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

Leading the News

Industry Advertising Campaign Opposes New Ozone Rules.

Reuters  (9/1, Volcovici) reports on the advertising campaign by industry groups opposing new national ground-level smog standards. Already in swing states such as Colorado and Ohio, it has spread to Pennsylvania and will come to Virginia and New Mexico soon. The industry argues the standards will cost them money, that current standards are enough to protect public health, and that states have been moving to meet previous standards. However, environmentalists and public health groups argue industry cost projections are exaggerated and are planning social media and education campaigns on the health benefits from lowering ozone levels.

Analyst: Ozone Reduction Not Linked To Improved Health. Tony Cox, editor in chief of Risk Analysis, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal  (9/2, A13, Subscription Publication), argues that previous reductions in ozone levels haven’t improved public health. Cox says that the projected health benefits from the rule change are based on inaccurate modeling and subjective opinions, concluding that, if science and objective analysis are to drive policy, then these regulations should not be enacted.

Higher Education

Mitchell Calls For FAFSA Overhaul.

The Seattle Times  (9/2, Long) reports that Under Secretary Ted Mitchell “wants to see the financial form for college aid greatly simplified.” The article portrays the FAFSA as a major hurdle to families seeking higher education, noting that it “asks more than a hundred detailed questions about a family’s income in order to measure whether a student should be eligible for aid.” The paper explains that Mitchell, speaking last week in Seattle, “described the FAFSA as ‘a running joke, and I enjoy participating.’” Mitchell, who was promoting the Administration’s push for free community college, “said the Department of Education will make some changes to the form this year, but that ‘there are certainly limitations to what we can do without Congress’s help.’”

University Leaders Want To Submit Their Own Graduation Data To ED.

Inside Higher Ed  (9/1) reports more than 200 university leaders sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking him to allow institutions of higher education to submit their own data about student graduation rates in addition to federal graduation rates, which the leaders describe as “far too incomplete.” The article states, “The ED is currently developing a new consumer information tool it plans to release in the coming weeks in lieu of the controversial college ratings system it had originally proposed.”

Arkansas Governor Wants To Reform Higher Education Funding Formula, Increase College Graduation.

The AP  (9/2, Demillo) reports Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson wants to change the formula that determines funding for institutions of higher education in the state in order to increase college graduation rates. Hutchinson said the formula should reward performance and meeting goals, and also wants to raise the number of college students who graduate by 10%.

HHS Awards $2.4 Million Grant To DelTech, Partners To Boost Minorities In STEM Careers.

The AP  (9/1) reports the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $2.4 million grant to Delaware Technical Community College (DelTech), Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and Nemours Health and Prevention Services. The grant is intended to boost minority participation in STEM careers through school programs. WHYY-FM  Philadelphia (9/1, Read) reports the grant money will be used to fund “STEM UP Delaware!”, which offers resources to minority high school students who are interested in STEM education and careers. On Tuesday, the state’s congressional delegation met with DelTech officials on campus in Wilmington to announce the grant and promote its benefits for the community. The Wilmington (DE) News Journal  (9/1, Spencer) reports in New Castle County the program will start with 40 students in eighth and ninth grade, and then add 20 students per year after that.

Opinion: Accreditation Is Here To Stay, But It Will Change.

An Inside Higher Ed  (9/1, Lederman) opinion piece written by Doug Lederman, one of the founders of Inside Higher Ed, outlines the ongoing debate about college accreditation. Lederman summarizes the debate by quoting Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation, “No one really likes accreditation, but no one knows what else to do.” Lederman then explains why he thinks accreditation and accreditors are here to stay because they are irreplaceable, but how they will likely change because of all of the criticism brought against them.

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 Professors To Study Cybersecurity With Wearables.

The Wichita (KS) Eagle  (9/2, Voorhis) reports the National Science Foundation awarded a $380,000 grant to two Wichita State University professors, Jibo He and Murtuza Jadliwala to research cybersecurity and privacy issues related to wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers.

NSF Awards Grants To University Centers Studying Nanotechnology.

The Albany (NY) Business Review  (9/1, Roiter, Subscription Publication) reports the National Science Foundation has chosen SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (also known as the “Nanocollege”) as the location for the $2.1 million Northeast Advanced Technological Education Center for three years. The center will be a partnership between NSF, SUNY Poly, Fairfield University, and community colleges in Hudson Valley and Mohawk Valley. The AP  (9/2) reports the National Science Foundation is also giving $20 million to fund the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology for five years. The center’s mission is to study the effect of nanotechnology on the environment. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Minnesota, and Northwestern University are also partners at the research center.

Global Developments

UK Researchers Call For Debate On Gene-Editing Technology.

