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

Leading the News

UT Austin Engineers Develop Wearable Patch Breakthrough.

AOL  (10/1) reports that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering have “invented a way to produce inexpensive and highly technological wearable patches” that monitor vital signs, saying the researchers are “taking wearable technology to a whole new level with tattoo-like electronic patches that track your health.” The patches are “flexible and ultra thin layers that stick to the skin just like temporary tattoos.”

Engadget  (9/30) reports that manufacturing the devices is currently time consuming and expensive, but notes that the new procedure “whittles the assembly time down to 20 minutes, and should reduce the cost in the process. The technique involves little more than cutting shapes out of metal placed on polymer sheets, and then printing the electronics on to polymer adhesives.”

The Economic Times (IND)  (10/8) and WT VOX (UK)  (10/8) also cover this story.

Gov. Brown Signs Climate Change Bill To Spur Renewable Energy Generation.

The Los Angeles Times  (10/8, Megerian) reports that on Wednesday California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed climate change bill SB 350, which requires the state to “generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, up from the current target of 33% by 2020,” in order to “stimulate the development of more solar and wind power plants.” The article says that in a compromise with oil companies, CA Senate leader Kevin de León (D) cut a portion of the bill that “would have required reduced gasoline use on California roads.”

In its “National Briefing,” the New York (NY) Times  (10/8, A20, Lovett, Subscription Publication) called the removed provision that would have mandated a 50 percent reduction in the state’s petroleum use the bill’s “centerpiece.” The AP  (10/7) provides video reporting online of Gov. Brown’s statements. The Hill  (10/8, Cama) also covers this story.

California Continues To Take The Legislative Lead. The Christian Science Monitor  (10/8, Goodale) highlights the radical nature of the legislation, saying it “wouldn’t get past the front steps of the Capitol in Washington.” The article puts the bill in the context of other “landmark” legislation recently enacted in California, including bills “mandating gender pay equity, legalizing assisted suicide, and setting up an ambitious data collection program to combat racial profiling in law enforcement.” The Monitor also focuses on California’s “aggressive lawmaking” that provides government services to undocumented immigrants despite a lack of Federal action.

NSF Gives Oregon State University $4.5 Million Nanotech Research Grant.

The Corvallis (OR) Gazette-Times  (10/8) reports that the National Science Foundation has given Oregon State University a $4.5 million grant “to take its nanotechnology efforts to a new level,” quoting chemical engineering professor Greg Herman saying, “The main focus of this grant is to provide funds to support scientific/engineering resources available at (the University of Washington) and OSU and make them part of a national network in the area of nanotechnology-enabled research and products.”

Higher Education

New College Admissions Platform Pushes Back Start Date.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (10/8) reports that the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, in an email to college counselors Wednesday, said that it is pushing back the start date of its “much-talked-about effort to ‘recast’ the college-admissions process.” The piece notes that the move comes amid “worries among counselors and others that the effort is moving too fast.”

MIT Announces Online “MicroMaster’s” Program.

The Washington Post  (10/8, Anderson) reports that MIT has announced “an online track for getting a certain type of master’s degree, an experiment with the potential to open up its admissions process to the world as never before.” The supply chain management courses will be offered via the online edX platform, and students who pass “can earn what’s called a ‘MicroMaster’s’ from the online unit of MIT called MITx.”

Chicago Mayor Announces New Scholarship Program For Students Who Attend Chicago Public Schools And Community Colleges.

The Chicago Sun-Times  (10/7, Esposito) reports Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Star Partnership, a program that will offer scholarships to students who attend Chicago public schools and City Colleges of Chicago community colleges to finish their college education at other colleges in the Chicago area. Emanuel said the program “will help ensure that our hard-working graduates remain in Chicago for college, and continue to contribute their talents and skills to our growing economy and communities.” Six Chicago-area universities have signed up for the program so far: DePaul University, Governors State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, National Louis University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

University Of Indianapolis Will Begin Offering Engineering Degrees Next Fall.

The Indianapolis Business Journal  (10/8) reports the University of Indianapolis will begin offering degrees in engineering next fall to meet rising demand. President Robert Manuel said, “We have a history of creating programs that connect the academy to the world around it.” The degrees will teach industrial engineering and software engineering, because both fields are in high-demand now.

