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

Leading the News

Rochester Professor Receives Grants For Laser Research With Potential Military Uses.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle  (8/31, Brooks) reports University of Rochester professor Chunlei Guo has been awarded two grants to continue his research on a specialized laser. Guo received a $330,000 grant from the US Army Research Office and a $100,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency. US Representative Louise Slaughter, who represents the district that includes Rochester, helped the professor get the grants. The Rochester (NY) Business Journal  (8/31, Gable) explains that the specialized laser can make materials very hydrophilic or hydrophobic, so that they attract or repel water. The laser has a military application because it could be used to protect military vehicles and equipment from corrosion and other types of water damage. Hydrophilic materials could also be useful for liquid cooling and medical research applications.

Corning Joins Advanced Tech Consortium At RIT.

The Rochester (NY) Business Journal  (9/1, Gable) reports that officials at the Rochester Institute of Technology announced Monday that “a new center for advanced technology in additive manufacturing and functional printing” will be housed there. The AMPrint Center for Advanced Technology will be a consortium of universities and corporations including Corning, Xerox, and GE Research, and will be focused on performing R&D “in 3D printing and additive manufacturing,” the Business Journal says. The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle  (9/1) also provides brief coverage.

Higher Education

Report: California Community Colleges Need “Kinder, Gentler” Accreditor.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (9/1) reports that a new report commissioned by California’s community college system indicates that the system “needs a new, kinder, gentler accreditor,” even as some politicians “are calling for accreditors to get tougher with higher education and not let poor-performing colleges off the hook.” The report was commissioned in response to “a bruising legal battle over the accreditation of the City College of San Francisco.” The piece explains that the report says that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges “has been uncooperative, resistant to repeated calls for change and disrespectful of the governing structures and processes of its member institutions.” The article notes that the agency’s efforts to remove CCSF’s accreditation “set off a political firestorm, involving the region’s state legislators, members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education.”

Inside Higher Ed  (8/31) reports that the agency’s “future looks murky,” noting that ED and key members of Congress have criticized it “over its handling of City College’s sanctions.” The piece notes that the community college system’s chancellor “has for the most part refrained from directly challenging the accreditor’s authority,” but paints the report as a break from this reticence.

College Professor Explains Why Students With Smaller Debts Are More Likely To Default.

In a New York Times  (8/31, Subscription Publication) piece, University of Michigan Professor Susan Dynarski explains that the common perception that people with the most student loan debt are most likely to default is inaccurate. The professor of education, public policy, and economics points out that those with the most debt tend to be people who completed graduate degrees and with their higher earnings are typically able to pay off their higher debts. Dynarski then explains how people with low student debt who only earned a bachelor’s degree or who dropped out of college before completing a degree are much more likely to default even though they tend to have smaller debts compared to others who completed graduate school.

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

NSF Awards $380,000 Grant To Two Wichita State University Professors To Study Cybersecurity For Wearables.

KMUW-FM  Wichita, KS (8/31, Sandefur) reports the National Science Foundation awarded two Wichita State University professors a $380,000 grant to study the security of data stored in wearable technology like Apple Watches or FitBits. Professor Murtuza Jadliwala of the university’s electrical engineering and computer science department said, “We should know more about the technology that we’re using every day. I think the threat from these devices is real.”

RaD-X Balloon Flight To Help Confirm NAIRAS Model.

The Newport News (VA) Daily Press  (9/1, Dietrich, Subscription Publication) reports that the Langley Research Center will be launching a science balloon from New Mexico to gather “good, quantitative measure for exactly how much radiation” those flying receive, according to Langley’s Kevin Daugherty. The Radiation Dosimetry Experiment (RaD-X) will collaborate with a German Aerospace Center research plane to confirm the Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS), “the first physics-based analytical model to determine biologically harmful radiation levels in aviation in real time,” which will also be helpful in tracking the radiation exposure of astronauts at the ISS. The mission will also have 100 experiments from the Cubes in Space student program, which Daugherty said consists of “just about everything they can think of.”

DARPA Announces “Gremlins” Drone Program.

Defense Systems  (8/31) reports the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced a program to study the feasibility of operating relatively cheap drones that can launch from and return to other larger aircraft. Called “Gremlins,” cheaper attack vehicles would inhabit a middle ground between missiles that totally lose their expensive components in use and current reusable systems meant to stay in use for decades. DARPA has announced a Proposers Day for September 24 for the program.

Engineering and Public Policy

Shell To Resume Operations In Arctic After Storm Forced Temporary Halt.

