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

Leading the News

Northrop Grumman Receives $53 Million Contract From US Navy For Laser Weapon System.

Defense Daily  (12/23, Abott) reports that Northrop Grumman received an initial contract from the US Navy Office of Naval Research worth $53 million for a “150-kilowatt-class solid state laser weapon system for naval ship defense.” The company will “design, produce, integrate, and support the shipboard testing of the laser system” during the three-phase contract, the final phase of which will be “at-sea testing of the system aboard the Navy’s Self Defense Test Shop,” or the former USS Paul F. Foster.

UPI  (12/22, Maass) reports that “Company officials say the project could lead to a system that could provide naval platforms with advanced surface and air-based protection.”

Seapower Magazine  (12/22) reports that the project will allow the US Navy “a peek at a future where high-energy laser weapons could defend its ships” under the contract. While announced December 22, the contract was awarded October 22. If all options are exercised, the contract could be worth up to $91 million over the course of 34 months.

Military & Aerospace Electronics  (12/22, Keller) reports that Northrop Grumman received an order Monday from the US Navy for 12 advanced shipboard radar systems worth $83.9 million. The AN/SPQ-9B radar system will “enable Navy surface warships to detect and track fast low-flying anti-ship missiles with low radar cross sections in heavy radar clutter.” Work on the radar will be completed in Baltimore and Bethpage, New York and is expected to run through August 2019.

Higher Education

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Names New Engineering Dean.

The Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer  (12/23) reports that Cem Karacal has been named interim dean of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering.

Editorial: University Of Maine’s New Tuition Policy Should Be Copied.

The Boston Globe  (12/23, Board) editorializes that the University of Maine’s “Flagship Match Program”, which reduces out-of state tuition for non-residents from nearby states, should be copied by Massachusetts and other states in the region. The editorial argues that the policy change will increase students’ options for where they can afford to attend college and also increase the diversity at public universities by increasing the number of out-of-state students.

New FAFSA Form Will Help Families Complete Applications Sooner With Older Tax Information.

The New York Times  (12/23, Carrns, Subscription Publication) reports beginning in 2016, the FAFSA form will use “prior-prior year tax information”, which will allow families to complete the form sooner increasing the chances that students will meet deadlines to qualify for different forms of financial aid. Previously the FAFSA form was available on January 1 every year, but required tax information from the prior year that was not available to many families until weeks or months later. This made it difficult for many students to meet deadlines early in the year. The change will allow families to use their tax information from two years before (the “prior-prior year”) that will already be available at the beginning of a new year for the FAFSA.

From ASEE
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This weekly newsletter keeps our members informed of important developments in Congress and federal agencies affecting engineering education and research.

Research and Development

Researchers Working On Inexpensive, Non-Toxic LEDs.

The Huffington Post  (12/22, Willmott) reports that researchers at the University of Utah Metallurgical Engineering department are addressing the two biggest “gripes” associated with LEDs: their high costs and the toxic materials that go into their construction. Professor Prashant Sarswat and Professor Michael Free “have found a way to create luminescent materials from food waste, hinting at future LED light sources that are far cheaper and far less toxic than the ones we are buying today.”

Rutgers University Develops Flying, Swimming Drone.

The Daily Mail  (12/23, MacDonald) reports that Rutgers University used a $618,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop a drone that can fly and swim. The drone will soon be able to support the US Navy’s search and rescue missions, as well as locate deep sea mines. The creator of the drone, Javier Diez, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, “says this drone defies nature in its ability to perform both tasks with equal proficiency.”

Industry News

Ford Patent Filings Up By 36 Percent In 2015 As CEO Pushes For Innovation.

Bloomberg Business  (12/22, Surane) reports that Ford Motor Co. has applied for “a record number of patents in 2015” – 5,872 – as its CEO Mark Fields “pushes the company toward Silicon Valley-style innovation.” According to Bloomberg, the patents, which have increased by 36 percent since 2014, include technology in areas ranging from autonomous cars to wearable devices and ride-sharing. The company says its patent filings for technology “related to electrified vehicles have almost tripled in the past five years,” Bloomberg adds. The Detroit Free Press  (12/22, Priddle) reports that Ford’s research and innovation center in Silicon Valley “has contributed to an almost 100% increase in invention disclosure submissions in North America over the last three years,” mentioning that the company is reportedly in talks with Google to partner on self-driving car development.

Robotic Exoskeleton Market Expected To Reach $1.8B By 2025.

C4ISR & Networks  (12/22, Peck) reports that according to a forecast by ABI Research, “the global robotic exoskeleton market will reach $1.8 billion in 2025.” ABI said, “Commercial systems that augment or amplify capabilities will exhibit the strongest growth moving forward. This is especially true for industrial tasks requiring heavy lifting, extended standing, squatting, bending or walking in manufacturing facilities, particularly within construction and agriculture industries.” The report points out that “leading manufacturers include including Cyberdyne, Ekso Bionics, Lockheed Martin, Parker Hannifin, ReWalk Robotics, Honda and Toyota.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Massachusetts Fines National Grid Over Safety Violations.

The AP  (12/22) reports that the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Pipeline Engineering and Safety Division on Friday fined natural gas distributor, National Grid, “$1.25 million for 20 pipeline safety violations on Cape Cod,” which the company must pay within 30 days.

Nevada Utility Regulator Votes To Reduce Solar Energy Incentives.

