Leading the News
AIG Invests $4 Million In Clemson Risk Engineering Center, Professorship.
The Wall Street Journal (10/30, Scism) reports that AIG has teamed up with Clemson University with a $4 million investment to develop a center for risk engineering and analytics and to endow a professorship named after former CEO Robert Benmosche.
The Greenville (SC) News (10/29, Bell) reports on the proposed analytics operation at Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research, which will analyze insurance claim data on behalf of AIG’s casualty business. AIG said in a news release that the new center’s “mission will be to create a next-generation workforce skilled in risk engineering and systems analytics, develop innovative technology-based tools to mitigate risk exposure, and facilitate the use of big data to make critical decisions,” while the endowed professorship will “develop curriculum and educational programs in the field of risk engineering and analytics, cultivate scientific investigation and research, recruit world-class faculty and create marketable technologies that advance the field.”
NSBE Campaign Aims For Graduation Of 10,000 Black Engineers.
The Black Engineer (10/29) reports that the new National Society of Black Engineers “Be 1 of 10,000” campaign wants the US to increase the number of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering from 3,620 to 10,000 annually. NSBE is reaching out to seventh graders, hoping to have 150,000 “envision themselves as engineers” and pledge to achieve academic excellence in math and physics. NSBE executive director Karl Reid said, “Graduating 10,000 Black engineers per year will generate benefits that extend beyond our organization,” adding that “By harnessing the STEM talent of greater numbers of African Americans, we are expanding the corps of problem solvers and innovators in service to the nation.”
Nontenured Faculty At University Of Chicago File Union Election Petition With NLRB.
The Chicago Sun-Times (10/30, Ihejirika) reports that “nontenure-track faculty at the University of Chicago” have filed with the National Labor Relations Board to request an election “to unionize,” including both adjunct and full-time nontentured faculty. In numbers, those concerned “make up about 40 percent” of the school’s faculty. The effort is part of the “Faculty Forward movement” of the Service Employees International Union. The union is seeking to raise per course pay from its current average of around $3,000 to $15,000.
Research and Development
UC San Diego Creates Robotics Institute For “See-Think-Do” Technology.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (10/28, Robbins) reports that UC San Diego is building a robotics institute that will “develop machines that can interpret everything from subtle facial expressions to walking styles to size up what people are thinking, doing and feeling.” The machines will use “See-Think-Do” technology to size up people, places, and situations to anticipate and meet people’s needs, which will be useful for senior citizens who desire to live at home. “Our plan is to do the research and development that’s needed to realize robots of the future — robots that are safe, useful and autonomous in any environment,” said Albert Pisano, dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering.
Yale Laboratory Researching Smell To Build Robots To Replace Dogs And Other Animals In Detection.
The New Haven (CT) Register (10/29, Stannard) reports the Yale School of Medicine’s John B. Pierce Laboratory is working to build robots with an artificial sense of smell that can identify illegal drugs, bombs, or people stuck under rubble after an earthquake. Researchers in the lab need a better understanding of smell to complete their work. The research is being sponsored in part by President Barack Obama’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative.
NSF Awards Grant To Study Climate Change’s Effect On US, Mongolian River Systems.
The AP (10/30) reports the National Science Foundation awarded a $4.2 million grant to researchers from nine universities in the US and Mongolia to study how climate change is affecting the river systems of both countries. University of Kansas ecology and evolutionary biology professor James Thorp will lead the project with the assistance of colleagues from Ball State University, Drexel University, Kansas State University, National University of Mongolia, Rutgers University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, University of Nevada Reno, and Wayne State College.
NIH Awards Grant To University Of Vermont Startup Developing Technology To Help The Blind.
VTDigger (VT) (10/29, Wakefield) reports the National Institutes of Health have awarded a $1 million Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer grant to the University of Vermont start-up E.A.S.Y. LLC to continue their development of a digital printer that can “translate conventional graphics to raised-line versions readable by the blind.” The company previously developed the “inTACT sketchpad”, which allows blind people to convert “marks drawn on plastic sheets to raised lines that can be felt”, erased, and redrawn.
