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

Leading the News

As Obama Concludes Visit To Alaska, Environmentalists Slam Drilling Decision.

The final day of the President’s visit to Alaska generated a brief report on the CBS Evening News (9/2, story 12, 0:25, Pelley), which noted an incident in which the President held up a salmon and “the fish…disgraced itself, on Mr. Obama’s shoes,” and a short report on NBC Nightly News (9/2, story 9, 0:25, Holt), which also noted the incident. Print and online coverage, which are also lighter, highlight the President’s visit to the towns of Dillingham and Kotzebue, casting it as an effort to draw attention to the impact climate change is already having. While it was not as ubiquitous in the coverage as in previous days, criticism from environmentalists over the decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Arctic continues to appear alongside coverage of the President’s trip.

Under the headline, “Obama Paints Dire View On Climate Change,” the Alaska Journal of Commerce  (9/3, Brehmer) says the President “seems to be setting the agenda for the final 16 months of his presidency, and climate change is his top priority.” However, the Journal also notes that environmentalists, who are “typically in the president’s corner had harsh words for him stemming from his administration’s approval of Shell’s drilling offshore drilling plan in the Chukchi Sea,” and includes statements from several groups criticizing the decision. Dan Springer reported on Fox News’ Special Report (9/2) that the Administration’s “all-of-the-above energy strategy in Alaska is pleasing none of the above.” While environmentalists “are outraged” that the President allowed drilling in the Arctic, the oil industry believes he “remains too restrictive” by blocking “huge potential reserves.”

The Los Angeles Daily News  (9/3, McNally) reprints a Global Post piece by Caitlin McNally, who noted that as she wrote, “Shell’s rig, the Transocean Polar Pioneer, was approaching its destination 70 miles off the shores of Wainwright, Alaska.” McNally wrote that during a visit to the Royal Dutch Shell offices on London, “it was made abundantly clear to me that the company accepts the fact of global warming and the consequences of climate change as a new normal,” but “part of this focus on climate change reality includes an unapologetic reminder to the world that Shell is, after all, an oil and gas company.”

Reuters  (9/3, Rampton, Quinn) portrays the President’s visits to Dillingham and Kotzebue as an effort by the White House to draw attention to the impact climate change is having on Americans. The AP  (9/3, Lederman) reports that the President’s “goal was to showcase the havoc he says human-influenced climate change is wreaking on Alaska’s delicate landscape: entire rural villages sinking into the ground as permafrost thaws, protective sea ice melts and temperatures climb.”

White House Announces Initiatives To Promote Energy Efficiency In Alaska. Alaska Dispatch News  (9/3) reports that ahead of the President’s visit to Kotzebue, the White House “announced new efforts and funding to encourage energy efficiency in remote villages and the appointment of a federal coordinator for ‘climate resilience’ in Alaska.” The announcement “includes more than $20 million in new funding through grants and other routes.” Among the initiatives announced by the White House, the Washington Post  (9/3, Eilperin) notes, is $4 million “to speed the development of renewable energy in remote Alaskan communities, part of a package of new programs aimed at reducing fossil fuel use and countering climate impacts in the region of the world that is warming the fastest.” The Post notes that although the Administration announced the initiatives “under the umbrella of helping tribal and rural communities cope with climate change and other challenges,” several tribal leaders “said they expected more from the federal government given the peril their communities now face.”

Higher Education

Office Of Naval Research Gives $500,000 Grant To Virginia Community College And University To Help Align Mechatronics Programs.

The Newport News (VA) Daily Press  (9/2, Subscription Publication) reports the Office of Naval Research has awarded a $495,216 grant to Tidewater Community College (TCC) and Old Dominion University (ODU) to help “align TCC’s associate degree program in mechatronics and ODU’s bachelor’s in general engineering technology with an emphasis in mechatronics.” Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that combines types of engineering, computer science, and information technology.

Villanova, Michigan Engineering Schools Offer Students More Business Education.

US News & World Report  (9/2, Golod) reports that Villanova University’s College of Engineering does not necessarily expect its graduates to become engineers. Dean Gary Gabriele explained, “We’re not training you to be an engineer, we are giving you an engineering education with which you can do a lot of different things.” He adds that the school “is organizing more extracurricular programs, such as alumni panel discussions, to introduce students to career paths with which they might not have been familiar or that they might not have associated with engineering.” Several graduates work in financial services, and the school offers “minors through the Villanova School of Business.” The University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering similarly “offers opportunities for students to learn skills that fall outside the ‘traditional’ engineering trajectory.”

