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

Leading the News

White House To Defend Power Plant Rules, Finalize New Truck Rules In 2016.

The National Journal  (12/29, Plautz, Subscription Publication) reports that according to White House climate adviser Brian Deese, President Obama in 2016 aims to get states on board with the Clean Power Plan and defend against legal challenges to the rules. The Department of Energy will keep moving forward on several energy-efficiency rules covering heat pumps, electric motors, portable air conditioners, dishwashers, and ceiling fans. The EPA “will set final emissions standards for heavy trucks, building on a June proposal to limit pollution from trucks, buses, and trailers,” the Journal reports.

Texas Joins Suit Against EPA Ozone Rule.

The Hill  (12/28, Henry) reports that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that the state “has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its new ozone rule, bringing the tally of states challenging the regulations to nine.” In a statement, Paxton said, “Areas of the country that fail to comply with these impossible standards will be subject to costly new regulations that will harm our economy and kill jobs. Texas has proven that we can reduce ambient ozone concentrations without stifling growth, and my office will continue to defend our state from the EPA’s harmful and overreaching regulations.”

Higher Education

Utah State Engineering Students Create Tandem Bike For Riders With Disabilities.

The Logan (UT) Herald Journal  (12/29) reports that engineering students at Utah State University have created “a new side-by-side tandem cycle” which is “ideal for people with low balance, cognitive disorders or in wheelchairs.” The students completed the project with “mentoring support” from ICON Health & Fitness.

Colleges Increasingly Promoting Entrepreneurship.

The New York Times  (12/29, Singer, Subscription Publication) reports that colleges such as Rice University are increasingly offering “academic courses in entrepreneurship strategy and financing, extracurricular start-up workshops,” and other programs geared toward students who are interested in starting their own businesses. Students staring down the face of a slow job market and “inspired by billion-dollar success narratives from Silicon Valley, now expect universities to teach them how to convert their ideas into business or nonprofit ventures.”

Advocacy Group Calls For Legislative Review Of Nebraska’s For-profit Colleges.

The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star  (12/28, Dunker) reports that Nebraska Appleseed has called on the state Legislature to review the performance of Nebraska’s for-profit colleges. Because, according to the group, students at for-profit institutions, “generally pay more for their education, come from lower-income and minority backgrounds, and default on their student loans at a relatively high rate,” James Goddard, the group’s justice director stated that, “We wanted to take a look at the for-profit industry to see if it’s working for students or not, particularly low-income students.” The report presented by Nebraska Appleseed states that “there appears to be a racial and ethnic gap between for-profit education and the rest of higher education. If for-profit schools in Nebraska are causing the same poor student outcomes as have been associated with for-profit schools nationwide, minority groups are likely being disproportionately impacted.”

Science Association Rescinds Professor’s Fellowship Over Role In 2008 Lab Fire.

Campus Safety Magazine  (12/28) reports that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has rescinded the fellowship of UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran after members learned of his role in a fatal lab fire in 2008. Following the incident, Harran faced a four-count indictment on charges that he “failed to provide proper safety training or require protective lab gear,” but reached an agreement in which the charges would be dropped if he met certain conditions.

Analysis: Successful App Development Bootcamps Design Program To Reflect Workplace.

Forbes  (12/28, Agrawal) profiles four app development bootcamps that, despite a crowded field of such programs, have been able to effectively market and design their programs to remain successful. According to Narges Berry, CEO of mobile app development company Bermotech, “the most successful bootcamps are the ones that design their app development training courses with the needs of the workplace in mind. Other important factors are scalability and flexibility. Finally, the tech boot camps offered must be known to potential students.”

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Research and Development

Nonprofit Gives Cal Poly Student Tech Startups Grants.

The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune  (12/29) reports that VentureWell, a nonprofit “that helps fund and coach college technology entrepreneurs in their early stages to develop and bring their innovations to the marketplace,” is giving $5,000 grants to two student projects at Cal Poly. The winning teams “have participated in Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which offers programs to foster new student ventures.” The paper reports that “Higea uses magnetic nanotechnology to magnetize oil, making it easy and efficient to separate oil from water in the event of an oil spill.” The other firm, Mantis Composites, “aims to produce stronger, lighter and more customizable carbon fiber materials, using 3-D printing technology.”

University Of Illinois Opens New Design Center.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette  (12/27) reports that the University of Illinois-Champaign launching a new Campus Design Center, which will open in 2018. Inspired by former students who launched “successful start-up companies” based on technology developed at school, the center expands on the maker labs and design studios already on campus. The new center “is envisioned as a space where students from different disciplines can come together to bring ground-breaking ideas to life.”

Mock Power Plant In Virginia May Become Nuclear Research Center.

