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

Leading the News

Obama Says Keystone And Similar Projects Would Make Planet “Uninhabitable.”

The Washington Times  (11/10, Boyer) reports President Obama said on Monday “that the Keystone pipeline and other such fossil-fuel development projects would make Earth ‘uninhabitable.’” The President told a group of activists, “As long as I’m president and as long as you’re out there organizing, America’s going to hold ourselves to the same high standards with which we want to hold the rest of the world.”

In an analysis, the AP  (11/10, Werner) writes that President Obama’s “decision to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline has exposed an endlessly polarized Washington, and likely hardened its divides.” While the President is “being praised to the skies by environmentalists and most Democrats, and denounced in apocalyptic terms by Republicans and the business community,” any consensus on climate change or new energy policy “looks farther away than ever.” Jason Grumet of the Bipartisan Policy Center said, “This became a tribal issue of bizarre proportion.”

The Daily Intelligencer (NY)  (11/9, Danner) writes that “key questions in the wake of the decision include what the Keystone fight has meant, and potentially will mean, for American environmentalism, as well as how it will come to define Obama’s legacy on climate change.” The Keystone decision is the President’s “most significant, if symbolic, move to limit the growth of the world’s fossil fuel supply.”

In a USA Today  (11/10) op-ed, Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute and Steven Hayward of the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy write that the Keystone decision is actually “a Pyrrhic victory” for environmentalists because something they “hate even more than Keystone: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,” made it possible by introducing new sources of oil and lowering the price of gas. Without it, “the political cost of stopping Keystone would have been prohibitive.”

Coal, Other Pipelines Next In Environmentalists’ Sights. Bloomberg News  (11/10, Roston) says Keystone was a “political symbol,” and emboldened activists will next take on other pipelines as well as coal production. Politico  (11/9, Grunwald) says coal is actually a bigger issue than pipelines – coal “produced about half of America’s power in 2005, but it’s down to 36 percent and falling fast,” due mainly to Administration rules. Politico says that even though Obama “officially favors an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy,” his presidency “has been a catastrophe for coal.”

TransCanada Says It Could Resubmit Keystone Application Under Next President. The Washington Times  (11/10, Wolfgang) reports TransCanada “said Monday that it theoretically could resubmit its Keystone application in January 2017, assuming the next president is more favorable to new American oil and gas infrastructure projects,” but stressed that it has not yet made such a decision.

Higher Education

Survey Finds Number Of Women At Top Business Schools Increasing.

The Huffington Post  (11/10, Peck) reports the Forte Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for women in the business world, found that the percentage of full-time students at the nation’s top business schools who are female increased from 32% to 36% between 2011 and 2015. Some of the surveyed schools had a student body that was more than 40% female.

Study: New York Fed Finds Low-Income People Taking On More Student Debt.

The Street  (11/10, Sandman) reports a study from the New York Fed found that higher-income people are taking on more mortgage and credit card debt while lower-income people are taking on more student loans. Student loans are the second biggest category of debt in the US after mortgages.

Statistics Show College Graduation Rates Differ By Race, First-Generation Students Often Struggle To Finish.

Connecticut Public Radio  (11/10, Orson) reports the National Center for Education Statistics found that more than 40% of “young white 20-somethings” had finished a bachelor’s degree, but for African-Americans only half that rate had finished bachelor’s degrees, and for Hispanics only a third of the rate had finished. Many education leaders say that too much focus has been placed on getting students into college without enough being done to help lower-income first-generation students finish college.

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

Chinese University Researchers Discover New Method Of Manipulating Small Materials.

The Christian Science Monitor  (11/9, Chen) reports researchers at Donghua University in China have discovered a new way to manipulate small objects made of graphene sheets using heat and infrared light. The researchers were inspired by origami and claim the new method could be used to create materials that adjust and adapt to heat and other environmental factors. Researchers say the methods could be used to make miniature robots or bionic organs.

Berkeley Bioengineer Working To Make Cancer Cells Behave Like Normal Cells.

Forbes  (11/9) profiles bioengineer Claire Robertson at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and describes her work on breast cancer cells. “If Robertson can get the malignant cancer cells to spin and ‘do the dance’ like normal cells—she may be able to find a way to stop breast cancer from developing,” Forbes reports.

Research Shows Potential Of 3D Printing Of Personalized Medications.

HealthDay  (11/10, Preidt) reports that “investigators from Wake Forest University, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina created a prototype computer algorithm featuring software for 3D printing of personalized medications.” The research shows “that using 3D printing to create customized medications is possible,” but “further research is needed before this technology might become available for patients.” The research  was published in Circulation and presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.


Report: Massachusetts Expects Skilled Labor Shortage By 2022.

Boston  (11/10, Hofherr) reports a Northeastern University report predicts that 1.2 million new jobs that do not require college degrees will open up in Massachusetts over the next seven years. The state’s career and technical education programs are “already at capacity, and won’t be able to train enough people to fill those spots.” This could lead to extreme labor shortages by the year 2022. The Boston Globe  (11/8, Woolhouse) adds that the job openings are expected as the economy grows and as baby boomers retire. Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership executive director Jack Healy says, “In the next two or three years, you’ll see serious shortages. We don’t have a pipeline that exists in this state that’s ready and capable of replacing those workers.”

Engineering and Public Policy

CSU Professor Finds Little Evidence Of Drinking Water Contamination From Colorado Oil And Gas Drilling.

The AP  (11/10) reports that Colorado State University scientists said that they found “little evidence that drinking water has been contaminated by oil and gas drilling.” The studies led by civil and environment engineering professor Ken Carlson, showed no “chronic, the-sky-is-falling” problems, but found “2 percent of sampled wells showed the presence of methane.” The AP cited an earlier story in the Fort Collins (CO) Coloradoan  (11/6, White).

