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

Leading the News

University Of Michigan Announces Data Science Initiative.

The AP  (9/9) reports that University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced that “it will spend $100 million over five years to create opportunities for students and staff interested in data science.” Schlissel said that “big data” can benefit “a range of sciences, from medicine to economics to social behavior.” The money will be used to “hire 35 faculty members and expand research computing.”

The Detroit News  (9/7, Kozlowski) reports on the effort, quoting Brian D. Athey, co-director of the Michigan Institute for Data Science, saying, “It really is a brand new way of doing things,” adding, “It’s going to affect how we teach and learn and how we disseminate knowledge.” The project will cover “four disciplines: transportation, medicine, social science, and teaching and learning.”

The Detroit Free Press  (9/7, Jesse) reports that it will “further research into such things as driverless cars, medicine and climate change.”

Higher Education

UALR Wins Grant To Support STEM Training For High School Teachers.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette  (9/8) reports that the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been granted a “five-year, $1,193,677 award from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program” to support the UALRTeach Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, “a STEM initiative that prepares teachers for secondary education.” The program is intended to reduce “Arkansas’ shortage of science and mathematics teachers, particularly in high-need schools.”

Ohio Community College Unveils $5 Million UAV Center.

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch  (9/8) reports Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio unveiled its $5 million National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center. According to the Dispatch, the center “will provide students with access to 3-D advanced manufacturing, drone simulators, a wind tunnel and improved labs.” The facility will house about 120 UAVs, and nearly 500 students will take classes at the center during the first academic year.

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

Clemson Gets NSF Grant To Develop Improved Water Filter.

The Greenville (SC) News  (9/8, Coyne) reports that researchers at Clemson University have been awarded “a $970,000 grant to create technology for a state-of-the-art filter that could increase worldwide clean water access.” Lead researcher Sapna Sarupia explained, “The computer models we develop will lead to leapfrog improvement in membrane filtration technologies.”

GSA Business  (9/9) reports the grant is from the National Science Foundation.

WACH-TV  Columbia, SC (9/9, Stevens) reports the models “test chemical coating and geometric designs,” and could “lower the cost for water treatment practices around the world.”

NASA Developing “Hedgehog” Concept Rover To Explore Asteroids, Comets.

The Pasadena (CA) Star-News  (9/8, Vuong) reports NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working together to develop “Hedgehog” rovers that are small, spiked cubes that can “hop and somersault its way through microgravity environments on asteroids, comets and small moons.” The concept robot is designed to meet the challenges necessary to journey in small bodies with very low gravity. Robert Reid, lead JPL engineer on the project, said that in these microgravity conditions, rovers won’t be able to generate enough traction to move. He explains Hedgehog is “designed to hop” over a long distance, and perform a sequence of tumbles “if it needs to do a fine maneuver.”

SPACE  (9/8, Howell) notes that the robots’ spikes keep the rover attached to the ground in addition to protecting its delicate body from the harsh terrain. Issa Nesnas, Hedgehog team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that because Hedgehog is shaped like a cube, it can “operate no matter which side it lands on.” Furthermore, he adds, “The spikes could also house instruments such as thermal probes to take the temperature of the surface as the robot tumbles.” Two Hedgehog prototypes developed by JPL and Stanford were tested earlier this year on a NASA C-9 aircraft where the robots’ handlers “tried out several ways of moving them around on various types of terrain” in the constructed microgravity conditions.

IGN  (9/9) also covers this story on its website.


US Manufacturers Prevail Upon Parents To Hire Kids For In-Demand Jobs.

Reuters  (9/8, Carey) reports on the trend of US manufacturers seeking what they hope will be the next generation of skilled workers from among students now in high school — by enlisting parents in the recruitment effort. To overcome what the federal government says was an average of 68,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs a month during this year’s first half, manufacturers are trying to allay concerns of parents about the long-term prospects for a career in the sector for their children. Efforts to encourage young people to consider apprenticeships or other means into the industry are often bolstered by parental support, sources told Reuters.

Industry News

US, EU Approve GE Takeover Of Alstom.

