Leading the News
Code.org Part Of Larger Effort To Provide More Training In Coding.
USA Today (9/10, Guynn) reports on Code.org, whose founder Hadi Partovi said that the organization “and its partners this year trained more than 15,000 teachers who will bring computer science instruction into their classrooms.” They believe that will “reach more than 600,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade.” USA Today also points out that there is a growing effort to teach coding and it is “coming from many quarters — the National Science Foundation, the College Board, Freada Kapor’s SMASH Academy, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, educators and major tech companies such as Google and Intel.” Code.org itself is “backed by the tech industry including high-profile leaders Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.”
Tennessee School Turns Unused Computers Into After-School Coding Class. The Tennessean (9/10, McGee) reports that Maplewood High School English teacher Casey Ward, with “28 laptop computers left unused after school hours,” decided to invite students to spend their afternoons on “programming courses from Codecademy, an online curriculum.” The idea is “to equip students with tech skills that will allow them to pursue a new interest or eventually land a job.”
More Students Enroll In Unconventional Majors.
The Wall Street Journal (9/11, Hackman, Subscription Publication) reports on college majors that students design themselves, pointing out that while the fastest-growing majors are generally reliably practical, many students are choosing a different sort of major in which they are more likely to study pop culture. In 2013, there were 47,654 students in multi- or interdisciplinary programs, up from 27,449 ten years earlier.
Study Finds Students From For-Profit Or Two-Year Colleges More Likely To Have Trouble Repaying Student Loans.
Bloomberg News (9/10, Smialek) reports on a study from the Brookings Institution finding that “federal student-loan default rates from 2000 to 2011 may have had a lot to do with who attended college and where they studied.” Overall, students at “for-profit and two-year colleges during the Great Recession made up a disproportionate share of borrowers in repayment.” They also “either finished quickly or failed to graduate.” Of these, “about 21 percent…defaulted within two years of entering repayment in 2011,” 13 points higher than the 8 percent default rate for “undergraduate borrowers from four-year, non-profit universities.” The study was conducted by the US Treasury’s Adam Looney and Stanford University graduate student Constantine Yannelis.
Research and Development
Northeastern To Conduct Defense Research With US Army Research Laboratory.
The Boston Magazine (9/9, Clauss) reports that Northeastern University will receive “up to $20.4 million in expedited funding for defense research over the next three years” from the US Army Research Laboratory. The research will be conducted in Northeastern’s “70,000-square-foot Kostas Research Institute in Burlington,” and will make use of its “NanoOPS, a nanoscale printing system used for flexible electronics, medicine, and energy storage.” Two projects are mentioned, one led by professor Sinan Muftu and associate professor Andrew Gouldstone of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering will involve eight faculty members “studying high-velocity spraying materials,” while in a second project, Vincent Harris of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering “will work in collaboration with the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground facility in Maryland, using magnetic particles to align nanoparticle ceramic materials in order to develop lightweight bulletproof vests and vehicle armor.”
Qualcomm Wants To Make UAV Development Easier.
Popular Science (9/11) reports that Qualcomm aims to “make it as easy to make smart drones as it’s been over the past few years to make smart phones” by equipping UAVs with “a shared and familiar processor.” In a press release, Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of product management, said that instead of building “separate solutions for photography, navigation and communications,” the company’s Snapdragon Flight system should allow manufacturers to design UAVs that are “lighter, smaller, easy to use and affordable with long battery life and superior functionalities.” According to the article, when such a development was applied to cell phones, they went “from a Hollywood novelty to everyday pocketable accessory.”
Oregon Receives $3M In Federal Funds To Address Skilled Worker Shortage.
The Portland (OR) Business Journal (9/11, Giegerich, Subscription Publication) reports that the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration has given $3 million to the Oregon Employment Department (OED) and Bureau of Labor and Industries to help “replenish the state’s skilled worker supply.” OED Director Lisa Nisenfeld stated, “At a time when many of our most highly skilled manufacturing workers are retiring, this grant will help us expand apprenticeship and work-based learning.”
Bombardier CSeries Now Closing In On Certification.
Reuters (9/10, Martell) reports that Bombardier said its CSeries plane has now completed 85% of its certification, placing it on track to be certified by the end of the year. The article notes that the company said that the recent test flights demonstrate the plane will be the quietest in its class.
Blue Origin Expanding Production Of Engine For ULA.
The Wall Street Journal (9/11, Cameron, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, Blue Origin said it has signed a deal with the United Launch Alliance to expand production of its BE-4 engine, which will power ULA’s Vulcan rocket under development. However, ULA will not decide until 2016 whether to use that engine or one developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, which just put in a bid to acquire ULA. Another Wall Street Journal (9/11, Cameron, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) article reports that Aerojet Rocketdyne’s bid may have run into some difficulties because ULA’s parent companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, disagree on whether to accept the bid.
Aerojet Rocketdyne Breaks Ground On New Expansion.
The AP (9/11) reports that Aerojet Rocketdyne broke ground on a new expansion to its plant in Arkansas. “Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state and local officials” were at the event.
Aerojet Rocketdyne Has New VP Of Strategy And Business Development. Space News (9/10, Ferster, Subscription Publication) reports that Jim Simpson, formerly of Boeing, will be Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new senior vice president of strategy and business development, “responsible for capturing new business and ‘strategic alignment initiatives.’”