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Research and Development

Mayo Clinic, Medtronic Researchers Get $6.8M From NIH For Epileptic Seizure Smart Device.

Fierce Medical Devices  (10/8, Lawrence) reports that the National Institutes of Health has awarded researchers at Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, and Medtronic a $6.8 million, five-year grant “to develop technology to predict, track and treat epileptic seizures.” The grant was awarded under the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) launched by President Obama.

Industry News

Engineering Firm Saving Time, Money With UAVs.

The Kansas City (MO) Star  (10/8, Hack) reports that engineering firm Burns & McDonnell on Wednesday demonstrated the DJI Inspire 1, “one of its growing fleet of drones that it uses to scout project sites and to inspect and monitor infrastructure during and after construction.” Steven Santovasi, manager of geospatial services at the firm, said, “Using UAVs allowed us to do our job safer, more efficiently and significantly faster, saving our client time and money.”

Boeing Secures Optical Space Tracking Contract With USAF.

Space News  (10/7, Subscription Publication) reports that according to a September 30 announcement by the Defense Department, the US Air Force has awarded a $13.7 million sole-source contract to Boeing to assist in designing and developing next-generation electro-optical observation systems and to conduct experiments at two federal tracking sites. Space News says that “the deal is part of Boeing’s Innovative Research and Optical Site Support contract,” which is set to be completed in March 31, 2016.

Engineering and Public Policy

Bipartisan Plan Would Tax Overseas Profits To Fund Transportation Projects.

The Hill  (10/7, Laing) reported that a proposal to “to tax overseas profits to pay for US transportation projects” is “the ‘only possible path forward’ for passing a highway bill in the House this month,” according to the sponsors of legislation containing the plan, “known as repatriation.” In a letter to Majority Leader McCarthy, Reps. Richard Hanna and John Delaney, wrote, “Our bipartisan bill, the Infrastructure 2.0 Act would use international tax reform to add $120 billion to the Highway Trust Fund and establish a new $50 billion infrastructure finance vehicle for use by states and local municipalities.” The lawmakers said the repatriation idea has support, “even if there is disagreement among lawmakers on the potential tax rates and the amount of revenue that should be dedicated to transportation.”

House Panel Told Airliner-Drone Collision Is Coming.

The Washington Post  (10/8, Halsey) says there was “virtual consensus” among “lawmakers, pilots, experts and the Federal Aviation Administration” on Wednesday, during a hearing of the House subcommittee on aviation, that with “airline pilots reporting close encounters with unmanned drones more than three times a day, it’s just a matter of time before there is a mid-air collision that could carry deadly consequences.”

Volkswagen US CEO Knew Of “Possible Emissions Non-Compliance” In Spring 2014.

The New York Times  (10/7, Ivory, Ewing, Subscription Publication) reports that Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said he knew of “a possible emissions non-compliance” in spring 2014, earlier than the German automaker’s top executives in the US previously have acknowledged. According to testimony prepared in advance of a congressional hearing set for Thursday, Horn said the company’s engineers planned to work with the EPA to resolve the issue, and later in 2014, “he was told that Volkswagen’s technical teams had a specific plan” for compliance.

Flint, Michigan Officials No Longer Reassuring Public About Water Supply.

The New York Times  (10/8, Davey, Subscription Publication) reports that after months of “soothing talk” from Flint, Michigan officials “about the peculiar colors and odors” residents say they found in their water supply since the city adopted a new source in 2014, the reassurances have ceased. In recent weeks, “testing has shown increased levels of lead in the blood of some Flint children – and health officials pointed to the water as a possible source.”

States Contend EPA Blocking Legal Challenges Against Clean Power Plan.

The Washington Times  (10/8, Wolfgang) reports that officials from 14 states on Wednesday filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the federal government “to find out why the EPA has yet to publish the so-called Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register.” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement, “This harms the states and undermines the availability of review by our courts.” In an email response, EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen said, “EPA is following the normal process with the Office of the Federal Register,” adding that the agency expects “that the final rule will be published in the Federal Register by late October.”

EPA Regulation Of Greenhouse Gases Advocated.

