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

Leading the News

University Of Arizona Engineers Test Connected Vehicle Technology.

Phys (UK)  (4/14, Goetz) reported University of Arizona professor of systems engineering Larry Head “and his graduate students recently took the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; first responders; local, state and national transportation officials”; and others on a bus ride at the Arizona Connected Vehicle Test Bed to show them how connected vehicles can communicate with traffic signals and use algorithms to prioritize other vehicles. Head predicted, “Vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or connected cars, are on the horizon–and their capabilities will significantly change how traffic is managed and how drivers experience the road.” Cars equipped with the technology can also “alert drivers to hazards up to few hundred meters away, out of their line of sight–for example, a car slipping on ice around a curve or an oncoming car without headlights.”

KJZZ-FM  Phoenix (4/15, Brodie) featured an interview with Head, who said the primary goal of the program is safety, in addition to environmental improvement. Head said the NHTSA is “on the verge of passing a rule” requiring the use of connected technology devices. In order for the system to work, Head said at least 20 to 30 percent of cars would need the device. The report said the testing “is part of a national effort to develop safety systems for autos.”

KTVK-TV Phoenix  Phoenix (4/6) provided video reporting online on the so-called “SmartDrive program,” saying the technology aims to “help the driver make decisions.” In addition, the researchers are developing an app for pedestrians.

Higher Education

Shell Fuel-Economy Car Contest Returns To Detroit.

The Detroit Free Press  (4/16, Phelan) reported that next weekend the Shell Eco-marathon returns for a second year in Detroit where “more than 1,200 students from 100 universities and high schools…will compete in the fuel-economy contest” in which they race cars they developed. While some cars will “look like outsize soapbox derby competitors,” others will “resemble sleek, science-fiction movie props, with low profiles and drivers lying down like luge pilots.”

ED’s College Navigator, Scorecard Faulted For Lack Of Information For Military College Students.

The Military Times  (4/15, Altman) reports that there is a “varying – and sometimes quite poor – quality” of online data for service members and veterans “to help them decide where to go to college.” The piece considers ED’s College Navigator tool, saying that it “has a wealth of data for traditional college students coming straight out of high school” but “has little information geared toward service members and vets — and its most prominent student outcome measures tend to ignore them completely.” ED’s newer College Scorecard also “is designed primarily using information on traditional students, with the tool’s only military-related aspect consisting of a link to the Veterans Affairs Department tool.”

APSCU Asks King To Delay Gainful Employment Rule.

Inside Higher Ed  (4/15) reports that Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities CEO Steve Gunderson has written to Education Secretary John King calling on him to “delay implementation of the Obama administration’s ‘gainful employment’ rule that is aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges” for a year. Gunderson argued “that the debt-to-earnings ratios by which colleges are judged under the regulation do not accurately capture students’ long-term earnings,” but ED “on Thursday didn’t provide any indication that it would be willing to entertain the for-profit college group’s request to delay one of its signature higher education policy achievements.”

WPost Analysis: Top Colleges’ Wait-lists Longer Than Seats In Entering Classes.

The Washington Post  (4/16, Anderson) reports, according to their analysis, “wait-list offers far outnumber seats in the entering classes at many of” the country’s top colleges. The Post writes that “wait lists prolong the tension of the grueling college search for tens of thousands of students a year, giving a glimmer of hope that often ends with no payoff beyond the satisfaction of learning that elite schools considered their bids worthy of a verdict other than outright rejection.”

WSJournal: Purdue Innovative With Income-Sharing Plan To Finance Education.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/17, Subscription Publication) editorializes in favor of Purdue University’s implementation of an income-sharing agreement in which rising juniors and seniors can promise a share of their future earnings in exchange for cash. The contracts last a maximum of nine years, shorter than US federal loans, and in many cases would be cheaper than federal loans because they don’t include interest payments. Furthermore, a graduate who earns nothing doesn’t have to pay anything, minimizing the risk of critical debt.

