Leading the News
Duke To Supply Renewable Energy To Google.
The Triad (NC) Business Journal (11/30, Subscription Publication) reports Google has “signed on to Duke Energy’s Green Source Rider pilot program,” a two-year-old program which allows “industrial customers building facilities or undertaking major expansions [to] buy power from renewable sources through Duke” to “supply the new load created by the facilities.” Under the contract, Duke “will provide power from a Rutherford County solar farm to satisfy part of the energy needed for Google’s $600 million expansion of its data center in Lenoir.” The environmental activist group Greenpeace, which “complained in March that the program was slowing renewable-energy adoption in North Carolina,” greeted news of the deal “with some reservations.” Said Greenpeace, “Whether Duke Energy is willing to become a reliable partner for companies who want to power their businesses with renewable energy remains unclear.” CleanTechnica (11/30) also reports.
Tech Firms’ Renewable Energy Demands for Data Centers Drives Duke Energy Pilot Program. The Charlotte (NC) Business Journal (12/1, Downey, Subscription Publication) reports that while North Carolina generally requires independent power producers to sell electricity to utilities instead of directly to customers, the Green Source Rider pilot program has allowed Google to source clean energy for the Lenoir addition. As Google, Apple and others aim to use more renewable energy for data centers, “this has made the Southeast a challenging area for data-center construction because the states maintain traditional regulated utilities,” the Business Journal explains. “Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless has said now that the first deal has been done, Duke expects to be able to announce other contracts for renewables under the rider program soon.”
DOE Grant Supports UT Graduate Program.
The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (11/27, Slaby) reports that DOE is “helping the University of Tennessee encourage more students to go to graduate school in [power electronics] with a new graduate traineeship” with a $2.9 million grant to graduate students in power electronics over five years.
Purdue University To Offer New Engineering Degrees.
The AP (11/30) reports Purdue University’s announcement that it will offer new engineering degrees at its West Lafayette campus. The first of the new degrees, master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental and ecological engineering, are expected to be conferred in May 2017.
Cheyney University Placed On Probation Over Lack Of Funding Concerns.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11/30, Behrman) reports that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, has placed Cheyney University of Pennsylvania on probation on concerns that there is “insufficient evidence” that the institution has the financial resources to meet accreditation standards. Commenting on the decision, chancellor of the State System of Higher Education Frank T. Brogan stated that, “The State System is committed to the long-term success of Cheyney University and will continue to provide the staff assistance and other resources as appropriate to help ensure that future on behalf of Cheyney students and the commonwealth.” According to the commission’s website, Cheyney University has two years to meet compliance standards.
Opinion: Free Tuition Not Remedy For Improving College Access.
Writing in the New York Times (12/1, Subscription Publication), op-ed contributor Catharine Hill argues that the granting of free tuition will deprive academic institutions of the financial resources to provide quality services and asserts that, “if our real goal is to improve college access and affordability for students from low- and moderate-income families…stronger need-based financial aid policies and well-structured borrowing are a far better strategy,” than the “indiscriminate solution” of free college tuition.
Research and Development
Duquesne Light Microgrid Experiment Could Offer New Platform For Electricity Supply.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12/1) reports on a recent experiment by Duquesne Light Co. to construct a microgrid on the training grounds of its Woods Run facility. A microgrid, explains the Post-Gazette, is a “localized power system that feeds a single building or neighborhoods with its own source of generation and can operate independently from the larger grid.” Duquesne Light teamed up in the project with engineering students from the University of Pittsburgh, and hopes to learn “how such a technology could scale up to work.” According to the Post-Gazette, the company is pushing through with the experiment as customers grow more demanding on the type of power they receive. That “increasingly means cleaner sources of generation closer to the point of consumption.”
E-Textile Can Alert Wearer To High Levels Of Toxic Gases.
Forbes (11/30, Kundu) reports that researchers at the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in Konkuk University, Republic of Korea, have designed a portable gas sensor that can be embroidered into clothing to detect the presence of “high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air” and will alert the wearer by “causing a light emitting diode to shine.” Forbes adds that the “electronic textile, or e-textile,” contains “a reduced graphene oxide which has been wrapped around fibres of cotton and polyester.”
Hyperloop Finalists To Present At Design Weekend In January.
In a 6,000 word piece, the Wall Street Journal (12/1, Chee, Subscription Publication) explores the progress that has been made toward Elon Musk’s proposed hyperloop after he issued an open source design challenge on August 12, 2013. The Journal says that on January 13, 2016, a Hyperloop design weekend for finalists will be held at Texas A&M University, where Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will be the keynote speaker. The Journal goes on to offer a profile of “the Hyperloop Movement” and its participants.
