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

Leading the News

Administration “Strongly Disagrees” With Injunction Against Clean Water Rules.

Reuters  (8/29, Rampton) reports White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday the Administration “strongly disagrees” with the decision of a US District court to approve a preliminary injunction blocking the Federal clean water regulations from being implemented in 13 states. Earnest said the Justice Department is considering its response.

Judge Approves Subpoena Against Former EPA Official Over Alaskan Gold Mine. The Washington Post  (8/29, Warrick) reports a US district judge on Thursday “approved a request for a subpoena compelling a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official to explain his actions in the agency’s controversial decision to prevent a proposed gold mine from being built in southwestern Alaska,” which “set[s] the stage for a potentially dramatic confrontation between former EPA biologist Phillip North and the would-be developers of the Pebble Mine, about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.”

Higher Education

Virginia Tech Engineering Professors Working To Streamline Time To Degree.

The Augusta (VA) Free Press  (8/31) reports that amid rising college costs, “two Virginia Tech engineering education professors are investigating helpful strategies for avoiding pitfalls that prolong completion times when pursuing doctoral degrees.” The faculty have received a $1.28 million NSF grant “to offer a Dissertation Institute to evaluate issues that could lead to shortening a student’s time to earn a doctoral degree.” The professors “will focus on studying a group of 170 underrepresented students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering through attending a Dissertation Institute.”

Corinthian Bankruptcy Ruling Could Aid Former Students.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (8/28, Blumenstyk) reports that a recent decision in the Corinthian Colleges Inc. bankruptcy case could “improve the chances” that hundreds of thousands of the firm’s former students “won’t have to repay” their Federal student loans. The piece notes that this could come to billions of dollars, but adds that ED officials “said it was premature to speculate on how such legal actions might affect loan-relief requests.” The piece explains that the US bankruptcy court ruled that CFPB and state attorneys general can “continue to pursue their legal cases against the company.”

Inside Higher Ed  (8/27, Stratford) reports that the former students who are calling for loan forgiveness won $4 million from the court “to continue to press their case – and possibly haul the department into court over the issue.” The money comes from the liquidation of Corinthian’s assets.

ASEE Annual Conference VIDEOS

Kai Kight
Dynamic speaker and violinist Kai Kight performs and talks about how he merges music and inspirtaion.

Maria Klawe
The Havery Mudd President’s keynote address focused on the school’s efforts toward diversity.

Research and Development

Researchers Working On New Generation Of Battery Technology.

The Christian Science Monitor  (8/30, Unger) has a 3,500-word feature on the “new battery revolution” that is underway as scientists seek “cleaner, more efficient, and more equitable” energy sources for everything from smartphones to automobiles and urban power grids. The Monitor says “the question is whether the next generation of batteries will be cheap enough and have enough storage to make the electric car and home energy systems as omnipresent as the iPhone.”

NASA Continues To Study Rising Sea Levels.

The Washington Post  (8/30) reports that NASA released on Wednesday “a suite of new graphics and visualizations showing how precisely” scientists are “measuring the upward creep of the oceans, currently at a rate of 3.21 millimeters per year.” One slide that garnered particular attention showed how Greenland is “losing ice mass considerably faster than Antarctica is, to the tune of several hundred gigatons a year.” NASA’s study of Greenland “entails two major types of research — studying the melting that is occurring on top of the ice sheet, and studying the melting of its outlying, oceanfront glaciers.”

Scientists, Washington State Tribe Study Retreating Glaciers. The AP  (8/29, Le) reports that scientists and the Nooksack Indian Tribe of Washington state are studying the “thinning and retreating” glaciers in the North Cascades. Experts claim that “seven have disappeared over the past three decades, and glaciers in the range have lost about one-fifth of their overall volume.” The Nooksack Indian Tribe has teamed up with Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist from Nichols College in Massachusetts, and Western Washington University to study “how glacier runoff will affect the [Nooksack River’s] hydrology and ultimately fish habitat and restoration planning.”

ONR Gives Cal State LA $1 Million In STEM Research Grants.

Civil and Structural Engineer  (8/31) reports that the Office of Naval Research has given Cal State L.A.’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology a $580,000 grant to “develop a Naval STEM Program within the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.” The program’s goal “is to provide a pipeline of high quality graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who will be prepared for civilian jobs in the Navy.”

DOE Gives University At Buffalo Carbon Capture Research Grant.

The Buffalo (NY) Business First  (8/27, Subscription Publication) reports that the Department of Energy is giving the University at Buffalo and partners a $1.9 million grant “to develop carbon capture technologies.” Researchers are working on “a membrane that will allow hydrogen to pass through and keep carbon dioxide out.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Town’s Officials Call On EPA To Clean Up Radioactive Waste.

The Hill  (8/29, Cama) reported that Bridgeton, Missouri officials are calling on the White House “to quickly clean up” the EPA-monitored West Lake Landfill, which contains radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project, due to concerns that a fire in a nearby landfill could spread to the waste,” potentially sending it airborne and spreading it in an unpredictable way.” According to The Hill, the EPA has responded, saying “the situation is not as urgent or dire as some have made it out to be.”

