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

Leading the News

WPost Evaluates EPA’s New Ozone Regulations.

An editorial in the Washington Post  (10/6) says the Administration’s “push to change ozone regulations” is late, considering that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA “must reevaluate its ozone regulations every five years and update them according to current science.” The Post adds that with the new standards issued by the EPA last week, “health complications from dirty air would still occur, but they would decrease,” and notes that “the level the EPA chose is at the high end of the range of options it was considering, which is a significant concession to industry.”

Inhofe Blasts New Ozone Rule. Regarding the new ozone standards, Sen. Jim Inhofe writes in USA Today  (10/6, Inhofe) that “not only does the new ozone standard impose very real, draconian economic costs on states across the country, but it is veiled in the false promise of environmental benefits.” Inhofe continues that “the rule exhibits a flippant disregard for rural and high-elevation communities that have no control over naturally occurring ground-level ozone.” The Obama Administration “should have given states and counties across the country the opportunity to fully meet the 2008 standard before implementing this frivolous and costly mandate.”

Grunwald: Obama Administration Rules Changing Power Industry’s “Trajectory.” Michael Grunwald writes for Politico  (10/6, Grunwald) that “the relatively weak ozone rules the Obama administration unveiled Wednesday upset some environmentalists who want to see much more aggressive action against coal industry.” The EPA’s “limits on the disposal of coal ash…were also rather mild.” But to “focus too intensely” on “any one of those rules is to miss the dramatic effect of the overall flurry” because “over the last six-plus years, in addition to the relatively modest restrictions on ozone, ash, and arguably carbon, the Obama administration has issued much tougher regulations limiting soot, sulfur dioxide, and mercury emissions from coal plants.” When added “all together, Obama’s new rules are absolutely changing the trajectory of the power industry.”

Higher Education

Lilly Endowment Foundation Pledges $50 Million To UNCF.

The Washington Post  (10/6, Anderson) reports that on Monday the Lilly Endowment Foundation pledged $50 million to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), which would be the second-largest gift in UNCF history. UNCF plans to choose recipients of the funds “after an application and vetting process that will begin next month.” The gift is directed at career development at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which the article notes is a focus throughout many institutions of higher education aside from HBCUs.

AP Analysis: Student Debt Now Spans Multiple Generations.

The AP  (10/5, Boak) reports on the “disturbing new phenomenon” of student loans spanning multiple generations following “America’s crushing surge of student debt” that currently stands at $1.2 trillion. The AP’s data analysis found school loans were increasingly held by those over age 40, with those from 35 to 50 years old owing as much as “fresh” college graduates. In addition “Student debt is surpassing groceries as a primary expense for many borrowers,” the AP found. Some debtors are forced to forego home ownership, while others make career decisions to qualify for loan forgiveness.

NSF Grant Will Help Colorado State University Train Engineers To Be STEM Teachers.

The Denver Business Journal  (10/5, Subscription Publication) reports the National Science Foundation awarded a $593,000 grant to the Colorado State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to help engineers become teachers in STEM fields. CSU professor Michael De Miranda said, “Engineering students are well-trained in how to get young people to connect the STEM dots and understand the connections between the natural world and the designed world.”

UCSB, US Navy Partner To Create New Summer STEM Learning Program For College Students.

The Santa Barbara (CA) Noozhawk  (10/6, Logan) reports UC Santa Barbara and the US Navy are working together to start a new program next summer called PIPELINES that will “expose veterans and underrepresented community college students to civilian STEM careers in the Navy.” The new program will be called PIPELINES. During the program, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Expeditionary Warfare Center at a navy base in Ventura County, California “will host 10 community college and five UCSB undergraduate students for a paid, eight-week immersion into real-world Navy engineering design problems.”

International Group Of Universities Creating New Online University For Refugees.

The Huffington Post  (10/6, Erbentraut) reports Kiron University, based in Berlin, is working with 20 universities around the world to launch an online university to help “refugees continue their education and work toward a brighter future.” The group wants the new university to offer three-year degrees that are internationally accredited. The first year would focus on general education classes, the second year would allow students to take electives in five concentration areas, and the third year students will be able to transfer to one of the partner universities to complete their degrees. Students will not be required to submit official documents until the third year, giving them time to obtain the documents they need that are often lost when refugees have to flee their countries of origin.

North Dakota Wants To Increase Students Taking AP Exams.

The AP  (10/6) reports North Dakota superintendent Kirsten Baesler said she wants to increase the number of students who start college with a semester’s worth of credits to 25%. Fewer than 2,000 students in the state took AP exams last year.

NYU Engineering School To Be Renamed For Donors Who Gave $100 Million.

The AP  (10/6) reports Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon donated $100 million to New York University’s School of Engineering, which will be renamed the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

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Research and Development

Mechanical Engineer Researches Permanent Damage To Hair From Straightening.

Reuters  (10/5, Gruber) reports on Purdue University Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tahira Reid’s research on how much heat can be applied to hair during straightening before permanent damage is caused. Reid utilized an infrared microscope using the same examination process employed for carbon nanotubes. Reuters notes that Reid’s research is continuing as hair’s reaction to heat varies based on ethnicity.

