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Leading the News

Printed 3-D Model Assists Surgeons In Separation Of Conjoined Twins.

The Washington Post  (12/3, Feltman) “Speaking of Science” blog reports that at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting, scientists presented the case of conjoined Texas twins, Knatayle Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, who “had thoraco-omphalo-pyopagus – which means they were connected from the chest all the way down to their shared pelvis.” In February at Texas Children’s Hospital, the little girls were successfully separated.

Medscape  (12/3, Frellick) reports that by using a printed 3-D model involving “skeletal, cardiovascular, blood vessels, gastrointestinal, and gynecologic structures,” then by referring to CT imaging scans, physicians were able to separate the little girls during a 26-hour surgical procedure. The little ones are now “thriving.”

HealthImaging  (12/3, Walsh) reports that physicians “performed volumetric CT imaging with a 320-detector scanner, administering intravenous contrast separately to both twins to enhance views of vital structures and help plan how to separate them to ensure survival of both.” Notably, “there were no major discrepancies between the models and the twins’ actual anatomy.” Rajesh Krishnamurthy, MD, chief of radiology research and cardiac imaging at Texas Children’s Hospital, now “expects the combination of volumetric CT, 3D modeling, and 3D printing to become a standard part of preparation for surgical separation of conjoined twins.”

Higher Education

Senators Criticize EDMC Deal.

The Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer  (12/2) reports that a group of Democratic Senators is “blasting a national settlement that required the second-largest for-profit education company in the country to pay $95.5 million to resolve claims of illegal recruiting, consumer fraud, and other violations.” In a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Blumenthal (D-CT), “say the federal government’s ‘paltry’ deal with Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. failed to hold its executives accountable and provided inadequate relief for students.”

Study: Increased Graduation Rates Sometimes Tied With Increased Racial Gap.

Inside Higher Ed  (12/2, Smith) summarizes a new report from Education Trust that found overall college graduation rates have increased over the past decade, but the gap in the graduation rates between white students and minority students has increased at some institutions as well. The study used ED data to examine the graduation rates at 255 institutions of higher education that had at least 50 white and 50 minority students and found that the racial gap in graduation rates decreased at 26 institutions while increasing at 17 institutions between 2003 and 2013. The Washington Post  (12/3, Anderson) also covers this story.

Opinion: Focus Not On Affordable College, But On Underemployment.

Fortune  (12/2), Brandeis University professor Nader Habibi, argues in a 1,580-word piece that politicians should be focusing their efforts on addressing the concern of underemployment, not on making college affordable, which would exacerbate the problem of an oversupply of degree-holding job applicants. To address underemployment, Habibi contends that the policies should be designed to incentivize enrollment caps and the direction of more high school graduates into vocational programs.

University Of Maryland Provides Tour Of “Augmentarium” Lab.

The Baltimore Business Journal  (12/2, Gantz, Subscription Publication) covers a tour given by the University of Maryland, College Park of its Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory, which opened in Dec. 2014 to advance research and application of virtual and augmented reality data programs. Those working in the lab reportedly seek to develop such programs for application to medical operations, emergency response, and military functions.

Coalition Appeals To UC, Cal State Admissions To Recognize Computer Science.

The Los Angeles Times  (12/2, Rivera) reports that a coalition of business and academic leaders appealed in a letter to the UC Academic Senate to adopt new requirements for admission which would recognize computer science as an option by which to fulfill an advanced mathematics requirement. The letter states: “For a growing number of academic and professional pursuits, computer science provides just as relevant a foundation as algebra. Today, California’s children also deserve the option to learn what an algorithm is and how the Internet works.” UC Academic Senate Chairman J. Daniel Hare stated that the board would discuss the proposal at its monthly meeting, scheduled to be held this week.

Opinion: Make College More Affordable By Increasing Supply.

Writing in Bloomberg View  (12/2), Noah Smith, assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University argues that, in order to make college more affordable, the supply of high-quality public schools should be increased. Smith adds that students should also be “protected from taking on too much debt” through the mandating of financial counseling.

Palm Beach State College Launches Engineering Technology Lab.

