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

Leading the News

Senators Introduce Resolution In Opposition To UN Climate Talks.

The Hill  (11/20, Henry) reported Sens. James Inhofe, Roy Blunt, and Joe Manchin on Thursday introduced a resolution that says a UN-brokered climate deal at upcoming talks in Paris will have “no force or effect” in the US unless Congress approves the agreement. Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement that the international community “needs to be aware that the US Congress and the American people do not support President Obama’s international climate agenda.” Manchin added, “This administration should not be able to unilaterally put American businesses at a disadvantage in the global economy by enacting unattainable and unproven mandates.”

Climate Activists Upset Paris Attacks Have Stolen Spotlight From Upcoming Summit. The Washington Times  (11/20, Richardson) reports that climate activists are “bemoaning” the cancellations of several “high-profile” events at the UN climate summit. The cancellations, related to security concerns following the Paris attacks on Friday, included a Nov. 29 march that was “seen as the biggest media draw of a conference.” To make the topic of climate “more relevant,” activists are calling for the conference to be recast as a “climate-peace” summit “aimed at combating terrorism by reducing global warming, on the theory that rising temperatures sow political unrest and economic instability.”

Study: Simple Fixes To New York Heating Systems Can Cut Emissions. The New York Times  (11/20, Foderaro, Subscription Publication) reports that a new study released on Friday by Energy Efficiency for All, which is affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the consulting firm Steven Winter Associates, says that with “just a few simple fixes,” residents in New York apartments can cut back on energy waste and carbon emissions. For instance, the study suggests “installing a tiny plate in each radiator’s valve to slow the release of steam; adding insulation and a temperature sensor; and affixing a control knob on the exterior of each radiator.” The study claims that if building owners implemented such recommendations, “they would realize an annual savings of about $147 million.”

Higher Education

Sudden Closure Of Florida For-Profit College May Have Violated Federal, State Law.

The Miami Herald  (11/20, Vasquez) reports the sudden closure of Dade Medical College in Hialeah, Florida on October 30 may have violated federal and state law because the for-profit school failed to offer a “teach out” plan so that students could finish up their degrees at other schools. During a meeting of Florida’s Commission for Independent Education, which oversees for-profit colleges in the state, for-profit college attorney Bob Harris called for the state to prosecute Ernesto Perez, the owner of Dade Medical College. The article mentions that last month ED passed additional restrictions on use of federal grants and loans by ITT Tech, a chain of for-profit colleges.

Lack Of “Prestige” Dissuades Some Students From Seeking Non-Bachelor’s Career Training.

The Deseret (UT) News  (11/20) reports that higher education experts have longstanding concerns about the “frequent mismatch between career hopes and educational pathways,” noting that many say “the emphasis on four-year college degrees has obscured high-value career paths that are more technical and hands on — but usually do not come with the prestige of a bachelor’s degree.”

Adrienne Minerick on Diversity in Chemical Engineering
ASEE’s Diversity Committee chair is interviewed by AIChE.

ASEE Membership Benefits
Our members say why ASEE membership is important to them professionally.

Research and Development

Two Virginia Tech Professors Leading International Research Project to Improve Wireless Networks In Dense Venues.

The Augusta (VA) Free Press  (11/20) reports Virginia Tech faculty members are leading an international research project to improve the performance of wireless networks in densely populated venues like stadiums or theaters. The researchers will focus on designing and deploying dense, high-capacity networks and are particularly interested in using millimeter-wave frequencies, which offer unique advantages and disadvantages compared to other frequencies.

Opinion: The High Cost Of Particle Accelerators Is Worth It.

In an opinion piece on the NPR  (11/18, Gleiser) website, theoretical physicist Marcello Gleiser outlines why the world should offer financial support to the high-priced physics research conducted at particle accelerators like CERN located near Geneva, Switzerland. Gleiser argues the research is cost-justified because: the cost is low compared to US defense spending, the search for particles is a continuation of the human “search for meaning in a cosmos full of mystery”, the research allows for international collaboration as an example of what nations can achieve when they cooperate, the research has implications for the development of practical technologies, and the research trains tens of thousands of people with valuable STEM skills.

Drexel University Announces New Partnership With Outside Firms To Support Spin-Off Companies Based On University Projects.

Philly (PA)  (11/20, Takiff) reports Drexel University announced a new partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Safeguard Scientifics to launch a $10 million fund to support the creation of spin-off companies based on university projects led by inventors and entrepreneurs. Ben Franklin has agreed to match every dollar raised by Drexel for investments in such companies up to $5 million. Safeguard Scentifics venture capitalists will provide mentoring to the spin-off companies.

Sandia Lab Leading Research On Smart Bullets.

The Economist  (11/20) reports that “a sniper almost always relies on a spotter to feed him information about a target’s location. He may also need assistance in dealing with the long list of things that could cause him to miss—from crosswinds to the rotation of the Earth.” The Economist says “One way to simplify matters would be to make bullets that know where they are going and can change course in mid-flight to get there. And one such has been designed at Sandia National Laboratories, an American government establishment in New Mexico.” The Economist says the new bullet “is a pointed projectile with fins, actuators that can change the trim of those fins, an on-board computer to control the actuators, an optical sensor in its tip that tells the computer where the target is, and a lithium battery to power the lot.”

Northrop Grumman Underwater Drone Caught By Fisherman.

