Leading the News
Indiana Teachers Take Part In STEM Workshop.
The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star (6/16) reports that 46 middle and elementary school math and science teachers at Indiana’s Vigo County School Corp. took part in “the PRISM program, a partnership between VCSC and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology that uses a state Math/Science Partnership grant. Rose-Hulman professors and staff provide the instruction for” an “intensive summer workshop that lasts three weeks.” Teachers learn about STEM topics and, collaboration, and integrating curriculum.
WTWO-TV Terre Haute, IN (6/14) also covers this story, quoting PRISM Director Patricia Carlson saying, “What we are doing here is really a combination of theory and interactive activities. Hands on to keep the students highly engaged and theoretical to relate back to the state’s standards.” WTHI-TV Terre Haute, IN (6/14) runs a similar report.
ED Pushes Colleges To Refrain From Asking About Criminal History In Application Process.
The Boulder (CO) Daily Camera (6/17) reports that ED has launched its “Beyond the Box” initiative, calling on “colleges and universities to stop asking prospective students about their criminal histories, or, if that’s not possible, make an admission decision first, before asking the question.” The move is an effort to “increase college access for the estimated 70 million Americans who have had run-ins with the law.” The paper quotes Education Secretary John King saying, “Those who have paid their debt and served their sentences deserve a chance to learn and thrive, to make their lives better and give back to their communities.”
ED Proposes Rules To Help Students Defrauded By Colleges.
The Columbus (OH) Dispatch (6/19) reports that ED has proposed new regulations to “make it easier for people who have been cheated or misled by a college to have their student-loan debt forgiven” as “part of an ongoing crackdown on alleged abuses by for-profit colleges and universities.” the article lists a number of other rules and proposed rules related to potential abuses on the parts of colleges, and quotes Education Secretary John King saying, “These rules should make them think twice.”
NYTimes Critiques ED’s Proposed For-Profit Rules. In an editorial, the New York Times (6/20, Subscription Publication) writes that “by failing for decades to regulate for-profit colleges, the federal government encouraged a predatory industry that saddled poor and working-class people with crippling student debt, often in return for useless degrees or no degrees at all.” While the Department of Education “acknowledges in the proposed rules that it will be necessary to provide debt relief for groups of students who may have been defrauded,” the Times says the “method the department would use to identify the group is complicated and lacks transparency.” It argues that “one way to fix that is to identify groups through the many lawsuits that state attorneys general have filed in their efforts to clean up this industry.”
Florida Paper Praises Proposed Rules. The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (6/17) editorializes that the new rules will open up new options to “students who are deceived by their colleges and left with a pile of debt,” calling them “a needed crackdown on the for-profit college industry, which has been exposed time and again for fraudulent practices.” The rules will also “benefit taxpayers, who ultimately foot the bill when loans for worthless degrees end up in default.”
Data Shows Declines In FAFSA Applications Nationwide.
The Washington Post (6/17, Douglas-Gabriel) reported Department of Education data released last week “shows fewer high school seniors are turning in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)” than last year – submissions nationwide dropped “4 percent compared with the same period a year ago” as of June 3. Officials believe the declines may be even greater, because “students often fail to fix mistakes after submitting the form” – data shows that “between 9 percent and 10 percent of submitted FAFSA applications have not been completed in the last four years.” Some suspect changes to the application process, including a requirement that families “create an ‘FSA ID,’” are making it more difficult for students to finish the application. According to the Post, “fixing the process is…crucial as rising high school seniors will be able to submit the FAFSA in October, instead of January,” and can “use their parents’ 2015 tax returns” rather than “waiting for 2016 tax documents” or estimating family income.
Research and Development
Pentagon Works Towards Technological Upgrade To Handle Evolving Arms Race.
A 1,871-word article in the Washington Post (6/17, Davenport) discusses the Pentagon’s ongoing “struggl[e] to keep pace with forms of combat that are fought with bytes as well as bullets” and the Defense Department’s “Third Offset Strategy” that looks to “offset shrinking budgets and transient technological superiority” by, among other things, “encourag[ing] some of the most innovative start-ups to turn their attention to national security.” Giving the Pentagon a technological upgrade “is a top priority for” Defense Secretary Carter, “who recently said, ‘The race now depends on who can out-innovate faster than anyone else.’” The Post also highlights the work being done by “Pentagon’s top-secret labs,” such as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to advance artificial intelligence and autonomous systems as well as similar efforts by defense contractors.
NASA Announces Plans For All-Electric Planes.
