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

Leading the News

Boeing Takes Heat From Unions For Moving 737 Work To China.

On Wednesday, the same day that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited a Boeing plant in Washington state, three Chinese companies – China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, ICBC Financial Leasing and China Development Bank Leasing – announced that they have placed orders for 300 Boeing jets worth approximately $38 billion. Also on Wednesday, in what was described as an unrelated development, it was announced that Boeing and state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China will build a plant in China that will put finishing touches on 737s.

The announcement generated a great deal of media coverage, most of which casts the 300 orders as an unambiguously positive development for Boeing. However, many reports also highlight criticism of the decision to build a plant in China from unions representing Boeing workers. In addition, some analyses link the shift to overseas production to Boeing’s ongoing campaign to pressure Republicans in Congress to resurrect the Export-Import Bank.

On Fox News Special Report, correspondent Dan Springer noted the news about Boeing’s orders from China, but added, “while there is reward, the deal also has plenty of risk.” Springer went on to say that “China’s competing aerospace industry is just getting off the ground.” And aviation consultant Scott Hamilton was shown saying: “What they don’t steal they will extort, because to do business in China, China wants what they call ‘benefit’ – and that is technology transfer, jobs, and so on.”

Boeing Workers Dismiss Reassurance That New Plant Won’t Cause Further Job Losses In Washington. Bloomberg News  (9/23, Johnsson) reports the new plant “will help speed jet deliveries from Boeing’s Renton, Washington factory as the company tries to raise production from the current 42 a month to 47 in 2017 and 52 by 2018.” According to the AP  (9/23, Leins), Boeing says the overseas operation “won’t reduce employment levels at its plants in Washington state.”

Trump Blasts Boeing For “Taking A Tremendous Number Of Jobs Away From The United States.” Reuters  reports that at a campaign stop in South Carolina, Donald Trump said, “Boeing is going to sell 300 jets to China, but as part of the deal, they’re going to set up a massive plant in a big section of China. That will end up taking a tremendous number of jobs away from the United States.”

Higher Education

OCR Finds No Anti-Asian Discrimination At Princeton.

The AP  (9/24) reports that ED’s Office for Civil Rights notified Princeton University earlier this month that “there is no evidence that Princeton University discriminates against Asian and Asian-American applicants.” The AP explains that OCR was investigating “two claims that the Ivy League university was discriminating on the basis of race and national origin,” and that critics say that “high-achieving Asian and Asian-American students have been passed over at elite universities as their numbers there have risen.” The piece notes that ED made a similar finding at Harvard earlier this year, though Harvard and the University of North Carolina are facing lawsuits over this issue. ED said that Princeton “uses race and national origin in its admissions considerations as two of many factors.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (9/24) reports that the complainants in the two cases “asked the federal government to investigate Princeton after being denied admission, argued in their complaints that the university had treated them differently because of their racial and ethnic backgrounds.” The article reports that many Asian and Asian-American students “believe that selective colleges are either discriminating against them outright or holding them to substantially higher standards than applicants who are black, Hispanic, or Native American.” OCR reported to Princeton that “its examination of admissions processes, applicant files, and 15 years’ worth of admissions data at the university had ‘found no evidence of the different treatment of Asian applicants.’”

New Jersey Local News  (9/24) reports that OCR’s finding ends “a years-long investigation into the school’s admissions process,” noting that the office “launched a compliance review in January 2008 and included complaints from two people who alleged they were denied admission to the classes of 2010 and 2015 on the basis of race and national origin.” OCR said that though Princeton uses race and national origin in the admissions process, it “does not do so in a discriminatory manner.” Central Jersey  (9/24) and the Daily Princetonian (NJ)  (9/24) also cover this story.

Debt Relief Programs For Student Borrowers Rattle Bond Market Backed By Their Loans.

The Wall Street Journal  (9/23, Andriotis, Subscription Publication) reports that federal programs meant to help struggling borrowers reduce their payments are hitting the bond market and raising the possibility that banks may soon scale back their lending. The piece notes that ED did not provide content for this article, but quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying in August, “We’ve made it a priority to give Americans better options to manage their student loans and make sure they know about those options.”

ED Set To Release Competency-Based Education Guidance.

Inside Higher Ed  (9/23) reports that ED said Tuesday that “it is poised to release an extensive reference guide for institutions that are participating in an experiment on competency-based education,” saying that both colleges and accrediting agencies need more information on the project. The piece quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying, “We believe that this guide will offer tremendous support for both experienced and new competency-based education providers as they implement this experiment. We recognize that many of you were anticipating that the guide would be released earlier this summer, but it was very important for us to have a high level of confidence that the guidance it contains is on very firm ground.”