The Palm Beach (FL) Post  (12/2, Peters) reports that Palm Beach State College launched in engineering technology lab on Tuesday, as part of a new degree program designed to prepare students for entry into technology driven fields such as aerospace and power. Student, professors, and industry leaders complimented the hands-on approach provided by the lab as giving students the opportunity to train and experience real-world applications.

Community College Students To Compete In Shell Eco-marathon Vehicle Contest.

Philly (PA)  (12/2) reports that a team of eleven Montgomery County Community College engineering students will compete in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2016 in Detroit next spring. The team, MC3 Engineering INNOVA, is reportedly designing and building a hydrogen cell-powered urban concept vehicle, and has launched a campaign asking for donations to fund the project. Commenting on the project, associate professor William Brownlowe stated that, “The designing and building of INNOVA gives our students an incredible hands-on opportunity to engage in real-world research and development not often found at a community college.”

November Prism Now Online
Cover story: Industrial RX for Healthcare. Systems engineers are out to show they can make medical practice cheaper while improving quality.

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Research and Development

NIH Awards Grants For Research On Robotic Devices.

Medical Daily  (12/3) reports that the National Institutes of Health has awarded grants to researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Alabama (UAB) for research aimed at developing “three robotic devices intended to better enrich the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the young.” Dr. Grace Peng, program director of Rehabilitation Engineering at the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said in a statement Wednesday that “robots have a tremendous potential to contribute to the health and well-being of our society,” adding that “these three highly innovative projects demonstrate the power of encouraging leaders in the field of robotics to focus their attention on solving issues that pertain to health.”

Next Wearables Might Be Inside The Body, Delivering Meds.

MobiHealthNews  (12/2, Comstock) reports on the future of “on-body health sensors,” including some that might be “applied to the surface of organs inside the body to continually monitor vital signs or to deliver time-released drugs.” Adjacent research in Sweden is exploring “an in-body intranet” to communicate with mobile devices through low-frequency signals that use “the body’s water as its wires.” MobiHealthNews adds that “big companies are very interested” in research in the space, “as is the Department of Defense, which invested $75 million in flexible electronics earlier this year.” The report also looks at the challenges of making the sensors. The MobiHealthNews piece was prompted by a lengthier article  in Nature.


Studies Predict Large Unmet Demand For Cybersecurity Professionals In The Near Future.

In an online video, Reuters  (11/30) reports that studies predict there will be unmet demand for more than 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020. People concerned about the future of cybersecurity are trying to recruit more people into the field.

Industry News

Cybersecurity Rules Said To Have Changed.

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence financial services evangelist Bill Sweeney writes in a column for Security Week  (12/3) that while early cybersecurity simply required a “perimeter” around information, present-day cyber defenses must account for “shrewd social engineering.” The “emergence of the advanced persistent threat” is said to be “perhaps the textbook example,” according to Sweeney, and by “manipulating human emotions, or convincingly replicating everyday communications,” ATPs can gain access to computer networks, bypassing security. He adds that even “immediately following a training session on cyber security, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence has found that more than 1% of attendees still clicked on suspect links” when espionage is effective. He concludes that “the biggest lesson we can learn from APTs is that the world of cyber defense is no longer black and white” and that “while the battlefield and rules of engagement have changed, the people fighting the battle remain as committed as ever.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Washington University Professor Estimates Galactic Empire’s Debt From Star Wars Movies Would Be Around $913 Quintillion.

Marketplace  (12/1, Wagner) reports Washington University Assistant Professor Zach Feinstein reviewed the Star Wars movies and concluded that the fictional galaxy’s financial system would need a bailout of approximately $913 quintillion to pay off the debt incurred from the wars fought during the period when the movies take place. Feinstein used the financial costs and effects of real world items and events to create an economic model in order to estimate the debt of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars films.

NIH Will Spend $2.2 Million On Robots That Help The Elderly, Visually Impaired, And Children.

Medical Daily  (12/3) reports that the National Institutes of Health has awarded grants to researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Alabama (UAB) for research aimed at developing “three robotic devices intended to better enrich the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the young.” Dr. Grace Peng, program director of Rehabilitation Engineering at the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said in a statement Wednesday that “robots have a tremendous potential to contribute to the health and well-being of our society,” adding that “these three highly innovative projects demonstrate the power of encouraging leaders in the field of robotics to focus their attention on solving issues that pertain to health.”

