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

Leading the News

Study: Students Earning Vocational Certificates At For-Profit Colleges Earn Less Than They Did Before Attending.

The Washington Post  (5/31, Ehrenfreund) reports in its “Wonkblog” that research by Treasury Department financial economist Nicholas Turner and George Washington University economist Stephanie Riegg Cellini, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows that students who received vocational certificates through for-profit colleges make $900 less per year, on average, than they did before attending school, whereas those who got the same certificates from public community colleges earned an average of $1,500 more per year than before. The study “offered new evidence for critics who say the for-profit college industry swindled students by pressuring them into racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt while adding comparatively little value to their careers,” the article says. In an interview, Cellini explained, “Students need to have information about all their options, the debt they may incur and the changes in earnings they can expect.”

Inside Higher Ed  (5/31) reports that the study used ED data and IRS information, and explains that “most for-profit students are employed prior to enrollment, so comparisons are possible of pre- and post-enrollment income levels.” Diverse Education  (5/31) also covers this story.

Higher Education

Western Carolina University Renaming Department To Reflect Engineering Focus.

The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times  (5/27) reports that the University of North Carolina Board of Governors has voted to change the name of Western Carolina University’s former Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology to the College of Engineering and Technology, saying that school administrators “say the new name better reflects the growth of engineering education programs serving Western North Carolina.”

ED Pushing Ohio Colleges To “Ban The Box.”

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch  (5/31) reports that ED is urging colleges and universities “not to ask about criminal history on their applications,” because doing so “in what is effectively the first conversation with potential students drives away people who could use education to turn their lives around.” The article says that the question is common among Ohio higher education institutions, but “at least one, Otterbein University, will consider dropping it.”

EDITOR NEEDED: Journal of Engineering Education
ASEE members recognize JEE as the world’s premier journal on the scholarship of engineering and engineering technology education. Read more if you’d like to be considered as the next editor.

Summer Prism Now Online
ASEE members can access the new Prism magazine online. Topics include research opportunities opening up with a thaw in US-Cuba relations and proposed changes to ABET criteria, among much more.

Retention Strategies
Going the Distance” is a video showcasing effective retention strategies at six universities.

ASEE has done extensive work on retention and time-to-graduation rates over the previous several years. A good distillation was recently done by consultant Cindy Veenstra.

Research and Development

Graphene Has Yet To Appear In Marketable Products.

Bloomberg Business  (5/31) reports that Andre Geim, a researcher at the University of Manchester in the UK, discovered a two-dimensional layer of graphite in 2002, and “spent two more years researching the ultra-thin, ultra-strong, ultra-flexible material before publishing their first findings in the journal Science in 2004. Six years later Geim and Novoselov had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their graphene work, and researchers at universities and companies around the world – but mainly in Asia – were hard at work patenting new uses for the ‘wonder material.’” However, “products based on graphene have remained scarce.”

DARPA Gives Clemson Professor $1 Million Carbon Fiber Research Grant.

The Greenville (SC) News  (5/30) reports that DARPA has given Clemson University chemical engineering professor Amod Ogale a $2 million grant to study “the manufacture of auto parts and the manufacture of carbon fiber.” Ogale “is part of a four-university collaborative that aspires to develop a less costly way of making composites reinforced by carbon fiber. That could make the high-tech material more cost-effective for use in automobiles and aircraft, producing a variety of benefits, such as fuel savings, since the composites are lighter – as well as stronger and stiffer – than steel, aluminum or titanium.”

Researchers Seeking Space Debris Solutions At Australia Conference.

The Dropbox  (6/1) reports that researchers from around the globe are meeting in Canberra, Australia to discuss ways to solve problems associated with space debris. University of Arizona aerospace engineer Moriba Jah discusses the potential implications and dangers associated with growing levels of space debris.


IRelaunch Connects Returning Workers With Potential Employers.

The Florida Times-Union  (5/31, Moody) reports “is a site dedicated to helping professionals get back into the job market after an extended career hiatus,” developed by Carol Cohen, who said in a TED talk that disconnect between job searchers and potential employers is the biggest challenge for “relaunchers.” iRelaunch also co-leads the STEM Reentry Task Force that connects returning engineers with re-entry internship programs with IBM, Intel, General Motors, Booz Allen Hamilton, and other companies.

Engineering and Public Policy

Supreme Court Sides With Property Owners In Wetlands Case.

The AP  (5/31, Hananel) reports that the Supreme Court “is making it easier for landowners to bring a court challenge when federal regulators try to restrict property development due to concerns about water pollution” by ruling unanimously on Tuesday that a Minnesota company “could file a lawsuit against the US Army Corps of Engineers over the agency’s determination that its land is off limits to peat mining under the Clean Water Act.” The AP notes that the ruling “is a win for property rights and business groups that said it was unfair for government agencies to decide what land is subject to complex environmental laws without a court ever deciding whether the agency is right,” and adds that “it was the second time in four years that the high court sided with property owners against the government in a dispute over the right to challenge a designation of protected wetlands.”

USA Today  (5/31, Wolf) reports that the decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, “gave three Minnesota peat mining companies the right to challenge in court a government determination that their land includes federal waters and is therefore subject to Clean Water Act regulations.” USA adds that “three other conservative justices went so far as to say that the act ‘continues to raise troubling questions regarding the government’s power to cast doubt on the full use and enjoyment of private property throughout the nation.’” The Administration “had contended that the Army Corps of Engineers’ determination could not be challenged in court because it was not a final action,” but “the justices didn’t buy that rationale.”