The New York Times (6/17, Chang, Subscription Publication) reports NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Washington on Friday “announced plans for an all-electric airplane designated as X-57.” The Times indicates that NASA does not believe the new technology will be incorporated into commercial jetliners but that it will eventually become part of “smaller, general aviation and commuter aircraft some years from now.” The electric planes are part of the agency’s efforts to increase efficiency and reduce pollution in aviation.
WPost A1: NASA’s Viking Mission Continues To Shape Mars Exploration.
In a 2,100-plus feature story on NASA’s 1976 Viking mission to Mars, the Washington Post (6/18, Achenbach) writes that “forty years later, the Viking mission remains legendary – both for its triumphs and disappointments – and continues to cast a shadow over Mars exploration.” The Post writes that “since Viking, NASA has not tried to detect life on Mars directly” and points out that even though some “cynics would say that’s a case of don’t ask if you don’t want to know the answer,” it is “also a reflection of post-Viking scientific modesty.”
Rochester Institute Of Technology Acquires Laser For Semiconductor Research.
The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (6/19) reports that Rochester Institute of Technology is engaged in semiconductor research, and says that microelectronics professor Karl Hirschman said that the school “recently purchased a new laser that shortcuts” a number of steps in the photolithography process that makes “a perfect and usable semiconductor.”
NYTimes Analysis: Wyoming’s Wind Industry Leads To Lost Jobs In Coal Industry.
The New York Times (6/19, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports Wyoming’s exponential growth in the wind industry has quickly made it the wind capital of the US. However, as the country’s biggest coal-producing state, this industrial transition has left thousands of workers without jobs. Energy economist and University of Wyoming professor Robert Godby highlights the lucrativeness of wind energy, but also says “it doesn’t create nearly the economic impact of the fossil fuel industry.” Godby “estimates that in the coming years Wyoming could lose up to 10,000 jobs related to the coal industry,” devastating families across the state.
Colorado Aerospace Faces Engineering, Tech “Skills Gap.”
The Colorado Springs (CO) Gazette (6/19, Heilman) reports on shortage of engineering and technical talent in the aerospace industry, and says that when Lockheed Martin lost a $700 million NORAD contract last year, it ended up re-hiring all but 35 workers to other business units, rather than lose talent to contract winner Raytheon. The Gazette reports on University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ efforts to fill the “skills gap” by training more engineers, as well as aerospace companies’ internship and apprentice programs that aim to attract high school students to STEM careers.
Start-Up EV Companies Recruiting Tesla Engineers, Managers.
USA Today (6/18, Slav) reported Tesla’s start-up competitors, such as Atieva and Faraday Future, “are poaching engineering and management talent from Tesla” for competitive electronic vehicle projects. A Lux Research study suggested the luxury EV market is becoming more mainstream; as such, Tesla and its competitors are responding and investors are “pouring billions” into production projects.
Engineering and Public Policy
WPost A1: Nuclear Power Raises Debate About Combating Climate Change.
An 1,899-word front-page analysis, the Washington Post (6/17, A1, Mooney) reports the Watts Bar nuclear plant in Chickamauga Reservoir on the Tennessee River is the first to open since 1996. The article indicates climate scientists, “led by former NASA researcher James Hansen,” have been pushing for nuclear power as a means for meeting climate targets. However, the market for nuclear is “in a state of near-crisis,” with deregulated energy markets in many states as well as cheap natural gas that has already prompted the closure of a number of nuclear plants. Energy Secretary Moniz said, “We are supposed to be adding zero-carbon sources, not subtracting, or simply replacing, to just kind of tread water.”
DC Is Taking Steps To Offset Traffic Congestion From Metrorail Repairs.
The Hill (6/17, Zanona) reports Washington DC’s Department of Transportation will be implementing new measures over the weekend to “ease traffic” while the Metrorail goes through its “next round of subway repair efforts.” This includes “extending rush-hour parking restrictions and imposing a moratorium on construction in key corridors.”
Prosecutor Says PG&E Ignored Safety Regulations In Pipeline Explosion.
The AP (6/17, Thanawala) reports the criminal trial against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. got underway on Friday, with the Asst. US Attorney Hallie Hoffman saying in her opening statement that the energy company ignored safety guidelines that would have prevented the San Bruno pipeline explosion in San Francisco and that the company sought to cover up its failures during a federal investigation. She said, “Instead, it chose a cheaper method that did not ensure the safety of pipelines running through high-consequence areas,” and that the company failed to “subject the pipelines to appropriate testing.”