Google Hires Self-Driving Car Engineer From Tesla For Robotics Department.
Fortune (11/30, Vanian) reports that Google recently poached Tesla engineer Robert Rose, who is “responsible for the electric car company’s autopilot technology,” for its robotics department, according to Rose’s LinkedIn page. Fortune adds that Business Insider (11/30, D’Onfro) reports that “Rose would not work on Google’s car projects,” according to an unnamed source, but did not specify what he would be working on.
Colorado City Seeks To Become Cybersecurity Industry Hub.
The Colorado Springs (CO) Business Journal (11/30, Gillentine) reports that Colorado Springs, Colorado is looking to become a hub for cybersecurity firms, as organizations in the city look to public-private partnerships to offer advanced cybersecurity technology. The article highlights the Pikes Peak Cyber Champions, which is “bringing in heavyweights, those thought leaders who can make a real difference in the city and work together to bring new business, expand existing ones and transfer needed technology from the research lab to the commercial sector.” The article adds that Colorado Springs is already home to “big defense giants like Boeing, Vectrus, and Lockheed Martin” who are leaders in cybersecurity.
Engineering and Public Policy
FRA Looking To Equip Trains With Locomotive Alerters.
The Hill (11/30, Devaney) reports that the FRA “is moving forward with new safety recommendations for trains.” The agency is looking to have trains use a locomotive alerter, which “is a safety feature installed on a locomotive to ensure the locomotive engineer remains alert while operating the locomotive,” according to the agency. “The alerter monitors the engineer’s interactions with the locomotive and initially produces an alarm in the cab when no control actions are taken to reset the alerter warning timing cycle within a certain length of time,” it added.
White House Threatens To Veto House Energy Bill.
The Hill (12/1, Henry) reports that the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement that the House bill overhauling federal energy policy would “undermine already successful initiatives designed to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure and increase our energy efficiency.” The White House “hit the legislation for hurting Department of Energy programs designed to improve efficiency offerings and targeted provisions within the bill dealing with federal regulators’ oversight of energy systems,” and threatened to veto of the bill.
Reuters (11/30, Edwards) also briefly reports.
Bloomington Moves Forward On Solar Panel Project For Public Buildings.
The AP (12/1) reports that the city of Bloomington, Indiana last week approved the concept for a $1 million solar project supplying public buildings “as an appropriate use of funds from the bond issue, starting it down the road to fruition.” City sustainability coordinator Jacqui Bauer “said a conservative estimate would see the city saving about $10,000 a year for $200,000 worth of solar panels on City Hall alone.”
Chicago High School Engineering Students Craft Prosthetic Hands For Children.
The Daily Southtown (IL) (11/30) reports that as part of their curriculum, students in the Introduction to Engineering Design class at Chicago Christian High School are “working carefully and methodically to create” prosthetic hands for needy children. The hands have been “shipped to children in Ukraine, Vietnam, Syria and China.” Students use a 3-D printer that “students assembled last year.”
Flight Simulator With Accompanying Curriculum Used By STEM Educators.
The Hartford (CT) Business Journal (11/30, Broderick) reports the STEM Pilot flight simulator developed by Jay LeBoff’s company STEMPilot.com is being used for STEM education at universities and community colleges as well as in the military. The company is based in Waterbury, Connecticut and has won awards for their simulator products. LeBoff has also created a STEM curriculum that educators can use along side the flight simulator.
Connecticut Students Compete In “Trash Trek” FIRST Lego League Tournament.
The Valley (CT) Independent Sentinel (12/1, Villers) reports Connecticut students took part in the FIRST Lego League tournament at Shelton High School on November 21. The tournament had 22 teams competing in “Trash Trek” requiring them to build robots that navigate “trash areas” such as landfills, compost piles, or unsorted materials that could be recycled.
Milwaukee School Converts Classrooms Into STEM Laboratories And Revamps STEM Curriculum.
Bay View Compass (12/1, Julson) reports Saint Lucas Lutheran School in Milwaukee converted two of its classrooms into STEM laboratories over the summer so that middle school students could experience working with 3D printers, desktop computers, a drill press, a band saw, and other technical equipment. The school also redesigned their science curriculum to help prepare more students for future STEM careers.
Illinois Middle School Wins Award For New Science Laboratories.
The Deerfield (IL) Review (11/30) reports the Illinois Association of School Boards gave the “Award of Merit” to Shepard Middle School for completing its four prototype science labs, which were designed with the input of science teachers. All of the labs have separate spaces for lectures and experiments so that students feel that the experiments are special experiences.
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Amazon Releases Video Showing Prime Air Prototype In Action.