Engineering and Public Policy
Treasury Official: Insurance Companies Can Help Bolster Cybersecurity.
The Washington Post (9/11, Nakashima) reports that Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin said Thursday that the insurance industry can help US companies boost cybersecurity, reflecting “how the Obama administration is trying to enlist a range of sectors and use a variety of tools to combat the cyberthreat.” Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Raskin said “insurers can move the needle” by encouraging companies to improve security and therefore lower their insurance costs.
ED Approves State Plans For Teacher Equity.
The Washington Post (9/11, Brown) reports that Education Department officials on Thursday announced the approval of plans in 16 states “to ensure that all students, including those in high-poverty schools, have equitable access to strong teachers.” The plans, which differ between various states, range from financial incentives for teachers to improved principal development, and officials from ED “said they will focus on support and assistance rather than punishment” for states which fall behind on their plans.
Iowa Reports 65 Percent Of Schools Fall Short Of AYP.
The Des Moines (IA) Register (9/10, Ryan) reports that on Thursday, Iowa reported that “1,090 of Iowa’s 1,336 schools fell short of their No Child Left Behind academic benchmarks.” State Education Director Ryan Wise commented that the federal law contains “unrealistic requirements that punish dedicated educators when their school falls short.” He added, “I assure you, a majority of our schools are not failing.” The report also shows that “about 75 percent of Iowa eighth-graders were academically on grade level in 2014-15,” up one point from the year before, while 62 percent of “low-income eighth-graders” were at grade level, also up one point from the year before. Third grade results showed that “51 percent of black students are on grade level, a particularly concerning statistic,” compared to “60 percent of Hispanic third-graders and 81 percent of white third-graders.”
Maine Test Results Show 36 Percent Meet Math Standard, 48 Percent In English.
The Portland (ME) Press Herald (9/11, Gallagher) reports that Maine’s Smarter Balanced test results, “are practically meaningless because the state used a new test” and “won’t use it again.” The Common Core-aligned test showed “36 percent of Maine students are considered proficient in math and 48 percent in English.” Acting Maine Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin commented, “The standards are supposed to be tougher.”
Grant Helps Fund Energy Program At California School.
The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun (9/11) reports that Southern California Edison awarded a $10,000 grant to support the Renewal Energy Academy of Learning at Desert Hot Springs High School, which “provides its students with realistic workplace experience with college rigor and relevance.” The grant will help pay for “materials, class trips and internship training.”
Minnesota School Gets $25,000 Grant To Help Pay For Launch Curriculum.
The Austin (MN) Daily Herald (9/11, Hackensmith) reports that Neveln Elementary School has been awarded $25,000 from the Monsanto Fund through the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, which will help pay for its “new Launch Pad — a science room and computer lab” which will be used for Launch, “the elementary curriculum for Project Lead the Way” a STEM program. Neveln Principal Dewey Schara explained to the school’s students, “It’s going to be a class that you get to do hands-on things, you get to build things, you get to use iPads, and you get to use your brain. And that’s the number one thing that we’re hoping for with this class, is to make you incredible problem solvers.” The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program has awarded around $2.3 billion to schools since it began in 2011.
Jemison And Bayer Will Help Encourage Scientific Literacy Through Hands-On Experiments.
In an article for the “Lifestyles” section of the Chicago Tribune (9/10), Heidi Stevens writes that astronaut Mae Jemison told her that children initially love science but learn to hate it when they attend schools because they make it boring. Jemison is now working with Bayer “to advance science literacy across the United States by emphasizing the importance of hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities in public schools” by providing “1 million hands-on science experiences for kids by 2020.” Jemison said that students learn better and stay engaged through hands-on activities instead of forcing them to memorize facts.
Also in the News
US Jobless Claims, Import Prices Down.
Reuters (9/10) reports that the Labor Department on Thursday announced that unemployment claims fell 6,000 last week to 275,000, the 27th consecutive week that claims were lower than 300,000, although the four-week average of claims climbed to 275,750. Separately, the Labor Department said import prices declined 1.8 percent in August, the largest decrease in seven months, as the prices of petroleum and other goods fell. The report means that import prices have dropped in 12 of the last 14 months, a sign that the strong US dollar and low global demand are suppressing imported inflation.
Wholesale Inventories Decrease For First Time Since 2013. For the first time in almost 3 years, the Commerce Department announced on Thursday that US wholesale inventories declined in July, possibly indicating that the stockpiles amassed by businesses are decreasing, Reuters (9/10) reports. The 0.1 percent drop was the weakest reading since May 2013, with low oil prices reducing the value of petroleum stocks.
Stocks Gain After Fluctuations Thursday. Bloomberg News (9/10, Renick) reports that US stocks finished higher on Thursday “after swinging in a wide range amid light volume” before the Federal Reserve decides whether to hike interest rates next week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 76.83 points (0.5 percent) to 16,330.40, the Nasdaq gained 0.8 percent, and the S&P 500 rose 0.5 percent to 1,952.29. Apple’s 2.2 percent gains helped boost the market “to lead technology shares higher,” while biotech companies provided a lift to healthcare stocks, Bloomberg says.
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Obama, Jill Biden Promote Free Community College, Apprenticeship Proposals.