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

Leading the News

Uber Announces Partnership With University Of Arizona For Driverless Car Research.

News that Uber has partnered with the University of Arizona for driverless car research garnered significant coverage in both traditional and tech media, with commentary focused on the company’s goal of reducing its reliance on driver partners and the effects that the company, and the sharing economy in general, have on workers’ rights and the economy.

In a broadcast typical of national coverage, Al Jazeera America (8/25, 11:23 p.m. EST) reported that Uber announced Tuesday that has entered a “long-term collaboration” with the University of Arizona for development of its driverless car technology, noting that the company will provide a $25,000 grant to the University’s College of Optical Sciences.

The Arizona Daily Star  (8/25, Wichner) reports that the new partnership will “research new mapping and transportation innovations,” noting that Uber will test its mapping vehicles at UA and in surrounding areas. According to the Daily Star, Brian McClendon, Uber vice president of advanced technologies, said at a news conference that the company hasn’t made any “long-term financial commitments to the UA” but will likely “support critical research projects as they are identified,” adding that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has “signed an executive order directing state agencies to take steps ‘to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads within Arizona’” with certain conditions.

The AP  (8/25, Galvan) reports that Uber partnered with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February on its driverless research lab and “bought digital mapping specialist deCarta” in March.

Engadget  (8/25, Ingraham) reports that Uber’s self-driving “ambitions…took a step forward” Tuesday with the announcement, noting that Governor Ducey said the “partnership will focus on research and development for optics systems focused on mapping and safety for self-driving vehicles.” Engadget notes that Uber has been accused of “poaching many of [CMU’s] researchers” and cautions that UA “might want to keep an eye out for” a similar trend.

Business Insider  (8/25, Kosoff) reports that the move indicates that “Uber is getting serious about self-driving cars,” noting that CEO Travis Kalanick said at Recode’s Code Conference in May 2014 that “Uber could be expensive” because “you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car.”

Higher Education

Many High School Students Supplementing Studies With MOOCs.

The New York Times  (8/26, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports that a growing number of high school students are signing up for MOOCs in an effort to potentially “impress the college of their dreams.” The piece notes that these courses “were originally intended as college-level work that would be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection,” but that college admissions officers “say that such online classes — for which students are not likely ever to see credit — are popping up on college applications, adding to the list of extracurriculars, like internships and community service projects, that have helped turn summer vacation into a time of character and résumé building.”

Study: Nearly 90% College Freshman Receiving Grant Funds.

The Washington Post  (8/26, Svrluga) reports a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers released on Tuesday found there is an “all-time high” of 90 percent of college freshman receiving “grant aid from their colleges,” with those grants covering “an average of more than 54 percent” of the costs associated with schooling. According to NACUBO President and CEO John Walda, the statistic prove “that students and parents should look past the sticker price” when considering schools.

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

Raytheon Receives $65.1 Million For Navy’s Over-The-Horizon Radar.

GovCon Wire  (8/25, Forrester) reports that the US navy has awarded Raytheon with a contract worth $65.1 million for engineering and program support for the over-the-horizon radar system being developed by the US Navy’s Forces Surveillance Support Center. The contract will run through August 2019.

Washington Technology  (8/25) also covers the story.

Advocates Call For Responsible UAV Use.

The Topeka (KS) Capital-Journal  (8/26, Llopis-Jepsen) reports that on Tuesday, “academics and representatives from businesses and the Kansas Department of Transportation” discussed the potential and public concerns over flying UAVs in the state. Joel Anderson, development director in the office of research and sponsored programs at Kansas State University, said that both state legislators and the public need to be educated on UAVs. The article notes that those at the meeting stressed that every operator should be using UAVs “responsibly and with appropriate training.”

Meanwhile, the Dayton (OH) Business Journal  (8/26, Navera, Subscription Publication) “UAS Dayton” blog reports that in his keynote speech at the Ohio UAS conference, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) President and CEO Brian Wynne said that his organization wants more regulation from the FAA in order to ensure UAVs will be “a gateway to aviation, and for the existing industry to embrace these craft.” The article notes that until those rules are in place, Wynne also wanted more prosecution of those flying UAVs “illegally or dangerously.”

Joining R&D Industry Is More Lucrative Than Academia.

Fierce Biotech  (8/25, Taylor) reports on the pay discrepancy between research institute leaders and industry R&D chiefs. Regeneron’s George Yancopoulos “topped the list of industry R&D chiefs with compensation of $35.5 million, well down on the $81.5 million he pulled in in 2012 but still enough to lead to Forbes crowning him the first billionaire R&D chief.” This figure dwarfs the $1.4 million salary by Robert Tijan of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who tops the research industry list. The article notes David Chao, who spent some at Novartis, is in second place among research institute leaders.

Engineering and Public Policy

Smith Criticizes EPA For Missing Deadline On Turning Over Gold King Mine Spill Documents.

