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

Leading the News

Federal Government To Fund Dual-Enrollment Program Students Beginning Next Fall.

The Washington Post  (10/31, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the Administration announced Friday that, “beginning next fall, up to 10,000 students in dual-enrollment programs will receive Pell grants” that students can use to cover tuition, books, and fees associated with the program. According to the Post, the Education Department is “investing up to $20 million” to provide grants for next year and “colleges offering dual-enrollment courses can apply to participate in the pilot starting next week.” The Post quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying, “A postsecondary education is one of the most important investments students can make in their future. Yet the cost of this investment is higher than ever, creating a barrier to access for some students, particularly those from low-income families.”

The AP  (10/30, Kerr) reports that the funding will be available to “thousands of low-income students,” and that ED “will invest up to $20 million in the 2016-17 school year — helping up to 10,000 students.” The piece explains that ED is authorized to set up the pilot under the experimental sites section of the Higher Education Act, which “gives federal officials flexibility to test the effectiveness of temporary changes to the way federal student aid is distributed.”

Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week  (11/2) “Politics K-12” blog that the pilot is “a pretty small drop in the Pell bucket,” in that the Pell grant program totals some $67.1 billion. Klein writes that the grants must be used for “courses that could eventually lead to a post-secondary credential,” and that “districts and colleges that decide to participate need to do what they can to make sure these high schoolers are successful in the college courses they take.”

Higher Education

Florida For-Profit Medical College Shuts Down.

The Miami Herald  (11/2) reports that Miami’s Dade Medical College, a “homegrown for-profit school that rose from humble origins to become an educational juggernaut,” is closing down effective immediately, “amid heightened federal scrutiny and mounting debts.” The article reports that some former students “accuse the school of selling an overpriced, poor-quality education.” After a recent ED audit, “federal regulators slowed down the flow of financial aid money,” possibly marking the “decisive blow” to the financially troubled firm.

The Tampa (FL) Tribune  (10/31) reports that the closure impacts six Dade Medical campuses and “its affiliate school, the University of Southernmost Florida.” The paper notes that the school “received more than $100 million in taxpayer-funded Pell grants and student loans” over the past three years. The Chronicle of Higher Education  (11/2) also covers this story.

WTimes Analysis: Obama “Conspicuously Silent” Amid Calls For “Free-College.”

The Washington Times  (11/2, Wolfgang) reports that while “a growing of number of prominent Democrats — including Vice President Joseph R. Biden — have jumped aboard the free-college-for-everyone bandwagon in recent months,” the President “remains conspicuously silent” on the issue. While White House officials say the President “believes a college degree should be ‘universal,’” they “stop short of saying the president backs any of the proposals his potential successors have put on the table.” His “reticence to speak directly about debt-free college has left liberal leaders anxious, and they say they are eagerly awaiting his full-throated support for the idea.”

Large Number Of Veteran Students Taking Out Private Loans To Supplement GI Bill Benefits.

The Los Angeles Times  (10/31, Zarembo) reports “26% of undergraduates receiving veterans education benefits also took out federal or private education loans.” The latest GI Bill covers the cost of tuition plus a monthly living allowance for four years at public colleges and universities, and many private institutions. Some veterans’ advocates are concerned about the growing amount of student debt being taken on by veterans. Data from ED’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study suggests that one contributing factor might be the disproportionate number of veteran students who attend for-profit colleges, which can be more expensive. ED data shows that 37% of veteran students at four-year for-profit schools took out additional private loans, while only 33% of veteran students at public schools and 28% of veteran students at private nonprofits did the same.

US Community Colleges Becoming More Globally-Oriented.

