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

Leading the News

Auto Makers Seen As Hastening Pace Of EV Debuts.

Quartz  (10/21, Levine) reports on the alacrity with which auto makers are unveiling “mainstream” EV models, as GM rolls out its Bolt, “the first 200-miles-per-charge electric car priced in the mid-range market, at just under $30,000 after government rebates,” and Tesla is poised to launch its “own mid-priced Model 3 in March 2016 and have it ready for sale in 2017.” The article adds that with “other major carmakers,” including Nissan, Ford, and BMW, also preparing to launch their own EV models, “the next few model years could mark the inflection point for electrics in transcending their green, feel-good niche, challenge gasoline, and becoming embraced by a wider swath of motorists.”

Blogger: Auto Companies To Fail Absent Adoption Of EV Technology. In a post for the “Quora” blog of the Slate  (10/21) website, Mike Bernard weighs the implications of the auto industry’s shift towards electric vehicles, which he says is inevitable, thereby driving “a complete disruption of the economics of the car industry.” Consequently, says Bernard, recalling the fate of several other companies that refused to adapt to changes in their industries, “most of the current major car companies will fail because they can’t adapt to the disruption that electrification is bringing to their industry. They will refuse to cannibalize their other products. They will refuse to shift power and money to the electric divisions. They will refuse to engineer true electric cars because the economics don’t make sense until they don’t have any money to do it anyway.”

MIT Announces Five-Year Plan To Confront Climate Change.

The Boston Globe  (10/22, Krantz) reports, “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will not shed its investments in fossil fuel companies despite calls from some students, faculty, and activists, the college said Wednesday in announcing a five-year campus blueprint to confront climate change.” MIT’s five-year plan “calls for more research and education about climate change and solutions to mitigate and adapt to it; acceleration of low-carbon energy technology via eight new research centers; new tools to share climate information globally; and new measures to reduce carbon use on campus.” The plan also “mentions several major oil and gas companies whose chief executives recently expressed support for combating climate change, six of whom fund energy research at MIT: BP, Eni, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil, and Total.”

Bloomberg News  (10/21, Mcdonald) reports “We believe that divestment – a dramatic public disengagement – is incompatible with the strategy of engagement with industry to solve problems that is at the heart of today’s plan,” MIT said in a statement.

The AP  (10/22, Binkley) also reports.

Higher Education

Postdoctoral Candidates Promote Women In STEM At White House Event.

US News & World Report  (10/21, Camera) reports that a group of five postdoctoral STEM students who on Wednesday “convened at the White House to talk about the barriers they face as females in the science, engineering, math and technology, or STEM, fields.” The students “were recently named recipients of the 2015 For Women in Science Fellowship and given $60,000 grants from L’Oréal to advance their postdoctoral research.”

Arkansas Students Win Prize At ASEE Regional Conference.

The Magnolia (AR) Reporter  (10/22) reports that a team of Southern Arkansas University engineering students “recently earned a second-place finish for a poster presentation on biofuel research at a regional conference of the American Society for Engineering Education in Springfield, Missouri.” The students’ “work was titled ‘Making Biofuel to Run on a Mini Gas Turbine.’”

Reports Detail Progress In Rehabilitating Former Corinthian Schools.

The Washington Post  (10/22, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that a year after student debt collection firm ECMC Group bought over 50 schools from the defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., ECMC “had lofty ambitions of turning the for-profit colleges into premier nonprofit schools.” Now, the law firm engaged to serve as an independent monitor has issued reports showing that “it has been a slow-going process of cleaning up the mess left behind by Corinthian.” ED has praised the firm’s progress, but “critics remain wary of the new owner and the department’s assurance that the $24 million sale was really in the best interest of students.” The Post reports that Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a blog post that “he is ‘pleased with the progress Zenith has made in the first few months of operating the schools. Zenith has, in fact, followed through with its pledges of eliminating its poorest performing programs, reducing tuition by 20 percent, implementing its school choice and refund programs, and beginning the process of right-sizing its enrollment.”

Connecticut University System Wants To Participate In Inmate Pell Program.

The Hartford (CT) Courant  (10/21) reports that Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, has asked ED for “funding so the system’s governing body, the Board of Regents, can open degree-granting programs in nine of the state’s prisons.” The move could pave the way for hundreds of inmates to begin taking community college courses. The piece quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying, when announcing the pilot program, “America is a nation of second chances. Giving people who have made mistakes in their lives a chance to get back on track and become contributing members of society is fundamental to who we are — it can also be a cost-saver for taxpayers.”

Opinion: National Design Services Act Would Help Architecture Students Pay Off Student Loans While Giving Back.

In an opinion piece in The Hill  (10/22, Perlmutter and Mitchell) Representative Ed Perlmutter and Danielle Mitchell, president of the American Institute of Architecture Students, advocate for the National Design Services Act. The bill would make graduates of architectural programs eligible for federal loan assistance and forgiveness in exchange for community service. The bill would help architecture graduates pay off their student loans while gaining valuable experience in their field and helping to design health clinics, housing, libraries, and schools.

NSF Awards Grant To Colorado State University To Help Engineering Students Obtain Teaching Licenses.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian (CO)  (10/22, Fagre) reports the National Science Foundation awarded a $593,000 grant to help two Colorado State University professors develop a program so that engineering students at the university can gain a teaching license. The program aims to expand the number of qualified STEM teachers by making it easier for some STEM graduates to obtain teaching licenses.

