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

Leading the News

Replacement Esophagus Grown Inside Patient.

The AP  (4/8, Cheng) reported, US physicians “have made a new esophagus for a young man, using donated skin tissue and metal stents, in the latest example of scientists creating body parts in the lab to help patients with few other options.”

The NBC News  (4/8, Fox) website reported that in an article  published online on April 8 in The Lancet, researchers announced that “a man who lost much of his throat to a bad infection grew a replacement on” metal stents and now “can swallow and eat normally after years of trouble with his esophagus.”

According to HealthDay  (4/8, Preidt), “One year after the stents were removed, endoscopy showed scarring and regeneration of all five layers of the esophagus wall.” What’s more, “swallowing tests showed the esophagus muscles were functioning normally.”

Medscape  (4/8, Kelly) reported that the procedure was “an attempt to save the life of a critically ill 24-year-old patient suffering from a 5-cm, full-thickness hole in his esophagus.” But, although “the case report provides proof of concept that regrowth of lost esophagus is possible without complex tissue engineering…the new approach requires validation in animal studies before proceeding to clinical trials,” Medscape added. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (4/8, Johnson) and MedPage Today  also covered the story.

Higher Education

Thirteen AGs Call On ED To Revoke Corinthian Accreditor’s Recognition.

The Chronicle of Higher Education  (4/10) reports that the attorneys general of thirteen states are calling on ED to refrain from renewing its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, “the much-maligned accreditor of, for one, the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges.” The letter says that “institutions accredited by the council have dismal graduation rates and low loan-repayment rates, and were not effectively overseen by it,” calling Corinthian the accreditor’s “most ‘spectacular failure.’”

Illinois Fiscal Standoff Pushes Chicago State University To The Brink.

The New York Times  (4/9, Bosman, Subscription Publication) reports that “the lack of a state budget in Illinois has been dismissed by many here as politics as usual, another protracted ego contest between the Republican governor and the Democrats who rule the Legislature.” However, “it does not feel that way at Chicago State University, a 150-year-old, predominantly African-American school on the city’s far South Side,” which since “last July…has received zero dollars from the state.” The school “relies on Illinois for 30 percent of its $105 million budget,” and “if no one swoops in with a rescue plan, the school could shut down, stranding students mid-degree, eliminating hundreds of jobs and shuttering a path forward for a poor and underserved community.”

Colleges Collaborating To Improve Recruitment, Retention.

The Philadelphia Tribune  (4/11) reports that major colleges and universities across the country are working together to improve resources aimed at boosting student retention, noting that the American Association of Colleges and Universities and American Public Land-grant Universities “has rolled out a program to help more higher-education institutions implement changes to improve student success.” APLU President Peter McPherson is quoted saying, “Collaborating for Change [initiative] isn’t just about outlining steps public urban universities can take to improve student success, it’s about helping them actually implement those changes so we can begin to see the progress and improvement that is needed.”

Purdue Undergrads Financing Education By Pledging Future Wages.

The New York Times  (4/8, Cowley, Subscription Publication) reports that some juniors and seniors at Purdue University this fall will be able to finance their education by “pledging to pay a percentage of their future incomes in return for funds today.” Under this type of “income-share agreement,” students “get funds to cover current education expenses, and, in return, they agree to pay a percentage of their future income over an agreed-upon period of time.”

Columbia University Says 45% Of Freshmen Admitted Through Early Decision.

The Washington Post  (4/8, Anderson) reports that Columbia University officials have announced that the college “filled about 45 percent of its freshman class last year through the binding application process known as early decision.” The early decision process “requires students to enroll if they are accepted and to withdraw all other applications — a process that explicitly shuts out those who want or need to compare multiple financial aid offers.”

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

Next Generation Jammer Increment 1 Moves Forward.

Seapower Magazine  (4/8) reported the Naval Air Systems Command announced on April 7 that the Next Generation Jammer Increment 1 received official approval to proceed to the next stage of development on April 5. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, “thoroughly reviewed NGJ Inc 1’s Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction phase, and upcoming Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) plans at Raytheon, El Segundo, Calif., March 10” and found the proposed costs, timeline, and objectives “adhered to the proposed acquisition strategy and were in line with meeting warfighter requirements.” The external jamming pod will replace the AN/ALQ-99 jammer currently used by the EA-18G Growler.

