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

Leading the News

GM Working Closely With LG On New Chevy Bolt.

The AP  (10/20, Krisher) reports that at an event at GM’s technical center, the company announced that it is working with LG Electronics to design the electric motor for the forthcoming long-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt. GM said that the vehicle “should be able to go more than 200 miles on a single charge.” TechCrunch  (10/20, Burns) reports that GM “announced a strategic partnership with LG, which will supply many of the systems around the car’s electric drive system.” The deal “makes sense for General Motors and LG. The automaker can tap LG’s deep investment in battery technology while concentrating on its core competency of assembling autos.”

The Wall Street Journal  (10/21, Ramsey, Nagesh, Subscription Publication) reports that LG has long partnered with GM on various aspects of electric car development, but the new deal signifies that the company will have a much larger role. Motor Trend  (10/21) reports that LG will supply the electric drive motor and battery pack, along with “the Bolt’s on-board charger, battery heater, battery cells, and power invertor module.” In addition, LG “is also supplying GM with components for the car’s instrument cluster and infotainment system.” LG has “has invested more than $250 million in an engineering and manufacturing facility in Korea to support the development of Bolt EV parts.”

The Detroit Free Press  (10/20, Gardner) reports that GM’s Mark Reuss said, “This is something we haven’t done this way before, but the capability of LG Chem and other suppliers changes over time. Not that long ago, automakers had an adversarial relationship with their suppliers, behaving more like dictators than customers.” Reuters  (10/20, Lienert) runs a similar report.

Higher Education

ED Tightening Financial Oversight Of ITT Educational Services.

Inside Higher Ed  (10/20) reports in continuing coverage that ED announced “stricter financial oversight and reporting requirements” on the “embattled” for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services. The piece notes that ED said the move is due to “federal fraud allegations against two ITT executives and the company’s ‘failure of the general standards of financial responsibility.’” ED had placed the firm on heightened cash monitoring status, noting that this status was the prelude for the implosion of Corinthian Colleges Inc. In a statement, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said that ED “placed ITT on heightened cash monitoring for failing to meet several responsibilities.”

The Washington Post  (10/20, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the firm “is facing tougher sanctions for mismanaging financial aid dollars and could ultimately lose access to federal funding.” The Post reports that ED placed ITT on heightened cash monitoring status last year “for missing the deadline for filing financial statements.” ED officials “worked with ITT over the summer to clean up the accounting problems,” but said that “the company provided conflicting information about its disbursal of Pell Grants.” The Post reports that Mitchell said that “the decision was part of the department’s ‘responsibility to protect students and hardworking taxpayers’ dollars.’”

Duncan Readies Proposals Targeting College Accreditors.

The Wall Street Journal  (10/21, Belkin, Fuller, Subscription Publication) reports that Education Secretary Duncan is preparing proposals designed to force colleges receiving federal funds to improve graduation rates and give students job skills. The effort, which will target accreditors, comes amid rising student debt and graduation rates that Duncan said are akin to a “coin toss.”

Senate Democrats Urge ED To Stop Giving Aid To Suspicious For-Profits.

The Hill  (10/21, Wheeler) reports that a group of Senate Democrats has written to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell calling for ED “to take immediate action to stop tens of millions of dollars in federal funds from going to potentially fraudulent for-profit colleges and universities.” The letter was a response to recent coverage reporting that “massive sums of money every month are going to for-profit schools that have been accused of predatory behavior, substandard practices or illegal activity.”

Colleges Working To Meet Higher Learning Commission’s Clarified Policy On Who Can Teach Dual Enrollment.

Inside Higher Ed  (10/20, Smith) reports after the Higher Learning Commission recently clarified its policy about who can teach dual-enrollment courses, only people with a master’s degree or at least 18 graduate-level credits in the subject, many colleges and high schools are struggling to find people who can teach the courses. Colleges have until September 2017 to meet the newly clarified requirements.

Penn State Robot Writes Textbooks Based On Topics And Keywords.

Philly (PA)  (10/21, Snyder) reports Penn State University developed a new robot technology, BBookX, that can write textbooks based on professors’ specifications. After giving the robot a list of topics and keywords, BBookX can create the text for a book on the topics specified using open resources on the Internet. The technology can save students money by not requiring them to buy expensive textbooks, and can allow professors to more quickly update their textbooks themselves by changing the topics and keywords put in, instead of waiting for a new edition of a textbook to come out.

Rise Of Alternative Credentials, Boot Camps Could Threaten Small Colleges.

Bloomberg News  (10/20, Grant) reports that after the ED announced a pilot initiative to provide financial aid to students attending alternative credential programs, Moody’s released a new report saying that the so-called “boot camps” could become a greater threat to small colleges. Alternative credential programs like online course platforms EdX and Coursera, and coding bootcamps, are attractive to students looking to acquire valuable skills quickly or seeking to make a career change. ED expects coding boot camp graduates to increase 240% in 2015. Others point out that small colleges are more quickly able to adapt to change than larger institutions.

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

UC Davis Presents New Tool For STEM Educators.

The Education World  (10/21, Persaud) reports the University of California Davis’s Center for Integrating Computing and STEM Education is presenting the C-STEM Studio, “a program to help educators gain the proper resources they need to teach computing and robotics in the classroom.” The program provides “code, documentation, teacher guides and textbooks” for STEM educators. The C-STEM curriculum is also aligned with Common Core mathematics standards and has been tested at about 200 schools in California. THE Journal  (10/19, Schaffhauser)quotes the director of the center, UC Davis engineering professor Harry Chen, who described the program as “a turnkey solution for teachers and students.”