SPECIAL SECTION: Prism Magazine on Whistleblowing
ASEE’s Prism magazine features engineering educators using their expertise to challenge authority when needed.Three ASEE Members Presented with Gordon Prize
Arthur Heinricher, Richard Vaz, and Kristin Wobbe of WPI join their colelague Diran Apelian in accpeting the prestigious award from the National Academy of Engineering. The Gordon Prize is awarded annually by the NAE to recognize new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders.

Research and Development

North Carolina Engineer Develops Metal Foam To Enhance Body Armor.

Stars And Stripes  (4/17, Hampton) reports North Carolina State University engineer Afsaneh Rabiei “developed a new metal foam that in tests shattered armor-piercing bullets fired at close range.” Stars And Stripes speculates the “sponge-like material made with stainless steel could make body armor lighter and stronger.” The article describes how Rabiei “developed the metal foam using uniform hollow stainless steel spheres, combined with molten aluminum or a metal powder” using NSF funding.

Model 3 Maybe First Real Self-Driving Car, Tesla Wagers Software Over Hardware.

The New Yorker  (4/14, Tillemann, McCormick) reports on the capabilities, both announced and rumored, of Tesla’s Model 3. The article goes into depth about the development of autonomous driving technology from both Google and Tesla, noting that Musk’s wager has been that his software can beat the more expensive hardware that characterized Google’s foray into self-driving vehicles. Tesla’s approach of having the technology installed and available, even if not completely activated, could “prove particularly important given the profound regulatory and liability challenges that lie ahead,” the piece notes.

Tesla Hire Indicates Model 3 Might Have HUD. BGR  (4/14, Heisler) reports that Tesla recently hired former Skully Systems principal engineer Milan Kovac, whose expertise in heads up displays could mean Tesla intends to incorporate a HUD in the Model 3. Some were concerned about the apparent absence of an instrument cluster in the concept car, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk “alleviated concerns about the peculiar design choice via Twitter, noting that everything will make more sense soon.”

Researchers Working On Chip-based Quantum Physics.

The AP  (4/18, Brus) reports that University of Oklahoma physicist James Shaffer and colleagues have been “focused on chip-based atomic physics, believing it holds the promise of a second quantum revolution: engineering quantum matter with arbitrary precision.” Shaffer and others have been working with other researchers from the University of Nevada, Western Washington University, the U.S. Naval Academy, Sandia National Laboratories and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to find ways around the problem interference from tiny electrical fields.

Floating Solar Panel Raises New Options In Limited Land Space.

The Orlando (FL) Sentinel  (4/15, Spear) reported engineering students from the University of Central Florida have “constructed a raft as a platform for solar panels” that serves as a tiny power plant floating in retention pond located near the university’s stadium in Orlando. The article stated that if successful, it could pave the way for larger arrays. One of the five students involved in the project, Rebecca Shea, said “This project is bringing awareness to a whole new sector of solar energy.” Another student, William Rumplik, added this is true “especially in areas with limited land.” Student Rubin York also indicated the cost of the project is on par with land-based solar arrays but that with increased popularity the price will drop.

Engineering and Public Policy

EPA Amends Air Pollution Rules For Power Plants.

The Wall Street Journal  (4/15, A3, Harder, Subscription Publication) reports the EPA on Friday issued a defense of its air pollution rules for power plants on mercury emissions that included an updated cost analysis justifying its actions. Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe said, “The mercury standards are related to coal plants, and so if a company were to choose to re-power to natural gas, then their compliance with [the mercury rule] would be taken care of.” The Hill  (4/15, Cama) reports the EPA’s action sought “to repair the problem with a major air pollution rule that the Supreme Court said last year was illegal.” According to The Hill, “the action closes a major chapter in the fight over the landmark regulation” and “means the EPA can continue enforcing the rule for now – which it started doing in April 2015 – although even the Friday fix is likely to be challenged by the same Republican states and energy industry interests who led the previous litigation.”

EPA Releases Upward Revision Of US Methane Emissions.

The Washington Post  (4/15, Mooney) reports the EPA revised its estimate of total methane emissions in the US for 2013, which was submitted to the UN as part of its annual inventory. According to the new estimate, the US released 721.5 million, rather than previously calculated 636.3 million, metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. The EPA indicates the additional emissions comes from oil and gas operations, rather than “ruminant animals like cattle and other livestock.” The Post indicates this will “further up the stakes in a political battle over regulations” that “could affect thousands of oil and gas wells.”

