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

Leading the News

Volkswagen Hires Apple “Software Guru” For “Digitization” Role.

USA Today  (11/10, Bomey) reports that Volkswagen has hired “Apple software guru and former Mercedes-Benz executive Johann Jungwirth to lead its new ‘digitization strategy department,’ marking the latest twist in the global battle for talent as the auto industry pursues self-driving vehicles.” Jungwirth “will report directly to new Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller, signaling the significance of his role for the German automaker.” CNET News  (11/10, Tong) says that it “wasn’t immediately clear what Jungwirth’s specific focus will be at Volkswagen. He arrives at a time when the automaker could desperately use some forward thinking.”

Mashable  (11/10, Jaynes) reports that Jungwirth “spearheaded R&D in autonomous driving, connected cars and electric powertrains” for Mercedes. The Wall Street Journal  (11/11, Boston, Subscription Publication) says that at Apple, Jungwirth worked as a director in the development of the Mac and the company’s special projects group.

Volkswagen Downplays Chance Of Quick Diesel Scandal Resolution. Reuters  (11/11) reports that Volkswagen is downplaying the chances of a quick resolution to its investigation of the diesel emissions scandal, instead focusing on developing a fix for the impacted vehicles. VW brand sales head Juergen Stackmann said, “I understand the desire for speed, but what matters to us instead is to work thoroughly and to not give out false premature results.”

EU Legislature Balks At New Testing Standards. Bloomberg News  (11/10, Stearns) reports that a European Parliament “revolt widened over a watered-down plan for new tests on smog-causing car pollution after Volkswagen AG’s deception, heightening the risk of a veto.” The EU assembly’s environment committee “signaled it would recommend that the full chamber reject the Oct. 28 deal struck by EU national governments, which were concerned about extra costs for automakers.”

Volkswagen Halts Production Of 2016 Diesel Passats. Michael Ballaban writes for Jalopnik  (11/10) that Volkswagen “continued to make diesel models of its 2016 Passat, even after all the Dieselgate stuff started happening,” which is “sort of odd,” since they have “no way of selling” them “for some time.” Now, the company has halted production.

In other Volkswagen news:

Reuters  (11/10) reports that a German magazine said that the California Air Resources Board has not found any signs of cheating on other firms’ diesel emissions.

Bloomberg News  (11/10, Rauwald) says that Volkswagen has along had “cozy relations” with labor leaders, “but those ties are coming under increasing strain as fallout from cheating on emissions tests accumulates.” For example, Bernd Osterlow, head of the workers council, “was asked to be less confrontational in his relations with executives” at a board meeting on Monday.

Reuters  (11/10) reports that Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority said on Tuesday that it will redetermine the CO2 levels of 800,000 Volkswagen models that the company said had false CO2 data. However, the regulator will not review CO2 levels of other VW vehicles.

Higher Education

Cheyney University Supporters Call On State To Help Struggling School.

The AP  (11/11, Levy) reports that advocates for Cheyney University, the first historically black college in the US, “took their message to the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday to press officials to help save it amid a dire financial situation that they say results from decades of discrimination.” However, the state university system maintains that it is “working on various fronts to help the school,” and that Cheyney “is getting nearly four times the per-pupil average in state aid for the system’s other 13 universities.” The school’s supporters say that “the resolution of a 1980 lawsuit against the state coupled with a 1999 agreement between the state and the U.S. Office for Civil Rights was supposed to bring parity” to the school’s funding.

White House Calls On Congress To Protect Troops From For-Profits.

The Washington Post  (11/11, Jaffe) reports that Obama Administration is calling for legislation to protect “troops from colleges taking advantage of their military benefits without delivering a quality education.” The article notes that many schools profit from the $57 billion in Federal education funding for servicemembers “because the money is exempt from a key federal rule that governs the way for-profit colleges are funded.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced legislation “to reinstate a rule that banned for-profit colleges from getting more than 85 percent of their operating revenue from any federal student loans and grants.”

Parents Of Community College Students In Rural Alabama To Get Free Tuition.

Education Week  (11/10, Mader) reports that parents of community college students in Alabama’s Black Belt region will be eligible for free community college tuition and financial aid for tutoring and counseling under a $49.5 million initiative that will roll out over the next seven years. The program will receive funding from federal and local sources with the goal of developing a more educated workforce in the region to keep businesses from leaving.

Lender Vets Coding Boot Camps For Quality.

Bloomberg News  (11/10, Grant) reports that the market for coding boot camps has “exploded,” leading to difficulties for private lenders to assess programs and determine student credit-worthiness. According to boot camp review site Course Report, there are 67 full-time boot camps in 51 US and Canadian cities, and the market will have grown 138 percent since last year. However, there is no formal accrediting system, and some programs do not track graduates’ employment outcomes. Skills Fund has started to vet coding camps, listing programs that meet standards on Course Report, and only lending to programs meeting criteria, such as an 80 percent placement rate and extremely high student completion rate.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions Get NSF Grant Promoting Women In STEM.

The Santa Barbara (CA) Noozhawk  (11/10, Gregory) reports that the National Science Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to CSU Channel Islands UC Santa Barbara, UC Merced, and San Diego State University to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The institutions will organize “team science retreats” and create training programs for women and underrepresented minorities. Karen Carey, Dean of Arts and Sciences at CI, said, “The project has strong potential to make lasting change not just in the lives of the faculty members who participate, but in the institutions and STEM disciplines themselves as it creates systemic change that will support women in STEM for many years to come.”