Longest NASA Mars Simulation Profiled.

Carrying an article from the Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier  (10/2, Paul), the AP  (10/6, Paul) summarizes Purdue University doctoral student Jocelyn Dunn’s participation in the third HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) mission, wherein NASA simulated a mission to Mars, providing students an experience in isolation and sensory deprivation. Dunn is “analyzing the data from the mission as she writes her dissertation,” which was obtained from technology including “Jawbone wristbands and Hexoskin biometric shirts” that measured stress levels, among other indicators. Although the eight-month simulation was the longest ever Mars analog simulation, a “yearlong mission taking place on the same volcano” will break the record.

Researchers Develop Artificial Intelligence Program Mimicking A Dragonfly’s Eyesight.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/6, D4, Pannett, Subscription Publication) reports that scientists in Australia have come up with an artificial intelligence program mimicking a dragonfly’s eyesight. The discoveries made during this development may someday help improve the vision of people who are nearly blind and may also assist artificial sight technologies.

Industry News

Startup Planning To Use Drones For “Precision Forestry.”

Gizmodo  (10/6) reports startup BioCarbon Engineering, founded by former NASA engineer Lauren Fletcher, wants to use UAVs to create a “precision planting platform” for reforestation. The “precision forestry” approach will utilize a drone to acquire data in the planting areas, and then fire seed pods at ideal positions, cutting down on costs for the usually messy and labor-intensive process of reforestation. The team presented their plan to the United Nations Headquarters in New York at the Solutions Summit, and is eyeing expansion.

Engineering and Public Policy

WSJournal Blasts EPA’s Rejection Of Pebble Mine Project.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/6, Subscription Publication) says a new report on the EPA’s rejection of Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine project demonstrates an abuse of government power and disregard for the law and calls on the agency’s inspector general and Congress to look into the matter.

Wisconsin Engineering Firm Wins FAA Commercial UAV Exemption.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (10/6) reports Brookfield, Wisconsin-based civil and structural engineering and surveying firm R.A. Smith National on Monday announced “it has been granted a Federal Aviation Administration exemption to use drones commercially.” The firm, one of only a few in Wisconsin granted the exemption, “plans to use the unmanned aircraft systems in surveying and construction monitoring work.”

California On Pace To Meet Renewable Goals.

The New York Times  (10/6, Gardiner, Subscription Publication) reports that California is well on its way toward meeting the state’s 2020 goal for renewable energy use, as “contracts already in place virtually guarantee that the state will reach its goal of getting 33% of electricity from renewables by 2020.” So far the increase in renewables has done little to decrease reliability. David Olsen, a governor on the board of Cal-ISO, said “when we get to 40 percent, 50 percent, that will definitely be an issue,” but he remains “highly confident that we will be able to operate the grid reliably when it is dominated by renewable energy.” The Times adds that with California’s success, other states and countries are looking to learn from the state.

Community Solar Increasing In Popularity.

Bloomberg BNA  (10/6) carries an article discussing the increasing popularity of community solar projects, which according to Bloomberg is “a largely untapped market for consumers looking to invest in solar electricity.” The article says that “the majority of projects today are utility-sponsored,” citing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s investment in community solar as an example. According to the article, electric utilities which purchase power from TVA have indicated an increasing interest in distributed generation resources. TVA senior manager for renewable energy solutions Neil Placer explained, “From our vantage point, we want to do what we can to encourage our local utilities’ engagement and involvement in helping to develop distributed generation as we go forward,” adding that “community solar is a very attractive business model for us to explore and let the local power companies take a leadership role in.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Kentucky Joins Plan To Improve Career Preparation Programs In Schools.

The Bowling Green (KY) Daily News  (10/6, Mason) reports the Council of Chief School Officers Career Readiness Task Force released a report “Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students”, which 17 states, including Kentucky, are now trying to implement. The report recommends “giving students more choices earlier in life” and preparing students for “what business and industry wants.” One Kentucky program called “Be the Change” teaches students about being respectful and punctual to help them obtain and retain jobs using “soft skills.” Bowling Green Independent School District superintendent Gary Fields said his schools have shifted in focus. Twenty years ago his goal was to get everyone ready for college, now his goal is to help students be ready for college or careers right out of high school.

US Struggles With Setting, Keeping Science Standards.

The Ars Technica  (10/6) outlines why states struggle so much with setting science standards. A group of scientific organizations and science teachers joined together to create the Next Generation Science Standards, which have been adopted by several states. The article highlights difficulties common to all science standards though. Unlike some subjects, learning new material in science often heavily relies on having prior knowledge so science standards that build off of each other have to be consistent for a significant period of time. Another problem with science standards is that the subject often becomes political in the US because lawmakers often have strong opinions about the science curriculum so they are regularly changed for political reasons.

Monday’s Lead Stories

Northrop Grumman Holds National Manufacturing Week Events For Students.
ED Grant Helps Expand STEM Education At Santa Monica College With Internship Program.
National Science Foundation Funds Cybermanufacturing Projects.
French Agencies To Work On Reusable First Rocket Stage.
Rail Industry Conference Begins Today.
New Smog Standard Released.
Lockheed Martin Ambassador For Students Profiled.


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