WSJournal: DOD Actions Against University Of Phoenix Hurt Service Members.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal  (10/22, Washington (DC), Post, Subscription Publication) condemns the Defense Department’s decision to end military tuition assistance to University of Phoenix students. According to the Journal, the Administration is attempting to discredit the school and negatively impact its recruitment of veterans, but the group that will be most hurt is service members who now have fewer options.

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

Technology Improves Aircraft Passenger Safety, While Increasing Human Reliance.

The Christian Science Monitor  (10/21, Nunes) reports that technology has played a key role in improving airline passenger safety. The article notes that today the global jet accident rate is at its lowest in history, one to every 4.4 million flights. However, the Monitor says that the improvement in technology has resulted in an increased reliance on the technology, which can “degrade basic flying skills.” The article explains that there is a greater need for research on how humans interact with technological improvements, as to avoid aircraft accidents that may result from systems intended to improve safety.

HyMARC Consortium Of Sandia, LLNL, LBNL To Develop Hydrogen Storage Materials.

Materials Today  (10/21) reports that the Hydrogen Materials-Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC) of Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has been tasked to “develop the tools and understanding necessary for designing new solid-state materials to store hydrogen gas.” The article notes that the LLNL team, “headed by Brandon Wood, is due to receive nearly $1 million per year for three years from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.”

Fusion Research At ITER Holds Promise.

Forbes  (10/21) interviews Egemen Kolemen at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory about the state of fusion energy research. Kolemen explains what fusion is and the implications for a research breakthrough at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor of which he says, “We predict that we will obtain 10 times more fusion energy output as the power we put.”

Industry News

Mobile Payment Technology Awareness Is High, Adoption Remains Stagnant.

PYMNTS  (10/22) reports while mobile payment options are ubiquitous for consumers, there has been little adoption rates with “fewer than one in five North Americans reporting using them at least once a week,” according to research from Accenture. A survey of 4,000 smartphone users in the US and Canada found high awareness of the option of mobile payments, but the use of mobile payment technology “crawled up by just 1 percent.” Consumers who did use the technology were highest among high-income consumers and millennials. Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated they would be more likely to use mobile payment systems if “they were offered coupons based on past buying behavior.” Apple Pay was reportedly the top mobile payment method, accounting for 68 percent of mobile transactions in US stores.

Engineering and Public Policy

C-STEM Studio Education Tools Now Available For Download.

The Imperial Valley (CA) News  (10/22, Fell) reports on C-STEM Studio from the Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the University of California, Davis., “a platform for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics through computing and robotics for integrated learning.” The Valley News reports that teacher can now download the tools for free and that the project was supported by the National Science Foundation, the California Department of Education, Hewlett-Packard, Sandia National Laboratories, Barobo and SoftIntegration.

Inspector Find Hundreds Of Light Fixture Hardware Problems In Big Dig Tunnel.

The Boston Herald  (10/22) reports that inspectors contracted by the state of Massachusetts “have found hundreds of cracked or deteriorated nuts bolted” to light fixtures in the I-90 Ted Williams tunnel in Boston, MA. Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin stated the reason for the deterioration is “unclear” and that further inspections will continue through the end of November. Tinlin added that the cost to repair the light fixtures is currently unknown.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Fellowship Aims To Engage Girls, Minority Students To STEM Subjects Through Video Game Design.

In commentary for The Hill  (10/22, Taylor) “Congress Blog,” Rich Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the Entertainment Software Association, writes about the need for more female and minority workers in the technology sector. Taylor cites the need to find ways to better attract such workers and to expose students to STEM subjects. Educators must present students “with opportunities to help them reach their full potential and find careers that will challenge them, expand their minds, and propel them and our country forward.” His organization has partnered with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to develop the Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) Video Game Innovation Fellowship, which “challenges young people to not only build video games – which is challenging enough in its own right – but also to develop these resources to address social issues.”

Facebook Launches Website To Help Families Learn More About Computer Science Careers.

Bloomberg News  (10/21, Frier) reports Facebook launched a website called TechPrep, which aims to help parents who want their children to learn about computer science and develop technical skills. The website offers resources in English and Spanish for parents and children. Facebook hopes the program will increase the number of minority children interested in STEM fields and eventually STEM careers. USA Today  (10/21, Guynn) adds TechPrep also offers books, games, and community events to help those interested in computer science of all ages. Facebook also wants to increase the diversity of its own workforce, which is currently 4% Hispanic and 2% African-American. The Washington Post  (10/22, Tsukayama) explains that part of the inspiration for the website came from a survey commissioned by Facebook that found the majority of low-income parents without college degrees “did not know how to help their kids pursue a career in computer science.” Facebook also wants to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of America and other groups to promote the website and the ideas behind it throughout the country.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

GM Working Closely With LG On New Chevy Bolt.
ED Tightening Financial Oversight Of ITT Educational Services.
UC Davis Presents New Tool For STEM Educators.
Report: Plenty Of Tech Jobs In North Dakota.
DOE Developing Strategy For Transportation, Storage Of Reactor Waste.
UC Davis Presents New Tool For STEM Educators.

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