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Leading the News

Northrop Grumman Holds National Manufacturing Week Events For Students.

The AP  (10/3, Weathers) reported that Northrop Grumman will hold National Manufacturing Week events at each of its 12 locations in the US. The article focuses on students in Maryland who assembled prosthetic hands, to be donated to charity, that were created using 3D printers. Ingrid Vaughan, the company’s vice president of manufacturing said, “It’s a chance to showcase manufacturing as a career for our STEM students.”

High School Students Visit Manufacturing Facilities, Labs For National Manufacturing Day.

High school students around the country toured manufacturing facilities and laboratories for National Manufacturing Day.

Chicago Students Visit Innovative Manufacturing Lab On Manufacturing Day. The Chicago Sun-Times  (10/5, Judge) reports about 50 Chicago Public Schools students “enrolled in manufacturing classes got a good look at the NZ-2000 and other industrial machines at Manufacturing Day, a local event organized by World Business Chicago and UI Labs.” The NZ-2000 is a “12-axis turn/mill system” or a “machine for making things.” Students were brought to a research and development center on Friday to tour an innovative manufacturing facility and advance their own career and technical education.

Alabama High School Students Will Visit Labs For Manufacturing Day. The Gadsden (AL) Times  (10/3) reports Gadsden State Community College and the Consortium for Alabama’s Regional Center for Automotive Manufacturing will host two events for National Manufacturing Day at the college’s Ayers Campus and East Broad Campus. Local high school students will visit the Alabama Robotics Technology Park’s mobile lab and Gadsden State’s state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing labs.

Higher Education

ED Grant Helps Expand STEM Education At Santa Monica College With Internship Program.

The Santa Monica (CA) Daily Press  (10/3, Smith) reports Santa Monica College is expanding its STEM education opportunities through a partnership with the University of California Los Angeles. UCLA selected 18 students from the college to participate in 10-week paid research internships that required using and developing STEM skills. One participant worked on building a robotic arm, while another searched for antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria. The program was funded an ED five-year $5.8 million grant in 2011.

ED Report Calls For Easing Bankruptcy Requirements To Wipe Student Loan Debt.

Inside Higher Ed  (10/2, Stratford) reported that a Department of Education report “outlined a range of recommendations for improving the nation’s student loan system, most of which require congressional action,” with “the most significant proposal” possibly being the call for making it easier for bankruptcy to remove private student loan borrowers’ debt, something long sought by consumer advocates and some congressional Democrats. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said, “All other types of consumer debt are dischargeable in bankruptcy and we think private student loans are a glaring exception,” adding, “We feel strongly that while there are protections built into the [federal] direct loan program that are important for borrowers, there aren’t parallel protections for borrowers in the private student loan market.” Mitchell also said, “We think it’s important to do what we can to create those protections, and we think starting with a bankruptcy provision is the way to go.” The report also calls for expanding the department’s powers to hold college executives personally liable for fraud at their institutions and outlines general principles for improving the Education Department system for hiring companies to collect federal student loans.

Congressional Republicans Examine Federal College Aid, Tuition Increases.

The Washington Examiner  (10/5, Lawler) reports that a House Ways and Means subcommittee has a hearing scheduled “on the rising cost of college and the role that federal tax policy may play in driving it,” and a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee saw “Republican lawmakers and conservative witnesses blamed federal student loans and aid for allowing colleges to boost tuitions.” However, “Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in July that the department had historical data suggesting that aid and federal loans do not increase tuition.” Also, the role of federal policy in increasing tuition costs “has been highlighted by conservatives,” but other factions include “states cutting back on subsidies for public schools and shifting costs to students.”

WSJournal: New Accreditation Process Needed For Higher Education.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal  (10/5, Subscription Publication) hails an effort by Sens. Marco Rubio and Michael Bennett for pushing legislation that would limit the ability of existing colleges and universities, operating under various agencies chartered by the Education Department, to block the emergence of alternative low-cost competitors by denying them access to federal aid.

President Obama’s Plan For Tuition-Free Community College Stalled In Congress Without Republican Support.

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel  (10/5, Collins) reports President Barack Obama’s plan to make community colleges tuition-free is stalled in Congress. Democrats have sponsored bills that would enact Obama’s plans in the House and Senate, but no Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor those bills in either house.

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Research and Development

National Science Foundation Funds Cybermanufacturing Projects.

The Kansas City (MO) infoZine  (10/5) reports, “The National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided more than $6.5 million in awards for” 30 projects involving 28 universities that “will research, prototype and test new Web-based manufacturing operating systems and apps to run on them.” The goal is to “enable the growth of web-based manufacturing services in much the same way that Internet-based services have transformed financial, retail and personal service sectors.”

IBM Working On Crowdsourcing-Based Virtual Assistant.

Amir Mizroch wrote in a Wall Street Journal  (10/2) “Digits” blog reports a team from IBM and Cardiff University are developing an experimental virtual assistant that uses knowledge crowdsourced from users, rather than data networks or the Internet, to deliver answers. Called Sherlock, or Simple Human Experiment Regarding Locally Observed Collective Knowledge, the virtual assistant aims to provide people real-time data supplied by the crowd of other users, which the research team says could prove especially useful in providing up-to-the-minute information during emergencies, for policing, or at large events like concerts.


Cal Poly Students Working On Underwater Mapping Research.

KSBY-TV  San Luis Obispo, CA (10/5) reports that Cal Poly students and researchers “are working on underwater mapping in Malta,” and are using “underwater equipment to design archaeological maps, pinpointing shipwrecks that date back to World War II.” Researchers say that “the technology can make research easier and safer.”

