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

Leading the News

Clean Power Plan Could Survive Judicial Review.

Bloomberg BNA  (2/17) reports that following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, court observers believe the Supreme Court is likely to split 4-4 on the Clean Power Plan, which would uphold a lower court’s decision. However, American Energy Alliance spokesman Chris Warren said, “Despite the tragic passing of Justice Scalia, this unlawful regulation remains very much in jeopardy.” Warren added, “The fact remains that the best way for state leaders to protect citizens from this rule and higher electricity rates is by immediately stopping all work on compliance plans, at least until the legal challenges are resolved.”

Bloomberg News  (2/17, Dlouhy) reports that with Scalia’s passing, FBR Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Salisbury said, “The math changes completely.” Scalia death “opens the possibility of the lower court upholding the power-plant regulation and the rule surviving on a 4-4 vote of the remaining Supreme Court justices. In such ties, the ruling of the lower court prevails though no legal precedent is established.”

Higher Education

NYU Tandon Offers Novel Mechatronics And Robotics Master’s Degree.

Metro  (2/15, Salario) reported on a new mechatronics and robotics Master’s program at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering that focuses on practical applications of innovative technologies, such as driverless cars and pizza delivery via drone. NYU professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Vikram Kapila “says the program gives students the opportunity to break new ground in an age of revolutionary advances in technology.” Metro touted the NYU degree as “one of the first of its kind in the nation,” as graduates are expected to “be able to handle everything from industry robots to biorobots, all the way to artificial intelligence,” according to Tandon’s Dean of Students Katepalli Raju Sreenivasan.

Marvell Settles Patent Suit With Carnegie Mellon For $750M.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (2/17, Ove, Schackner) reports that on Wednesday computer chip maker Marvell Technology Group agreed to settle a seven-year long patent infringement case brought by Carnegie Mellon University for $750 million. The article highlights the $250 million benefit the university expects to receive from the resolution. The Post-Gazette provides background that in 2009 CMU sued Marvell claiming “the company infringed on two CMU patents issued in 2001 and 2002 for accurately reading data from hard drives.”

ED Proposes New Rules Simplifying Defrauded Students’ Path To Loan Forgiveness.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (2/17) reports ED is proposing new rules under which “student-loan borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges would have clearer paths to loan forgiveness.” The rules would also increase ED’s chances at recouping losses on such debt. The rules also suggest “several warning signs that could serve as ‘triggers’ requiring colleges to submit letters of credit to the department.”

Inside Higher Ed  (2/17) reports that ED officials presented the proposal to “a rule-making panel that is in the process of negotiating changes to regulations governing debt relief for federal student loans.” Colleges would be held liable for the relief, but would be “allowed to fight the borrower’s debt relief claim.”

University Of Texas-Austin President Issues Campus Carry Guidelines.

The Washington Post  (2/17, Watkins) reports that University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves “reluctantly” issued new guidelines on Wednesday “to comply with the state’s new campus carry law, which has generated intense controversy.” Under the new rules, “guns will be allowed in classrooms…but not in the dorms save for some narrow exceptions.” The law allows concealed guns on campus, but gave schools “power to create limited rules that designate some ‘gun-free zones’ in areas where it would be too dangerous to have weapons.”

New CUNY Visa Program Courts Immigrant Entrepreneurs.

The New York Times  (2/17, Robbins, Subscription Publication) reports on the looming unveiling of a new visa program at City University of New York campuses “intended for immigrant entrepreneurs.” The IN2NYC program “is to have 80 entrepreneurs set up shop on CUNY campuses, advising professors and students while working to build companies — in exchange for a special temporary work visa that is exempt from the quotas.”

Analysis: Free Tuition Would Not Necessarily Create A More Educated Workforce.

In its “All Things Considered” program, NPR  (2/17, Kamenetz, Westervelt) provided analysis of Bernie Sanders’ claim that making college free would make America the best-educated workforce in the world, concluding that nixing tuition at public universities, by itself, would “probably not” give the US “the most educated workforce in the world.” NPR cited how nations with the most educated workforces don’t necessarily provide free tuition. Yet, NPR featured OECD education analyst Andreas Schleicher’s opinion that “it is clear that growth in attainment in the U.S. has been particularly low and cost is likely an impediment to this.”