University Of Oklahoma Professor Leads NSF Grant On Resilience.
The Norman (OK) Transcript (10/30) reports that Ken Barker of the University of Oklahoma School of Industrial and Systems Engineering is leading a collaborative research project titled “Resilience Analytics: A Data-Driven Approach for Enhanced Interdependent Network Resilience.” The project is part of the National Science Foundation “Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes” initiative on risk and resilience. The goal is for the research to lead to innovations in infrastructure, strengthening community support functions, and delivering a broader range of goods and services.
ULM Professor Awarded $60K Grant To Study Severe Weather.
The Monroe (LA) News Star (10/30) reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded ULM Atmospheric Science professor Todd Murphy a $60,000 grant to participate in a Congress-mandated research project to understand the evolution of severe storms and tornadoes in the Southeastern US. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the project “will be the first severe storms experiment that will have a specific emphasis on addressing the sociological factors that contribute to the relatively large tornado mortality in this region of the country.” The project, called Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment- Southeast (VORTEX-SE) will use balloons to collect severe weather data.
Scientists Create Sonic “Tractor Beam” That Manipulates Objects.
The Christian Science Monitor (10/28, Ghose) reports that scientists have created a sonic “tractor beam” that can push, pull, and levitate objects. According to a new study, the sonic tractor beam “relies on a precisely timed sequence of sound waves that create a region of low pressure that traps tiny objects that can then be manipulated solely by sound waves.” Bruce Drinkwater, University of Bristol mechanical engineer and co-author of the study said the same concept could be adapted to manipulate cells in the human body or in sonic-released drug capsules. Using an array of 64 mini loudspeakers that produce precisely timed sound waves with accuracy to the microsecond level, the Scientists found three acoustic forces that can grab, twirl, and manipulate objects.
Biomedical Engineer Designs Thought-Controlled Wheelchair.
The World News Australia (10/29) reports that biomedical engineer Jordan Nguyen was inspired by a neck injury that paralyzed him to develop the technology for a wheelchair controlled by the user’s brainwaves. Instead of dropping out of school, Nguyen stuck with his studies and developed the first prototypes for the Thought-controlled Intelligent Machine in 2008. He now hopes to design an even smarter wheelchair and is working with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance on a project to assist in diagnosis of cerebral palsy and autism in babies. Nguyen told AAP that the accident “changed my perspective on life.”
Lack Of Skilled Workers Leads To Kentucky Workforce Shortage.
The AP (10/30, Beam) reports that Kentucky’s growing economy, demographics, and dependence on federal benefits have shrunk the state’s workforce. Middle-skill jobs make up 58 percent of the state economy, but the National Skills Coalition says only 48 percent of Kentucky workers have the skills and training to perform these jobs, causing a shortage of qualified workers. The state spends almost $900 million each year on workforce training programs. Yet in a survey of employers by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, just 8 percent said the state’s workforce had “good skills.” Experts call for increased vocational training.
B3D Conference Highlights Canadian Innovation In 3D Technology.
The Globe and Mail (CAN) (10/30, Beeston) reports on the B3D 3D Printing, Scanning, Software, and Design Conference, which took place in Toronto last week. The first event of its kind in Toronto, B3D strove to bring together the brightest minds in the “3-D technological renaissance,” including innovators in 3D from the fields of manufacturing, science, engineering, medicine, architecture, and the arts. Conference speakers believe that 3D technologies are at the start of a “slope of enlightenment” that is about to take off.
Delos Progresses On Well Building Standards.
Bloomberg News (10/29) reports on developments in the “Well Building Standard” published by Delos last year as a set of guidelines for designing buildings for increased happiness, health, and productivity. 425 Park Avenue New York is set to become the first office building to follow Delos’ standards. This month the firm received a $108 million investment from Sino-Ocean Land Holdings. Delos is currently “courting developers” to adopt the Well Building Standard so it can profit from services and fees associated with the certification process. It can cost up to $10,000 to register a building with the International Well Building Institute and from 8 to 23 cents per square foot to go through the certification process.