Global Developments

French Agencies To Work On Reusable First Rocket Stage.

Space News  (10/2, de Selding, Subscription Publication) reported that French space agency CNES, and France’s ONERA aerospace research institute are joining forces to study a launch system that would have the entire first stage return to its launch base for reuse. Airbus is working on a design that have reusable engines and part of the avionics suite, with the company saying, the words of the New, “that returning the entire first stage for refurbishment and reuse would not improve the economics of launching satellites.”

Industry News

Rail Industry Conference Begins Today.

Railway Age Magazine  (10/4, Wanek-Libman) reports that the rail industry is gathering for “the largest gathering of the North American rail industry,” Railway Interchange 2015, which begins today, Sunday, October 4, and goes through October 7. According to the story, some of the “technical sessions will explore the latest research in railroad engineering, signals, operations and technology,” such as “tank car safety and Positive Train Control.”

SolarCity Develops High-Efficiency Solar Panel.

On Friday, the rooftop solar energy company SolarCity announced that it had created “high-efficiency panels in an effort to reduce the cost of the electricity they sell,” The New York Times  (10/3, Cardwell, Subscription Publication) reports. The Times notes that the energy output of the new panels measures at more than 22 percent and that SolarCity will begin manufacturing in Silicon Valley this month.

Bloomberg News  (10/3, Martin) also reported that the photovoltaic panels were piloted at a plant in Fremont, California and that they will “reach full production in December or January,” with another 1,000 megawatt plant to open in Buffalo, New York in 2017.

Moreover, TIME  (10/3, Worland) reported that the new solar panels “will produce 30 to 40% more power than standard panels while costing less than the average panel now when manufactured at scale,” as indicated by SolarCity.

Yet, the Christian Science Monitor  (10/3, Chen) reported that, while this new panel may be viewed as the “holy-grail” of “home solar energy,” it is not a significant amount of change. The Monitor notes that other panels are almost as efficient, such as SunPower’s X-series panels, with “21.5 percent module-level efficiency.” They also state that there are more efficient panels in existence, but that manufacturing costs are prohibitive. SolarCity stands out for having lower manufacturing costs.

Engineering and Public Policy

New Smog Standard Released.

On Thursday, the AP  (10/3, Daly) reports that the federal government “established stricter limits on the smog-causing pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness,” which drew immediate “condemnation from business leaders and Republicans who warned of damage to the economy.” The EPA has stated that the new standard “will reduce exposure to dangerous ozone pollution and prevent thousands of asthma attacks and emergency room visits and hundreds of premature deaths each year.” However, environmental groups have argued the reduction in smog levels is still not enough and is still close to the previous standard.

Colorado Fails To Meet New Federal Smog Standards. With the EPA’s Thursday decision to lower the national limit on smog standards, the Denver Post  (10/3, Finley) reported that cities like Denver and ten others have been “dinged” for their inability to meet the new guidelines. The new standards “ratchet[s] the current 75 parts per billion ozone limit to 70 ppb.” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stated, “We’ve got to reduce ozone … This is not something people are just thinking is harmful. There’s quite a lot of science that says these pollutants, long-term, cause asthma, diminish peoples’ health.” Denver’s ozone pollution are currently “at harmful levels.”

Analysis: Natural Gas Hindering Growth In Energy Storage.

The Washington Post  (10/3, Mooney) reports that the energy storage business “might already be much further along if not for one major countervailing economic factor.” The Post notes that energy storage has been viewed as “a game changer,” because it allows for the potential storage of solar and wind energy, to be used at different times. However, storage also “competes quite directly in many cases with natural gas, and in recent years, natural gas prices have been quite low.” They assert that cheap natural gas prices have hindered the growth in new forms of storage, which cost more but are more “desirable” in the long run.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Lockheed Martin Ambassador For Students Profiled.

Black Engineer  (10/5)profiled LaTasha Dandy, senior systems engineer in the F-35 Lightning II Program at Lockheed Martin, on her efforts to help female high school students prepare for STEM education and careers as a Lockheed Martin Ambassador for Engineers in the Classroom. She provides advice on getting excited for STEM topics, preparing for college, and getting training or job experience as an entryway to a career.

New Career And Technical Education School Opens In Basement Of Philadelphia High School.

KYW-TV  Philadelphia (10/2, Kuznits) reports Philadelphia opened the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, a career and technical education school, in the basement of Benjamin Franklin High School. The new school has “specialized classrooms that provide hands-on mechanical experience” to prepare students for careers at manufacturing companies by making classrooms more like job sites.

Sacramento School District Opens New Culinary Arts Center.

The Sacramento (CA) Bee  (10/3, Kalb) reports Washington Unified School District in Sacramento, California opened the new Culinary Arts and Farm To Fork Education (CAFFE) center. The center aims to teach River City High School students in the culinary arts and “launch up to 160 hospitality careers.”

Friday’s Lead Stories

EPA’s Ozone Pollution Rules Displease Both Industry, Environmentalists.
US Petroleum Engineering Degree Program Enrollment Down.
Boeing, Carnegie Mellon To Establish Aerospace Data Analytics Lab.
IT, Engineering Top “10 Toughest Jobs to Fill In 2016” Survey.
Boeing Receives Five-Year Contract Extension To Support ISS.
Smart Cities Would Require Massive Bandwith.
Houston Eighth Graders Tour Steel Plant On Manufacturing Day.


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