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

Leading the News

Appeals Court Halts EPA Water Rule Nationwide.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/10, Kendall, Harder, Subscription Publication) reports a Federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Friday to temporarily halt implementation nationwide of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation expanding the Clean Water Act.

The Washington Times  (10/10, Dinan, Wolfgang) describes the decision as “a major blow” to the Administration, “undercutting the EPA’s push to try to carry out the rule in the rest of the country.” The Times explains the majority criticized the EPA’s rule-making process “was ‘facially suspect’ because the agency” failed to open it to public comment and “also said there is no proof that American waters will suffer significant harm if the rule is put on hold.”

Meanwhile, The Hill  (10/10, Cama) reported the “Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered a stinging defeat to Obama’s most ambitious effort to keep streams and wetlands clean, saying it looks likely that the rule, dubbed Waters of the United States, is illegal.” According to the Hill, “The EPA said it will respect the court’s decision, but it believes the rule is legal and necessary.” The AP  (10/10, Flesher) adds Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe hailed the ruling as “a victory for all states, local governments, farmers, ranchers and landowners.”

WSJournal Praises Court For Stopping Clean Water Rule. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal  (10/12, A14, Subscription Publication) praises the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for stopping the EPA’s Clean Water Rule on the grounds that it likely exceeds the agency’s legal authority.

Higher Education

Defense Department Bans University Of Phoenix Recruitment On Military Bases.

The Los Angeles Times  (10/10, Puzzanghera, Kirkham, Zarembo) reports the Defense Department “has barred the University of Phoenix from recruiting students at US military bases and will not let new active-duty troops receive tuition assistance for the for-profit giant’s courses.” The Times describes the decision as “another blow to the University of Phoenix, which said it is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.”

The Washington Post  (10/10, Douglas-Gabriel) explains the Defense Department’s decision on Thursday “arrives amid allegations that the university sponsored recruiting events in violation of an executive order preventing for-profit colleges from gaining preferential access to the military.”

Justice, Education Departments Plan To Coordinate Investigations. The Wall Street Journal  (10/10, Kesling, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports a government official on Friday indicated the Defense and Education Departments have decided to coordinate their respective probes into the University of Phoenix.

Stanford Announces More Women Taking Computer Science.

The Christian Science Monitor  (10/10) reports that Stanford University has announced that “computer science has overtaken biology as its female students’ most popular major,” noting that increases of women taking computer science at colleges such as Stanford and Harvey Mudd College are spurred “by organizations committed to closing the gender gap in science and technology, like Girls Who Code and Ada Developers Academy.”

Report Explores Community College Financing Issues.

NBC News  (10/12) reports that a new report from the Association of Community College Trustees “finds that borrowers at two-year colleges face many of the same challenges funding their educations as their peers in four-year schools.” The report finds that “students who don’t earn a credential are more likely to default,” with early 90% of defaulters not completing studies.

September Prism Now Online
Cover: Chile overhauls 10 top engineering schools in a bid to join the world’s advanced economies.

This 3-minute video what makes ASEE unique, impactful, and member-driven.

Research and Development

UC San Diego To Unveil New Supercomputer.

The San Diego Union-Tribune  (10/10) reports that UC San Diego is set to begin operating a new supercomputer called Comet to its Supercomputer Center. The machine will be used by “as many as 10,000 researchers a year.” The machine is funded with a $24 million NSF grant.

FAA Authorizes University Of Cincinnati To Conduct UAS Tests With Five New Types Of Drones.

The University of Cincinnati  (10/10, Robinette) reports that the University of Cincinnati’s UAS test center in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics “just got a new lift from the Federal Aviation Administration,” a COA for testing “five types of UAVs, or drones, in Wilmington Air Park, less than an hour’s drive from campus.”

Industry News

City Council Approves Houston Spaceport Project Facility Purchase.

The Houston Chronicle  (10/10, Rumbaugh) reported that the Houston Spaceport project is “one step closer to liftoff” after members of the Houston City permitted the acquisition of a 53,000-square-foot aerospace engineering building, next to Ellington Airport, “to be used for a co-working space and incubator.” The Chronicle notes that prospective tenants include Intuitive Machines and Catapult Satellite Applications. In a news release, Arturo Machuca, general manager at Ellington Airport, said, “This building will allow us to solidify ongoing commercial relationships with established and emerging aerospace companies.”

Johnson Controls In Talks To Buy Battery Maker EnerSys.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (10/11, Content) cites the Wall Street Journal in reporting that Johnson Controls is in the “early stages” of talks to buy EnerSys, a major producer of industrial batteries for “everything from electric forklifts and telecommunications equipment to satellite and military drones.” The Sentinel notes that the purchase “would be a natural extension” for Johnson Controls, which “is the world’s largest producer of lead-acid batteries for cars and trucks” and “stop-start vehicles,” as well as a producer of “lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.” The company generated over $6 billion in battery sales in 2014.

Engineering and Public Policy

Amtrak Threatens Partial Shutdown If PTC Deadline Is Not Extended.