The New York Times  (10/30, Fernandez, Subscription Publication) reports community colleges have an increasingly global reach with 9% of international students in the US enrolled at community colleges. More community colleges are actively recruiting international students and sending their own students to study overseas. The American Association of Community Colleges spokeswoman Martha Parham, “We are becoming more global, and that is a reflection of the world we live in.” The article uses Houston Community College as an example of the larger trend. The community college has more than 2,000 international students, including 900 from Vietnam, 500 from Mexico, 300 from China, 200 from Angola, 200 from Kazakhstan, and 200 from Nigeria.

From ASEE
October Prism Now Online – Members Only
Cover story – A sprawling telescope array has made South Africa a world leader in radio astronomy and produced a pipeline of specialized engineers.

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

Unmanned Sikorsky Black Hawk Successfully Completes Test Run.

The Washington Times  (10/30, Blake) reported that army officials have announced that the prototype testing of an unmanned Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was successful. According to the Paul Rogers, the director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, “The unmanned ground vehicle moved through a 10-kilometer scenario where it faced different chemical, biological hazards and then fed that data back via satellite.” The article mentions that older Black Hawks could be retrofitted with the new technology.

The Fiscal Times  (11/1, Tucker) adds that the successful test proves that “Sikorsky, and merger partner Lockheed Martin, are emerging as leaders in autonomous helicopter flight with no close second.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Murkowski Criticizes Energy Policies That Restrict Drilling.

The Hill  (10/31, Richardson) “Briefing Room” blog reported that Sen. Lisa Murkowski used the Republican weekly address on Saturday to criticize President Obama’s energy policies that restrict drilling in her home state of Alaska. Murkowski said the Administration has “repeatedly denied Alaska’s best opportunities to produce energy for our nation and the world.” According to Murkowski, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies “are issuing a barrage of regulations that will have limited environmental benefit, but will absolutely reduce our ability to produce energy here at home.”

Funding Shortfall Hinders DOE’s Nuclear Weapons Cleanup.

The Wall Street Journal  (11/1, A1, Emshwiller, Fields, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that the Energy Department’s operation to clean up contamination from the nation’s nuclear weapons program is beset by declining budgets and rising cost estimates. Moreover, with 2,700 structures already on its list, officials say more than 350 facilities controlled by other Department programs could be eligible for transfer to the operation. However, the program is not taking on additional projects for now regardless of their significance, meaning some the gravest problems could go unaddressed for decades in favor of lower-priority work.

Manchin Promises To Fight “Unreasonable” Clean Power Plan.

In an op-ed for the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail  (11/2), Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia heavily criticizes the Obama Administration’s “unreasonable” Clean Power Plan, saying “these regulations force coal-fired plants to meet emissions standards which simply can’t be achieved, at least not now, even with the most advanced technology.” Manchin continues, stating that West Virginia and the US were given “an abundance of natural resources, and throughout our history, we have used these resources, particularly coal, to build and defend the nation.” But “for the first time” ever, “we have an administration that denies just how important coal is to keeping America secure.” Manchin vows “to fight against the Clean Power Plan with all that we got.”

Koppel: Vulnerability Of Power Grid To Cyberattack Must Be Addressed.

Former ABC “Nightline” host Ted Koppel writes in the Washington Post  (10/31) that “the Internet, whatever its many virtues, is also a weapon of mass destruction,” as “it was never intended to keep intruders out” but rather to “facilitate the unimpeded exchange of information, giving attackers a built-in advantage over defenders.” Koppel argues that a cyberattack of the “most vulnerable” members of the electric power industry “could lead to a domino-like penetration of even the most secure companies,” but despite the potential of such an attack, FEMA and DHS “continue to bundle cyberattack into a generalized, one-size-fits-all threat response package.” Koppel says Homeland Security Secretary Jez Johnson “was unable or unwilling to provide even the outline of a plan to deal with the aftermath of such an attack.” Koppel suggests that “the vulnerability of our power grids to cyberattacks and the absence of a national plan to deal with the consequences become a part of our national conversation.”

Maine Supreme Court Hears Smart Meters Arguments.

