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

Leading the News

Boeing Moving Toward Developing New Mid-Sized Jetliner.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/1, Johnsson) reports that Boeing is honing its focus on potentially developing a brand-new, mid-sized jetliner that would “fill the gap in its product line between the largest single-aisle 737 and smallest widebody 787,” a burgeoning market where rival Airbus is starting to establish itself as a leader. The Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer estimates that sales in the “middle-of-market” segment could reach 4,000 to 5,000 passenger jets as carriers establish new routes for the planes. According to Boeing’s General of Airplane Development Mike Delaney, the company is looking to capitalize on the market opportunity, provided that economic factors are amenable to such a move.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/1, Ostrower, Subscription Publication) also reports on the story.

Higher Education

Consumer Reports Issues Study On Student Debt.

Consumer Reports Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Rosato) conducted a study of student loan debt finding that it causes “a growing number of Americans” to “regret the price they paid to go to college.” The study shows “how 42 million people came to owe $1.3 trillion in student loans.” Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, said that “it’s difficult to make a rational decision in a market that lacks accountability and transparency.” It points out that ED has “revamped its College Scorecard tool” to allow users “to filter schools by graduation rates and 10-year-out median salaries of graduates” but because it is “limited to averages by schools” it does not show differences by major and degree. Another problem is that many people “borrow to go to college but never graduate.”

Federal Student Loan Rates To Decrease.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, DiGangi) reports rates for Federal Direct Loans will be lower for the coming academic year. A 2013 law “tied interest rates on government education loans to the 10-year Treasury note yield” which will make the loan rate 3.76% for undergraduate students, down from 4.29% last year. Loans for graduate students and parents will be at 6.31%.

CNN Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Lobosco) reports the lower rate “could amount to savings of as much as $360 over the life of your loan,” that is for borrowers who borrow the maximum available.

Study Finds College Diploma Helps In Job Market.

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Marksjarvis) reports a study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that the cost of a college diploma is worth it, though it found that college graduates now “make up a larger portion of the workforce than those with high school diplomas,” and those with high school diplomas have not benefited from economic growth since 2008, with 11.5 million of 11.6 million jobs created going “to workers with at least some education beyond high school.”

Syracuse To Add $9 Million In Classroom Technology.

The Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, McMahon) reports Syracuse University will be investing $9 million in classroom technology this summer as part of a larger series of upgrades around the school called the Campus Framework. Science buildings will be able to “support the research of groups like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory,” while SmartBoards will be installed in classrooms. According to the plans, “more than 15 buildings are undergoing renovations geared toward improving academic spaces.”

Drury Students Benefit From NSF Research Program.

The Springfield (MO) News-Leader Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Brothers) reports on undergraduate research opportunities at Drury University, where students are “able to conduct research in an intimate, small-school setting with faculty mentors” and in the case of Anna Brinck, she is also able to use the lab at the University of Georgia because of the National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. In the last three years, “about a dozen Drury students” have taken part in that program.

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Research and Development

Autonomous Air Conditioning Seen Having Significant Building Efficiency Potential.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Fears) reports on a autonomous robot air conditioning unit that delivers cool air when needed. Federal energy officials estimate that 14 percent of US energy output goes for air conditioning, heating and ventilation in buildings, largely inefficiently. Saving only two degrees of energy would be “an enormous amount,” equal to converting a quarter of all vehicles on the road to electric hybrids, said Jennifer Gerbi, program director for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The robot was developed by a University of Maryland team competing in a three-year challenge organized by an ARPA-E program called Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities. The Energy Department provided the university with about $2.5 million. Other teams are working on machines to perform a similar function including those at Syracuse University, Stony Brook University at New York, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Workforce

Initial Jobless Claims Up By 10,000 To 268,000; 69th Straight Week Under 300,000.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Chandra) reports the Labor Department announced this morning that initial jobless claims rose last week by 10,000 to 268,000, “a level that’s still consistent with steady improvement in the labor market.” The economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast 267,000 new claims. The less-volatile four-week average “held at 266,750.” Bloomberg points out, “For 69 consecutive weeks, claims have been below the 300,000 level that…is typically consistent with an improving job market,” marking “the longest stretch since 1973.”

Manufacturing Sees “Ray Of Hope” In ISM-Chicago Business Barometer.

In what Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Mutikani) describes as “a ray of hope for the downtrodden manufacturing sector,” the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago “said its business barometer jumped 7.5 points to 56.8 this month, the highest since January 2015,” and the Institute for Supply Management “is expected to report on Friday that its national factory index was little changed at 51.4 in June.” According to Reuters, a reading above 50 is an indication of “expansion in the manufacturing sector.”