Engineering and Public Policy
Senators Seek Vote On House Perkins Loan Program Extension.
Politico (10/30, Isenstadt) reports that 54 senators “have written Senate leaders” urging that the “House-passed extension of the Perkins loan program,” be taken up by the Senate. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) would prefer that the program’s extension be part of the Higher Education Act, but senators are objecting that that act is unlikely to be approved soon.
Opinion: Congress Needs To Renew STEM Education Funding.
In a Picayune (MS) Item (10/30) opinion piece, a newspaper staff reporter explains why Congress should renew the largest source of federal funding for STEM education. The House recently passed a renewed version of the No Child Left Behind Act that would cut this source of funding. The opinion piece argues that this would be a mistake because the US is competing against numerous countries to remain “one of the most scientifically advanced countries on Earth.”
White House Hosts Event To Promote Astronomy To Students.
The Hendersonville (NC) Times-News (10/29) reports the White House hosted a “Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation 2015: Exploring the Cosmos” event to promote astronomy among students. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the National Science Foundation sponsored the event, which was attended by students on the south lawn of the White House. Astronomers spoke about their experiences and their work in the field.
Women Who Code Expanding Across US.
The Greenville (SC) News (10/29, Coyne) reports Women Who Code, an organization that promotes women becoming computer programmers and advancing in their careers, is growing across the US. The organization also aims to close the gender gap in STEM jobs. The organization recently opened a new chapter in Greenville, South Carolina.
Oklahoma City Lego League Event Held At Dell OKC.
The Oklahoman (10/30) reports “Dell OKC held a FIRST Lego League Scrimmage featuring first- through eighth-grade students from metro-area schools.” FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the Lego Group co-sponsored the Lego League event to help students learn STEM skills by participating in the scrimmage for a chance to advance to the competition.
Iowa Schools Seek Earlier Start To Technology Education.
WGEM-TV Quincy, IL (10/29) reports that the state of Iowa and local schools are pushing for kids to “pick up industrial technology skills at younger ages.” For example, the Keokuk Middle School shop class gives young students an early start on subjects like CAD programming and design, while state educators want schools to start Career and Technical Education subjects in seventh or eighth grade.
Texas Educators Visit Sioux Falls Schools For Technical Education Ideas.
KELO-TV Sioux Falls, SD (10/29) reports that two Texas educators visited the Career and Technical Education Academy and other schools in Sioux Falls to get ideas on technical education to take back to their own schools. CTE serves students from Sioux Falls and other surrounding districts to provide them with hands-on opportunities that will prepare them for careers in technical industries. CTE student Lexi Ramharter said hands-on learning is important for students across the country because, “It helps you decide what you want to do after high school.”
Construction Executive Supports CTE Efforts.
The Arizona Republic (10/30, Sodoma) profiles Doug Pruitt, construction leader and recipient of the 2016 Hero of Education Award. Pruitt credits Career Technical Education with getting him interested in school “instead of becoming a high school dropout.” After earning his associate’s degree in civil technology, Pruitt had a long and rewarding career in civil engineering and construction and has provided ample support to CTE efforts. According to this Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation report, he has sponsored scholarships at his alma mater, was involved in workforce development and school-to-work programs, and plans to endow an MCC scholarship fund for students in programs in health science, architecture, or construction. Pruitt says, “Most kids don’t learn academically. They learn by doing, by applying and learning, and CTE allows them to do that.”
Santos Encourages Girls, Minorities To Pursue Careers In STEM Fields.
In the Scientific American (10/30) “Voices” blog, Chief Information Officer at General Atlantic Casey Santos reports on how she decided to choose a career in STEM as a woman and minority. She was interested in math and science from an early age and was accepted into a gifted and talented program, and her parents supported her career ambitions. She studied aerospace engineering at MIT and went on to work for NASA. Recently she spoke at the YMCA of Greater New York at the Y STEM Speakers Bureau to inspire young kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods. Santos said, “I want those kids to know that they don’t have to be intimidated. That they can be successful. That they can escape into a new orbit—that they can shoot for the stars.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Administration Aims To Set Court Climate Rule Decision After UN Talks.