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

Leading the News

ED Says Corinthian Schools Misled Students.

Tuesday’s announcement by ED and California Attorney General Kamala Harris about new findings of misconduct by former schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc. generated significant coverage during this news cycle.

The New York Times  (11/18, Saul, Subscription Publication) reports that ED on Tuesday announced it will expand its federal student loan debt forgiveness plan to roughly 85,000 students who attended Everest University and WyoTech, two programs of Corinthian colleges, along with students at Everest online programs in Florida, from 2010 to 2013. Meanwhile, the Justice Department on Monday entered a $95.5 million settlement with the Education Management Corporation, another for-profit college provider, for using “high-pressure tactics to enroll students” and then lying to the government. While the settlement doesn’t include “any provision for forgiveness of federal student loans,” a separate agreement the company entered with state attorneys general does for about 80,000 former students. Furthermore, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said Education Management students “retain the right to come forward and claim borrower defense.” The article quotes incoming Education Secretary John B. King Jr. saying, “Our goal is to ensure that every eligible student receives every penny of the debt relief that they’re entitled to.”

The Washington Post  (11/17, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the announcement cited “new evidence that Corinthian Colleges widely misrepresented job placement rates at its Everest and Wyotech schools,” and “could make it easier for thousands of former students to have their federal student loans forgiven.” The article quotes Harris saying, “Corinthian preyed on vulnerable students who are now buried under mountains of student debt.” ED said that its joint investigation with Harris’ office proves “that the for-profit chain lied about the number of students at campuses in California and Florida who landed jobs.” The Post quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying, “Helping wronged students is much easier when everyone – Congress, state attorneys general, accreditors, authorizers and the department – does their part to protect students and works together. Our team welcomes help from anyone who wants to follow [the attorney general’s] lead.”

The Los Angeles Times  (11/17, Kirkham) reports that ED and Harris have been conducting an investigation into “inflated job placement rates claimed by Corinthian, once among the nation’s largest operators of for-profit colleges.” The article describes how Corinthian collapsed under “a yearlong crackdown by the Education Department, which withheld crucial federal funding from the schools amid evidence the company was misleading students.” The Times reports that the announcement will hasten debt relief for former Everest and WyoTech students and “adds to a similar finding in June that expedited the debt relief process for students who attended Corinthian’s Heald College campuses.”

Bloomberg News  (11/17, Kitroeff) reports that Corinthian “lied to students for years about their chances of getting a job after graduating” from WyoTech and Everest campuses. For example, “at Wyotech’s Long Beach campus, Corinthian told students there was a 100 percent employment rate for people getting an automotive technology diploma.” Investigators say the “true job placement rate was zero percent.”

The Contra Costa (CA) Times  (11/18, Murphy) reports that the upshot of the announcement is that “tens of thousands of students who attended California’s Everest or WyoTech career colleges might be able to get their federal student-loan debt wiped clean.”

Other media outlets that also cover this story include, the Chronicle of Higher Education  (11/18), the Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise  (11/18), Inside Higher Ed  (11/17), the NPR  (11/17, Kamenetz) “NprEd” blog, the Los Angeles Daily News  (11/18), the Sacramento (CA) Bee  (11/18), KCAL-TV  Los Angeles (11/17), and CNN Money  (11/17).

Higher Education

Bill Clinton Will Speak At Michigan State University, New Member Of Global Initiative University.

The Detroit Free Press  (11/18, Jesse) reports former President Bill Clinton will speak at Michigan State University’s Governor Jim Blanchard Public Service Forum on Wednesday as the first recipient of the Spartan Statesmanship Award for Distinguished Public Service. Michigan State University (MSU) plans to join Clinton’s Global Initiative University, a program aimed at engaging “the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.” MSU’s director of undergraduate entrepreneurship issued a statement saying, “Michigan State is committed to creating an entrepreneurial culture on campus and preparing our students to solve the world’s most pressing problems in innovative ways and to embark on careers that won’t resemble those of the past.”

California Community Colleges Vote For Improved Accreditation Process.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (11/17, Huckabee) reports that, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges voted unanimously on Monday to approve a resolution calling for a new agency to accredit the system’s colleges and a timeline for improving the accreditation process. The system recently sued the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior colleges after it threatened to close City College of San Francisco. Officials said that cutting ties with the commission could take years and will require approval from ED.

Employees Express Gratitude For Company Policies Supporting Pursuit Of Higher Education.

Referencing the 2015 list of Top Places to Work, Boston  (11/17, Salomon) profiles several employees of companies that provide financial assistance and flexible work schedules for those individuals seeking to earn advanced degrees and highlights the gratitude of these employees, with all agreeing that such policies are a benefit to both them and the companies they work for.

Education Expert Champions MOOCs.