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

Exxon, Statoil Join DNV GL Floating Wind Turbine Project.

Energy Daily  (11/11) reports Norwegian shipping and offshore energy consulting firm DNV GL “has joined with seven major energy companies and pump manufacturers” including ExxonMobil and Statoil “in a joint industry project to research the feasibility of using floating wind turbines to power water injection systems” for various applications. The project is expected to be completed in Q1 of 2016.

Opinion: Federal Research Funding A “Key Enabler” Of Innovation.

In a piece for the Christian Science Monitor  (11/10), Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, opines that it is “time to examine” the impact of government funded research from the NSF and NIH “and once again establish the bipartisan consensus that federal funding of scientific research is a key enabler of private sector innovation.” Atkinson criticizes a Wall Street Journal piece by Matt Ridley, who calls Federal funding worthless and detrimental.


Global Outsourcing Companies Dominating H-1B Visa Application System.

The New York Times  (11/11, A1, Preston, Subscription Publication) reports that a “small number of giant global outsourcing companies” have learned to “game the H-1B system without breaking the rules,” by flooding the system with applications “right after the application window opens on April 1” each year, “significantly increasing their chances” of being awarded visas, which are given out through a lottery. According to the Times, the firms have, in recent years, “obtained many thousands of the visas – which are limited to 85,000 a year.”

Commentary: Cybersecurity Career Image Must Expand To Include Women.

In commentary for the Christian Science Monitor  (11/10) “Passcode” blog, cyberthreat intelligence expert Jen Weedon writes that the images of cybersecurity careers, products, and services are frequently branded with “militaristic” images that are “only tailored to half the population: men.” Weedon writes that to help overcome the “severe cybersecurity staffing shortfall” the US faces, the “words and images we use to describe” cybersecurity careers must be expanded beyond stereotypically male tropes.

Engineering and Public Policy

Bill Nye Cites Technology As Our Greatest Remedy For Climate Change.

The Washington Post  (11/10, Mooney) covers Bill Nye’s new book, “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World,” in which he argues that our greatest remedy against climate change relies on technology and on how we harness energy. According to Nye, the goal of the book is, “getting people to see that there are a great many engineering options and I hope, policy ideas that people will embrace to help humankind save the Earth for humankind.”

Senate Votes To Join Conference Committee On Highway Bill.

The Washington Times  (11/11, Howell) reports that the Senate voted 82-7 on Tuesday to join conferees from the House to negotiate “Congress’ first long-term highway bill in a decade.” Majority Leader McConnell “swiftly named Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe of Oklahoma and six other Republicans to the bicameral conference.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Virginia Education Department Requires CTE Credential And Virtual Course.

The Culpeper (VA) Star Exponent  (11/11, Simmons) reports that the Virginia Department of Education has announced new requirements for high school students to earn a Virginia Board of Education-certified career and technical industry credential and complete one virtual course. The VDOE website says this new requirement is intended “to encourage more students to work toward a selected industry credential or state license while pursuing a high school diploma,” and spokesman Charles Pyle said the purpose is to increase workforce readiness by ensuring that all students graduate with a marketable skill. The Culpeper County Public Schools CTE program is profiled.

VEX IQ Hosts First Robotics Competition For South Florida Middle Schools.

The Miami Herald  (11/11, Busatto) reports that VEX IQ Robotics, used to transform STEM learning for students, hosted its first middle school robotics competition on Saturday for 10 South Florida schools. Melissa Fernandez, instructional supervisor of Technology and Industrial Education for Miami-Dade County Public Schools said the competition “gives students who aren’t interested in competitive sports, a chance to participate in a healthy competition.” Event coordinator Adam Mack said the event was “project-based learning at its best,” helping students to develop critical thinking skills and demonstrating practical applications of STEM education.

Coding Camps Prepare Elementary Students For Careers In STEM.

The Oklahoman  (11/10, Bathke) reports that children should be exposed to STEM skills in elementary school, according to the Council of Canadian Academies. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology says the US job market will be lacking one million STEM graduates in the next eight years, and research shows that “early exposure to science topics is important for a student’s career aspirations.” To meet this need, a group of startups, including Tech Talent South, have organized coding summer camps for children. The CCA says that even a basic understanding of coding helps increase childrens’ digital literacy and develop analytical thinking skills, which are critical not only for careers in STEM but in all fields.

LFCDS Will Host Third Straight FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition.

The Lake Forester (IL)  (11/10) reports that Lake Forest Country Day School will host a regional FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Robotics state qualifying competition on December 5 with an anticipated attendance of 500-1,000 people. The goal of the FLL program, which includes over 233,000 students from 80 countries, is to “generate excitement about science and technology while teaching students valuable employment and life skills.” This year’s theme requires students to research trash collection, sorting, smart production, and reuse. Robotics is an important component of the LFCDS STEM curriculum for students in grades six through eight.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Obama Says Keystone And Similar Projects Would Make Planet “Uninhabitable.”
Survey Finds Number Of Women At Top Business Schools Increasing.
Chinese University Researchers Discover New Method Of Manipulating Small Materials.
Report: Massachusetts Expects Skilled Labor Shortage By 2022.
CSU Professor Finds Little Evidence Of Drinking Water Contamination From Colorado Oil And Gas Drilling.
Event Held To Encourage Aviation Education In Florida Schools.

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