SIGNAL Magazine  (4/8) added in its blog that Boeing has received $19.9 million cost reimbursement contract “to provide for the preliminary work associated with the engineering change proposal 6472 integration of the Next Generation Jammer Pod onto the EA-18G aircraft.”

Engility Awarded $248 Million DTRA R&D Advisory Contract.

GovCon Wire  (4/8, Clemens) reported Engility has been awarded a $247.9 million contract to “advise and assist” in research and development mission at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. According to GovCon Wire, DTRA works to “monitor and destroy weapons of mass destruction and weapons related materials in order to secure them from hostile forces.”


Tech Sector Increasingly Trying To Recruit Women Back To Work.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/10, Wells, Subscription Publication) reports that as tech companies face increasing competition for new talent, some companies, including IBM, Alphabet, and Paypal, are turning to internships and other programs to recruit women trying to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence. Companies say these women are easier to hire because there is less competition for those with noticeable skill gaps. By targeting this particular demographic, tech companies are not only trying to combat the under-representation of women in the sector, they are also trying to improve on the latest technologies.

Women Leave STEM Jobs, Citing Issues With Bureaucracy, Hierarchy.

US News & World Report  (4/8, Zazulia) reported a survey of engineers across 3M, Booz Allen Hamilton, Honeywell Aerospace, and United Technologies Corp found that women are more likely to switch careers when impeded by “bureaucracy and hierarchy.” American Society of Civil Engineers’ Jane Howell is quoted saying that such women “frankly don’t have to settle for working in an environment where they have to continually prove that this work can be fulfilling to them.”

Global Developments

Australia To Reveal New Cybersecurity Strategy.

The iTnews (AUS)  (4/11) reports Australia will announce a new cybersecurity strategy in the coming weeks that “will lean heavily on the private sector” with “initiatives like voluntary InfoSec health checks for businesses and joint threat sharing centers in capital cities.” iTnews says the document contains 19 specific initiatives with a focus on “strengthening cyber defenses, education, partnerships, research and development, and awareness.”

Industry News

Trend Towards “Bug Bounty” Programs To Pay For Identification Of Security Vulnerabilities.

Yahoo! News  (4/10, Keane) reports hackers are being paid cash rewards for identifying security vulnerabilities in corporate systems, and says Indian security engineer Anand Prakash “discovered and disclosed a major bug” at Facebook that enabled him to access any account. Uber and Shutterstock have similarly started a bounty systems that pay “security researchers” for identified bugs, and DoD initiated a similar “Hack the Pentagon” program. Booz Allen Hamilton’s Todd Inskeep said that companies should develop more secure systems themselves, rather than rely on “bug bounties”: “If cybersecurity experts and business leaders spend time designing/threat modeling for a more secure product upfront, we can save time and money in the long run, and reduce risk.”

Report: Apple Sells Fewer iPhones In Stores As US Consumers Turn To Carriers.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/8, Wakabayashi, Subscription Publication) discusses a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finding that 76 percent of US iPhone buyers in 2015 bought their handsets from mobile carrier, up from 65 percent in 2013. The report also found that 11 percent of US consumers bought their phones from Apple stores, down from 16 percent in 2013.

MarketWatch  (4/10) also reports.

Engineering and Public Policy

AP Analysis: Almost 1,400 Water Systems Have Exceed Federal Lead Standards Since 2013.

The AP  (4/10, Foley; Hoyer) reports on its analysis of EPA data on water systems subject to the federal lead rule that took effect in 1991, finding that almost 1,400 water systems serving 3.6 million Americans have exceeded federal lead standards at least once between Jan. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2015, including 278 systems “that are owned and operated by schools and day care centers in 41 states.” The AP focuses on Galesburg, Illinois, where lead levels have exceeded federal standards in 22 of 30 testing periods since 1992, and where children under six are six times more likely to have lead levels exceeding the state standard for public health intervention. According to the article, the biggest obstacle on the path to fixing the nation’s lead problem is adequate funding to replace lead pipes.

Iowa Utilities Board Says Construction Can Begin On Bakken Oil Pipeline.