Fiorina: EPA Regulations Have “Decimated” Agriculture Industries. The Hill  (8/29, Hesnch) reported in its “Ballot Box” blog that Carly Fiorina on Saturday said the EPA “is strangling the life out of many agriculture industries with over-regulation.” Fiorina said she has seen California’s agricultural sector “almost destroyed…by bad policies and bad politics.” The article noted that Fiorina “vowed” to let the EPA’s renewable fuel standard to expire in 2022, saying “Fossil fuels, sugar, corn subsidies – government needs to get out of all of it.”

Opinion: House Must Approve DRIVE Act.

In the St. Cloud (MN) Times  (8/30), Scott Mareck, a senior transportation planner with SB & Associates, a transportation planning and civil engineering firm, writes in support of the DRIVE Act. According to Mareck, the bill is necessary because it provides a long-term federal transportation authorization bill, unlike the short-term extensions in recent years, which have “made it difficult for state departments of transportation and local governments to develop long-term transportation plans and short-term construction programs.” Mareck concludes the piece by asking readers to contact their Congress member and urge him or him to approve the bill.

WSJournal: Solar Industry Is Gouging Taxpayers.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal  (8/31, Journal, Subscription Publication) notes a report from the Energy Department’s Inspector General which found that solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra lied to obtain a $535 million loan guarantee. The Journal says it as an example of the solar industry gouging the American people with the help of the Obama Administration.

Obama May Back Louisiana Use Of Offshore Oil Revenue For Coastal Restoration.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune  (8/28) reports that “President Barack Obama held out hope to state officials on Thursday (Aug. 27) in New Orleans that his administration might back down from plans to redirect 35 percent of federal offshore oil and gas revenue from Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states to the general budget, according to a news release issued late Thursday by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.” According to the article, “Obama told CPRA Chairman Chip Kline that he’s willing ‘to work with Louisiana and other Gulf states to create a mechanism for sharing of federal offshore oil and gas revenues.’” Obama told Kline “he would like to see Louisiana receive its fair share of revenue, but has concerns about guaranteeing that individual states will use the money for its intended environmental purposes.”

O’Malley Believes He Has Different Opinion On Keystone Than Clinton.

The Washington Examiner  (8/30, Westwood) reports that former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley “has spent the weekend blasting his own party.” Less than two days “after O’Malley lambasted the Democratic National Committee for its restrictive primary debate schedule directly in front of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, O’Malley took jabs at a new target: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.” In an interview with WMUR–TV in New Hampshire, he “criticized Clinton for sidestepping on a number of issues.” O’Malley said, “For my part, I have underscored the differences I have with Secretary Clinton on the Trans Pacific Partnership. … I’m against it, I believe she’s for it. I’m against Keystone pipeline. I believe that she’s for it.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Apps Can Help Kids Regain Science Knowledge After Summer Vacation.

The New York Times  (8/30, Dell’Antonia) reports that apps can help children regain knowledge lost over the summer by teaching them more about math and science in a fun way. The article lists several apps designed to teach children.

New Hampshire Program Encourages Academic Challenges, Gives Students More Class Options.

The AP  (8/31) reports the NH Scholars program in New Hampshire is increasing class options for high school students. The program, operated by the New Hampshire College and University Council and sponsored by local businesses, encourages students to take more difficult courses to prepare for college and future careers. The director of the program Scott Power said, “We know the business community needs graduates who are skilled in STEM programs, but we also recognize the value of arts to our communities and our culture. Students deserve options.”

South Carolina County Will Offer New STEM Education Program For Elementary School Students.

The Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail  (8/29, Jackson) reports Project Lead the Way will give elementary school students at seven schools in Pickens County, South Carolina “hands-on education in problem solving, touch technology, and robotics as well as explore topics such as energy, light, sound, motion and gravity.” Project Lead the Way is a national STEM education program.

Virginia County Career And Technical Education Classes Offering Valuable Opportunities To Students.

The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch  (8/29, Cocke) reports the quality of career and technology education in Henrico County, Virginia has greatly improved. The article says that whereas shop classes used to have a “reputation for less demanding coursework”, CTE courses today attract “highly motivated and academically accomplished young people taught by nationally award-winning instructors.” The article also says that CTE is helping to fulfill the need for skilled workers.

Friday’s Lead Stories

Federal Judge Blocks EPA Waterway Rule.
Audit Finds Potentially Costly Financial Aid Lapses At Pennsylvania College.
Ohio Bill Would Require Continuing Ethics Education For Engineers.
NSF Gives $2 Million Grant For Engineering Research To UC Berkeley.
Missouri University Joins Initiative To Increase Diversity In Engineering.
Civil Engineers Use Drones To Monitor Construction Sites.
White House Says Keystone Decision Not Imminent.

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