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

Leading the News

DOD Admiral Tours Cal Poly CubeSat Lab.

KCBX-FM  San Luis Obispo, CA (4/6) reports that DOD officials working on missile programs are concerned about potential conflicts with space debris and satellites in orbit, and are therefore “working closely with scientists in Cal Poly’s CubeSat program.” The piece reports that Rear Admiral Brian Brown “visited Cal Poly on Friday to tour the CubeSat lab and learn more about the current state of technology in the field.”

The Pacific Coast (CA) Business Times  (4/1) reports that the Cal Poly program “makes miniature satellites for research missions that are then launched in excess payload spaces of larger satellites.” Identifying Brown as deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, the article reports that he “said he was in amazed by what students did in the facility.” KSBY-TV  San Luis Obispo, CA (4/6) and the Santa Maria (CA) Times  (4/6) also cover this story.

UT Researchers Contribute To Development Of New Anthrax Treatment.

The Austin (TX) Business Journal  (4/5, Subscription Publication) reports, “A new anthrax treatment coming to the market under the name Anthim” was developed largely through the work of three University of Texas researchers. The treatment gained FDA approval last month for the treatment of inhalational anthrax.

KXAN-TV  Austin, TX (4/4) reports that “UT scientists engineered an antibody that” deactivates the toxin that is released when anthrax is inhaled. The piece quotes UT Austin chemistry professor Brent Iverson saying, “Research and education really are combined in institutions like UT Austin, so that you not only have an important practical outcome, the research itself, something of strategic national value, but you also have training of the next generation of scientists.” KUT-FM  Austin, TX (4/6) reports that three UT Austin researchers “were involved in the research team that made the treatment 20 times more potent” than traditional treatments.

Higher Education

Lumina Foundation Chief Calls On King To Push For Higher Education Equity.

In a Fox News  (4/5) op-ed, Lumina Foundation chief Jamie Merisotis writes that though Education Secretary John King “has just shy of 10 months in his post,” it “doesn’t mean he’s a caretaker.” He writes that King has the potential to have “a real and lasting influence on the trajectory of education in the country…by leveraging his position to advance higher education equity.” He writes that the nation must “better serve students who traditionally have been left behind: first-generation students, adult learners who are working and parenting, and students of color.” Merisotis calls on King to “use his bully pulpit to make clear the mismatch between the needs of today’s college students and the realities of today’s system.”

WPost Blogger: Media, Policymakers Focus Too Heavily On Elite Colleges’ Admissions Practices.

Jeffrey Selingo writes about the public “obsession” with the admissions process at Harvard and other elite schools at the Washington Post  (4/5, Selingo) “Grade Point” blog, noting that only around 4% of US undergrads attend schools that “accept 25 percent of less of their applicants.” He writes that it is “dangerous” for the media and policymakers to focus so heavily on such schools, because “it sends a message to prospective students and parents that getting into college is difficult, if not impossible,” which is contrary to reality.

Massachusetts Sues ITT Tech For “Predatory Practices.”

The Christian Science Monitor  (4/5, Banchiri) reports Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit on Thursday against ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit school with two locations in Massachusetts, “for overstating the success of its programs and presenting false information to prospective students.” The lawsuit alleges that the “school aggressively enrolled students based on misleading information” from 2010 through May 2013, with the ITT admissions offices claiming “80 to 100 percent job placement rate when the actual rate was around 50 percent or less,” the Springfield (OH) News Sun  (4/5) reports. Healey stated, “These students were exploited and pressured to enroll with the promise of great careers and high salaries, but were instead left unable to repay their loans and support their families.” In a response on Monday, ITT Educational Services called the Massachusetts lawsuit a “wide-ranging fishing expedition” and said the claims were based “on a biased and selective portrayal of the facts.”

Hill Analysis: Disparate Federal, State Programs Addressing Higher Education Proving Ineffective.

In The Hill ’s (4/5) “Pundits Blog,” Ingrid Schroeder, Director of Fiscal Federalism Initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts uses our nation’s current higher education system and the growing sentiment among Federal and state lawmakers that college affordability must be addressed to show how “a promising response to a major public need can end up being difficult to implement, unsustainable, and in some cases, counterproductive.” Schroeder highlights the Federal and state governments’ response to the recent recession has impacted higher education, combining to invest more than $140 billion in higher education funding in 2013, but not “necessarily achiev[ing] the desired result” of making college affordable.

Analysis: Unclear Costs Of College Hindering Low-Income Students.