Snyder Proposes Toughest Lead Rules In US In Response To Flint Water Crisis.

The AP  (4/15, Eggert) reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday proposed “the toughest lead-testing rules in the nation” that would “require the replacement of all underground lead service pipes in the state under a sweeping plan [by him] and a team of water experts” in response to Flint’s water crisis. Snyder criticized the Federal lead standard as “dumb and dangerous,” adding that his state and the US needs to “set a higher standard faster.”

Lawsuit: Texas Drone Exemption Along Border Unfairly Targets Mexicans.

The Washington Times  (4/17, Dinan) reports that a Texas man sued on Friday “to stop a new state law giving drones ‘unfettered’ rights to snap photos or video along the southwest border, saying it appears to be a racially tinged effort to target Mexicans for intrusive scrutiny.” Manuel R. Flores, of Laredo, “said either Texans should be allowed to film anywhere or nowhere – but treating those who live along the border differently is a violation of his constitutional rights.” The Times adds that Texas law “generally prohibits” the use of drones “to snap unauthorized photos of people or things on private property,” but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “signed several new drone bills into law last year laying out exceptions such as surveyors, academics, utility workers and realtors, who are allowed to photograph as long as no individuals are shown.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

WPost Profiles 9-Year-Old Driven To Become First White House Child Science Adviser.

The Washington Post  (4/15, Balingit) profiles nine-year-old Jacob Leggette, who at the White House Science Fair this week revealed “his ambitions are grander: he wants to work for the president.” The Post explains Leggette asked Obama whether he had a child science adviser, prompting the President to later praise the proposal as “a very good idea.” Obama said, “We should have a kid’s advisory group that starts explaining to us what’s interesting to them and what’s working, and could help us shape advances in STEM education.” In an interview Friday, Jacob “said he believes it’s important for children to have a say in science education. It’s critical, he said, ‘to give kids a little more voice in what they do, so they can express … what’s working and what’s not. … I want the president to know what kids think about science.’”

Utah State Board Of Education Adopts New K-6 Math Standards.

The Deseret (UT) News  (4/15, Jacobsen) reported the Utah State Board of Education has adopted “a new set of mathematics standards for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.” While students and teachers “won’t see significant alterations in the foundational concepts” taught in those grades, “education leaders view the changes as illustrative of Utah’s autonomy over the expectations of what is taught in its public schools.”

Illinois Science Olympiad Extended To Elementary Schools.

The Lake County (IL) News-Sun  (4/17, Olson) reports that this is the “first year the Illinois Science Olympiad has opened its enrollment to elementary schools,” which was previously open only to middle and high school students. A pilot program “invited all elementary schools to participate, and 13 schools had the interest and availability.”

Engineering And Robotics Showcase Held At Chicago-Area College.

The Daily Southtown (IL)  (4/17, Lafferty) reports on “the first ever SouthWorks Engineering and Robotics Showcase at Prairie State College” in Chicago Heights on Friday. The event was organized by OAI Inc. and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association to show technology companies what “children are doing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes, and [to] encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing.”

Louisville Elementary School Students Learning With 3-D Printing.

The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal  (4/16, Clevenger) reported on students at Field Elementary in Louisville using 3-D printing in design classes. The program was launched by Family Resource Coordinator Kevin Knochenmus “about two years ago. He and a couple of parents looked at the technology and felt it would be interesting and educational as well.”

Friday’s Lead Stories

Obama Administration Responds To 2010 BP Oil Spill With New Offshore Drilling Rules.
Senate Bill Would Eliminate Forgiven Student Loan Tax Liability In Some Cases.
Dow Chemical Invests In Water Treatment Technology.
Report: Clean Energy Jobs Growing In Rhode Island.
Tesla Hire Indicates Model 3 Might Have HUD.
House Panel Warns Fed Aren’t Prepared For Attack On Power Grid.
Study Shows Arkansas Students Who Take CTE Courses More Successful In Long Run.

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