The AP  (9/8, Casert) reports that European Union regulators approved General Electric’s $14.1 billion acquisition of “the power and transmission division of French manufacturer Alstom,” after the US-based conglomerate “committed to selling some operations to maintain competition.” The decision announced on Tuesday followed “an eight-month investigation to see if the takeover would distort the European market.” EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said clearing the deal “depended on the sale of Alstom’s heavy duty gas turbines business,” arguing that its takeover by GE would have hurt competition in a sector she considers crucial to combating climate change. After an “often intense trans-Atlantic cooperation” with the Justice Department’s antitrust department in Washington, Vestager expressed satisfaction with the deal’s terms.

The New York Times  (9/9, B2, Jolly, Kanter, Subscription Publication) cites the DOJ as saying Tuesday that it, too, “would approve the merger, having coordinated its efforts with Ms. Vestager’s office, provided the companies met the conditions detailed by the European Commission.”

Bloomberg News  (9/8, Sebag) says the EU’s “blessing” eliminates “a crucial hurdle for GE to close an acquisition” that is central to CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s plan “to reshape the company around its manufacturing divisions and pivot away from finance.” In 2001, European regulators blocked Connecticut-based GE’s takeover of Honeywell International, a failure that “shadowed the months-long review of the Alstom deal,” the story says.

USA Today  (9/8, McCoy) notes that GE shares closed 4% higher, at $24.96, on Tuesday after the EU approval was announced.

Semiautonomous-Car Features “Quickly Migrating To Mainstream Brands.”

The AP  (9/8, Durbin) reports that “some of the technology” that will make fully self-driving cars a reality “is already here.” Currently, “radar- and camera-based systems” are operable “with a driver behind the wheel, but eventually” other versions “will likely power self-driving cars.” According to the AP, while “semi-autonomous features used to be confined to luxury cars,” they are “quickly migrating to mainstream brands as technology gets cheaper.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Obama To Make Apprenticeship Announcement At Michigan Community College.

The Detroit News  (9/8, Shepardson) reports that on Wednesday, President Obama will be at Macomb Community College in Michigan to promote apprenticeships as a means to “rebuild the US workforce” and will also urge support for his “plans to make community college free for the first two years.” Obama, in an email, said that he would “make an announcement about apprenticeships,” and will also “talk about the progress around the country in making community college free.”

Obama, Duncan To Visit Iowa Next Week. The Des Moines (IA) Register  (9/8, Noble) reports that President Obama “will visit Des Moines next week for a discussion on college affordability at North High School.” Obama’s trip will take place at the same time as Education Secretary Duncan’s “back to school” bus tour which will be in Iowa next week. The First Lady will also visit, going to “an Iowa community college on Sept. 17 to look at its career and technical programs.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Detroit Priority School Adopts Aquatic Theme.

The Detroit Free Press  (9/8, Zaniewski) reports on the opening of the Carstens Academy of Aquatic Science at Remus in Detroit, where students are “immersed in a world of water, part of a unique new focus at the school that was restructured — and renamed — over the summer.” Science classes in the school will feature “hands-on experiments related to rivers, watersheds and water quality.” Carstens Principal Donna Thornton pointed out that the school is “just five blocks from the Detroit River.” The curriculum was produced “by DPS teachers and professors at the University of Michigan.” The school is a priority school, targeted for improvement as it is “among the bottom 5% of all schools statewide.”

Rhode Island Charter Schools Get Grants To Support Partnerships With Other Public Schools.

The Providence (RI) Journal  (9/8, Borg) reports that the Rhode Island Department of Education has issued $300,868 in grants funded by ED’s Charter Schools Program to four charter schools to support “partnerships with district public schools to improve teaching and learning.” Blackstone Academy Charter School will work with the Central Falls School District and Central Falls High School to expand and improve “college-going efforts” at Blackstone and Central Falls; Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Middle School will work with the Central Falls School District and Calcutt Middle School to strengthen collaboration on “math instruction”; the International Charter School will work with the Pawtucket and South Kingstown School Districts on “dual-language education programs”; and the Paul Cuffee School will work with the Providence public schools and Central High School on “debating skills.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Toyota Announces $50 Million Investment In Developing Autonomous Car Technologies.
ED Delays Announcement On Corinthian Students’ Debt Relief.
BAE Systems Engineer Invents Firefighter Thermal Imaging System.
Lockheed Martin JAGM Contract Moves To Engineering, Manufacturing Development Phase.
GOP Looking To Undermine President’s Effort To Negotiate Climate Treaty.
Utah Governor Unveils Aerospace Certificate Program For High School Students.

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