NSF Funds Research At Ohio College Into New Aids For Children And Adults With Mobility Impairments.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer  (10/21, Farkas) reports researchers at Cleveland State University’s GoBabyGo Lab are “developing and adapting toys and equipment to improve the mobility of children and adults with impairments.” The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and is currently working on creating “low-cost, high-impact equipment, including hands-free harness systems that help children and adults with mobility impairments stand and walk without fear of falling.”

Boeing Opens St Louis Research Center Employing 700.

As part of Boeing’s strategy to shift research work out of the Puget Sound region announced in 2013, the Seattle Times  (10/21, Gates) reports the company on Tuesday “opened a new engineering research center in St. Louis, where more than 700 engineers, technicians and staff will develop advanced technologies for commercial airplanes and military systems.” The company expects to save $100 million annually by transferring 1,100 research engineering jobs from Washington and 200 from the greater Los Angeles area to sites in St. Louis, Huntsville, AL, and Charleston, SC, the Times explains.


Report: Plenty Of Tech Jobs In North Dakota.

US News & World Report  (10/20, Soergel) reported on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Enterprising States: States Innovate” report, released Tuesday. US News & World Report says that the report is “dominated” by “unusual suspects,” with several unexpected states ranking highly inlcuding North Dakota. Lead author of the report, Praxis Strategy Group vice president for research Mark Schill, said, “We’re seeing some dispersion in the tech economy. Silicon Valley’s never going to quit being that major anchor because of its critical mass and the systems they have in place…But when we think high-tech, we think what grabs headlines – Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, that sort of thing. When you actually look at the number of jobs, those firms don’t account for all that many jobs when you put them in the context of the entire economy.”

Glassdoor’s Top Jobs for Work-Life Balance Include Many In Technology.

Covering a survey by Glassdoor that ranked the top 25 jobs for work-life balance, Boston  (10/20, Hofherr) reports the company analyzed over 60,000 company reviews to reach its conclusions. Technology-related jobs on the list included data scientist in first place, SEO manager in second place, UX designer in seventh place, Web developer in tenth place, as well as software QA engineer, web designer, and data analyst rounding out the top 25. Boston notes “Glassdoor found that all 25 top jobs were hiring,” including at companies including Amazon and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Engineering and Public Policy

DOE Developing Strategy For Transportation, Storage Of Reactor Waste.

E&E Publishing  (10/21, Northey) reported the Department of Energy “has assembled a team” to develop a plan “for transporting used reactor fuel to temporary storage sites and creating a federal corporation to oversee the process, according to sources and documents obtained by Greenwire” dating from a September 2 presentation. Andrew Griffith, the DOE’s associate deputy assistant secretary for fuel cycle technologies in the Office of Nuclear Energy, is leading the team. The article added that “other key team members” are Mark Nutt, a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory; Rob Howard, a senior project engineer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Melissa Bates, “a DOE engineer who works on nuclear fuels and transportation.” In an email, DOE spokesman Bartlett Jackson said the team’s goal is to align the agency’s practices with the National Academies and the Blue Ribbon Commission.

Study: Fracking Can Cause Methane Leaks In Nearby Abandoned Oil Wells.

Reuters  (10/20, Valdmanis) reported that according to a study published Tuesday in the Water Resources Research journal, fracking can cause methane lakes in nearby abandoned oil wells. The methane leaks could be a large source of unrecorded greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study. The study said that energy companies could reduce the probability of such methane leaks by trying to identify abandoned wells before they begin fracking, although the task could be difficult due to large numbers of unmarked abandoned wells.

Elementary/Secondary Education

UC Davis Presents New Tool For STEM Educators.

Education World  (10/21, Persaud) reports the University of California Davis’s Center for Integrating Computing and STEM Education is presenting the C-STEM Studio, “a program to help educators gain the proper resources they need to teach computing and robotics in the classroom.” The program provides “code, documentation, teacher guides and textbooks” for STEM educators. The C-STEM curriculum is also aligned with Common Core mathematics standards and have been tested at about 200 schools in California. THE Journal  (10/19, Schaffhauser) quotes the director of the center, UC Davis engineering professor Harry Chen, who described the program as “a turnkey solution for teachers and students.”

Native American Ph.D. Student Speaks To College Students At Launch Of North Star STEM Alliance.

The Bemidji (MN) Pioneer  (10/19, Dey) reports Joshua Marceau, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical sciences at the University of Montana, spoke to college students of Leech Lake Tribal College and Bemidji State University in Minnesota about his educational journey at the launch of the North Star STEM Alliance. The group is funded by the National Science Foundation and aims to increase the number of minority students who pursue STEM degrees and careers. Marceau’s presentation was entitled, “From a Tribal College to a Ph.D. Unique Perspectives and Challenges.” Marceau grew up on Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana before getting his GED from Salish Kootenai College, a tribal college in Pablo, Montana. There he met a lifetime mentor who has guided him to his current Ph.D. program.

Iowa School District Considering Building New Career And Technical Education Center For High School Students.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (IA) Courier  (10/21, Wind) reports the Waterloo BOE in Iowa is considering a proposal to greatly expand the career and technical education offerings to the district’s high school students in a new location near Central Middle School. The proposal would cost $35 million to build the new career center, which would slowly phase in courses that students could take to prepare for 30 different careers. The new facility would be shared by the district’s two high schools.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Obama Touts Climate Pledges From 81 US Companies.
First Lady Announces Social Media Site To Promote College Preparation.
University Of Utah Chemist Receives $50,000 Grant To Help “Kick-Start” Female Research Careers.
Nissan, Mitsubishi Agree To Extend Minicar Joint Venture.
Green Groups Decry Ozone Limit As Less Ambitious Than Bush-Era Rules.
Teen Clockmaker Among Attendees At White House Astronomy Night.

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