The Washington Times  (8/26, Richardson) reports House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith rebuked the EPA Tuesday for failing to meet his deadline “to turn over most of the documents requested” by the committee related to the Gold King Mine spill in Colorado. EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said the agency is trying to keep up with a large number of requests for documents related to the response and will get the requested documents to the committee as soon as possible.

Judge Approves New Jersey’s Pollution Settlement With Exxon.

The New York Times  (8/26, Weiser, Subscription Publication) reports a New Jersey judge on Tuesday approved the state’s pollution lawsuit settlement with Exxon Mobil. Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan said the $225 million agreement was fair and in the public interest. Hogan wrote in his opinion that while the amount of money is “far smaller than the estimated $8.9 billion in damages, Exxon’s payment represents a reasonable compromise given the substantial litigation risks” that would accompany a trial.

Moniz: US Committed To Carbon Capture.

Bloomberg BNA  (8/26, Scott) reports Energy Secretary Moniz said at the National Clean Energy Summit Monday that the Obama Administration “remains strongly committed to advancing technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide from power plants as vital in the global effort to combat climate change.” Moniz said, “We need to both push on the highest efficiency and also to get a reasonable carbon profile.”

ClimateWire  (8/26, Subscription Publication) reports that at the summit “Moniz said all clean energy tools, including carbon capture and sequestration, are crucial to develop in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off global warming.” Moniz stated, “We need all the tools we can get.”

US, China Reach Agreement On Clean Coal Technology.

The AP  (8/26, Brown) reports the US and China have taken “a major step Tuesday toward an agreement to advance ‘clean coal’ technologies that purport to reduce the fuel’s contribution to climate change.” The agreement would permit the nations “to share their results as they refine technologies to capture the greenhouse gases produced from burning coal,” according to DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith.

Entergy Chooses Contractor For New Orleans Solar Project.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune  (8/26) reports Blattner Enercy Inc. has been selected by Entergy New Orleans “to build its first solar power project in the city, the utility said Monday” and “construction is expected to start in early 2016.” In the spring, Entergy New Orleans announced “plans to install more than 4,000 solar panels at an existing site in eastern New Orleans near Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road.” Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice said, “We’re ready to get started so we can answer questions about the potential of utility-scale solar in our service area.”

Ecologists Call For Dam Removal, Increased Use Of Solar.

The Christian Science Monitor  (8/25, Waldman, Limburg) carries an article originally published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies on ways to keep power flowing while still getting rid of dams. Biologist John Waldman of Queens College, New York and environmental biologist Karin Limburg of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry write that “aging hydroelectric dams, many of which produce relatively small amounts of electricity and are soon up for relicensing,” can be removed, with “the lost hydroelectric generation [replaced] with power from solar parks.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

New York School Sponsored By IBM Aims To Help Minority Students Start Technology Careers.

In a nearly 4,000 word article, Wired  (8/25) highlighted the success of P-TECH, Pathways in Technology Early College High School, an educational institution in New York backed by IBM that “aims to prepare mainly minority kids from low-income backgrounds for careers in technology.” The institution does this by allowing students to “earn a high school diploma and a free associate degree in six years or less.” The school opened in 2011, so the inaugural class of students that just graduated managed to complete the program in just four years. Educators at the institution and its sponsors hope that schools like P-TECH can help close the diversity gap in the technology sector.

Studies Show “Less Geeky” Classroom Is More Welcoming To Female Computer Science Students.

Fortune  (8/25, Fisher) reports two experiments show that high school girls are more interested in computer science classes when they are taught in classrooms that are “less geeky.” The experimental results fit in with a broader movement to change computer science stereotypes so that the field is more welcoming to girls and women.

Graduates Of Philadelphia Career And Technical Education Programs Share Their Experiences Going To College, Getting Jobs.

The Philadelphia Public Schools Notebook  (8/25, Weiss) interviewed several graduates from Philadelphia School District’s career and technical education programs about how their experience shaped their lives. Many students who participated in the program went on to “post-secondary institutions – college, university, or technical school – and some have also gotten jobs in their chosen fields right out of high school.”

STEM Education Network STEMx Growing.

The Jacksonville (FL) Business Journal  (8/25, Jones, Subscription Publication) reports the STEMx network, a coalition of organizations promoting STEM education initiatives, has grown from seven to 20 members in just three years. One of the newest members of the coalition is the Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub. STEMx gives members “a platform for sharing knowledge and planning solutions.”

Central Florida Focusing On STEM Education.

WESH-TV  Orlando, FL (8/26) broadcast that education leaders and educators in central Florida are focusing on STEM education. The broadcast said the US Education Departments predicts all STEM jobs will increase by 14% by 2020.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Obama Blasts “Fossil Fuel Interests” In Speech At Clean Energy Summit.
Online Systems Engineering Degree Comes From Corporate Education Roots.
Dallas Researchers Develop Wearable Sign Language Reader.
PlanetiQ Starts Production Of Micro-Satellites In Boulder, Colorado.
Smith Wants McCarthy To Testify Over Gold King Mine Spill.
Study: Parents Can Transfer Math Anxiety To Children.

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