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

Leading the News

Haley: South Carolina Will Not Become “Dumping Ground For Nuclear Waste.”

The Aiken (SC) Standard  (6/7) reports the state of South Carolina “had a message for the US Department of Energy” after 331 kilograms of plutonium were dropped off at Savannah River Site, “this state is not a nuclear dumping ground.” On Tuesday, Gov. Nikki Haley said, “Today’s news is another reminder that the Department of Energy has not lived up to its promises, and we will not back down: South Carolina will not be a permanent dumping ground for nuclear waste.” Rep. Joe Wilson “focused on the plutonium pathway out of South Carolina.” He said, “As the only member of Congress who has worked at the Savannah River Site, I support the mission of SRS. I appreciate that there is a clear plan for the disposition of the material so South Carolina is not a dumping ground for nuclear waste.” In March, Haley had asked Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to “stop the shipment or re-route it.”

The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier  (6/7, Asberry) reports that on Monday the National Nuclear Security Administration reported “that the plutonium will be diluted and stored at SRS until it is eventually shipped to a New Mexico repository.” NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz wrote, “This strong partnership has helped the international community ensure that these materials never find their way into the hands of criminals, terrorists, or other unauthorized actors.” The plutonium “will be processed over the next five years at SRS and shipments to New Mexico will begin after the processing is complete.” The Japan Times  (6/7, Johnston) also reports on the deliver to the Savannah River Site.

Higher Education

ED Data: Most High School Graduates Go On To Some Form Of Postsecondary Education.

Education Week  (6/8, Sparks) reports that according to new data from ED, most high school graduates “are moving on to postsecondary study—but significant gaps remain in their paths.” The data show that “75 percent of students who completed high school by fall 2013 had enrolled in some sort of postsecondary coursework.” However, “ninety-two percent of students from high-income families who entered high school in fall 2009 went on to higher education right after graduation—compared with 59 percent of those from low-income families.”

NSF Awards $648,563 Grant To Linfield For STEM Access.

The Oregonian  (6/7, Theen) reports that the National Science Foundation awarded a $648,563 grant to Linfield College “to increase the number of low-income students graduating from the McMinnville school with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields.” About $400,000 of the grant is earmarked for 15 student scholarships at private schools. According to spokesman Kevin Curry, qualified applicants must show “significant financial need.”

College Students Have Opportunity To Get Government Grants For Summer Classes.

The Washington Post  (6/7, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that in a bid to increase graduation rates, “a Senate subcommittee is slated to release an appropriations bill Thursday that will expand the federal Pell grant program by providing low-income college students money to take classes throughout the year.”

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

MIT, Harvard Researchers Develop Black Hole Imaging Algorithm.

The Christian Science Monitor  (6/7) reports that researchers at MIT and Harvard have developed an algorithm to “capture an image of a black hole,” which would “take data from radio telescopes around the globe and meld that information into a single portrait, taking advantage of a project known as Event Horizon Telescope.”

Engineering Graduates Invent New Rape Kit Swab.

Slate  (6/7) reports two biomedical engineering graduates from Brown University have invented a new swab for rape kits that “changes color when it comes in contact with semen.” Bella Okiddy and Richard Park, the swabs inventors, say the swab could give a rape victim “some measure of immediate closure” because a victim will not have to wait to find out if the kit found any physical evidence. Okiddy and Park are working on “prototypes of their designs and hope to release the swabs in hospitals sometime in 2017.”

Honeywell, UNM Reach Agreement For Tech Research.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal  (6/6, Robinson-Avila) reports that the University of New Mexico and Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies have signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday that “will help cut red tape when that Honeywell division subcontracts with UNM on research projects that it manages” for the NNSA. Robin Stubenhofer, vice president of engineering at Honeywell’s National Security Campus “said” the agreement will expedite project approvals and allow “more professors and students to work on cutting-edge research.” The KRQE-TV  Albuquerque, NM (6/6) website also reports on the agreement.

Researchers Looking At Bacteria to Remove Metals From Mine-Impacted Water.

Newswise  (6/7) reports that “researchers at Penn State are refining a natural, low-cost process that will help remove some of the most abundant pollutants, such as iron, from mine-contaminated water.” Bill Burgos, professor of environmental engineering at Penn State, said, “In this study we researched how quickly ferrous iron was oxidized under set conditions and found out what microbial species lived under these different conditions. It’s not only important to know how fast a particular treatment process might be but also which microbes are involved.” The article notes that “the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the Appalachian Research Initiative and the Environmental Science and the China Scholarship Council funded this work.”

Global Developments

Obama Offers Support For India’s Implementation Of Climate Pact.

Coverage of the President’s meeting Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is limited to print and online outlets, with reports focusing on their vow to implement the climate pact reached late last year in Paris. The AP  (6/7, Pennington) says the two leaders “played up their efforts to cooperate on issues of global concern,” with President Obama saying they had “joined forces” to bring about the landmark climate agreement. During yesterday’s meeting, the President said, “We discussed how we can as quickly as possible bring the Paris agreement into place, how we can make sure that climate financing that’s necessary for India to be able to embark on its bold vision for solar energy and clean energy that Prime Minister Modi has laid out can be accomplished.”