The AP  (4/9) reported that the Iowa Utilities Board voted unanimously Friday to authorize the beginning of construction on the Bakken oil pipeline in the state, “as soon as federal permits are obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and two other plans are filed,” despite opponents’ concerns that “an oil spill will inevitably occur and fear that could damage farmland, pollute waterways and harm wildlife and fragile habitat.” Dakota Access, “a unit of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, has received state regulatory approval in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois for a 1,168-mile pipeline that will transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch to a distribution hub” in Illinois.

Safety Advocates Warn NHTSA About Self-Driving Cars.

The AP  (4/10, Lowy) reports a group of engineers and safety advocates warned NHTSA on Friday that “self-driving cars are more likely to hurt than help public safety because of unsolved technical issues.” The AP says that NHTSA is moving quickly to issue regulations and standards because “early self-driving technologies are already in cars on the road.” The AP adds that safety advocates told NHTSA that problems such as “poorly marked pavement,” “bad weather,” “inconsistent traffic-control devices,” and an inability to “take directions from a policeman” are several reasons that self-driving cars are not ready for the road.

Mississippi Ruled Compliant With EPA Ozone Standards.

The AP  (4/9) reports that the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality announced Friday that US EPA officials “have ruled that DeSoto County meets standards for ozone air pollution.” The state had appealed a 2012 ruling “saying DeSoto County was flunking the ozone standard because it was part of the Memphis metropolitan area, even though Mississippi’s ozone monitors in DeSoto County itself didn’t exceed required readings.”

California Computer Energy Efficiency Standards Expected By 2018.

The Sacramento (CA) Bee  (4/10, Ortiz) reports that the California Energy Commission could require stricter computer energy standards by 2018, “cutting computer energy consumption by as much as half, according to new regulations being proposed.” If adopted, the move would make California the first state to mandate such standards and could be a model for DOE’s implementation of computer energy use standards nationwide. “The standards would apply to power use settings on both desktops and laptops, monitors and signage displays sold in California.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Nevada Schools Expand STEM Offerings.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal  (4/11, Morton) reports on improvements to STEM offerings by Nevada middle and high schools, including advanced and expensive STEM labs, magnet school offerings, computer science classes, and “next generation” science standards designed to “introduce students to STEM as early as possible.” Advantages of early STEM education involve engaging students in nontraditional, hands-on learning methods, introducing the possibility of STEM careers at a young age, and the preparation of a highly skilled technical workforce to anticipate future demand by local employers. Educators cite engaging the “business community” and securing funding as primary challenges, while both private and charter schools have pursued grants to expand STEM curriculum and further equip students with new technology.

Ohio Governor Introduces Arts Designation In Schools.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer  (4/9, O’Donnell) reports that Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for the addition of arts education to the traditional STEM focus, introducing a “STEAM education – capital A for the arts,” per Kasich, which would create a STEAM designation for schools with emphasis on arts in addition to intensive STEM curriculum. Educators criticized the campaign for not linking the new designation to additional funding, particularly as state school board members appointed by Kasich “helped lead a push” to remove proposed regulations to encourage additional arts staff in schools, according to the Plain Dealer. Opponents of the regulations claimed that they allowed districts more freedom in staff choice.

Also in the News

Detroit Free Press Profiles Engineering Consultant FEV.

The Detroit Free Press  (4/9, Phelan) profiles engineering consultant FEV, which is “one of the leading international engineering and product development consultants.” The Detroit Free Press says FEV worked on Chrysler’s Pentastar V6, Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium family, and is credited with “creating a new battery for plug-in hybrids that just went into production for an Asian automaker.” The Detroit Free Press adds that the Auburn Hills-based FEV is seeing a “boom time for consultants, who provide expertise, bodies and brains to help automakers and suppliers deal with an ever-growing array of technical and regulatory challenges.”

Friday’s Lead Stories

Toyota Announces New Research Base Focused On Autonomous Cars Near University Of Michigan.
NSF Announces Scientific Study Of Sexism Faced By Female College Engineering Students.
University Of Washington Researchers Working On “Passive Wi-Fi” With Lower Power Usage.
Demand For H-1B Visas Outstrips Supply.
Tesla Celebrates Unprecedented 325K Model 3 Reservations.
EPA Chief Touts Methane Regulations As Part Of Climate Leadership.
Boston High School Robotics Team Earns Spirit Award.

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