Politico  (12/23, Whieldon) reports that Nevada’s utility regulator voted on Tuesday to “slash” payments that the Warren Buffet-owned NV Energy must pay homeowners whose “whose rooftop solar panels feed electricity into the grid,” and to hike fees for those who connect their panels to the wider power system. The vote was “even more galling to solar advocates” because the commission made the decision retroactive. Politico says the vote is the latest in “a proxy fight” between Sen. Harry Reid and the Koch brothers “in a national struggle about states’ green energy programs.”

WSJournal Hails Congressional Passage Of Challenge To EPA Rules.

The Wall Street Journal  (12/23, Subscription Publication) reports that the Congressional Review Act showed Congress is beginning to respond to what it sees as President Obama’s use of executive agencies, namely the EPA, to go beyond his constitutional powers. Congress used the act to put two bills blocking EPA rules in front of Obama. While he used rare pocket vetoes on the measures, the bills show that Congress disapproves of Obama’s interpretation of Congressional statutes, which could be useful in the 27-state legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

DOE Launches Consent-Based Nuclear Waste Disposal Initiative.

In continuing coverage the Aiken (SC) Standard  (12/22) reports the Energy Department “has officially started searching for states and communities interested in housing the nation’s nuclear spent fuel.” The move “would officially reverse the controversial Yucca Mountain project, which was expected to house defense and commercial materials and remove waste from sites around the nation, including the Savannah River Site and four nuclear power plants in South Carolina.” An announcement on Monday from Franklin Orr, the under secretary for science and energy, “states that the consent-based approach would need a pilot interim storage facility, a larger interim storage facility and long-term geologic repositories.” Orr said, “To support each of these elements of an integrated waste management system, the strategy also emphasizes the importance of a consent-based approach to siting waste storage and disposal facilities throughout the decision making process.”

In an editorial the Aiken (SC) Standard  (12/23) makes the case that the Yucca Mountain project is still the best solution for the nuclear waste issue in the United States. Regarding the announcement made by the DOE on Monday, the Standard says “on paper, the effort sounds responsible. But the fact remains that the nation already had a location that would have killed two birds with one stone and housed both.” The Standard concludes that “all signs point back to Yucca Mountain as the nation’s solution to a very complex problem.”

Cities Move To Defend Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

The AP  (12/23, Biesecker) reports the largest cities in the US “are stepping up in defense” of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, “in many cases taking the opposite legal position from their state governments.” On Tuesday the US Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities “filed motions in support of the Clean Power Plan with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.” The two groups “are opposing lawsuits filed in October against the Environmental Protection Agency by more than two dozen mostly Republican-led states and allied industry groups reliant on fossil fuels.” The Hill  (12/23, Henry) reports fourteen cities joined the groups in an amicus briefing supportive of the EPA’s new “rules governing carbon emissions at power plants.” The groups and cities “said they back the Clean Power Plan as a way to address climate change, an issue they cite as one already affecting populaces around the country.” Reuters  (12/23, Volcovici) reports Baltimore, Maryland and Salt Lake City, Utah were among the cities that joined the defense of the Administration’s rules.

WSJournal Hails Congressional Passage Of Challenge To EPA Rules. The Wall Street Journal  (12/23, Subscription Publication) reports that the Congressional Review Act showed Congress is beginning to respond to what it sees as President Obama’s use of executive agencies, namely the EPA, to go beyond his constitutional powers. Congress used the act to put two bills blocking EPA rules in front of Obama. While he used rare pocket vetoes on the measures, the bills show that Congress disapproves of Obama’s interpretation of Congressional statutes, which could be useful in the 27-state legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Michigan District Changes Science Curriculum To Meet New State Requirements.

The Houghton (MI) Daily Mining Gazette  (12/23, Haugle) reports the Hancock BOE in Michigan will incorporate “three-dimensional learning” into its science curriculum to meet new state DOE requirements.

New York Organizations Donate Funds For Teachers To Purchase Drone.

The Ithaca (NY) Journal  (12/23, Competillo) reports the Community Foundation of Tompkins County and the Groton Education Fund in partnered together to donate funding for two local teachers, Chad DeVoe and Mick Levick, in Groton, New York to purchase a drone. The nonprofit Groton Education Fund “was established to provide financial support for educational initiatives that supplement and enrich Groton Central School.”

North Carolina Teacher Receives STEM Educator Of The Year Award.

The Wilmington (NC) Star News  (12/22, Moore) reports Corning and Wilmington Business Development named Kelley Crowley, a third-grade teacher at Pine Valley Elementary School in Wilmington, North Carolina, the 2015 STEM Educator of the Year. Crowley teaches STEM with hands-on projects tied to real world issues. She also coaches the school’s Science Olympiad team.

Mississippi Elementary School Completes “Hour Of Code” Program.

The Lee County (MS) Courier  (12/22, Cotton) reports students at Parkway Elementary in Tupelo, Mississippi completed computer puzzles as part of the “Hour of Code” an initiative that aims for all elementary school students to experience at least an hour of instruction in computer programming. Tupelo Public School District Instructional Technology Coordinator Niki Peel said, “Our goals is to expose as many students as we can to computer science and to get them to think like a coder.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Energy Department Launches Consent-Based Nuclear Waste Disposal Initiative.
Companies Reaping Profits From Federal Student Loan Debt.
NSF Awards Grant To Luxury Jewelry Company To Study Biosensors.
BLS Predicts No Job Growth For Electrical and Electronics Engineers Over Next Decade.
Samsung Struggling To Transition To Software And Services.
AP: Weather Threat To US Grid Increasing.
Indiana School District And 3-D Printing Company Form STEM Education Partnership.

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