The AP  (10/31) reports the Maine supreme court is considering “arguments for a second time over the safety of so-called smart meters installed by Central Maine Power.” Smart-meter opponents “are challenging a December conclusion by the Maine Public Utilities Commission that 600,000 smart meters installed in homes and businesses pose no credible health threat.” Critics “say CMP made no effort to keep track of safety and health complaints and that the PUC disregarded its mandate to ensure ‘safe, reasonable and adequate services.’”

Elementary/Secondary Education

South Carolina Camps Expose Girls To Technology Industry And Careers.

The Orangeburg (SC) Times And Democrat  (11/2, Branch) reports Mellichamp Elementary School in Orangeburg, South Carolina recently hosted an INTech camp, which aims to inspire young girls to enter technology fields. During the camp, participants learned about web design and coding and also heard from women with career in technology fields. Several Teach for America Ambassadors also attended the camp to offer encouragement and support to the girls. Similar events were hosted in Kingstree and Walterboro in South Carolina.

Colorado School Brings In Expert For Woodworking Class.

The Houston Chronicle  (10/31, Hernandez) reports that the Peyton school district brought in Dean Mattson, known for the excellent woodworking program he launched in Oregon, to turn an abandoned Peyton schoolhouse into a “manufacturer’s oasis with enough professional equipment for experts to deem it the most advanced woodworking lab in the country.” Mattson partnered with over 30 industry leaders to provide $700,000 in donated equipment and materials for the Peyton wood manufacturing program. Mattson’s curriculum is gaining worldwide attention, and he says his next plan is to open a National Woods Manufacturing Training Center.

Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, NSF Fund 3D Printer Clubs.

WCPO-TV  Cincinnati (10/31, Swift) reports that the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative and the National Science Foundation recently provided $50,000 to fund 3D printer clubs at 13 Tri-State schools, nonprofits, and learning centers. These clubs, designed after the collaborative’s STEM Bicycle Clubs, will allow students to design and print objects using 3D printers, relying heavily on math and spatial reasoning and emphasizing skills such as flexibility, communication, problem-solving, and computer programming. Mary Adams, founder and program manager of the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, said, “We want to engage K-12 students in authentic, real projects that get them hands-on and heads-on, so that we spark their interest in STEM learning and STEM careers.”

Task Force Report Recommends Expansion Of CTE In Iowa.

The AP  (10/31, Rodriguez) reports that an education task force in Iowa recently released a report recommending expansion of career and technical education and training offered in the state. Officials, including Gov. Terry Branstad have announced plans to focus more on CTE. Jeremy Varner of the Iowa Department of Education said, “Obviously, acting on some of these recommendations would have a fiscal impact … but what that looks like depends on the details, and those are sort of being hashed out.” Varner added that CTE is currently available at a dozen centers around the state, though it is difficult to quantify in terms of cost.

Also in the News

Tech Philanthropists See Social Ills As Engineering Problems.

The New York Times  (11/1, Stanley, Subscription Publication) reports on Silicon Valley’s “new philanthropy,” which emphasizes the importance of innovation. However, according to the Times, “these philanthropists are no more interested in radical change” than their predecessors. The article says that tech industry leaders don’t favor wealth redistribution but “see poverty and inequality as an engineering problem.” These groups have tended to emphasize data and “scalabilty,” but are criticized for not addressing fundamental social and political factors that are responsible for societal problems.

Friday’s Lead Stories

AIG Invests $4 Million In Clemson Risk Engineering Center, Professorship.
NSBE Campaign Aims For Graduation Of 10,000 Black Engineers.
UC San Diego Creates Robotics Institute For “See-Think-Do” Technology.
Lack Of Skilled Workers Leads To Kentucky Workforce Shortage.
B3D Conference Highlights Canadian Innovation In 3D Technology.
Senators Seek Vote On House Perkins Loan Program Extension.
White House Hosts Event To Promote Astronomy To Students.

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