Some States Going Further Than Obama On Climate.

McClatchy  (11/10, Adams) reports that while 24 states have filed a lawsuit challenging the President’s Clean Power Plan as an overreach of federal authority, some states are going further than the White House on the climate. In California, Rhode Island, and Washington state, among others, “state officials already are deploying strategies that could slow some of the impact of climate change.”

Most States Suing EPA Over Clean Power Plan Also Working Toward Compliance Plans. E&E Publishing  (11/10) reports that a review of how all the states suing the EPA over its Clean Power Plan are approaching compliance reveals that “even though a state may be litigating the Clean Power Plan, it doesn’t mean it’s not actively considering how to achieve the required emissions cuts.” Ken Colburn, a principal at the Regulatory Assistance Project, which advises state regulators on the Clean Power Plan, said, “Most are having stakeholder meetings, and certainly the discussions between [public utility commissions] and air regulators are well under way now since even before the proposed rule.” He added, “I think those developments are proceeding as though they are going to be necessary without any advertising.” E&E goes on to report on the states individually.

Illinois AG Seeks Review Of Costs Linked To Chicago Utility Project.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (11/10, Content) reports that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday called for a state review of “the spiraling cost of a natural gas main replacement project in Chicago” now managed by a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group. Madigan wants regulators to “look into whether Chicago utility Peoples Gas deliberately withheld key information about how expensive the massive project would be.” The Journal Sentinel reports that an auditor hired by the state “disclosed recently that the $8 billion cost estimate — for a project originally billed to cost about $2.2 billion — initially became available within the gas company around January 2015.”

Two Federal Offshore Wind Development Leases Awarded Off New Jersey.

Bloomberg News  (11/9, Martin) reports that RES Americas Developments and US Wind, a unit of Italy’s Toto, “won leases to build wind farms off the coast of New Jersey in a U.S. Interior Department auction Monday.” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in the statement that the auction “underscores the emerging market demand for renewable energy and marks another major step in standing up a sustainable offshore wind program for Atlantic coast communities.” The Hill  (11/10, Henry) adds that offshore wind energy development has “been a priority for the Obama administration” and that Monday’s auction was the Federal government’s fifth such auction to date. The AP  (11/10, Parry) adds that director of Environment New Jersey Doug O’Malley said that the auction “is the best news for off-shore wind in New Jersey” since Gov. Christie signed a bill five years ago advancing off-shore wind in the state.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Event Held To Encourage Aviation Education In Florida Schools.

US News & World Report  (11/9, Camera) reports that an event was organized in Lakeland, Florida by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association about the importance of aviation education in schools, and how schools can fund such programs. The event was attended by educators from around the county. The article mentions that according to the FAA, “active certified pilots have fallen in number from 827,000 in 1984 to 593,000 in 2014.”

STEM Education Advocates Say Early Exposure To Technology Is Important.

The Deseret (UT) News  (11/10, Bathke) reports the National Science and Technology Council is advocating for early exposure to STEM fields for all students. Studies show that people’s attitudes about technology can form at young ages near the end of elementary school, so it is beneficial to expose students early on so they can become comfortable using new technology. STEM education advocates also say STEM education is important because of the growing number of career opportunities in STEM fields.

Ohio Student Wins Breakthrough Prize For Film On Einstein’s Special Theory Of Relativity.

The Washington Post  (11/9, Brown) reports Ryan Chester, a senior at an Ohio high school, won an award from Breakthrough Prizes for his seven-minute film that explains Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The award includes a $250,000 college scholarship for Chester, a $100,000 donation to his high school near Cleveland to build a new science lab, and $50,000 for his physics teacher. Breakthrough Prizes reward success in STEM fields and are funded by some of Silicon Valley’s most successful people including Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin.

Utah High School Students Attend STEM Education And Careers Conference.

The Deseret (UT) News  (11/10, Jorgensen) reports nearly 800 local high school students attended the Northern Utah STEM Career and College Exposition in Layton, Utah. Students learned about STEM jobs with local employers and college programs that could prepare them for those careers. More than 60 businesses and educational institutions attended the conference held at a conference center in Davis County. Weber School District science curriculum specialist says the layout of the event allows students to talk with educational institutions and businesses in the same place and find out what programs would best prepare them for different careers.

Michigan BOE Will Vote Whether To Adopt Next Generation Science Standards, Including Engineering.

On its website, WUOM-FM  Ann Arbor, MI (11/10, Emanuel) reports Michigan’s BOE is expected to vote on Tuesday whether to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, which include engineering as part of the science curriculum for schools starting in kindergarten. Many educators and students are excited about the possible changes, but others are worried about being required to implement a new curriculum on a fast timeline. Will Offer Third Annual Free Tutorial On Programming.

The Washington Post  (11/10, Layton) reports, a nonprofit that aims to expand computer science education in the US, is “offering its third annual free tutorial” in computer programming for anyone older than four years old. This year’s tutorial called “Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code” will be an hour-long introduction to computer programming. USA Today  (11/9, Guynn) reports the tutorial will be taught by Star Wars characters including Princess Leia and R2-D2. Participants will write code to help the characters scavenge in a starship junkyard or run way from the movies’ villains.

Monday’s Lead Stories

AP Analysis: Keystone Becomes “Exhibit A” In Obama’s Environmental Legacy.
Obama Administration To Remodel Post-Secondary Accreditation System.
NSF-Funded Research Leads To Massachusetts Startup To Detect Food Going Bad.
Report Highlights Talent Pools Of Top US Tech Firms.
EPA Steps Up On-Road Emissions Testing Of Diesel Vehicles.
University Of West Florida Hosts BEST Robotics Competition.

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