Power Conference Showcases Engineering Projects For A Changing Grid.

E&E Publishing  (12/3) reports on a power industry conference last month at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, where engineering students described “research projects on renewable power generation, semiconductor electronics, direct-current power lines, battery storage and electric vehicle charging.” Gregory Reed, director of the Swanson School’s Center for Energy, said that firms such as Eaton Corp., Mitsubishi Electric, Universal Electric Corp., Pitt Ohio and Duquesne Light “see it as a great opportunity for the Pittsburgh region to take technology leadership in this area and help to create economic development and job growth.”

Wind Leads Growth In Texas Power Generation.

The San Antonio Express-News  (12/3, Blum) reports on a new study from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas which “shows that renewable power is contributing a growing proportion of the state’s electricity,” led primarily by planned wind generation projects, though the installation of solar facilities is expected to grow rapidly as well. The article mentions that Southern Company announced Monday that it had purchased a stake in the 157 MW Roseroch solar farm under construction in western Texas, marking the company’s “first renewable power entry into the Lone Star State.”

San Diego Pushes Forward With Plan To Go Completely Green.

The Los Angeles (CA) Times  (12/3, Smith) reports that the San Diego City Council’s environment committee unanimously approved the proposed Climate Action Plan on Wednesday, which calls for the city to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Doing so would far exceed state mandates. The plan includes exploring a community choice aggregation program, which San Diego Gas & Electric parent company Sempra Energy opposes. Climate Action Campaign executive director Nicole Capretz praised the move, said that “we are calling on the mayor and the council to develop a detailed implementation plan with full funding.”

Construction To Begin Soon On SunEnergy1’s 120-Megawatt Solar Project.

The AP  (12/3) reports that construction is set to begin soon on SunEnergy1’s $250 million 120-megawatt solar farm south of Moyock, South Carolina. If built to maximum specs, the solar farm would generate approximately $300,000 annually in county taxes, according to the company.

New York To Set Rule for Increasing Renewable Energy.

The AP  (12/3) reports that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he has directed the state’s Department of Public Service to “design and enact” regulations to enforce the target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. “About 26 percent of the state’s power now comes from renewable sources,” the AP adds.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Washington School District Adds Weekly Hour Of Computer Science To Elementary School Curriculum.

The AP  (12/3, Le) reports Marysville School District in Washington has made weekly computer science lessons part of the regular curriculum for almost all elementary school students. The effort is part of a broader national effort to increase computer science education in elementary schools., a non-profit based in Seattle, is one of the leaders in the movement with their “Hour of Code” campaign, which encourages all schools to include an hour of computer science education per week for elementary school students. The article also highlights troubles facing the campaign including the difficulty of maintaining a relevant computer science curriculm because of the rapid pace of change in the world of technology.

Interview With FIRST President Focuses On STEM Education.

Design World  (12/2, Crisan) reports on an interview with FIRST President Don Bossi about the advantages of early STEM education. Bossi aims to inspire younger generations to enjoy studying STEM through challenging programs and opportunities. FIRST’s Lego League Junior Program, Tech Challenge, and Robotics competitions are catered towards elementary school, middle school, and high school students. All three programs help children to learn through challenges that require creativity to succeed. Bossi also said that soft skills and critical thinking are important in STEM industries.

Speakers At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Conference Focus On Importance Of Toys For Getting Girls Interested In STEM.

Fortune  (12/2, Lorenzetti) reports female technology professionals spoke at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference about getting more girls interested in STEM with toys. The speakers included Google Director of Engineering Melody Meckfessel, DC Entertainment Creative Director of Development Aria Moffly, and GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling. Moffly launched a new line of superhero toys aimed at girls and GoldieBlox is a company that makes toys designed to inspire girls to build things.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Lawmakers Reach Agreement On Five-Year Transportation Bill.
Warren, Durbin, Blumenthal Criticize EDMC Deal.
Ohio State University Researchers Develop New Welding Technique Saves Energy, Creates Stronger Bonds.
NSF Awards $400,000 Grant To Study Experience Needs For Photonics Careers.
Aerospace Sector Surging In UAE.
New York City To Switch Many City-Owned Vehicles To EVs.
Opinion: STEM Education Is Important For Our Future.

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