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

Leading the News

Wide Range Of Companies Shows Off New Technologies And Products At CES.

The AP  (1/8) writes, “Whether in the womb or in one’s twilight years, our lives are becoming ever more connected. Nowhere has that been more evident than at the annual CES gadget show in Las Vegas, where everything from pregnancy tests to beds to dog bowls now come with apps at the ready, collecting valuable data along the way.”

Reuters  (1/8, Gruber) reports that the world’s first passenger drone, the Ehang 184, was introduced at CES by Chinese UAV company Ehang, while the New York Times  (1/7, Plambeck) “Bits” blog reports that the Oculus Rift virtual reality device will market for $599 and that GM’s Chevy Bolt “will cost about $30,000 after tax credits.” The Los Angeles Times  (1/8, Chang) reports that “a dozen of the world’s largest automakers have descended upon CES” to show off, and learn about, innovation.

The Wall Street Journal  (1/8, Subscription Publication) reports that LG Display displayed what it calls a rollable screen, a plastic substrate that can be rolled up. The Christian Science Monitor  (1/7, Fedde) says Samsung showed off new HDTVs “which range from 49 inches to 88 inches, feature 10-bit display technology and ‘the world’s first bezel-less curved design,’ according to Samsung.”

Business Insider  (1/7) reports that Diebold “debuted Irving, a mobile-driven, screen-less ATM,” which “works with an app on a user’s mobile device to carry out transactions through NFC and QR code technology.” BBC News (UK)  (1/7, Wakefield) reports on its website that Israeli firm Neura, which “uses machine learning to create a digital identity map of individuals,” is also displaying its technology.

USA Today  (1/7), CNN  (1/7), and Mashable  (1/7, Walden) have video coverage of CES.

Federal Marshals Raid Chinese Electric Skateboard-Maker’s Booth. Bloomberg News  (1/8, Brustein) reports that federal marshals raided the booth of Changzhou First International Trade and “packed up a one-wheeled skateboard on display,” the result “of a weekslong effort by Future Motion, a Silicon Valley startup that said it invented and patented a self-balancing electric skateboard that looks strikingly similar to the ones the marshals confiscated.”

Higher Education

National Academy Of Engineering Honors Worcester Polytechnic Institute Educators.

The National Academy of Engineering  announced in a press release that four educators at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Diran Apelian, Arthur C. Heinricher, Richard F. Vaz, and Kristin K. Wobbe, are to receive the 2016 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. The announcement explains that the prize “recognizes new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders.”

Purdue University To Invest $250 Million In Life Sciences.

MedCity News  (1/7, Keshavan) reports that Purdue University will invest $250 million into “the life sciences over the next five years – a move that marks a notable shift for the engineering-heavy school toward the biological sciences.” The article briefly mentions that “Indiana University, with the state’s only medical school, has been the major player in the life sciences.”

King Upholds Findings Against ACCJC.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (1/8, Thomason) reports that Education Secretary John King “has upheld two findings of noncompliance against” the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, the agency that “tried to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation.” The move follows the agency’s appeal of “a portion of the department’s 2013 ruling that the agency had violated 15 criteria needed for compliance, most of which have been corrected.” King says that the agency “has one year to come into full compliance.”

The San Francisco Examiner  (1/8) explains the violations and reports that King confirmed that the ACCJC “did not demonstrate enough support from educators, and in fact a number of organizations actually submitted written comments expressing disagreement with the ACCJC’s policies and actions,” and that it “did not comply with its own policies that call for academics to participate on appeal panels and in evaluation teams.”

Students, Colleges Working To Get FAFSAs Turned In.

The Los Angeles Times  (1/8, Rivera) reports the clock is ticking for students across the US to complete their FAFSAs, which students must submit to be eligible for any federal financial aid including Pell grants, student loans, and work-study programs. Students benefit from completing the form as soon as possible in order to meet state deadlines and because financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Many colleges remind students about the form and discourage them from postponing completing it. The article mentions efforts by some leaders to simplify the FAFSA and further streamline the process for students applying for and receiving financial aid. Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that over 1 million high school seniors fail to fill out the FAFSA, even though many would be eligible for financial aid.