Reuters  (9/2, Kelland) reports that leading medical researchers at the Wellcome Trust global medical charity and four other British research organizations called for an extensive debate on Wednesday to discuss the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The US National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine will reportedly meet at an international summit later this year.

While declaring “support for genome-editing research and certain therapies that might follow” in a position statement published Wednesday, the five leading biomedical funders said that “altering the DNA of human sperm and eggs…and human embryos should become the focus of a broad ethical debate that fully explores the potential benefits and pitfalls of the procedure,” the The Guardian (UK)  (9/1) reports.

Industry News

Forbes Contributor: Computers Could “Transform” Manufacturing.

Forbes  (9/1, Brueck) contributor Hilary Brueck discussed how researchers are testing a new computer technology called “generative design,” which has the potential to “transform the way we make things – from improving designs on bicycle helmets to reshaping bridges and mastering the art of artificial limbs.” According to Eric Duoss, an engineer from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, “generative design” results in structures that “would be very difficult for a designer to think about and come up with on their own.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Michigan Governor Pledges To Meet New Federal Carbon Dioxide Standards.

There was significant coverage of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s pledge to meet new federal carbon dioxide standards for power plants. The Detroit Free Press  (9/1, Egan) reports that Snyder pledged to meet new federal “regulations for carbon dioxide emissions” a move that means Michigan, “still coal-heavy in its energy production”, will be “on a tougher road toward compliance than most states.” Snyder was praised by environmentalists and business leaders but criticized by “conservatives who think the state is too quick to comply.”

The Detroit News  (9/1, Lynch) reports that “Michigan plans to craft its own plan reducing power plant greenhouse gases rather than accept one put together by the federal government.” The new federal rules require states “to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030” and give states the option of coming up with their own plan to meet the targets or having one imposed by the EPA. Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, said it was essential for Michigan to come up with its own plan to avoid placing “Michigan energy in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

The Hill  (9/2, Henry) reports on the political implications of Snyder’s decision and notes that it “runs counter to those of other Republican governors around the country” some of which “have either ruled out complying with the Clean Power Plan or suggested they will refuse to do so.” The move also puts Snyder at odds with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, “who is among the state attorneys general suing to block the regulations.”

Grid Manager: Texas Can Handle Fall, Winter Electricity Needs.

The Houston Chronicle  (9/2, Blum) reports that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which administers more than 85 percent of Texas’ electric grid, reports that the state “will maintain at least 3,500 megawatts of reserve generating capacity even in the most extreme scenarios for peak demand and power station outages.” Pete Warnken, ERCOT’s manager of resource adequacy said that even “based on our most extreme scenario, we expect to have sufficient capacity” to meed demand.

Florida Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding Solar Amendment Ballot Question.

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times  (9/2, Auslen) reports that the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday from Floridians for Solar Choice and their opponents, who mostly represented utility companies, over whether a constitutional amendment regarding the regulation of solar power should be included on the ballot in next year’s elections. The amendment in question would reportedly allow companies to sell energy from solar panels installed on homes and businesses without being regulated as a utility.

The Miami Herald  (9/2, Auslen) reports that Justice Barbara Pariente clarified the role of the court, stating that the justices must decide only whether the language of the proposed amendment fairly represents its impact and is limited to one subject. If the court rules in the favor of the amendment, Floridians for Solar Choice will have until February to collect another 562,000 signatures on a petition before it can be included on the ballot next November.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Opinion: High Schools Need More Career And Technical Education Classes.

In an opinion piece in Forbes  (9/1, Wyman), Nicholas Wyman, a Forbes writer, says that US high schools need to bring back more career and technical education classes as they had in the past. Wyman argues that the presumption that all high school students will go to college fails to prepare the many high school students who will not pursue higher education for the jobs available to them.

Illinois School District Purchases STEM Teaching Program, Begins Teacher Training.

The Chicago Tribune  (9/1, Keown) reports Glen Ellyn School District 41 has purchased a new digital program called STEMscopes that teaches STEM subjects to students with “hands-on” learning. The district allowed a small group of teachers to start working with the program at the end of last school year to provide feedback. Some teachers and school board members were concerned about whether the high cost of the program, including teacher training, was justified.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Rochester Professor Receives Grants For Laser Research With Potential Military Uses.
Report: California Community Colleges Need “Kinder, Gentler” Accreditor.
NSF Awards $380,000 Grant To Two Wichita State University Professors To Study Cybersecurity For Wearables.
Shell To Resume Operations In Arctic After Storm Forced Temporary Halt.
Style Engineers Program Expanding Outside New York To Teach Girls About STEM Through Fashion Design.

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