Commentary: Colleges Must Better Serve Growing Non-Traditional Enrollment.

Jamie Merisotis writes about major demographic changes at US colleges at The Hill  (9/24) “Congress Blog,” noting that only around one-third of college students “are who we used to consider ‘traditional’–18-to 21-year olds attending school full-time.” Fewer students live on campus today, many have families, and many others are “struggling to support themselves financially.” Merisotis writes that colleges have not adapted to these changes and that often “the needs of today’s students are not being met, and it’s tougher for those enrolled in postsecondary education to fare well under the current system.” Merisotis writes that Federal policymakers “have an opportunity to make a significant dent in our attainment problem by updating federal policy to better serve today’s college majority.” He writes that key changes include reforming financial aid and student data collection, as well as “enabling institutions to innovate so they can pursue different approaches to higher education that better meet a diverse body of students’ needs.”

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Research and Development

University Of Michigan Plans To Build Nuclear Engineering Laboratory.

Michigan Daily  (9/24, Penrod), the online publication of the University of Michigan, reports that the university plans to spend $12 million to create a Nuclear Engineering Laboratory in the space where it disassembled its nuclear reactor more than ten years ago. The lab will focus on applications to promote nuclear nonprofliferation and “improvements to nuclear power plants,” and will “be oriented at detection and imaging of radioactive sources.”

IARPA Research Developing “Anticipatory Intelligence.”

C4ISR & Networks  (9/23, Corrin) reports the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, “the intelligence community’s high-risk, high-payoff science lab,” is researching methods for “targeting the calculation and prediction of the unpredictable” through its “Office for Anticipating Surprise.” Jason Matheny, IARPA director, explained the team hopes to develop forecasts for “things like political instability, disease events, economic crises and cyberattacks” before they occur. IARPA in one instance collected two million forecasts from 15,000 on hundreds of events to gauge what sort of expertise could go into creating such forecasts through “crowd wisdom,” as Matheny explained. Another program is CAUSE, or “Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment,” which “seeks to predict coming cyberattacks by studying behavioral data from unconventional sources.”

New Research Underscores “Invisibility Cloaks” Still Far From Practical Use.

Vice  (9/24) reports an “Ultrathin Invisibility Cloak” developed by the Department of Energy’s lab at the University of California, Berkeley is a “neat accomplishment,” but “is not, however, a sign that practical invisibility cloaks are close to being a reality,” as it is only able to “cover no more than a few human cells.” Outlining other camouflage technology, Vice says a “great example of both mimesis and active camouflage is a system developed by BAE called ADAPTIV,” which uses IR emitters to hide vehicles like tanks from IR sensors. Such systems, however, run into problems against other kinds of sensors like radar or human sight, driving the need for alternative technology such as the invisibility cloak research.

Global Developments

SHAPE Program To Develop New Manufacturing Process For Aerospace Components.

The Engineer  (9/23, Ford) reports that under the Self-Healing Alloys for Precision Engineering (SHAPE) program, which received a grant after being submitted to the Innovate UK’s competition, Ilika, Reliance Precision Engineering, Sheffield University, GKN, and BAE Systems will “develop a new generation of self-healing alloys suitable for additive manufacturing (AM) processes followed by the development of a metallic manufacturing process that is as flexible as AM and as precise as subtractive manufacturing.” The goal of the project is “to overcome the challenges faced in the design of aerospace components with lower weight, structural integrity and functional performance.”

Industry News

SpaceLS Hopes To Compete With Private Launch Firms With Prometheus 1.

The Engineer  (9/23, Knight) reports Space Launch Services (SpaceLS) is developing “a commercial rocket designed to launch small satellites into orbit.” The British firm “is hoping to compete with private launch firms such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and RocketLab with its rocket, known as Prometheus 1.” The Rocker “will be propelled by a 75,000 pound-force, bi-propellant engine, called Raptoex,” which will be fueled by hydrogen peroxide and kerosene.

Engineering and Public Policy

Amyris Receives $34.2 Million Bioengineering Infrastructure Contract.

Military & Aerospace Electronics  (9/23, Keller) reports that Amyris received a $34.2 million contract “as part of a program to develop a biology-engineering infrastructure” for the US Defense Department. The company will “seek to create a revolutionary, biologically based technology platform to provide new materials, capabilities, and manufacturing paradigms for the US military” under the contract, which is expected to be completed by October 2019.

