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

Leading the News

ED To Offer Aid To Colleges Offering “Boot Camps” For Marketable Skills.

The New York Times  (10/14, Cohen, Subscription Publication) reports that ED is “hoping to offer more alternatives, particularly to low-income students considering substandard for-profit colleges,” and is “unveiling a pilot program on Wednesday to allow students to use federal loans and grants for nontraditional education like boot camp software coding programs and MOOCs, or massive open online courses.” The Times reports that the program extends such aid beyond “accredited schools” that offer such programs, and will allow “aid to flow to students who enroll in experimental programs approved by the Education Department.” The Times notes that the program comes as state and Federal officials have “cracked down in recent years on for-profit colleges after a flood of complaints that they were exploiting low-income strivers and veterans.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (10/14) reports that Northeastern University is planning on offering a two-month “boot-camp style” program called Level, which is “one of the first boot-camp programs created by a traditional university.” The program “enrolls students for short, intense periods of study that do not lead to course credit” but offers training for “customers who want to make a quick career shift without investing in a master’s-degree program.” The piece notes that such programs have been barred from receiving Federal financial aid, but “that’s beginning to change, thanks to an experiment being announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Education Department.”

Community College Daily  (10/14) reports that ED is pushing community colleges and other higher education institutions “to partner with providers of nontraditional education models, such as boot camps, short-term certificates and online learning, to increase access among low-income students in innovative forms of education and training.” on Wednesday, ED “will launch a pilot program called EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships) to test the effectiveness of providing more flexibility in student aid programs.” The article quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying, “We believe innovation in higher education is critical for us as a nation. The federal government has an important role to play in encouraging and facilitating innovation.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (10/14) reports that ED “is cracking open the door to federal financial aid for students enrolled in nontraditional education programs — and trying out alternatives to accreditation in the process.” The program will “allow federal grants and loans to flow to educational-technology companies that team up with colleges and third-party ‘quality-assurance entities’ to offer coding boot camps, MOOCs, short-term certificates, and other credentials.”

Inside Higher Ed  (10/14) and US News & World Report  (10/14, Camera) also cover this story.

Higher Education

NRC Grant To UTEP Will Allow It To Offer Two Or Three New Engineering Courses.

El Paso (TX) Inc.  (10/14) reports that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced a $1.4 million grant to the University of Texas at El Paso “to establish new courses in nuclear engineering and to conduct research on next-generation materials for nuclear reactors.” The grant will allow the university “to create two or three nuclear engineering and nondestructive evaluation-related courses” annually.

California Community Colleges Chancellor To Retire In April.

The Los Angeles Times  (10/13) reports, “California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris announced Tuesday that he will retire in April,” adding that his tenure saw “a crucial period of academic reform and controversies over accreditation.” The article describes changes implemented during Harris’ time in office, noting that the state’s “community college system has also been embroiled in a dispute with an accrediting agency over its moves to revoke the accreditation of City College of San Francisco.” The Times quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying Harris “has been an extraordinary leader of the California community colleges at a particularly challenging time. He’s been a tireless advocate for the system and for the power of community colleges in general to change individual lives and the lives of communities.”

Denver College Fund Ballot Measure Divides Democrats.

The Denver Post  (10/14, Murray) reports a Denver ballot proposal (Measure 2A) in this November’s election would impose a .08% sales tax to help Denver residents pay for college. If passed, the measure would provide college scholarships and loans to Denver residents. The ballot proposal has divided the city’s Democrats with strong support and opposition. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, both Democrats, support the measure, but the Democratic Party of Denver’s Central Committed voted 94-69 against supporting the initiative. Many opponents say the city should not get involved in paying for college.

Schumer Urges Congress To Extend Perkins Loans Program.

The Hudson Valley (NY) Time Warner Cable News  (10/12, Sayegh) reports Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for Congress to extend the Perkins Loans program. The program expired on September 30 and was not included in a short term budget deal that expires at the end of this year. Schumer spoke to students at SUNY New Paltz saying, “College these days is becoming more of a necessity but it’s being priced like a luxury. It’s very hard for even middle class families to pay for college and this Perkins loan program is flexible.”

NSF Grant Will Train New Science Teachers At University Of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star  (10/14, Dunker) reports the National Science Foundation awarded an $800,000 grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that will be used to provide scholarships to “aspiring high school and middle school science teachers.”

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Research and Development

NSF Gives University Of Rhode Island Researchers Grant For Emergency Evacuation Robots.

The Providence (RI) Business News  (10/14) reports that the National Science Foundation has given a team led by University of Rhode Island electrical engineering professor Haibo He a $282,000 grant “to develop robots that could help direct people to emergency exits in the case of an emergency.” The grant is part of “President Barack Obama’s National Robotics Initiative to develop robots that can work with people to improve human potential.”

