers.

Summer Camp Teaches Middle School Girls About Geology And Science In Washington.

The Clark County (WA) Columbian  (8/24, Parrish) reports the GeoGirls program teaches middle school girls about science at a five-day camp held at Mount St. Helens in Washington. Participants learn how to conduct field research from female scientists like Kate Norton who works for the US Geological Survey. The program started out as a field trip but grew into a week-long camp with the support of grants from the National Science Foundation, American Association of University Women, and the Association for Women Geoscientists.

Monday’s Lead Stories

EPA Knew Of Risk For Mine “Blowout.”
Report: Billions In Pell Grants Go To Students Who Never Graduate.
James Webb Space Telescope Making Strides Toward Launch Date.
Apple Hires Former Tesla Driverless Car Expert.
WSJournal Analysis: Energy Innovation, Transition Play Increasing Role In Politics.
Former NASA Astronaut Promotes STEM Studies Among Native Americans.

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