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

Leading the News

New Rule Requires Drone Owners To Register With DOT.

NBC Nightly News (10/16, story 9, 0:25, Holt) reported that “the Federal government will announce a new plan within days that will require anyone who buys a drone to register it with the Department of Transportation.” NBC Nightly News adds that the new regulations “could be in place by Christmas.”

ABC World News (10/18, story 6, 1:30, Llamas) reported the FAA “is set to release new drone regulations that could include drone hobbyists” Monday. The regulations are expected to require registration of drones by all owners, “including the tens of thousands of shoppers expected to buy one this holiday season.”

CBS: Drone Registration Rule “Is Taking The Industry By Surprise.” Kris Van Cleave reported for the CBS Evening News (10/17, story 4, 1:25, Quijano) that the Department of Transportation may unveil its “new drone registration requirement as early as Monday with the goal of having it in place before the Christmas holiday season.” According to Van Cleave, an UAV industry spokesman “told me this morning the move is taking the industry by surprise, calling it a knee-jerk reaction with an arbitrary timeline.”

Administration Freezes Arctic Drilling For Next Two Years.

The Washington Times  (10/17, Boyer) reports that an announcement made on Sept 28 by Royal Dutch Shell that it “would cease exploration in Alaskan waters” prompted the Administration to, in turn, announce “a freeze Friday on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean until at least 2017.” According to the Interior Department, “low industry interest” is the reason for the decision.

The New York Times  (10/17, Krauss, Subscription Publication) reports that drilling rights auctions in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas have been canceled for the next two years. The announcement, while not surprising, is “symbolically important as the Administration steps back from its cautious support of drilling in the Arctic.” Moreover, the Times notes that it is a blow to Alaska’s economy given already declining oil prices and production. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stated, “It does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic.”

NYTimes Analysis: Rubio’s Energy Policy Would Reverse Obama’s Actions. In contrast to President Obama’s position on drilling, the New York Times  (10/17, Peters, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that Sen. Marco Rubio’s energy policy would call for “drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” which would “roll back many of the most aggressive components of President Obama’s environmental agenda.” Rubio unveiled his energy plans at a Friday talk in Ohio, arguing that he would allow for immediate “construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline” and would “permit more offshore oil and gas drilling,” both of which the President has pulled back from. Moreover, the Times notes that Rubio would “effectively nullify an international climate change accord the administration is pursuing” and would reverse the EPA’s recent ground ozone regulation changes.

Higher Education

Team From New Jersey College Wins Solar Decathlon.

The AP  (10/17) reports Stevens Institute of Technology “has earned a national honor for building a hurricane-resistant and energy-efficient coastal home that was inspired by Superstorm Sandy.” The school “won the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon on Saturday, beating out 13 other universities.”

The Orange County (CA) Register  (10/19, De Crescenzo) reports Stevens “considered the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy along the New Jersey shoreline as it designed its entry, dubbed the SURE house, a reference to its sustainability and resilience.” The house’s features “include storm shutters that guard the house against 130 mph winds.”

Many Asian-Americans Say Ivy League Diversity Efforts Discriminatory.

The North Jersey (NJ) Media Group  (10/19) reports that though ED recently cleared Princeton University “of allegations that it discriminated against Asian-Americans in college admissions,” many Asian-Americans still say “that the bar is higher for them to get into ultra-selective Ivy League schools.” The piece notes that ED’s Office for Civil Rights ruled that while the school does consider race, it is not done so in a discriminatory way. However, Asian-American parents say “their children with perfect or near-perfect SAT scores and grades and a résumé of extracurricular activities and awards” have been denied admission in favor of apparently less qualified students.

Commentary: Federal Aid Could “Ruin” Coding Boot Camp Movement.

Jordan Weissmann writes in the Slate  (10/16) “Moneybox” blog that the fact that coding boot camps, which teach computer programming skills through brief but intense courses, “cropped up outside the federal financial aid system” means that the programs have “no temptation” to jack up prices to “collect more government aid money.” He writes that ED’s recent announcement that it will test making Federal aid available to students taking such courses could “ruin” the programs by attracting “shoddier for-profit educators into the boot-camp business.”

Columnist Questions Efficacy Of New Admissions Platform.

In a column in the New York Times  (10/18, Subscription Publication), Frank Bruni writes about colleges’ efforts to enroll “promising students from low-income families,” and discusses the recent launch of a new college admissions platform by a group of over 80 colleges called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success. Bruni writes that one of the initiative’s goals is to “inform ninth and 10th graders without savvy college advisers about the kind of secondary-school preparation that best positions them for admission.” Bruni concedes that the colleges, some of them Ivy League schools, want to “diversify their student bodies,” but asks whether the new admissions platform is the simplest way to achieve this goal.

Women Engineers And Engineering Students Working To Recruit More Women.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal  (10/18, Quigley) reports some female engineers and engineering students are working to increase the number of women who enter the field. Research shows that many women do not pursue engineering degrees because the field is predominantly male and the culture at engineering schools and companies can be uncomfortable or even hostile to women. The Society of Women Engineers and other groups are working to introduce more girls to the field at a young age and to get more women to study the field in college and pursue engineering careers.

Montana State University Engineering College Has 22% Female Faculty.

The Bozeman (MT) Daily Chronicle  (10/19, Schontzler) reports Montana State University’s College of Engineering has hired a record number of female faculty members. The college’s faculty is now 22% female after hiring Jennifer Brown, an alumnus of the college, who went to school at a time when there were no female professors at the college.