Canadian Economy Expands In April.

Aided by a 0.4 percent expansion of its manufacturing sector, the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Mackrael, Subscription Publication) reports the Canadian economy expanded 0.1 percent in April to 1.66 trillion Canadian dollars, according to Statistics Canada. The overall economic expansion was in line with economists’ expectations. Breaking down by sector, the Journal reports utilities expanded 1.9 percent in April, while the public sector, wholesale trade, and retail trade all rose 0.2 percent.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Quinn) reports the April gains follow “declines of 0.2 percent in March and 0.1 percent in February.” Bloomberg adds that “heavy oil production dropped by 7.3 percent,” and “falling crude oil production” linked in part to the wildfires in Alberta “is likely to shrink the economy in May.”

Euro Zone Factory Growth At Six-Month High In June.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/1, Cable) reports Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index shows business activity in the euro zone expanded at its fastest rate so far this year in June, though the Brexit may cause it to slow in coming months. The Markit PMI “climbed to 52.8 from May’s 51.5, higher than the earlier flash reading of 52.6.” However, according to Markit chief economist Chris Williamson, “Given the uncertainty caused by the prospect of Brexit, it seems likely that business and consumer spending will be adversely affected across the euro area in the short term at least, pulling growth down in coming months.”

China’s Manufacturing PMI Flat In June, Service PMI Shows Expansion.

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) reports on its website that China released its manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index results on Friday, with the survey dropping to 50.0 in June after registering 50.1 the previous two months. An index reading of 50 indicates the sector is neither expanding nor contracting. Meanwhile, “Caixin’s China June manufacturing PMI, which tracks smaller-scale private firms compared to the official gauge,” also dropped from 49.2 in May to 48.6 in June. According to the AP Share to FacebookShare to
Twitter (7/1, Chan), China’s official manufacturing PMI of 50.0 “underscor[es] how a weak global outlook is challenging Beijing’s efforts to revive growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.”

Meanwhile, Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) reports China’s official non-manufacturing PMI “rose to 53.7, compared to the previous month’s reading of 53.1.” Reuters notes China has counted on its “strong services sector” to help its economy as it shifts “away from a dependence on heavy industry and manufacturing exports.”

Japan’s Final Manufacturing PMI Indicates Fourth Straight Month Of Contraction.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, White) reports the Markit/Nikkei Japan Final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 48.1 in June after recording a 47.7 reading in May. While the index increased, “it remained well below the 50 threshold that separates contraction from expansion,” marking the fourth straight month of contraction.

Global Developments

India Successfully Launches Surface To Air Missile System.

The Times Of Israel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) reports Indian officials of the Defense Research and Development Organization said the military had a successful launch of the Barak 8, a new “surface-to-air missile defense system it developed jointly” with the Israel Aerospace Industries. The defense system can destroy airborne UAVs, jets, missiles, and other projectiles, even when projectiles are launched at the same time.

The Times of India Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) reports the missile system can also be used on board naval vessels and authorities confirmed Indian Navy officials also had a successful test of the equipment. Officials say that “a new production facility to deliver 100 missiles a year has been established for such type of long rang and medium range surface-to-air missiles at M/s Bharat Dynamics Limited, India.”India Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) reports the missile system also incorporates a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar which will help detect and track incoming projectiles. Military leaders worked with local officials in the Balasore district and “temporarily shifted 3652 civilians residing within 2.5 km radius of the launch pad No. 3 of the ITR at Chandipur to nearby shelter centres this morning to ensure a safe launch of the missile.”

Industry News

HyperSciences Raises Nearly $1.3 Million To Develop High-Powered Projectiles For Drilling.

The Seattle Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Lerman) reports Spokane-based HyperSciences raised $1.29 million to “develop technology that launches fast-moving projectiles into the earth to find a cleaner energy source.” The startup, led by former Blue Origin lead engineer Mark Russell, “has raised $1.2 million of a $2 million funding round, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” The company develops drilling technology that “aims to make it more efficient to drill into the earth and find energy sources by using high-powered projectiles to break through rock and dirt.”

Boeing Opens Drone Technology Lab In Missouri.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/1) reports that Boeing opened the doors to a new drone laboratory nicknamed “the Castle” in St. Charles, Missouri on Thursday. The article explains that the idea behind the Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory (CASL) is “to develop unmanned vehicles that can communicate with each other as well as humans on the ground.” Boeing believes that such drone technologies will be used for both civilian and military purposes in the future.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Leaks Confirm Iris Scanner, Dual-Edge Display.