White House Looking To Expedite Infrastructure Projects.

Commercial Carrier Journal  (9/23, Cole) reports that the White House “announced a set of actions Tuesday for federal agencies to help track the progress of the projects” in a bid to expedite infrastructure construction. The guidance memo “requires agencies to post project schedules, including all needed federal permits and reviews, as well as progress updates along the way,” the article reports. “To deliver infrastructure projects that achieve real impacts for the American people, we need to act with urgency and recognize that every day counts,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “[Tuesday]’s actions help us get there. We are pushing ourselves to improve efficiency, coordination and collaboration, so that federal permitting becomes a sprint rather than a relay race,” he added.

Engineering News Record  (9/23, Ichniowski) reports that the White House memo also widens “the scope of the Dept. of Transportation’s four-year-old project-permit ‘dashboard,’ which tracks large projects as they move through environmental and other regulatory studies.” In addition, “Administration officials have updated the ‘Red Book,’ a 30-year-old federal guide that outlines ways for agency officials to expedite environmental studies,” the article reports.

The story was also covered by Progressive Rail Roading  (9/23).

Invenergy To Build 20-Megawatt North Carolina Solar Project For Dominion.

Power Engineering  (9/24) reports that Invenergy Clean Power has announced a deal with Dominion to build and transfer ownership of the 20-megawatt Morgans Corner solar facility. The project is Invenergy’s first in North Carolina and “more than 3,400 MW of Invenergy’s solar projects are in various stages of development across North America,” Power Engineering reports.

Mercury Scrubbers Lower Other Coal Plant Pollutants.

The East Oregonian  (9/23, Plaven) reports that “mercury scrubbers” installed in 2011 at the Boardman Coal Plant have resulted in lower “concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons along the Columbia Basin,” according to research by Oregon State University. That decline was “unexpected.” The scrubbers resulted in a 90 percent drop in mercury emissions, and “two groups of harmful hydrocarbons fell by 40 and 72 percent.” The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences funded the study.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Opinion: STEM Education Complements Other Subjects.

In an Education Week  (9/23, Myers and Berkowicz) opinion piece, Sage Colleges professor Ann Myers and SUNY professor Jill Berkowicz, outline how STEM education should be broad and not narrow. The two professors say that STEM education is misunderstood when people believe that it will detract from other subjects like the liberal arts. The piece goes on to describe how STEM or STEAM education can prepare students for work in the 21st century by allowing children to use skills learned from other subjects to solve STEM problems and vice versa.

NSF Awards $3.6 Million To University Of Colorado To Research STEM Learning.

The Denver Business Journal  (9/23, Hendee, Subscription Publication) reports the National Science Foundation awarded two grants to the University of Colorado’s campuses in Boulder and Denver totaling $3.6 million to fund their Learning Assistants Programs. The programs will help students enroll in STEM classes learn what types of hands-on activities are “best for engaging students in the classroom.” The programs should also increase enrollment in STEM classes and interest in STEM careers by improving the learning methods used in such classes.

South Carolina Elementary School Named First Lego Education Model School.

The Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal  (9/23, Fox) reports Jesse Bobo Elementary School in Spartanburg, South Carolina “has been named the nation’s first Lego Education Model School.” The school has used Legos in the classroom for three years for “cross-curriculum activities in every subject”, and also recently opened a Lego Lab for special lessons. Principal Thomas Webster says the school has embraced “teaching by emphasizing 21st century skills.”

Arizona City With Lego Robotics Team Plans To Compete In Tournament.

The Kingman (AZ) Daily Miner  (9/24, Abella) reports a Lego robotics team from Kingman, Arizona is competing in the Lego League tournament this year. The theme of this year’s competition is “Trash Trek” where teams will have to build robots that can complete challenges like “trash pickup, compost, sorting and recycling.” Kingman’s Team 60 includes people who have competed in previous tournaments helping first timers learn how to work with Lego Mindstorms, a programmable Lego brick that can be used to build robots.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Clinton Comes Out Against Keystone.
PwC Announces Student Loan Help For Employees, Joining Growing National Trend.
Researchers Design AI System That Can Nearly Match Average Math Score On SAT.
Game Engine Backing Of HoloLens Seen As Good Sign.
Government IT Chiefs Discuss Cyber Security After OPM Hack.
Opinions Divided About Current Push To Teach More Children Programming.

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