Analysis: Deterrence Technology Trails Growing Risks Posed By Drones.

In an extensive 5565-word article based on months of research, Amanda Ripley in The Atlantic  (10/13) assesses how capabilities to detect and defend against drones are failing to keep pace with the growing risks posed by the vehicles’ rising popularity. To confront the issue, small firms are “responding faster than most government agencies,” especially as the FAA stalls on rulemaking “to regulate drone use in a coherent way.” While there are yet “no proven solutions,” Ripley assessed attempts – beyond deterrence from tougher penalties – including the DroneShield detection system used by DHS, able to detect the sound signature of a particular DJI Phantom model within seconds, and a geofencing solution from the DJI Chinese drone maker.

Global Developments

Japan Establishing “IoT Promotion Consortium.”

Bloomberg News  (10/13) reports the Japanese government will establish a joint research institute this month tentatively called the “IoT promotion consortium” to foster new industries propelled by “Internet of things” technology. Set to be established on October 23, the institute will employ “industry-academia-government cooperation” both domestically and abroad to “pave the way for starting business operations originating in Japan within three years.” Initial participants include Keio University Professor Jun Murai as chairman, Hitachi Ltd. Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi and NTT Corp. President Hiroo Unoura as vice chairmen, and IBM and Intel as participants from overseas.

Engineering and Public Policy

Democratic Candidates Vow To Do More On Climate Change Than Obama.

The Washington Times  (10/14, Wolfgang) reports all of the candidates except former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb “vowed Tuesday night to go further than President Obama in fighting climate change” during the first Democratic presidential debate, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) “said the administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is a mistake.”

According to the Huffington Post  (10/14, Sheppard), the debate offered a chance for the Democratic candidates “to differentiate themselves on climate change,” with O’Malley pledging “to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050” and Sanders describing climate change as a “moral issue.”

Sanders also ranked climate change as “the greatest threat facing the U.S. today” a second Washington Times  (10/14, Wolfgang) article states. He warned, “The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, the planet we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable.” The Hill  (10/14, Cama) adds “O’Malley also mentioned climate change as one of the top national security threats, saying it ‘makes cascading threats even worse.’”

Meanwhile, a second article in The Hill  (10/14, Henry) reports Hillary Clinton during the debate “acknowledged her slow decision to take a public position on the Keystone XL oil pipeline…but defended her credentials on climate change policy,” saying “I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Urged To Focus On Green Energy Plans To Win Votes. The Hill  (10/14, Henry) reports that Democratic governors Jay Inslee (D-Wash) and Jack Markell (D-Del) “are encouraging the party’s presidential candidates to focus on green energy as a way to win votes in next year’s election.” Beyond public opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline or drilling in the Arctic, “we need much more to develop the jobs that are inherent in a clean energy economy,” Inslee said. Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate said polling has shown support for more renewable energy use among battleground states, calling clean energy “the ultimate opportunity for the Democratic Party, especially this year.”

Nuclear Power Supporters Seek Faster Licensing Of New Technologies.

MIT Technology Review  (10/14, Martin) reports that newer companies involved in “researching and developing advanced nuclear power technologies,” such as those at a conference at MIT last week, including Transatomic Power, TerraPower, Moltex Energy, Tri-Alpha Energy, and Terrestrial Energy “view the NRC’s prolonged and expensive licensing process as a barrier to innovation.” Former NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane said that is “the way it should be,” because of the “safety concerns” involved. Supporters of nuclear power are urging “a streamlining of the NRC’s licensing process,” including “more active involvement of the U.S. Department of Energy in accelerating research and development.” The article says that the slow pace of licensing by the NRC means that companies developing new designs take them elsewhere, noting that Oak Ridge National Laboratory “is working with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics to build a prototype molten salt reactor” in China.

NYTimes Analysis Examines GOP’s “Turnaround” On Climate Change.

A New York Times  (10/14, Porter, Subscription Publication) analysis contrasts current Republican positions on climate change – which range from arguments that “trying to curb carbon emissions to slow the change could destroy the economy, eliminate millions of jobs and cast Americans into poverty” to claims that global warming is a liberal hoax – with the “mainstream position of the Republican Party less than a decade ago,” when then-GOP presidential candidate John McCain said that “we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring.” To explain “this remarkable collective turnaround,” the Times cites “a well-financed push by fossil fuel interests to deny climate science” which “dovetailed smoothly with the burst of anti-government anger that gave rise to the Tea Party from the depths of the Great Recession.”