A 1,151-word analysis in the Deseret (UT) News  (4/5, Schulzke) discusses the report, “The Real Cost of College,” by Sara Goldrick-Rab, which posits that a “major factors derailing low-income college students in college is a disconnect between the listed sticker price of college attendance and its actual cost.” Goldrick-Rab argues that actual cost of college, such as cost-of-living expenses, and the financial aid system is often “unclear” or “faulty,” which is placing lower-income students at a disadvantage as evidenced by a “significant” graduation gap between students of different incomes.

Stanford Dean Discusses Record Low Admissions Rate.

The Washington Post  (4/5, Anderson) reports on the reasons behind “Stanford University’s microscopic admission rate” of 4.7 percent, with the school’s Dean of admission and financial aid Richard Shaw opining that a number of factors are driving down the admissions rate a selective colleges nationwide, including student’s “applying to more schools;” an increased demand for higher education, and “questionable counseling” during the application process.

From ASEE
Engineering Informing Liberal Arts Education
ASEE and education expert Sheila Tobias have launched a series of case studies on engineering habits-of-mind enhancing a liberal arts education.  Funding came from the Teagle Foundation.

Research and Development

ONR Gives Colorado Mines $1.75 Million Grant To Study Atomic Components Of Steel.

BusinessDen (CO)  (4/5) reports that the Office of Naval Research has given the Colorado School of Mines a $1.75 million grant “to study what makes some metals strong, others flexible and still others lightweight.” the researchers will use the funding “to develop software that researchers can use to custom-make the metal alloys in bridges as well as the cars that cross them.” Researchers are “trying to figure out how patterns of tightly and not-so-tightly packed electrons change properties in materials such as steel.”

University Of Buffalo Professor Creates Necklace That Identifies Foods By Sounds.

WBFO-FM  Buffalo, NY (4/6) reports that University of Buffalo computer science professor Wenyao Xu has created a device “that will track what you eat through sounds” and sync with an app to track caloric intake.

Boeing Awarded $275 Million For Ground-Based Space Work.

Reuters  (4/5) reports Boeing has been awarded a $275 million USAF contract to “research and engineer technology that increases ground-based space capabilities,” according to DoD.

Industry News

Raytheon, DRS Technologies Receive $56 Million For Army FLIR System.

Seeking Alpha  (4/5, Minkoff) reports Raytheon and DRS Technologies received a $56 million contract from the US Army for engineering, manufacturing, and development work on the service’s 3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared B-Kit. The system will upgrade night vision gear to allow troops to “discriminate between friend or foe at twice the distance of current systems.”

UPI  (4/5, Tomkins) reports the contract has a two-year option for additional systems. Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president Duane Gooden said the system “will dramatically increase the range of ground combat vehicle sensors under all conditions, allowing our forces to acquire and stop the enemy.”

Engineering and Public Policy

California Energy Agencies: Southern California Could See Several Summer Blackouts.

The Los Angeles Times  (4/5, Walton) reports a draft report by “four key” California energy agencies estimates Southern California could have power outages on up to 14 days this summer because the Alison Canyon storage facility “is at one-fifth of its capacity due to a well leak that began in October.” The depleted facility, which supplies natural gas to 17 power plants in the Los Angeles basin, could affect millions of customers, marking “the biggest threat to the local power supply since the energy crisis of more than a decade ago.” The four agencies presented 18 recommendations to reduce the risk of blackouts, including turning to hydroelectric power during times of peak demand. That would be a “costly” fix. Other recommendations would need regulatory approval.

EPA’s Handling Of Flint Water Crisis Debated.

In a USA Today  (4/5) op-ed, EPA Deputy Administrator for Water Joel Beauvais writes the water crisis in Flint, Michigan has provided the EPA “an opportunity to harness the resources and attention to make needed changes.” Beauvais cites actions the agency has taken as and additional steps that are needed “to keep our drinking water safe” and argues as EPA Administrator McCarthy “has said, it’s tragic that it took a disaster of this scale for this issue to get the attention it deserves,” but the agency “is committed to doing everything it can to protect our drinking water.” In an accompanying editorial, USA Today  (4/5) blasts the EPA’s handling of the Flint crisis, arguing its “failures – to ensure compliance with federal law and warn residents of tainted water when the state did not – is a problem for the nation, considering that Flint is just the tip of a lead-contaminated iceberg.” USA Today notes a number of actions that must bet taken to address excess levels in US water systems, but adds “nothing utilities or governments do will make much difference…until local and state officials know that when they fail to perform, a federal watchdog will bark rather than roll over.”

EPA Chief Reiterates Commitment To Reducing Greenhouse Gases.