Beach Nourishment Projects Underway In North Carolina.
The AP (6/20, Jeff Hampton) reports that there are four beach nourishment projects ongoing in Dare County communities totaling 11 miles “for next year, as communities try to keep storm surge from wrecking homes and roads.” The AP points out that “two years ago, the North Carolina Department of Transportation with the Army Corps of Engineers led a project to widen the two-mile Rodanthe Beach for $20.3 million.” The National Park Service report said “the work was done to protect North Carolina 12 from ocean overwash” and that “each day that North Carolina 12 is closed has an economic impact of $500,000 to $1 million.” The AP says that “plans are to nourish a total of 8 miles of beaches in Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills next year at a total cost of $41.7 million.”
DOE Releases Report Detailing Plans To Double US Nuclear Capacity.
Forbes (6/19, McMahon) reports the DOE this month quietly released a new report titled “Draft Vision and Strategy for the Development and Deployment of Advanced Reactors,” detailing their plan to “double American’s nuclear capacity, not only with the small modular reactors championed by Secretaries Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu,” but advanced reactors not reliant on water for cooling. The report details its vision as have advanced reactors generate a significant amount of the nuclear energy produced both at home and globally by the year 2050. Argonne National Laboratory Engineering Analysis Department manager Tanju Sofu said, “I don’t think you can come up with a viable, clean electricity scenario without nuclear playing a role in that.”
Trump’s Plan To Revive Keystone XL Has “Glaring Problem.”
In a more than 1,000 word article, Politico (6/19, Schor) reports on Donald Trump’s plan to bring back the Keystone XL oil pipeline in exchange for a share in its profits, saying it has a “glaring problem: It risks running afoul of laws against government takings of private property.” Trump spoke last month in North Dakota saying, “I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits. …That’s how we’re going to make our country rich again.” The US oil industry is “largely shrugging off Trump’s pitch for Keystone profit-sharing,” but says Trump’s “overall pro-drilling agenda is preferable to Hillary Clinton’s energy platform.” But one oil industry lobbyist commented, “Something like this is a deterrent on pipeline investment. It’s not taken seriously, because it’s just completely nuts.” Meanwhile, TransCanada “might be game for any gambit that wins approval for its long-frozen pipeline.”
Michigan High School Students Organize Hackathon.
WDIV-TV Detroit (6/18) reports that Ronit Tiwary and min Jae You, juniors at Novi High School in Novi, Michigan, organized a hackathon on Saturday, at which “some of the smartest and brightest high schoolers gathered.” The students brought in “mentors to teach workshops in web design, coding and more.”
Local Students Participate In Marine Technology For Teachers And Students Program.
The Cape Cod (MA) Times (6/18, Driscoll) reported Sturgis Charter Public School students Sophia Beauregard and Cece Kane will study “underwater sensors and robotics this summer at the University of Rhode Island” in a week-long session that is “part of the Marine Technology for Teachers and Students program to learn about building remotely operated vehicles and sensors for measuring ocean conditions.” The program is “funded by a $1.2 million award from the National Science Foundation” and is designed to offer “opportunities for teachers and students to explore new technologies in ocean sciences.” The students will interact with scientists from URI, the University of Connecticut, and “scientists in the field,” and learn how “to teach the same concepts back home in other schools on the Cape in the coming year.”
Rider University Will Use $1.45M Grant To Bring STEM-Ed To At-Risk Communities.
New Jersey Local News (6/18) reports Rider University received a $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation which will provide scholarships for 24 students to participate in the university’s STEM-Ed initiative. STEM-Ed is a pipeline strategy in which these scholars will study to become “high school science, technology, engineering and math teachers” in at-risk urban communities as an aim to strengthen the number of quality educators in low income areas of New Jersey. These communities are ones where Rider plans to heavily recruit and bring diversity into the university. Professor Danielle Jacobs made the comment that “unequal access to adequate K-12 STEM education in the United States is undebatable,” and she believes STEM-Ed will help to deliver that education to these under-served communities of New Jersey.
Friday’s Lead Stories
• GOP AGs Warn Democrats Of Double-Edged Sword On Prosecuting Climate Change.
• ED Takes First Steps Toward Revoking ACICS’ Accreditation Authority.
• BAE Demonstrates Virtual Reality Technology To Ease Design Process.
• Ford Having Trouble Overhauling F-150 To Meet New Emission, Fuel Economy Regs.
• Demand For Solar-Equipped Housing Shifting Industry Financing Mechanisms.
• OCR Issues Guidance On Gender Equity In CTE Courses.