Reuters  (6/7) similarly says the White House said Modi “expressed support for the enactment this year” of the climate deal, which Politico  (6/7, Restuccia) calls “a big boost for President Barack Obama’s effort to bring the agreement into effect before he leaves office.” The Washington Post  (6/7, Mufson) reports the two leaders “pledged to nail down terms for limiting a potent greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant in air conditioners, and set a one-year deadline for concluding a deal for six commercial nuclear power plants.” But the Post says they “provided few specifics about how they would achieve those goals.” The Post notes that the recent pledge by Donald Trump to renegotiate the climate accord if he is elected has “added a sense of urgency among world leaders to make sure the accord goes into effect before the end of the year.”

USA Today  (6/7, Locker) quotes Brian Deese, the President’s “senior energy and climate adviser,” as saying, “I think we are better-positioned than we ever have been to reach the goal of 55% of emissions and 55 countries by the end of this year, and I think this statement should provide significant additional momentum toward this global push.”

Industry News

Experts Discuss Integration Of Autonomous Vehicles.

Engineering News-Record  (6/7, Parsons) reports in its “20 Rebar Madness” blog on discussions at Infrastructure Week on “the looming influence of connected and autonomous vehicles (AVs) on transportation infrastructure.” The article adds, although the NHTSA plans to release guidance on vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle technologies later this year, “many state and local transportation agencies remain wary of their ability to safely integrate AVs into existing operations and maintenance programs.” Booz Allen Hamilton VP Brian Pickerall said that he saw public-private partnerships playing a greater role, and that DOT will need to coordinate the work of different stakeholders, “with different business models” to achieve success.

US Shipbuilders Rely Heavily On Foreign Firms For Design, Manufacture.

In a post in The Hill ’s (6/7, Riley)”Pundits Blog,” the Heritage Foundation’s Bryan Riley writes on a requirement under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 that ships transporting goods within the US be “US-built, US-owned and at least 75 percent US-crewed,” but says that in reality, US shipmakers “rely heavily on foreign parts, foreign investment, and foreign shipbuilding expertise.” According to Hawaii Shippers Council president Michael Hansen, “foreign shipyards provide the design, main engines and other equipment” for shipbuilders such as General Dynamics, Philly Shipyard, and VT Halter. General Dynamics NASSCO partners with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for design and “shipbuilding technologies,” while VT Halter Marine is owned by ST Engineering, a company connected to the government of Singapore. VT Halter Marine has partnered with foreign shipbuilders such as Croatia’s Uljanik Shipyard.

Engineering and Public Policy

Senate Unanimously Approves Overhaul Of Toxic Substances Control Act.

The Washington Post  (6/7, Eilperin) reports that legislation to “overhaul the way the federal government regulates every chemical sold on the market in the United States” unanimously passed the Senate Tuesday evening, marking “the most sweeping environmental measure to pass Congress in a quarter century.” The reauthorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which has long been “criticized as ineffective,” had the support of “the chemical industry, trial lawyers and many public health and environmental groups.” The measure “provid[es] chemical manufacturers with greater certainty while giving the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to obtain more information about a chemical before approving its use.” The New York Times  (6/7, Davenport, Subscription Publication) says the bill has drawn criticism from “some public health and environmental advocates” who say that “while it slightly strengthens the existing law, the bill’s authors ceded too much to chemical companies.” The measure now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it.

Developers Bypassing Environmental Laws Via California Ballot Initiatives.

The New York Times  (6/7, Lovett, Subscription Publication) reports that developers are taking advantage of California’s ballot initiative system “to sidestep state environmental laws and speed up major developments.” Residents often don’t get to vote on the measures, because local elected officials “often approve the project to avoid paying for a special election that could further strain tight budgets.” Walmart has “pioneered” the use of the initiatives, using the ballot to propose stores in at least nine California cities, with elected officials approving the measures “without a vote in eight of those cases.”

NTSB To Release Final Report On 2015 Amtrak Crash.

Philly (PA)  (6/7, Laughlin) reports that the NTSB will release its final report on the fatal 2015 Amtrak derailment on Wednesday. The report is expected to reemphasize the NTSB’s “conclusion that the engineer, Brandon Bostian, lost ‘situational awareness’ and accelerated at 106 mph into Frankford Curve, where the speed limit is 50 mph.” The article mentions that Spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Cameron Kline said its investigation of the derailment is still open. The article adds that Kline “would not specify what the investigation was focusing on and District Attorney Seth Williams declined to be interviewed.” However, Kline said, “It is my considered opinion that there are grounds for charges at a minimum for reckless endangerment based upon conscious and deliberate actions that need to be taken by Mr. Bostian to have the train going 106 mph.”

BSEE Evaluates Oil Spill Response Exercises.