The Baltimore Sun  (11/20, Duncan) reports that a Northrop Grumman underwater sonar research drone was “hauled…out of the water” by a fisherman in the Chesapeake Bay November 5. Northrop spokesman Andrew Haltzel “said the autonomous undersea vehicle had completed its mission and surfaced in the water” and was awaiting retrieval.

Udall Bill Would Speed Technology Developed At Energy Department Labs To Marketplace.

In continuing coverage the Albuquerque (NM) Business First  (11/20) reports on Sen. Tom Udall’s updated bill “would make funding for technology transfer from the national labs and other public research institutions to the marketplace a top priority for the U.S. Department of Energy got a second stab at becoming law this week.” The New Mexico Democrat “told Business First that the main thrusts of ATTAIN are to codify and expand the DOE’s latest public-private partnership initiatives, such as the Labs-Corps program, in permanent legislation and distribute capital dollars that mostly go to states like California and Massachusetts, more evenly to underserved regions like New Mexico.” Udall said, “DOE Secretary [Dr. Ernest Moniz] has said tech transfer is an important mission. When legislation sets this up, then you make things permanent.”

Industry News

Boeing Provides Virtual Tour Of JStars Proposal.

Aviation International News  (11/19, Carey) reports that Boeing provided a virtual tour of its proposal for the US Air Force’s Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JStars), a 737-700 Boeing Business Jet. The article notes that the Air Force awarded pre-engineering and manufacturing development contracts in August to Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin. The contract require the companies to “perform system requirements analyses for its JStars recapitalization program to replace the E-8C JStars platform, which is based on the Boeing 707-300.” The article adds Northrop is proposing a design based on the its Gulfstream G550 business jet, while Lockheed Martin is basing its design on the Bombardier Global business jet.

Tesla Looks To Boost Self-Driving Cars With New Software Engineering Hires.

Business Insider  (11/19, Thompson) reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk “said via Twitter Thursday that the company is looking to hire more engineering talent to work on its self-driving car technology.” Musk tweeted, “Ramping up the Autopilot software team at Tesla to achieve full autonomy. If interested, contact” In particular, Musk is looking for “hardcore software engineers” and said that no previous auto experience is necessary.

Engineering and Public Policy

Rail Interests Defend Bridge Maintenance Record.

Engineering News-Record  (11/19, Zeman) reports that a national environmental watchdog criticized the decaying state of freight rail infrastructure, after two Wisconsin oil and ethanol train derailments on November 7 and 8. “The Waterkeeper Alliance said ‘citizen inspectors’ identified deficiencies, deterioration and rotting foundations in 46% of the bridges inspected and called on the Federal Railroad Administration and Congress to step up policing efforts of the rail industry,” the article reports. The Association of American Railroads (ARR) disagreed. “You can’t tell the condition of a bridge by looking at it, so we’re concerned that these inspections were done by non-engineers” says Ed Greenberg, spokesman for AAR. National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association President Chuck Baker said, “The railroads have a full construction and maintenance agenda, but they are focused on bridges.” He added, “They have to grind track down, inspect relays, build new locomotives—but bridges are definitely up there on the list.”

Intel Executive Warns Drone Laws Could Lead To R&D Outsourcing.

Reuters  (11/19, Morgan) reports that Intel SVP and GM for new technology warned the US government Thursday that overly strict rules could lead it to send its drone research abroad.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Northern California First Lego League Running Short On Funds, Volunteers.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News  (11/19, Noguchi) reports the Northern California First Lego League, which aims to get more girls and minority students excited about engineering, is struggling to raise funds and recruit volunteers to run the program. The organization currently has about 8,000 child members, but a lack of money and volunteer advisors is preventing more children from joining. Program organizers and others say that exposing girls and minority students to robotics early on is crucial to closing the gender and racial gaps in STEM fields.

ED Awards $3 Million Grant To Nashville Schools To Get More Girls In STEM.

The Tennessean  (11/19, Gonzales) reports ED awarded a $3 million grant to Metro Nashville Public Schools to help more middle school girls get involved in STEM programs. The district’s STEM director Kris Elliot said, “Middle school is a crucial time to engage and get students interested in a future career.”

Raytheon Gives Texas District Grant To Train Elementary Teachers In Engineering Curriculum.

THE Journal  (11/19, Hart) reports Raytheon awarded a $37,000 grant to San Antonio Independent School District to facilitate 25 teachers attending a workshop on the Engineering is Education (EiE) curriculum. The teachers learned how to teach the curriculum and also received materials to help them direct engineering activities in their elementary school classrooms. The EiE curriculum was created by the Museum of Science in Boston to help teachers who wanted to expose their students to engineering ideas.

Colorado State University Announces Online Math, Science Teacher Licensure Programs.

THE Journal  (11/19, Bolkan) reports Colorado State University will debut new online teacher licensure programs for science and math this spring. Colorado State University provost and senior vice president Jon Bellum said the projected growth in STEM jobs requires an increase in quality STEM teachers.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

Senate Republicans Say Congress Will Not Approve UN Climate Funding.
Midshipmen Win Cyber Security Event.
Microsoft Awards Grants To Research Augmented Reality To Colleges And Companies.
UC Davis Study Finds Number Of Women On Tech Company Boards Slightly Increasing, But Racial Diversity Greatly Lagging.
Congress Closes In On Highway Bill Passage.
Tennessee E-Learning Company Innovating STEM Education.
Debate Stirring Over Whether ISIS Used Encryption To Plan Paris Attacks.

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