Christian Science Monitor  (4/5, Maza) reports that Administrator McCarthy used an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor to reiterate her agency’s intent to expand regulations of methane emissions to the oil and gas sector. Said McCarthy, “You will see that these rules continue our commitment to achieve the US goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels.” She also touted the EPA’s new rule for oil refineries and “emphasized the need to cut emissions from other sources of greenhouse gas, such as agriculture and livestock production and food waste.”

The Hill  (4/5, Henry) reports that McCarthy noted that the new emission rules for the oil and gas sector might not be implemented before Obama leaves office, but promised that work on other rules will finish soon. Fuel Fix (TX)  (4/5, Osborne) reports that McCarthy “said the next administration would need to help promote technologies like carbon capture, nuclear energy, and electric cars.”

EPA’s McCarthy Says Volkswagen Emissions Deal Not Likely By April 21.

Reuters  (4/5, Shepardson) reports that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that it is uncertain whether Volkswagen and the Administration will meet a April 21 court deadline to develop a plan to address the diesel engine emissions scandal. McCarthy said talks were robust and ongoing.

Senate Debates Democrats’ Push For Renewable Energy Tax Breaks On FAA Bill.

The Hill  (4/5, Zanona, Henry) reports that Democrats are pushing to attach renewable energy tax breaks to a long-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, “roiling the debate over the legislation” in the Senate. “Top Republican lawmakers are wary of including the tax breaks, but acknowledge such provisions might be needed to secure enough support for passage.” Sen. Schumer on Tuesday said lawmakers unintentionally left the tax breaks out of a tax extenders package Congress passed last year. Minority Leader Harry Reid said the tax breaks were a “do or die” issue.

E&E News PM  (4/5, Subscription Publication) also covers this story.

New York Energy Chief Says Offshore Wind Key To Meeting Renewable Energy Targets.

Bloomberg News  (4/5, Ryan) reports that Richard Kauffman who was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to revamp New York’s energy system said New York will need to tap expensive offshore wind to meet its clean energy goals. Kauffman said in an interview Tuesday that wind farms off Long Island could deliver power to New York City without requiring new long-distance transmission lines while big solar projects or onshore wind farms built upstate aren’t close to existing transmission lines.

Elementary/Secondary Education

UC Davis Releases 1-12 Computer Science Curriculum.

THE Journal  (4/5) reports that the University of California Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education “has launched a computer science curriculum for use in grades 1-12 across the United States” called the C-STEM Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Pathway. The program “integrates computer programming into math with an emphasis on algebra, eliminating the need for computer science to displace other courses while allowing districts to pursue President Obama’s goal of Computer Science for All.”

Utah Elementary School Ties For First In Math Competition.

The Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner  (4/4, Wright) reports that students at Columbia Elementary School in Kaysville were named co-champions of the March Math Madness contest sponsored by online math program Think Through Math. The final round against Naches Trail Elementary in Tacoma, WA fell during Columbia’s spring break, but even students who were traveling still submitted problems to the competition, and others used “math parties” and begging parents for extended bedtimes to give them an edge toward scoring within tenths of a point of the other champion.

Kansas Elementary Students Design 3D-printed Livers, Panda Robots.

The Kansas City (MO) Star  (4/6, Lipoff) reports that two Kansas elementary school teams have obtained honorable mentions in the national ExploraVision competition, which challenged students to develop futuristic solutions to problems. One group of fifth-graders from the Shawnee Mission district drew up plans for a 3D printer to print human livers for transplant, while third-graders from the Blue Valley district imagined a robot that would plant probiotic bamboo for pandas. Both teams drew inspiration from technology available in their schools and performed extensive research on current issues in their respective fields.

STEM Club Excites Pennsylvania Students.

The Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion  (4/5, Taylor) reports on Falling Spring Elementary’s STEM Club, which meets weekly to provide elementary students with the opportunity to solve problems with an “inquiry-based,” hands-on approach that gets students excited to build robotic arms, program vehicle movement, and engage with other STEM-focused challenges. Students cite the challenge, collaboration, and equal playing field of the club’s activities as the reasons they look forward to Mondays. The STEM Club is the Chambersburg district’s first school board-approved club with a paid adviser.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Toyota Announces New Partnership With Microsoft For Connected Cars.
ED To Launch Single Website For Student Loan Servicing.
Autonomous Cars Lack Capacity To Recognize Some Hazardous Conditions.
Startups Working On Improving Diversity In Tech Hiring.
Apple Engineers: iPhone Vulnerability Will Be Short-Lived
Clean Power Plan Receives Some Unexpected Utility Support.
Tampa Area Elementary School Praised For STEM Emphasis.

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