The Lynchburg (VA) News & Advance  (12/29, Ruiter) reports that a “mock-power plant” in Bedford County, Virginia, known as the Integrated Systems Test facility, is “lying dormant…but a new deal may make it available to researchers and companies from all over.” The plant “is located at the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research on U.S. 460 and was built nearly five years ago by Babcock & Wilcox to research and develop a smaller nuclear reactor.” CAER is holding discussions with “BWX Technologies — formerly Babcock & Wilcox — to obtain the facility and open it to nuclear and thermodynamics researchers.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Northrop Grumman Awarded Contract To Support MQ-8 Fire Scout.

SIGNAL Magazine  (12/29) reports that Northrop Grumman was awarded $10,423,637 contract to provide “sustainment and logistics services in support of MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” including “systems and software engineering, training and integrated logistical support.” The article adds that the work is expected to be completed in California by Dec. 2016.

WSJournal Pleased With Nevada’s End Of Net Metering.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal  (12/29, Subscription Publication) says that the infantile reaction of solar energy industry to the decision by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to sunset the state’s net metering program is a sign that the industry has yet to grow up. The Journal says that such net metering programs, which allow consumers to sell back surplus solar power back to utilities, are underwritten by non-solar customers.

Analysis Finds Washington State Carbon-tax Initiative Could Cost $675 Million.

The Seattle Times  (12/29, Brunner) reports the movement “to create a new carbon tax” in Washington state “has been selling its 2016 initiative as ‘revenue neutral’ – saying it would balance out its tax increase with tax cuts to have little net impact on the state budget.” But an analysis by the state “calls that into question, estimating Initiative 732 would cut overall state tax collections by about $675 million over four years, even as the state faces big demands for increased education and mental-health funding.” While the figure is disputed by supporters of I-732, “it could give ammunition to environmental and progressive critics who have pushed for an alternative that would bring in more money for the state while still fighting climate change.”

Solar Tax Extenders Said To Endanger National Parks.

Mark Butler, former superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, writes for The Hill  (12/29) in its “Congress Blog” that Federal solar subsidies in the recently passed spending bill advance projects that “stand to damage our national parks, and harm federally protected wildlife.” Consequently, the California desert has become the “poster child for how the large-scale solar subsidies program has gone wrong,” Butler writes, urging that the Soda Mountain Solar project at the boundary of Mojave National Preserve not be approved.

Efficiency Startup To Pitch Energy Saving To Pittsburgh Officials.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (12/29, Mamula) reports on startup Boss Controls LLC which aims to link electrical outlets in commercial buildings to the Internet, “allowing owners to throttle back usage during nights and weekends.” The City of Pittsburgh is expected to hear the company’s pitch in January, according to CEO Greg Puschnigg. The company touts energy savings of 60 percent during a two-week pilot study in June.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Florida High School Students Preparing For Cybersecurity Competition.

The Pensacola (FL) News Journal  (12/28, Gieseken) reports students at Pine Forest High School Cybersecurity Academy in Pensacola, Florida will compete at Cyberthon 2016 in January at the National Flight Academy and National Naval Aviation Museum. Participants in the competition will act as cybersecurity professionals defending themselves from cyber attacks and representatives from federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Security Agency will speak at the competition. Students at the Pensacola high school are preparing for the competition by “reviewing different scenarios like operating system defense and port scanning, looking for vulnerabilities” after school.

Maryland Elementary School Expands Engineering Club So More Girls Can Participate.

The Hagerstown (MD) Herald-Mail Media  (12/29, Heim) reports the Engineering Club of Boonsboro Elementary School in Boonsboro, Maryland decided to expand their outreach by allowing an unlimited number of students to join and hosting female guest speakers with STEM careers. Principal Matthew Wagner worked with administrators and teachers so that all students who wanted to be a part of the club could participate. In the past, the club was limited to 20 students who were mostly boys, but Wagner and others wanted to expose more students to STEM fields.

Florida Elementary School Students Learn About Weather And Flight Before Testing Out Balsa Airplanes.

The Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal  (12/28, Ryan) reports students at Bunnell Elementary School in Bunnell, Florida learned about weather and flight from Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University Professor Debbie Schaum. Schaum explained how different weather patterns could affect planes taking off to a group of sixth-grade students on a field trip before the students were given the chance to fly balsa airplanes they had constructed. Students measured elements of the weather and noted how they affected their planes’ performance.

Monday’s Lead Stories

Preemption Of Local Drone Rules By FAA Angers City, State Officials.
ED Report: Many Student Loan Collection Agencies Garnishing Wages.
UVA engineer designing more resilient wind turbines.
Electric Vehicles A Growing Trend In Florida.
EPA Seeking To Designate Abandoned Nevada Mine A Superfund Site.
DOE Contractor Volunteers Encourage Local Students To Pursue STEM.

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