Study: Racial Gap In College Completion Rates Higher Since 2007.

The Hechinger Report  (1/8, Kingkade) highlights a new study from the Young Invincibles, a youth advocacy and policy analysis group, that found the racial gap in college completion has increased since 2007. The study found that the percentage of whites, blacks, and Latinos graduating from college has grown since 2007, but that the college completion rate for whites has grown faster. The study attributes part of the growing gap to cuts in public funding for higher education and increases in tuition, both of which can have a disproportionate impact on minority students. The study found that some states fared better or worse than others. Kentucky’s racial achievement gap in terms of college completion decreased, while Maryland’s increased over the same period of time covered by the study.

Stanford University Launches New MOOC For Science Teachers Who Want To Help Students Read Scientific Texts.

THE Journal  (1/7, Schaffhauser) reports Stanford University is launching a new free MOOC for K-12 science teachers who want to help their students better understand scientific texts that will be available on the NovoEd platform. The course titled “Reading To Learn in Science” will be taught by Professor Jonathan Osborne, run for 12 weeks, and includes about 20 hours of professional development.

International Association of Continuing Engineering Education
Call for papers for May 17-20 conference in Porto, Portugal. January 31 deadline.

Surmounting the Barriers
The joint NAE-ASEE report makes recommendations for breaking down long-identified barriers to diversity in higher education.

Research and Development

Albuquerque Launching New Accelerator To Help UNM Scientists Develop Ideas Into Businesses.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal  (1/8, Robinson-Avila) reports Albuquerque is launching a new accelerator to help scientists from the University of New Mexico to turn ideas from their labs into businesses. The accelerator is called “L2B”, for laboratory to business, and will open on January 13 with an initial cohort of three startups. The article details the initial cohort, which are attempting to develop a drug to treat multiple sclerosis, a security system to protect computer hardware from hackers, and a handheld device for people to change their hair color temporarily.

MIT Researchers Develop New Material That Can Store Solar Power Then Convert To Heat.

Boston  (1/7, Levenson) reports a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new material that can store solar power and then release it later as heat. The material becomes “charged” when hit with sunlight, and then releases heat when returning to its previous state. MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman suggested the chemical could be helpful in quickly de-icing car windshields and car manufacturer BMW has expressed interest in the material.


Study: Female Engineers Publish In More Prestigious Journals, But Are Cited Less.

Science Magazine  (1/8) outlines a new study that found female engineers are more likely to be published in prestigious journals than their male peers, but that the studies written by female engineers are less likely to be cited. The study was completed by Ph.D. candidate Gita Ghiasi at Concordia University in Montreal by examining the influence of journals as ranked by Thomson Reuters and the influence of individual papers by the number of citations. The article quotes Ghiasi offering one possible explanation for the study’s results, “Women engineers are complying with the male-dominant engineering scientific system instead of changing its structure.”

Industry News

Lenovo Unveils Project Tango Smartphone At CES.

SlashGear  (1/7, Torres) reports that Lenovo has “unexpectedly revealed” its Project Tango smartphone at CES. The as yet unnamed handset, powered by a “still undisclosed Qualcomm Snapdragon processor” will not be “bigger than 6.5 inches,” will launch sometime over the summer, and will retail for $500. Google, which developed the device with Lenovo, invited “aspiring developers to submit their creative and maybe even insane ideas” with “selected concepts will receive funding as well as engineering support and will also be showcased on Lenovo’s upcoming device.”

Engadget  (1/7, Conditt) , Android Central  (1/7, Thorp-Lancaster) , The Verge  (1/7, Welch), Venture Beat  (1/7, Takahashi) , and Gizmodo  (1/7, Aguilar) also report.

Engineering and Public Policy

Drone Industry Waiting For FAA Rules As Deadlines Are Missed.