Oklahoma Expecting STEM Worker Shortage.

The Oklahoman  (10/18, Bailey) reports Oklahoma City is facing a shortage of skilled workers trained in STEM fields. The city successfully implemented a 20 year plan to remake the city after the oil bust of the 1980’s, but now many companies that have moved to the area are struggling to fill positions. The state is expecting 6,700 STEM job openings each year over the next decade, many in the state’s capital and largest city, but only 5,300 students graduated with STEM degrees from state colleges in 2011. Oklahoma is now working to improve its academic standards and get more students interested in STEM fields to fill the expected job vacancies.

The Best Part of ASEE Membership
Members weigh in in this short video from the Annual Conference.

Transforming Undergraduate Eduction in Engineering
Read the first report of this multi-phase project.

Research and Development

Montana State University Launches Supercomputer For Research.

The Bozeman (MT) Daily Chronicle  (10/19) reports Montana State University researchers now have access to the Hyalite Cluster, an interconnected bank of computers that form a supercomputer with 2,800 gigabytes of RAM and almost 900 terabytes of storage space. Researcher Mark Owkes plans to use the supercomputer to test his model of “the movements of millions of tiny droplets of fuel and molecules of air inside a vehicle’s combustion chamber.” The National Science Foundation is funded Owkes’ research with a nearly $300,000 grant.

Cornell University Researchers Developing Softer Prosthetic Organs With New Materials.

Central New York Time Warner Cable News  (10/18, O’Driscoll) reports Cornell University engineers are developing new materials that can be used to create prosthetic organs. The researchers hope to create organs using more flexible materials unlike metals, which are commonly used today. Professor Robert Shepherd says that new types of rubber materials could be used to create an artificial heart and other prosthetics that would be softer than those currently available. Shepherd’s research is being funded by the National Science Foundation, the Airforce Office of Scientific Research, and 3M.

Stony Brook University Receives $1M Grant For Low-emission Vehicles.

Newsday (NY)  (10/17, Ryan) reports the Energy Department “has awarded a $1 million grant to a team of researchers at Stony Brook University to develop ultra-efficient low-emission vehicles.” The researchers “will focus on a technology called reactivity controlled compression ignition, which increases the efficiency inside combustion engines.” The system will require “using two different fuels at once, often gasoline and diesel, which has dissuaded automakers from adopting it.” Benjamin Lawler of Stony Brook’s mechanical engineering department said, “We hope to discover an efficient and cost-effective way to employ [the technology] using one fuel.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Lawmakers Preparing To Delay Rail Safety Deadline.

Politico  (10/18, Gardner) reported that lawmakers “are preparing to give railroads past this December’s deadline” to install advanced anti-collision technology, which Congress mandated in 2008. This, as railroads warn that “they would otherwise have to impose a nationwide freeze on rail traffic that could wreck the economy and threaten national security.” Politico said the “reprieve could arrive in the multi-year highway and transit bill that the House Transportation Committee is due to take up next week, although a draft unveiled Friday contained no details.”

In an editorial, the New York Times  (10/19, Subscription Publication) notes that many railroads “are threatening to stop running freight and passenger trains as early as next month” unless the deadline is extended, and, arguing that this would “be devastating to the economy,” says lawmakers should extend the deadline. At the same time, the Times says lawmakers must “make sure railroads are not in a position to demand another delay in three years by holding the economy hostage again” by giving the Railroad Administration “authority to set strict timelines for when each company has to meet installation milestones and penalize any company that falls behind schedule.”

WSJournal: CARB Truck Rule Is Based On Questionable Science.

A Wall Street Journal  (10/19, Subscription Publication) editorial criticizes the prosecution of truckers by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) using CARB’s 2008 rule banning diesel engines manufactured before 2010 from California roads. Citing studies which found little to link an increase in mortality in California to diesel particulate matter, the Journal argues that the regulations EPA and CARB are using to prosecute truckers are based on questionable science.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Florida Bill Would Allow Coding Courses Instead Of Foreign Language.

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times  (10/19, Solochek) reports that a bill in the Florida state Senate would “allow high school students to replace their two-year foreign language graduation requirement with two years of computer coding courses.” Noting that similar legislation failed in 2014, the article reports that the language “resonates nationally as education and political leaders seek to more closely tie career skills to classroom lessons.” The article notes that such initiatives have the support of leaders wishing to promote STEM education, but are criticized by those who argue that coding lacks “cultural lessons and person-to-person communication.”

NSF Funding University Of Alaska Program To Interest Girls In Geophysics And Other STEM Fields.

The Fairbanks (AK) News-Miner  (10/19) reports the National Science Foundation is funding a University of Alaska Fairbanks program that will “encourage high school age girls to consider geophysics and technology science careers through summer academies.” The Budding Research Investigators in Geosciences, Habitat and Technology (BRIGHT Girls) will be managed by the university’s Geophysical Institute and being with a free 10-day summer academy in Fairbanks for interested students.

Friday’s Lead Stories

Volkswagen To Recall 8.5 Million Diesel Vehicles In Europe After Germany Rejects Plan.
New York Professors Want To Build A Student Army To Fight Cybercrime.
Researchers Develop Method For Improving Quantum Dot Biocompatibility.
Southern Co., Korea Power Will Study Clean Coal.
Range Resources Accused Of Not Disclosing Fracking-Related Well Contamination.
Illinois Middle School Students Build Hot Air Balloons In Science Class.

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