USA Today, Sessions Weigh In On Climate Change. In an editorial, USA Today  (10/14) criticizes the “arguments for inaction” on climate change, saying that an “overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is warming the planet.” According to USA today, the cost for the US reduce its emissions is not as expensive as some think, since there is cheaper options already available that will help with the issue. USA Today argues that while it is not certain whether current efforts will “be enough to prevent catastrophic warming and disruption remains uncertain,” the argument supporting “denial and delay is growing weaker all the time.”

In an USA Today  (10/14) op-ed, Sen. Jeff Sessions says “placing unrealistic restrictions on domestic energy production will wound our workers and make our businesses less competitive worldwide, while leaving our competitors unaffected.” Instead, Session argues, the US should continue its “progress in conservation, efficiency and innovation while maintaining a strong, job-creating economy.”

Pence Announces $1 Billion Plan To Fix Roads And Bridges.

Reuters  (10/14, Pierog) reports that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has announced a $1 billion plan to fix his state’s roads and bridges. Pence said the $1 billion would come in addition to the $3.2 billion the state transportation department plans to spend over the net five years on such projects.

WPost Blasts Congress Over Transportation Funding.

An editorial in the Washington Post  (10/14) argues for an increase in the federal gas tax and blasts Congress’s plans to “temporarily patch the country’s transportation funding system — like it has nearly three dozen times over the past several years,” saying it “underscores Congress’s dysfunction.” While many lawmakers say “privately” that “raising the federal gas tax is a ready and reasonable way to pay for the nation’s infrastructure,” publicly most are “too spineless to face up to this reality.” The Post calls “the whole spectacle…pathetic” and argues that a modest increase in the tax “and indexing it to inflation this time — would prevent Congress from having to constantly look under the cushions in search of money for the transportation budget.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

USC Engineering Dean Encourages Girls To Study Engineering, Science.

In a blog post for the Huffington Post  (10/12), Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, briefly profiles a number of notable female engineers, citing them as laudable inspirations for girls who want to study engineering and science. Yortsos calls them “reasons why you should simply ignore what some people might say and pursue your love of engineering.” Yortsos also notes that the American Society of Engineering Education has joined with the White House in rallying some 148 engineering schools “to pledge to develop diversity plans and better pipelines of talent from women and segments of our society under-represented in engineering.”

Cooper Tire Opens Doors To Ohio Eighth-Graders For Manufacturing Event.

WLIO-TV  Lima, OH (10/13, Siffringer), in conjunction with Lima, Ohio’s other TV stations, reports on a recent open house that Cooper Tire and the Manufacturing Institute conducted for local students. Over 800 eighth-graders “learned about the different roles and career paths available” in manufacturing, according to WLIO, which also posted a video version of its report. The report, citing a Manufacturing Institute finding, says only 35% of parents “would encourage their children to pursue manufacturing careers.” However, a Cooper Tire executive is quoted as saying students at the open house “were pretty positive” about their experience there.

Oregon Students Tour Plant Linked To Microchip Industry.

The Portland (OR) Tribune  (10/13, Miller, Gallivan) reports that students at two Portland-area high schools “celebrated National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2 by paying a visit to local businesses,” including Lam Research Corp., which produces wafer-fabrication equipment used in manufacturing semiconductors. “One of the coolest things to me was the clean rooms,” high school junior Jason Stallkamp said of the Lam tour. “It definitely given me a little bit of desire to do the job.” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), whose congressional district includes Lam, Nike, and other major employers, spoke to students at the event about manufacturing’s economic impact in Oregon, the Tribune says.

African-American Education Group Exposes Illinois High School Students To STEM Careers.

The Aurora (IL) Beacon-News  (10/12) reports African-American Achievers Academy of Aurora in Illinois held a summit in West Aurora High School’s cafeteria to teach high school students about opportunities in STEM careers. Participants from several local schools spent Monday learning about different STEM careers while they had the day off from school for Columbus Day.

Pilot Talks To Students About, Trains Teachers In STEM Education At Maryland Elementary School.

The Carroll County (MD) Times  (10/13, Loricchio) reports Barrington Irving, the youngest person to fly around the world solo, spoke to Cranberry Station Elementary School students in Westminister, Maryland about the opportunities available in STEM careers. Irving shared his life story of how he turned down a football scholarship to become a pilot. Irving shared stories about his travels around the world and how he uses what he learned in school, including math and science while flying. Irving will train six teachers at the school in a new STEM curriculum called “Flying Classroom.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

DOE Issues Grants For Power Grid Security Center.
For-Profit Schools Accused Of Wrongdoing Continue To Receive Federal Funds. Opens Silicon Valley Facility.
Leidos Selected To Compete Under $950M Architectural Engineering Contract.
“Culture Of Badgering” Helped Cut California Water Usage.
High School Students Learning More About Cybersecurity To Meet Need.

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