New leaks of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 7 surfaced today, Android Authority Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Gondhia) reporting that according to reliable tipster @onleaks, images confirm the device will feature a dual-edge 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display and new iris scanner.

Confirming the new display changes, CNET News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30) explains that the “curve-screen Note 7 does make a certain amount of sense” considering the S7 already adopts certain design features from the Edge.

According to Mashable Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Wong), the display isn’t the only component to mimic the company’s smartphone devices, additional features could include an S7-like sensor. Mashable adds, “the fingerprint sensor/home button appears to be rounder than on the S7 and S7 Edge.”

As for the iris scanner, Samsung has already registered for both ‘Samsung Iris’ and ‘Samsung Eyeprint’, according to Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Monckton), adding to speculation the new phablet will offer the new feature.

Engineering and Public Policy

Federal Government Called On To Help Independent Energy Companies Develop Cleaner Energy Innovations.

Bradley A. Blakeman, professor of public policy, politics and international affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, writes in The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter’s (6/30, Blakeman) “Contributors” blog about Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, a Wyoming-based company that “runs generators that produce clean, reliable and affordable energy off untreated wellhead gas, providing electricity for on-site oil and gas equipment.” Blakeman calls it a “win-win” that “emissions that were once wasted and dirty are now working to power the drilling operators.” Blakeman says that if Mesa’s generators can work in America, “than it will work globally as well.” Blakeman concludes by calling on Congress and the executive branch to help “companies like Mesa innovate and spread their technology to better the nation.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Company Promotes STEM Through Curricula, Make-A-Thons.

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Jackson) reports on Rachel Williams, co-founder and COO of Paige & Paxton, which she founded with her daughter Kelley Williams, the company’s CEO, “to teach kids about science and math.” She makes use of characters she created to teach her own children 20 years ago. The firm “develops curricula for schools and conducts make-a-thons” and other STEM programs, with a focus on pre-k to second grade. At one make-a-thon on Saturday at Evanston’s Oakton Elementary School, “students spent the day on exercises and projects in physics, structural engineering and paleontology.”

Irvine Schools Offers Angels Science Of Baseball Course Over Summer.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Chan) reports on the Angels Science of Baseball summer course being offered by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation 2016 Summer Enrichment Academy for students from fourth- to sixth-grade. The program was created by University of Arizona systems and industrial engineering associate professor Ricardo Valerdi, and has been supported by the Angel’s foundation. The course uses baseball as a means of exploring mathematical concepts including averages, areas, perimeter.

Some Schools Replace Librarians With “Innovation Specialists” And Libraries With Maker Spaces.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/1, Montgomery) reports librarians in Shawnee Mission, Kansas School District are concerned about “the maker movement,” where “at least four” schools are replacing librarians with “innovation specialists” hired to convert libraries “into hands-on laboratories of creation and computer-assisted innovation.” Instead of using libraries, the students have “an electronic tablet or MacBook,” and the libraries are bringing in 3-D printers and Lego robots. Generally the “innovation specialists” have no special certification as do librarians, and some librarians are arguing against the change.

Program Uses Electric Guitar Building To Teach Science.

The Bucks County (PA) Courier Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Bowlin) reports on the National STEM Guitar Project, a program funded by the National Science Foundation, in which students and “teachers spent their mornings in workshops on teaching theory and techniques” then spent the afternoon learning “to build electric guitars.” The program was developed by Mark French, professor of mechanical engineering technology at Purdue University. Building and finishing an electric guitar involves ratios, electricity, magnetism, and chemistry. The program “teaches teachers to make science matter to their students.”

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Cox) reports New Trier High School student Jack Petito said the Guitar Making course “ties in well with his plans to study aerospace engineering in college.” Instructor Jason Boumstein explained the course is “touching the base on many different disciplines,” adding, “Within applied arts, we have engineering, architecture, design technology, and it also brings music into what we do, with the maker experience.”

Iowa College Workshop Helps Teachers Plan Creative Math And Science Lessons.

The Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Hinga) reports Loras College offered an eight-day workshop for local math and science teachers on ways to make the subjects more fun and accessible. One of the exercises allowed local middle school students to use math and science to investigate and solve a fake crime. One teacher described the workshop as being an effective lesson in “being more creative in the classroom.”

St. Leo University Leads Technology-Based Teacher Training.

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/30, Solomon) reports Saint Leo University hosted a workshop on integrating technology effectively into the classroom as a way of making learning more “excit[ing]” for students. The workshop also seeks to empower teachers to solve “challenge[s]” in the classroom using technology. Saint Leo was recognized as “being a leader in making technology a priority in education training” by Education Week.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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