ASEE ED on NPR’s Air Talk
Norman Fortenberry discussed the efforts to make STEAM from STEM

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

Research and Development

ExxonMobil Partnering With Wisconsin Researchers On Renewable Jet Fuel.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (2/17) reports that ExxonMobil and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are working on a $600,000 project seeking “technology to bring down the cost of renewable diesel and jet fuel.” The project is being led by chemical and biological engineering professor George Huber and “focuses on advances in chemistry that use metals as a catalyst to convert the sugars broken down from plants into the molecular equivalent of transportation fuels.”

Fusion Power Development May Lean On NNSA R&D.

In a lengthy piece on the possibility of developing fusion energy, Nuclear Engineering International  (2/17, Fabian) writes that ORNL’s Steve Zinkle said “the environmental attractiveness and economic competitiveness of all fusion power will directly depend on the materials used in power plants.” The article says “the fusion community can leverage work being done for fission power plants, and research and development NNSA is doing” for inertial confinement fusion and weaponry.

Scientists Solve Case Of Missing Asteroids.

The Los Angeles Times  (2/17, Netburn) reports that following an earlier surprise discovery that a substantial number of asteroids are mysteriously absent from the central region of the solar system, scientists revealed in a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday that the missing space rocks seemingly disintegrate as they come in close proximity with the sun, “leaving a trail of space rubble in their orbital wake.” The article highlights the research developments that led to the most recent paper, as well as the possible implications of the study. According to the Times, the finding “could explain the origin of meteor showers that have no known parent object.”

KU, Honeywell Sign Master Collaboration Agreement.

Kansas City (MO) infoZine  (2/17) reports that a master collaboration agreement was signed between the University of Kansas and Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies on Tuesday. The agreement “will expedite future research contracts funded through Honeywell, enabling the two organizations to work more closely on research and development projects.” Honeywell “manages and operates the National Security Campus” in Albuquerque and Kansas City for NNSA.

Global Developments

Canadian Military Develops Greener, Cheaper Ammo.

Vice  (2/18, Ling) reports that “a research project in the Canadian Armed Forces began looking for a new type of ammunition in 2011 in response to fear that its shooting ranges were posing a threat to local water sources.” Vice says the project, called RIGHTTRAC, was undertaken by Defence Research & Development Canada and arrived as a solution that makes sure the rounds explode fully, and replaces “the decades-old explosive solution inside them with less-toxic material.” A report published by DRDC says, “This project has proven that it is possible to develop [insensitive munitions] and green munitions that perform better than current munitions and that will help to ease the environmental pressures on [ranges and training areas].” Vice says the Canadian military developed a formula for the shells that doesn’t include RDX, improved “the engineering of the rounds to avoid duds, and sought to replace toxic and carcinogenic compounds in the rounds with more earth-friendly chemicals.”

Industry News

Sikorsky, Boeing To Complete SB-1 Design Review.

Flightglobal  (2/18, Drew) reports that “Sikorsky and Boeing are weeks away from completing the final design review of their jointly developed high-speed SB-1 Defiant prototype.” Flightglobal explains, “Conceived as a next-generation replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache, SB-1 is being pursued along with the Bell Helicopter V-280 for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) programme, which funds competing X-planes as a precursor to a Future Vertical Lift (FVL) acquisition.” Boeing future vertical lift chief Pat Donnelly “said most components of the rigid-rotor coaxial compound helicopter are already under construction and will start coming together later this year.” He also “says Swift Engineering of San Clemente, California will ship the core composite structure to Boeing’s AH-64 Apache production plant in Mesa, Arizona by mid-year for design limit testing, before it continues east to Sikorsky’s rotorcraft facility in West Palm Beach, Florida in the September timeframe.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Southern California Gas Leak Being Compared To BP Spill.