Contributing editor to The Atlantic Gregg Easterbrook writes in an op-ed for the New York Times  (10/8, A31, Easterbrook, Subscription Publication) advocating for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be granted authority to regulate greenhouse gases, the accumulation of which is “increasing steadily in the atmosphere.” Easterbroook says that while smog “has been decreasing steadily,” the federal government “has well-defined authority to act” on that issue “but not on the one that’s getting worse.” He also suggests modernization of recycling programs as well, as they were formed under false beliefs that the planet was “running out of primary materials, and of landfill space.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Chevron Sponsors Robotic Team.

The Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel  (10/8) reports that Chevron continued its sponsorship of the Hi Fives Robotic Team last week, when the company gave the team $7,000. The Daily Sentinel adds that “the Hi-Fives won the Xerox-sponsored Creative Engineering Award” this year.

Duncan Addresses STEM, Classroom Technology At Texas Hispanic STEM Conference.

The Latin Post  (10/7) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan took part in the annual Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology week at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, where he “talked about the importance of closing the diversity gap in technology careers by closing the technology gap” in schools. Duncan too part in “a panel discussing the importance of getting young Latinos to think about technology not just as products, but as the result of imagination and expertise.” Duncan stressed that “the education system needs to change make sure all students get exposed to those cutting-edge tools.” The piece quotes him saying, “So much of what we have to do right here in this community, South Texas, and around the country is just to provide exposure. It’s hard to imagine doing something that you have no idea about.”

The Rio Grande Valley (TX) Morning Star  (10/8) reports that Duncan called for “less investment on textbooks and more on devices,” and stressed the need for an emphasis on STEM subjects and blended learning. This piece explains that the panel was “part of the week-long Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology week (HESTEC), which focuses on exposing middle school, high school and college students to careers in the STEM fields.” The article quotes Duncan saying, “Seeing something like this was just an idea 13, 14 years ago, grow into some-thing with this impact and power is extraordinary.” KVEO-TV  Harlingen, TX (10/8) also covers this story.

An editorial in the McAllen (TX) Monitor  (10/8) praises the event, saying “its mission is as strong and defined as ever: to encourage Hispanic students to pursue degrees in STEM fields and to be our country’s innovative leaders of tomorrow.” The article notes that Duncan spoke at the event, where he “touted the importance of higher education for youth.”

Seven States Sign Up For Initiative To Improve Career And Technical Education.

Education Week  (10/7, Adams) reports 17 states have signed up for the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Career Readiness Initiative, which aims to “make career technical education relevant, rigorous, and accountable.”

Boy Scouts Of America Launches Co-Ed “STEM Scouts” Program.

The Marshfield (WI) News Herald  (10/7, Welter) reports the Boy Scouts of America has launched a new program called STEM Scouts, which will offer boys and girls an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in STEM fields by working laboratories, conducting scientific experiments, and working with local STEM professionals. The program is being piloted in 12 councils across the US.

Department Of Defense Gives $1 Million STEM Education Grant To Mississippi School District.

The Biloxi (MS) Sun Herald  (10/8) reports the Department of Defense Education Activity has awarded a $1 million five-year grant to Biloxi School District in Mississippi to improve STEM education and support military families. The grant aims to help children in military families close learning gaps that can develop from changing schools frequently.

US Army, Hispanic Heritage Foundation Host Event In Houston To Expose Hispanic Students To STEM Careers.

The Houston Chronicle  (10/8, Rahman) reports the US Army and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation co-hosted an all-day symposium on STEM career opportunities at the University of Houston. STEM professionals, including Army personnel, participated in a panel discussion and workshops to expose local students to different pathways to STEM careers including military service. Similar events will be held at cities across the country, but Houston was the first stop on the tour where the majority of students are Hispanic, but a relatively small portion of them pursue STEM education or careers after high school.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Volkswagen, Senior EPA Officials To Testify Before Congressional Oversight Committee.
New Research Raises Concerns About For-Profit Colleges That Convert To Non-Profits.
Carnegie Mellon And Boeing Announce New Lab To Study Aerospace Industry Data.
Leidos Prime Contractor On $950M Air Force Contract For Architectural Engineering.
Two Groups Push Climate Change Initiatives In Washington State.
Duncan Takes Part In Texas Education Tech Panel Discussion.

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