The AP  (9/1) reports that after Royal Dutch Shell temporarily halted exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean due to high winds and rough seas over the weekend, company spokesman Curtis Smith “says in a Monday email to The Associated Press that full operations, including drilling, will start again once a systems check is complete and the company is satisfied it’s safe to start drilling again.” Smith “says there’s no timeline for that to be completed.”

Offshore Engineer  (8/31, Sustaita) reported that Shell “disconnected the Noble Discoverer semisubmersible from its anchors in the Chukchi Sea” due to the weekend’s weather. Shell spokesperson Natalie Mazey told OE, “We made the decision to disconnect the Noble Discoverer from its anchors and weather the storm in the Chukchi Sea using engine power. As safety is paramount to Shell, we will resume operations as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Natural Gas Europe  (9/1, Matalucci) also noted the temporary suspension of operations for safety reasons.

EPA Plans To Reduce Flushing Of Pharmaceutical Waste.

The Washington Times  (9/1, Wolfgang) reports the EPA said Monday that it “will dramatically limit the flushing of pharmaceutical waste at hospitals and other health-care facilities as part of a larger effort to improve water quality across the country.” The proposal “will prevent the flushing of at least 6,400 tons of pharmaceutical waste each year,” according to an EPA statement.

Obama Defends Clean Power Plan Against Challenge From States.

Bloomberg News  (8/31, Harris) reports that “the Obama administration has called a multistate effort to delay its 15-year plan to reduce carbon emissions ‘premature’ and ‘unwarranted.’” On Monday the government said in court papers that “the states face no irreparable harm from the deadlines proposed in the Clean Power Plan.” The new rules “aim to slow climate change by dropping U.S. power plant carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent below their 2005 levels by 2030.” Fifteen states have “asked a federal court in Washington to issue an order delaying deadlines for submission of their plans to reach that objective.”

OMB Begins Final Review Of EPA’s Ozone Pollution Rule.

The Hill  (8/31, Cama) reports on Monday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said it had received the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial ozone pollution rule on Friday and had begun the final review process. While in November the EPA proposed cutting the ground-level ozone standard to the range of 65 to 70 parts per billion, the agency said “It will not reveal the number it chose until it reveals the final version of the regulation.” The Hill adds that “The administration agreed in court to release the regulation by Oct. 1, giving the OMB just over a month to complete” its review.

DOE Proposing New Standards For Battery Chargers.

The Hill  (8/31, Devaney) reports the Energy Department “is proposing new efficiency standards for battery chargers.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Energy Department “is revising a 2012 proposal of new energy conservation standards for battery chargers to account for similar rules issued in California.” The agency “estimates the changes could cost manufacturers $529 million, but will save consumers as much as $1.2 billion.” The public will have the chance to comment for the next 30 days.

Study Suggests How To Reduce Impact Of Renewable Energy Projects On Wildlife.

The Washington Post  (9/1, Warrick) reports that, in a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers Brad Fedy and Jason Tack examined data on wind patterns and known golden eagle nesting sites in Wyoming and then “successfully identified ‘sweet spots,’ places far removed from nesting grounds but directly in the path of prevailing winds.” Fedy, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, said their findings demonstrate “that it’s possible to guide development of sustainable energy projects, while having the least impact on wildlife populations.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Style Engineers Program Expanding Outside New York To Teach Girls About STEM Through Fashion Design.

The Cornell Chronicle (NY)  (8/31, Boscia) reports the National Science Foundation funds a program run by Cornell University and the University of Minnesota called Style Engineers that teaches middle school girls about STEM fields in the context of fashion design. The program is expanding nationwide after initially being tested in New York this summer at two 4-H camps in the state as well as the YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County. Style Engineers was previously named “Smart Clothing, Smart Girls.”

West Virginia Test Scores Show STEM Deficit Among Students.

The West Virginia MetroNews  (8/31, Kercheval) reports West Virginia’s latest student test scores on the ACT science section, the Smarter Balanced standardized test, and the Westest test show that West Virginia students are below average in their knowledge of STEM. Only 34% of West Virginia students who took the ACT and graduated in 2015 were college-ready in math or science, compared to 42% or 38% nationwide.

Monday’s Lead Stories

Administration “Strongly Disagrees” With Injunction Against Clean Water Rules.
Virginia Tech Engineering Professors Working To Streamline Time To Degree.
Researchers Working On New Generation Of Battery Technology.
Town’s Officials Call On EPA To Clean Up Radioactive Waste.
Apps Can Help Kids Regain Science Knowledge After Summer Vacation.

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