Slaughter, College Presidents Urge Congress To Renew Perkins Loan Program.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle  (9/3, Goodman) reports Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and five college presidents from the Rochester region are urging Congress to renew the Federal Perkins Loan Program, which is “more than 50 years old but is slated to expire at the end of September.” Slaughter said of the program, “It fills a critical gap.”

Michigan State Engineering College Increase Female Students To Record High.

The AP  (9/3) reports the Michigan State University College of Engineering has more than 1,000 female undergraduate students for the first time. The college aims to have women make up 25% of its undergraduate students by 2020.

Gift To Wichita State To Train Engineering Faculty To Teach About Innovation.

The Wichita (KS) Business Journal  (9/2, Subscription Publication) reports on a $175,000 gift to Wichita State University from an alumnus “to help infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into the school’s engineering curriculum.” The money is to be used “help WSU faculty members in the College of Engineering acquire skills and tools needed to teach students about innovation.” Faculty will develop proposals in order to receive some of the money including “conferences, equipment, materials or hiring a student assistant.”

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 Gives Wichita State Professors Grant For Wearable Tech Security Research.

KWCH-TV  Wichita, KS (9/3) reports that the National Science Foundation has given two Wichita State University professors a $380,000 grant “to see whether wearable technology, the latest multimillion dollar tech craze, is giving away more information about us than we realize.” The researchers will explore whether “the sensors in our smart phones, smart watches and activity trackers give away too much information.”

KSNW-TV  Wichita, KS (9/1) reports that Murtuza Jadliwala, Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and Assistant Psychology Professor Jibo He, in previous research, “found that a smart watch could pick up which numbers the wearer typed on their phone.”

BSU Students Participate In STEM Research Through NASA.

In the Idaho Statesman  (9/3), Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development at Boise State University, writes that NASA grants and two former NASA astronauts, who have joined Boise State University as distinguished educators in residence, have provided students with multiple opportunities to participate in STEM research projects. Rudin notes that because of such programs, several students from Boise State teams currently work for NASA or its contractors.


Opinion: NASA’s New Horizons Mission Shows Progress Of Women In STEM.

In a US News & World Report  (9/2) op-ed, Jessica Reeves writes that NASA’s New Horizons mission has demonstrated how much women are contributing to the field. She cites a recent report about the mission developed by global research collaboration platform Mendeley, which noted “that of the top 10 research contributors, four are women.” The top female researchers are Dr. Leslie Young of the Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Yanping Guo of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and Dr. Fran Bagenal and Dr. Cathy Olkin of the University of Colorado. Given that about 24 percent of all STEM jobs are held by women, according to a 2011 study by the Department of Commerce, “this is significant representation” in the New Horizons mission. She suggests that NASA’s efforts “to diversify its workforce to include more women and minorities is a great example that it can be done.” Despite the laudable progress, she notes that “there’s still much room for improvement.”

Industry News

Apple Reportedly Set To Unveil Bigger IPad.

TIME  (9/2) reported on its website that Apple on Wednesday “will reportedly unveil, among other things, a bigger iPad.” The iPad Pro is “geared toward power users” and “will sport a 12-inch display, run iOS 9.1, support a Force Touch-based stylus, and have speakers on two sides.” However, “there’s still a chance that Apple won’t reveal” the device next week.

Slate  (9/2) reported Apple will the iPad Pro and new iPad Mini “are both expected to hit stores in November.” Slate said the “refreshed iPad mini is said to be thinner than its predecessor” and feature the A8 processor, allowing it to “support the split-screen multitasking features” introduced in iOS 9.

WSJournal Analysis: Apple Faces Difficult Challenge Of Trying To Improve IPhone Sales. The Wall Street Journal  (9/3, Wakabayashi, Subscription Publication) reports Apple has the challenge of trying to improve upon its own success when it releases the newest iPhones next week. The Journal notes it will be difficult for Apple to top last year’s release, because the changes will not be as great as when the company first issued larger screens.

Research: iPhone Converting Android Users. BGR  (9/2) reported “new research suggests that iPhone has been stealing even more Android users by converting them to iOS during the first summer months.” According to Kantar, “27% of smartphone buyers in Europe’s biggest markets…left Android in favor of iOS” in the three months that concluded July 2015. BGR noted that “comparatively, iPhone stole just 9% of smartphone buyers in America.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Thirteen States Say EPA Water Pollution Rule Should Be Blocked Nationwide.