Writing in Inside Higher Ed  (11/17) Technology And Learning column, Dr. Joshua Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, cites five benefits of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), arguing that they: provide a space to discuss the changing landscape of higher education, provide an opportunity to discuss the redesign of introductory courses, accelerate the transition from lecture instruction to active, team-based models, advance educators’ proficiency in instructional design, and advance the development of on-campus proficiencies in research, evidence-based evaluation and instruction.

Michigan Tech Students, Faculty Unite To Design ‘Makerspace’ Creative Lab.

The AP  (11/18, Roblee) reports that about 100 students, faculty, and staff at Michigan Tech have come together to construct a “makerspace” lab, which is designed to be a workshop where members of the university community can develop and test their creative ideas, which would remain the intellectual property of the developer. Commenting on the evolution of the project, Mary Rabero adviser of the National Science Foundation University Innovation Fellows’ “The Movement” group, expressed her hope that this marked only the first stage of a much larger “makerspace” initiative.

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

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Opens New Science Center.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News  (11/18, Lochner) reports the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has opened the Shyh Wang Hall, a “center for the advancement of computational science and for networking among the nation’s leading universities and research institutions.” The Mercury News mentions Wang Hall houses the “Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, which connects tens of thousands of scientists working to solve some of the world’s biggest scientific challenges.” According to Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, “Wang Hall will allow us to serve more scientists in the future, expanding this unique role we play in the national innovation ecosystem.”

US Military’s Use Of Lasers Date Back To 1973.

Gizmodo  (11/18, Novak) reports on the history of lasers in the US military, starting in 1973. The article adds that today’s laser weapons are major part of US defense capabilities, including the ZEUS laser system, which can be used to explode IEDs. The article adds that research and development on laser technology is continuously growing due to companies like Booz Allen Hamilton.

ORNL seeks delivery of Virginia spent fuel rods for study.

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel  (11/18, Munger) reports that Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason confirmed Tuesday that a proposal under review could bring spent nuclear fuel from Virginia’s North Anna Power Station to the lab for research on changes to spent fuel rods over time. The plans were made public Tuesday by “three activist groups, including the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, which expressed concern about the project and said it was seeking more information,” the News Sentinel reports.

Atomic City Underground  (11/17) also reports.

University Of Washington Researchers Develop Laser That Can Cool Liquid.

UPI  (11/18, Hays) reports University of Washington researchers have developed a laser than can cool water. The laser operates by “fixing an infrared laser light on a microscopic crystal suspended in liquid by a laser-powered tractor beam.” The researchers are now working to improve the efficiency of the process so it uses less energy allowing it to be scaled. The cooling laser could be useful in biological research allowing scientists to slow down cells or biological processes so they could be studied.

Clemson University Researchers Develop Bite Counter.

On its website, WCBD-TV  Charleston, SC (11/17) reports Clemson University researchers developed the Bite Counter, a wearable device that tracks how many bites of food a person eats in order to help people achieve dieting goals. The researchers developed the device based on the notion that “it’s more about how much you eat than what is on your plate” to control your weight. Clemson professor Adam Hoover says he lost 30 pounds while working on the project by using the device. The Greenville (SC) News  (11/18, Coyne) adds that the Bite Counter prototype cost $799 in 2011, but now only costs $119.99 and includes a pedometer. Users enter personal health information when they first get the device and then press a button before every meal. If a user exceeds the recommended number of bites, then an alarm goes off every time they take an additional bite.

Global Developments

Samsung Smartphones Lead Sales In Emerging Markets.

Yonhap (KOR)  (11/18) reports on data compiled by research firm Strategy Analytics indicating that Samsung ranked first in smartphone sales in 14 of the “next fifteen” emerging markets during Q3 of 2015. Samsung smartphones were top sellers in Egypt and Turkey, where they accounted for 53.6% and 45.2% of the markets, respectively, in Q3. Samsung smartphones also led sales in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with Indonesia being Samsung’s top emerging market in Q3 with 10 million units shipped and a 27.5% market share.

Engineering and Public Policy

White House Threatens To Veto Senate Resolution On EPA Rule.

Reuters  (11/18, Rampton) reports the White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a second Senate resolution, saying it would nullify EPA standards for new modified power plants. The White House announcement followed a threat to veto a similar Senate resolution earlier in the day. The Washington Post  (11/18, Mooney) calls the votes “largely symbolic,” but notes that the “overall message is that as Obama and his negotiators head to Paris for COP-21, there is considerable resistance at home to the key policy by which the US itself promises to reduce emissions.” The New York Times  (11/18, A19, Davenport, Subscription Publication) similarly notes that while the President has promised to veto the resolutions, “proponents believe their defiance will have diplomatic repercussions.” By “voting to block the rule, lawmakers want to telegraph to the world that Congress does not back the president’s climate pledges.”

According to the Washington Times  (11/18, Boyer), the White House said that the Senate resolution would “hurt the administration’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution ‘when the need to act, and to act quickly, to mitigate climate change impacts on American communities has never been more clear.’” The Senate resolution, said the White House, “seeks to block progress towards cleaner energy, eliminating public health and other benefits of up to $54 billion per year by 2030, including thousands fewer premature deaths from air pollution and tens of thousands of fewer childhood asthma attacks each year.”