International Business Times  (1/7, Zara) reports that “from private companies like Amazon to local police departments and public research facilities, virtually every entity with an eye on drones has been waiting with bated breath for the FAA to come up with some kind of plan to safely integrate unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, into the national airspace.” IBT points out that the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act mandated that the FAA develop a plan for integrating drones into the national airspace by 2015, however, the passage of that deadline without any regulation of commercial drones has brought “a groundswell of criticism from pilots’ associations and drone manufacturers.” IBT also points out that the FAA recently missed a deadline to issue regulations covering drones in the public sector. An FAA spokesman “said the agency has ‘drafted guidance’ that responds to the public drone mandate, but that the guidance is still under review.”

White House Says Obama Acted Lawfully In Rejecting Keystone Pipeline.

A day after TransCanada Corp. filed a lawsuit against the US government over the Administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, Reuters  (1/8, Rampton, Chiacu) reports, the White House said Thursday that it is confident the President and the Administration acted lawfully in making the decision.

DOE Preparing To Drill Deep Borehole In North Dakota.

The Tri-City Herald (WA)  (1/8) reports the Energy Department is making preparations “to drill a test borehole more than 3 miles deep in a North Dakota rock formation to study a disposal method that could be used for some of Hanford’s radioactive waste.” The Herald adds “a team led by Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, has been chosen to drill the test borehole near Rugby, N.D.” In a statement Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “This is an important first step to increasing our scientific understanding of the potential uses for crystalline rock formations, including the feasibility of boreholes as an option for long-term nuclear waste disposal.” The Energy Department is planning “a $35 million, five-year project to test the boreholes on about 20 acres of state-owned land in North Dakota.”

Volkswagen CEO To Meet Wednesday With EPA’s McCarthy, Lawmakers.

The AP  (1/8, Biesecker, Krisher) reports that Volkswagen’s global CEO Matthias Mueller is set to meet Wednesday with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, a meeting scheduled at the company’s request. McCarthy said Thursday that “at this point, we haven’t identified a satisfactory way forward, but those discussions are going to continue.” Reuters  (1/8, Shepardson) adds that Mueller also plans to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Two Democrats Urge Volkswagen To Offer “Fair” Buyback. Bloomberg News  (1/8, Katz) reports that two Senate Democrats “urged Volkswagen to offer US consumers multiple options to compensate for damages and inconvenience of owning the diesel cars,” including a speedy repair and money for lost resale value. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey said in a letter to Volkswagen that the company should offer to “buy back the vehicle at the fair market value that existed prior to the time at which Volkswagen’s fraudulent activity was made public.” The Hill  (1/8, Laing) adds that although Volkswagen has issued a $1,000 goodwill offer to drivers who were affected by its emissions violations, Sens. Blumenthal and Markey say Volkswagen “owes it to the public to make sure that robust incentives are in place that will keep polluting cars off of roads.”

DOE Moving Forward With Beverage Vending Machine Efficiency Standards.

The Hill  (1/8, Devaney) reports the Department of Energy is proceeding “with new efficiency rules for beverage vending machines.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE announced yesterday “stronger energy conservation standards for bottled and canned beverage vending machines.” In 60 days the new standards will go into effect.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Alabama Working To Improve Computer Science Education.

The Shelby County (AL) Reporter  (1/7, Wagner) reports the Alabama DOE announced a new partnership with A+ College Ready and to train 50 new Computer Science AP teachers across the state for next school year. The partnership is part of a broader push by the state to improve computer science education. Many teachers from across the state recently attended a three-day professional development course on teaching computer science that was taught by the head of a technology company based in Alabama.

California Elementary School Teaching Students How To Code.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News  (1/8, Shaw) reports many students at Walnut Acres Elementary School in Walnut Creek, California are learning how to code. The students work in pairs with one “navigating the details” and the other “keeping an eye on the big picture” and the school has a number of programs where students can try out and develop coding skills. The article quotes several students who are excited about learning how to code.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

FAA Says 181,000 UAVs Registered Since December 21.
Massachusetts School Wins NAE Engineering Education Award.
Drone Rodeo Showcases Latest Drone Tech.
Report: “Middle-Skill” STEM Jobs Could Boost Baltimore Middle Class.
Oculus Begins Taking Rift Pre-Orders For $599.
Malhotra To Head DOE Clean Energy Investment Center.
Chicago Changing High Schools And Colleges To Meet Need For Better Career And Technical Education.

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