Bloomberg News  (5/31) reports that the 8-0 ruling “said that landowners can go straight to court after federal regulators decide that a piece of property containing wetlands is covered by the Clean Water Act.” The ruling “came in a dispute over a proposed peat-mining operation in Minnesota,” where “the property owners and Hawkes Co., are fighting a decision by the US Army Corps of Engineers that the land is subject to federal regulation.” The Administration had argued that “a landowner can’t sue until a permit application is rejected or the owner faces a federal enforcement action.”

Iowa Utilities Board To Consider Pipeline Project.

The AP  (5/31) reports that the Iowa Utilities Board has is meeting “Wednesday to consider allowing construction to begin on an oil pipeline in areas outside federal jurisdiction.” The AP explains that “Dakota Access LLC wants to begin digging the Iowa portion of a 1,150-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois” and while construction has begun in other states, “the Iowa board has said work shouldn’t begin until all required permits are approved.” Meanwhile, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to study river crossings and impact on federal land and hasn’t issued its permits.”

Some Officials, Environmentalists Turn To Nuclear As Carbon-Free Power.

The New York Times  (5/31, Cardwell, Subscription Publication) reports that pressure from the Paris agreement on climate change has “some state and federal officials” believing nuclear energy is part of the solution, leaving them “scrambling to save existing plants that can no longer compete economically in a market flooded with cheap natural gas.” Energy Secretary Moniz said, “Maintaining the nuclear fleet is really important for meeting our near-term and midterm goals.” Even some environmentalists “have come to believe that the climate benefits of nuclear energy far outweigh the risks.” However, “the nuclear industry is facing a crisis of old age,” and “the recent slowdown in the demand for electricity and the glut of natural gas from the rise in fracking has driven down wholesale prices,” making things difficult for nuclear plants, which “require costly upgrades and repairs during their life spans.”

Energy Bill Fight Centers On Conservation Program.

The Hill  (5/31, Henry) reports that the long-term fate of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund “could end up being a key sticking point in negotiations over federal energy policy reform.” Most House Republicans last week voted to block Democrats’ motion to support an extension, while “key Republicans on the energy conference committee have said they’ll look to water down efforts to keep the program on the books without major reforms.” The Senate has yet to appoint conference committee members, and “an energy package might not make it across the finish line at all,” given this year’s restricted congressional calendar.

Delaware Officials Urge FERC To Reconsider Artificial Island Power Line.

The AP  (5/31) reports Delaware officials are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to “reconsider a recent decision requiring Delaware electricity customers to cover the cost of installing a transmission line that Delaware officials say will largely benefit New Jersey residents.” Delaware officials complaints center on the $272 million project connecting the Artificial Island nuclear complex to the state. Delaware Public Service Commission Executive Director Bob Howatt expects a FERC decision in late summer.

DOE Going Ahead With Portable Air Conditioner Efficiency Rules.

The Hill  (5/31, Devaney) reports the Energy Department “is moving forward with new efficiency rules for portable air conditioners.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the DOE “announced new energy conservation standards for portable air conditioners on Tuesday.” The new rules are set to go into effect in 30 days.

North Dakota To Hold Hearing On NextEra Wind Project.

The AP  (5/31) reports that North Dakota’s Public Service Commission is holding a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed 100-megawatt $153 million NextEra Energy wind farm and associated electric transmission line.

Elementary/Secondary Education

New Mexico Expands Math Curriculum To Grades Three Through Five.

THE Journal  (5/31, Bolkan) reports New Mexico’s Public Education Department has adopted a new math curriculum for students in grades three through five. According to the Journal, “the department selected Stepping Stones from Origo Education in a move that expands on a 2012 adoption of the curriculum for students in grades K-2.” Stepping Stones is aligned to the Common Core and focuses on conceptual learning, not procedural, and features a teaching strategy that “stems from research that highlights the importance of mastering the basic facts that form the necessary foundations of calculating with more complex numbers and operations.”

Waukegan Students Collaborate To Solve Problems At STEM Matrix Competition.

The Lake County (IL) News-Sun  (6/1, Olson) reports that “about 300 Waukegan students designed and built devices for the STEM Matrix inter-schools competition Tuesday” using “science, technology, engineering, mathematics, innovation and research learned in the “STEM Matrix” curriculum, fifth-grade classes from 11 elementary schools worked collaboratively to come up with solutions to three challenges.” The competition held at the Waukegan Park District’s Field House Sports & Fitness Center, featured a fake letter from the president asking students to design devices for extraterrestrial exploration. Students also had to plan a garden in a 100 square meter area using various colors representing fruits and vegetables.

Tech-Savvy Kids Make An Arm For A Four-Year-Old.

In the Kansas City (MO) Star  (5/31, Lipoff), Beth Lipoff writes a special report on four-year-old Sven Johnson whose left arm stops at the elbow, and who a few months ago, was unable to ride a bike until two students at Blue Valley’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies helped. In the fall, CAPS students made an artificial arm and hand combination for Sven, and 17-year-old Cody Kelemen of Olathe and 18-year-old Austin Crawford of Overland Park spent a week designing an attachment for Sven’s arm that clamps onto the bike’s handlebars. Such projects are helping Sven and the students who design them. The events at CAPS are not isolated, they are indicative of trends in science education. A 2011 report from the National Science Foundation on elementary and secondary science education has reshaped many state science standards by encouraging “more training for educators in STEM topics, more access to STEM opportunities and additional instructional time.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

US Automakers Recall Another 12 Million Cars Over Takata Airbags.
Education Department Appoints New Attorney In Corinthian Colleges Case.
Michigan Lawmakers To Consider Bills To Expand Use Of Driverless Cars Beyond Testing.
Transportation Secretary, DC Metro GM Comment On Current Infrastructure Problems.
Experts Present At 2016 STEM Solutions Conference In Baltimore.

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