White House Promotes Community Solar Initiative.

USA Today  (11/18, Korte) reports the Administration held its National Community Solar Summit, a summit of “major solar players” on Tuesday, and subsequently “announced that 68 cities, states, and businesses had signed on to a White House initiative to promote community solar, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income households.” The article suggests that in addition to expanding solar to more households, “just as importantly for President Obama, it will allow the United States to expand its use of clean energy” ahead of his visit to Paris to “press other companies to make similar strides to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuels.”

EPA Proposes New Downwind Air Pollution Rules.

The AP  (11/18, Daly) reports “the Environmental Protection Agency proposed tougher new limits on Tuesday on smokestack emissions from nearly two dozen states that burden downwind areas with air pollution from power plants they can’t control.” Meanwhile, “the EPA moved to remove two states – South Carolina and Florida – from the ‘good neighbor’ rules, saying they don’t contribute significant amounts of smog to other states.” The agency’s proposal “came as Republicans in Congress moved to block President Barack Obama’s plan to force steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (11/18, Hopey) adds that “the inter-state transport of pollutants remains a problem in the East, South and Midwest.”

The Hill  (11/18, Cama) reports EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement, “This update will help protect the health and lives of millions of Americans by reducing exposure to ozone pollution, which is linked to serious public health effects including reduced lung function, asthma, emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and early death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes.” The Washington Examiner  (11/18) adds that the updated rule “will cost states $23 million a year beginning in 2017, the agency said, arguing that the rule’s benefits of between $700 million and $1.2 billion greatly outweigh the cost.”

US Natural Gas Production Capacity Increases While Oil Decreases.

The Houston Business Journal  (11/17, Edwards, Subscription Publication) reported that “new U.S. gas production capacity increased 6 percent in October over September, reaching 2.14 billion cubic feet per day…a solid contrast to the decrease in new U.S. oil production, which went down by 5 percent over the same period, hitting 339 million barrels per day.” The top Houston-based gas producers include Southwestern Energy Co., Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., and EOG Resources Inc.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Scouts Camp Out At “Camp Sikorsky.”

The Stratford (CT) Star  (11/18) reports that “more than 350 Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts across Connecticut camped out at Sikorsky Aircraft for the 15th annual Camp Sikorsky, held Friday, Oct. 23 to Sunday, Oct. 25.” The Star explains that “the group, welcomed on Friday by Judy Bankowski, vice president and chief information officer of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, spent their Saturday in workshops of their choice including aviation, space exploration, weather, engineering, chemistry, and more while learning from role models across different fields.” The Star says that “Camp Sikorsky is an example of the interesting and exciting programs which fall under Girl Scout of Connecticut’s STEM initiative, which offers girl-led, girl-centric activities to help girls gain confidence and build skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

STEM Toys For Girls Are Big Trend.

Fortune  (11/17, Fenn) reports the production and marketing of STEM toys for girls is the latest trend in an ongoing effort by many educators, technology firms, nonprofits, and other groups to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and STEM careers to improve diversity in the industry that is predominately male. Toy Industry Association trend specialist Adrienne Appell says, “We named it as a major trend in 2014 and we’ve seen it continue in 2015.” The article highlights several toy startups started by female entrepreneurs who left STEM jobs to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers. For example, Jewelbots and Linkitz manufacture programmable bracelets for girls.

Google Commissions Gallup Survey On Perceptions Of Computer Science Field.

USA Today  (11/18, Cava) reports Google commissioned Gallup to complete a survey on how students, parents, and teachers perceive the field of computer science. The survey found that a near-majority of K-12 students agreed with the statement “people who do computer science need to be very smart” but a lower percentage reported themselves as being “very skilled” at math or science. The survey also found that only 42% of girls in school were “very confident” that they could learn computer programming skills and only 18% of girls were “very likely” to pursue a career in computer science, compared to 62% and 35% of boys. The Huffington Post  (11/17, Klein) highlights another finding of the Gallup survey that “teachers who work at the poorest schools are more likely to think that computer science is vital to their students’ futures.”

Ohio Elementary School Students Participate In STEM Week.

The Youngstown (OH) Vindicator  (11/18) reports students at Hilltop Elementary School in Canfield, Ohio are participating in STEM Week by learning about different STEM fields. In one event, students “showed their hand-eye coordination skills with surgeon-training technology” with the guidance of a surgeon at a local hospital.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

EDMC To Pay $95 Million In Settlement Over Recruitment Practices.
FCC Has Nine Months To Clarify New Rules On Robocalling Government Backed Student Loan Borrowers.
Energy Researcher Calls Renewable Fuel Standard “Indispensable.”
Cool Roofs Can Boost Home Efficiency.
Senate Set To Vote Against Clean Power Plan.
NSF Awards $3 Million Grant To Dartmouth To Create STEM Learning Centers At Rural Libraries.

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