The Hill  (9/2, Cama) reports 13 states led by North Dakota said in a court filing late Tuesday that a new EPA water pollution rule should be blocked nationwide. The EPA has decided to enforce the rule in just 37 states. The litigant states said that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers “have repeatedly asserted that uniform applicability, consistency, and predictability were driving forces in the need for and development of the rule” before later abandoning “their uniform applicability concerns.”

Senators Ask For “Full Review” Of NASA’s Commercial Cargo Program.

USA Today  (9/3, King) reports Sens. Cory Gardner and David Vitter “are pressing NASA’s inspector general for a ‘full review’” of the program intended to replace the space shuttle’s supplying of the space station. The lawmakers want the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “to thoroughly examine several aspects of NASA’s Commercial Cargo Program” following two crashes in the past year of rockets. In the letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Gardner and Vitter “say they want to know why the rocket launches failed,” the risks of any disruptions in cargo deliveries to the space station, and whether future commercial launches will be reliable.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Microsoft, Ballmer Contribute To Scholarship Program To Boost STEM Education In Washington.

The Puget Sound (WA) Business Journal  (9/3, Parkhurst, Subscription Publication) reports in its “Techflash” blog that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and wife Connie “have contributed $11 million” while Microsoft has given $10 million to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program “to help low- and middle-income students pursue degrees in science and math.” The program intends to build up the talent available to “tech companies in the Puget Sound region” that have had trouble finding “enough talent to fill their empty positions.”

STEM Teachers Take Tour Of Dow Corning Laboratories.

MLive (MI)  (9/3) reports on its website that a group of teachers toured the laboratories at Dow Corning’s headquarters in Bay County. The approximately 20 teachers “specialize in STEM fields, meaning science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Dow Corning spokesman Jarrod Erpelding said, “STEM education is important to not only the community, because of the job base that is here and the economy, but also for our company.” Erpelding further explained, “We need to have a steady, consistent stream of chemists, engineers and the like, to employ in our business in this region.”

South Carolina School District Announces New STEM Education Program At Seven Elementary Schools.

The Greenville (SC) News  (9/2, Barnett) reports Pickens County School District in South Carolina is implementing Project Lead the Way, a kindergarten through fifth-grade STEM education program, in seven elementary schools. The Pickens County Business and Education Alliance decided to implement the program after receiving a presentation on Tuesday. The chairman of that group, Jeromy Arnett, said he believes the program will help prepare students to pursue STEM careers.

Dallas Engineers Volunteer To Help Students With Science Projects.

The Dallas Morning News  (9/1, Tsiaperas) reports the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas organized an after-school program at Santa Clara Community Center that pairs local engineers with students to work on science projects. The engineers are volunteers from Fluor Corp. who help students build and design different projects. Students worked with the engineers to design roller coasters, build catapults out of popsicle sticks, and conduct chemistry experiments.

DC School District Offering More AP, Elective Courses To High School Students.

The Washington Post  (9/3, Chandler) reports DC Public Schools are increasing the number of Advanced Placement (AP) and elective courses offered in high schools throughout the district this year. High schools are expected to offer at least 6 AP and 20 elective courses this year. The ED sent a letter to school districts last year warning them to provide equal resources to students and failure to do so could lead to an investigation by the Office of Civil Rights. Many minority students have access to fewer AP and elective courses across the nation.

Also in the News

UND Professor Asked To Speak At New Boeing Plant.

The Grand Forks (ND) Herald  (9/3, Burleson) reports that University of North Dakota Mechanical Engineering Professor George Bibel has been asked to give a presentation at the new Boeing Dreamliner 787 plant in Charleston, SC in October, which would be sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Bibel is an expert on mass transportation disasters and recently gave talks on engineering disasters and plane crashes at the National Society of Professional Engineers in Seattle and at the United Technologies Aerospace Systems in Minneapolis.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Industry Advertising Campaign Opposes New Ozone Rules.
Mitchell Calls For FAFSA Overhaul.
NSF Awards $380,000 Grant To Two Wichita State Professors To Study Cybersecurity With Wearables.
UK Researchers Call For Debate On Gene-Editing Technology.
Forbes Contributor: Computers Could “Transform” Manufacturing.
Michigan Governor Pledges To Meet New Federal Carbon Dioxide Standards.
Opinion: High Schools Need More Career And Technical Education Classes.

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