Marine Link  (6/7) reports that “engineers and analysts from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) Gulf of Mexico and Alaska Regions recently evaluated Spill Response Operations Training and Equipment Verification exercises conducted by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company and its oil spill removal contractor at the Port of Morgan City, La.” According to the article, “the exercises were held in mid-May on board two responder vessels of Clean Gulf Associates, which was contracted by Tennessee Gas Pipeline.”

Connecticut Asks EPA To Require Emissions Cuts At Pennsylvania Coal Plant.

The AP  (6/7) reports that Connecticut’s top environmental official Robert Klee says Connecticut has the highest ozone levels in the Northeast due in part to air pollution from upwind sources and diesel trucks. Saying the state will no longer accept being the “tailpipe of America,” Klee is joining ten state and local agencies in asking the US EPA to require the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in Pennsylvania to reduce pollution from its three coal units.

DOE To Move Forward With New Air Conditioner Rules.

The Hill  (6/7, Devaney) reports the Energy Department is going ahead with new air conditioner efficiency rules. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE announced yesterday “new test procedures that will apply to central air conditioners as well as heat pumps.” The rule will go into effect in 30 days.

Massachusetts Lawmakers To Consider Bill To Boost Hydro, Wind Power.

The AP  (6/7) reports legislation in Massachusetts “that could make hydro and wind power a bigger part of the state’s overall energy mix is expected to win approval in the House.” The bill, which is scheduled to be debated on Wednesday, “would require utilities to solicit long-term contracts for importing an additional 1,200 megawatts each of Canadian hydroelectricity and offshore wind.” Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, “and Democratic leaders in the Legislature have called the measure one of the most important among those still pending before lawmakers as the two-year session winds down in the coming weeks.” The governor “says the state needs to tap into new sources of energy to replace power that is leaving the regional electricity grid as older generating plants are retired.”

Duke Energy Bat Expert Aims To Reduce Wind Farm Wildlife Losses.

The Wall Street Journal  (6/7, Potkewitz, Subscription Publication) reports Duke Energy Renewables bat expert Tim Hayes and other biologists in the wind-power industry are developing methods for minimizing bat and bird fatalities. His team is working with organizations including Bat Conservation International and Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative testing acoustic deterrents, periodically idling turbines, and adjusting turbine blade angles.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Opinion: The US Can Become A Leader In STEM Education.

In an op-ed for US News & World Report  (6/7), Raytheon Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications Pam Wickham writes that the US is failing behind “when it comes to inspiring and preparing our teenagers to take on careers in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM.” Wickham notes that recent data indicates that high school students today “have less interest in the important fundamental subjects of math and science,” and that “a quarter of our 15-year-old students don’t even reach the baseline of math proficiency.” To remedy this problem, Wickham contends, “businesses and philanthropic organizations can step in and provide students and teachers with supplemental programs,” which “can help our nation’s educators do their jobs more effectively,” and help “feed tomorrow’s hungry STEM talent pipeline.”

Colorado Students Build, Donate Drone To Help Rwandan National Park Rangers.

The AP  (6/7, Bryson) reports that Denver students Max Alger-Meyer and Nathan Lepore, “both 18,” built a drone to help rangers in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park patrol and protect wildlife. The duo “hope to go to Rwanda this summer to deliver it and train rangers to use it.” Akagera manager Jes Gruner said the drone will help rangers spot brushfires and conduct surveys of hard-to-reach areas more often.

Oregon School Board Accused Of Banning Books Skeptical Of Climate Change.

The Washington Times  (6/7, Richardson) reports a resolution adopted by the Portland Public Schools that bans “expressing climate-change ‘doubt’ has come under fire” from the National Coalition Against Censorship, which described the decision as “dangerously over-broad, potentially affecting a wide range of valuable educational materials.” The Oregonian newspaper also criticized the resolution in a May 26 editorial, arguing that “indoctrinating students in this fashion is a mistake.” Climate-change activist David Appell responded in an Oregonian op-ed titled “On Climate Change, No Need To Teach Both Sides.” Many locals also wrote in to the Portland Tribune praising the board for standing up to “corporate hacks and their shills” and having the “courage to identify untruth and beginning to rectify this issue with sensitivity and hope.”

Also in the News

Ball Aerospace Employee Named Rocky Mountain AIAA Engineer Of The Year.

The Manufacturer  (6/7) reports that the Rocky Mountain AIAA named Ball Aerospace employee Lisa Hardaway as Engineer of The Year. Hardaway was the program manager for Ball’s “Ralph instrument aboard NASA’s New Horizons mission,” which helped capture “the closest images ever seen of Pluto” last year. Rusty Powell, Honors and Awards Chair for the AIAA RMS, said, “We chose Lisa as the 2016 RMS Engineer of the Year based on the wide-ranging impact her work on the Ralph program had on the aerospace industry at large.” He also said, “We also considered her mentorship of women undergraduates in aerospace engineering.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

Plutonium From Japan Arrives In US.
Embattled Accreditor Announces Membership Freeze.
National Science Foundation Gives University Of Rochester Photonics Research Grant.
Supreme Court Rules Landowners Have Right To Challenge Army Corps’ Wetlands Rulings.
Some California High Schools Moving To Integrated Math.

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