The Hill  (10/9, Laing) reported that Amtrak has warned “Congress that it will have to shut down service on many of its long-distance train routes” in January 2016 “if lawmakers do not extend a Federal deadline” for installing the PTC system on its trains. In a letter sent recently to Sen. John Thune, Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman wrote that “Most of the 21,000-mile national network that Amtrak operates over is owned by other railroads that host our train” and those hosts are “responsible for installation on their infrastructure.” Boardman added that “many freight railroads have stated that they may refuse to transport certain freight and may suspend passenger service on their track that is not PTC-compliant, if…deadline is not extended.”

Analysis: Michigan Evaluating Renewable Energy Future.

A 1593 word Detroit Free Press  (10/11, Witsil) analysis indicated that Michigan state lawmakers, energy sector and environmental groups are “debating where to place bets on the state’s future energy needs as old power plants are replaced.” According to the Free Press, the state is on its way to meeting “mandates set in 2009 to generate about 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources.” However, as renewable energy increases, all groups are weighing “the environmental and financial impact their decisions have on the state.” DTE Vice President Irene Dimitry said, “We – DTE, and many other stakeholders, legislation and administration – are actively working on the policy and planning issues to make sure we have reliable, affordable energy for our customers.”

The Pros/Cons Of Different Renewable Energy Options Examined. The Detroit Free Press  (10/11, Witsil) additionally provided an overview of the pros and cons of various renewable energy options, including wind and solar power, which the Free Press notes do not pollute but require both wind or sun to produce energy and a lot of land for turbines and panels. The article also highlights landfill gas, which draws energy from waste but still causes pollution, and hydroelectic power, which is clean but raises numerous environmental issues.

Michigan’s Energy Sector Jobs Growing. The Detroit Free Press  (10/11, Dolan) reported that Michigan’s energy sector is showing a “brightening” jobs outlook, with an increased of 92, 868 jobs in the first half of last year. The Free Press notes this is a 4.4 percent increase over the prior year and that this growth “outpaced the growth of 2.3% for total employment in all industries in the state.” DTE President and COO Steven E. Kurmas said, “We’re on the cusp of a major change in our industry.” The job situation will face challenges with the changing energy landscape in the state as fewer are needed outside of coal-fired plants.

Michigan To Close 25 Coal Plants By 2020.

Michigan’s long history of coal-fired power is “on the wane,” which the Detroit Free Press  (10/11, Reindl) reported is reflected in the scheduled shut-down of “25 coal units at Michigan power plants” by 2020. The shut-down will reduce the states carbon emissions, which are higher than the national average at 50 percent compared with 39 percent across the country. The article noted that “Industry experts expect the state to make up that lost capacity by importing power from its regional grid and through greater natural gas power generation and more renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Acadiana High Schoolers Sign Up For Louisiana Oil And Gas Conference.

The Lafayette (LA) Daily Advertiser  (10/10, Stickney) reports that the Young Professionals of LAGCOE (YPL), a group that aims to introduce high school students to oil and gas industry careers, is hoping to sign up 200 high school students to attend this year’s Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition. Kelsey Corrigan, YPL board member and a Chevron field engineer, “said the goal this year was a wider footprint for the event, both in geography and interests of students.”

Chevron Hosts Robots 4 Tots Day In Oildale, CA.

The Bakersfield (CA) Californian  (10/9, Foreman, Subscription Publication) reports that Chevron donated $10,000 to host fifth annual Robots 4 Tots Day in Oildale, California. The goal of the educational event is to “give children, ages 3 to 5, an early introduction to science, technology, engineering and math.”

NYTimes Praises Science Standards For Teaching Climate Change.

In an editorial, the New York Times  (10/11, Board, Subscription Publication) praises the Next Generation Science Standards, which can help combat “misinformation” about climate change. According to the Times, as “children today stand to inherit a climate severely changed by the actions of previous generations,” schools will need to teach “how those changes came about, how to mitigate them and how to prevent more damage to the planet.”

Nebraska Manufacturer Opening Career Pathways To Students.

The Hastings (NE) Tribune  (10/4, Burk) reported on a group of manufacturers in Hastings, in southern Nebraska, that is working with local schools to provide students “early exposure and experience with potential career opportunities” in the industry. Bob Wilson, an executive with Flowserve, has been a key part of implementing the “manufacturing career pathways program” at Hastings High School in recent years, and his company recently was awarded a $125,000 state grant for developing talent among middle-school students. According to Wilson, it’s important to work with schoolchildren early on to ascertain their interests and aptitude.

Friday’s Lead Stories

Volkswagen US CEO: Emissions Cheating Was Not A Broad Conspiracy.
Male Engineering Student Writes Letter Describing Sexism In STEM Fields.
NSF Director To Inaugurate New Research Center.
US Laying Off Solar Energy Researchers Despite Need For Expertise.
Johns Hopkins Study Links Fracking With Premature Births, High Risk Pregnancies.
Two Florida Middle Schools Apply For Funding From DOE Provided By ED To Support Afterschool STEM Programs.

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