Greenwire  (2/18, Subscription Publication) reports that with the plugging last week “of a monthslong methane leak at a natural gas well in Los Angeles,” attorneys “have turned their attention to litigation stemming from the environmental debacle.” The handling of the gas leak by Southern California Gas Co. is being compared “to another environmental disaster: the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” More than “10 regulatory entities are investigating the leak.” Sectary of Energy Ernest Moniz “and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration chief Marie Therese Dominguez visited the site with other officials and lawmakers yesterday.” The utility “is already facing a criminal lawsuit from the Los Angeles district attorney, as well as civil suits filed by the state.” The EPA “is also investigating, which could lead to federal civil or criminal charges.” Personal injury lawsuits also are expected.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Maryland Teacher Uses 3D Printers In PLTW Course.

THE Journal  (2/17) reports on teacher Scott Nichols’ use of 3D technology in his Principles of Engineering course at Pikesville High School in Maryland. Using HP’s software Sprout, students are able to create scans of three dimensional objects, manipulate them on the computer and then use a 3D printer to create a model. Nichols, who is using the technology to augment his Project Lead the Way course, commented that the software “is a fantastic tool for any STEM-centric classroom.” He added, “Throughout our Project Lead the Way course sequence, students focus on developing solutions to open-ended problems using the engineering design process.”

Wisconsin District Set To Launch State’s First Online CTE High School.

The Wisconsin State Journal  (2/17) reports that officials have announced that Wisconsin’s McFarland School District is launching a new online charter school with a CTE focus to “help train students for high-paying jobs in fields that desperately need workers, such as construction.” The Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin will be the first such school in the state. Students will earn “technical and specialty trade credentials and college credits along with their high school diplomas.” WKOW-TV  Madison, WI (2/17) reports students will “be able to get hands-on experience in fields including construction, business, and Information Technology through a special apprenticeship program.”

Virginia Governor Proposes Bill To Revamp High School Education.

The Washington Post  (2/17, Balingit) reports on Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe efforts to redesign the state’s high school program and focus it on career and technical education. The Post review’s Gov. McAuliffe’s bill, presented in January to the VA House and Senate, which outlines initiatives to revamp the current high school system. Sen. John C. Miller who sponsored the Senate version of the bill said the plan proposes students focus on core academics in the first two years, and then decide “whether they would like to go to college and continue on with education courses or if they would prefer the flexibility to try and come up with the skills needed for a career.”

University Of Texas To Expand High School Engineering Initiative.

The Austin (TX) American Statesman  (2/17, Toohey, Subscription Publication) reports that the University of Texas system will spend $2 million to expand “Engineer Your World,” a one-year program offered at high schools in 15 states, which gives college credits to students who take college-level engineering programs. The initiative is intended to increase interest in technical and engineering studies and prepare high school students for college level classes.

Dover Schools Collaborate To Offer College Engineering Classes In High School.

The Dover (DE) Post  (2/17, David Paulk) reports that beginning next year, Dover High and Delaware Technical Community College students will have the opportunity to take courses in engineering and manufacturing at Del Tech to earn college credit. Dover High School director of curriculum and instruction, Gene Montano, said the collaboration between the schools will “allow kids to be ready for job experiences right out of high school, or earn college credits that will get them into engineering, electrical or other areas.”

Elementary School Installs Computer Science Learning Curriculum For Students.

The Santa Barbara (CA) Noozhawk  (2/18, Yatchisin) reports that in response to President Obama’s “Computer Science for All Initiative” The Gevirtz School at UC Santa Barbara has developed a “modular curriculum” for grades 4-6 called Kids Engaged in Learning Programming and Computer Science (KELP-CS). Gervitz is closely monitoring the program to assess the ways elementary students learn computer science.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

Flint Drinking Water Pipes Still Contaminated With Lead.
Study: Student Gender Bias Hindering Women In STEM Fields.
Firm Developing Gyroscopic Glove To Ease Parkinson’s Tremors.
Scottish Companies Launch “Groundbreaking” Sensor Project.
Boeing’s South Carolina Plant Delivers 100th Dreamliner.
WSJournal: House Must Hold EPA Accountable For Mine Disaster.
Arizona Legislature Restoring Funding To Career And Technical Education.

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