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

 

Leading the News

Interior Releases Rules Raising Environmental Standards For Arctic Drillers.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Daly) reports that on Thursday the Obama Administration announced new rules governing energy exploration in Arctic waters off Alaska. Assistant Interior Secretary Janice Schneider said the rules do not authorize drilling, but rather set minimum standards should leasing be approved. Schneider said, “The rules help ensure that any exploratory drilling operations in this highly challenging environment will be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, while protecting the marine, coastal and human environments, and Alaska Natives’ cultural traditions.”

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Davenport, Subscription Publication) calls the new rules the “latest in a series of Obama Administration rules designed to slow the extraction of fossil fuels from American public lands and waters.” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Hopper said, “These new regulations are carefully tailored to ensure that any future exploration activities will be constructed in a way that respects and protects this incredible ecosystem” in the Arctic “and the Alaska Native subsistence activities that depend on its preservation.” Environmental groups praised the new rules, “but called on the Obama Administration to take steps to halt Arctic drilling entirely.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Dlouhy) focuses on the energy industry’s opposition to the new rules, highlighting the high cost imposed on companies operating in the Arctic. The Interior Department projects “the measure will cost as much as $2 billion over the next 10 years, with the bulk of that coming from a new requirement that energy companies have a backup rig nearby to bore a relief well in case of an emergency, at rental rates that can reach a million dollars a day.”

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Mooney, Dennis) provides similar coverage.

Higher Education

Brazilian Government Paying For Undergrads To Study STEM In US.

WTVJ-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Miami (7/6) reports that the Brazilian government is footing the bill for a number of undergrads to “spend the summer at universities in the United States” to study STEM subjects. Six students are taking part in the Science Without Borders program at Florida International University. Teams are working on drones and “using robots in a way that most people have never considered: using robots to teach autistic children.”

UT-Arlington Students Enter Electric Car In Autocross Contest.

The Dallas Morning News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports that a team of engineering students at the University of Texas at Arlington taking part in the 16th annual Texas Autocross Weekend this weekend will “enter an electric car into the proceedings” for the first time this year. The vehicle “will be powered by four student-designed motors and is capable of much better acceleration than a regular combustion vehicle.”

House Bill Would Block Gainful Employment Rules, Cut Year-Round Pell Grants.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports that a bill from the House Appropriations Committee “would block implementation of federal gainful employment rules and would not back the U.S. Senate’s attempt to restore year-round Pell Grant eligibility.” The article notes that 120 House Democrats have written to the panel to oppose the Pell cuts.

The Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) “Morning Education” blog reports that the measure “would reduce Congressional spending on Pell Grants by about $1.3 billion, though the maximum Pell Grant award would still rise to $5,935 next year because of the program’s mandatory funding stream.”

Texas Professors Sue To Block Guns In Classrooms.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Herskovitz) reports that on Wednesday Three University of Texas professors sued the state in federal court “to halt a state law that lets people with concealed handgun licenses bring pistols into classrooms, saying the measure would have a chilling effect on academic freedom.” Texas state “Attorney General Ken Paxton said the law is constitutionally sound and he will defend it.”USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) and the Texas Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) also cover this story.

UCLA, UC Berkeley Boost Admissions Offers To Add Diversity.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Walton, Grad) “Essential California” briefing continues coverage of Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/6, Watanabe) report that UCLA and UC Berkeley “boosted admission offers to in-state residents as well as Latino and African American students” in response to “criticism that the UC system needed to diversify its elite campuses.” UC President Janet Napolitano said, “We are happy to welcome to the university so many more Californians, a diverse, high-achieving group of both freshman and transfer students.”

Analysis: MBA Programs Becoming More Diverse.

Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Elfman) carries a more than 1,300-word analysis asserting students pursuing MBAs have an increasingly “wide range of career goals and come from diverse backgrounds.” The article says this is demonstrated by the increasing range of MBA program recruitment efforts, the increasing number of MBA program offerings, and the expansion of online courses.

Seattle College Using Federal Grants To Launch Tech Apprenticeship Programs.

The Seattle Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports that Seattle Central College and the Washington Technology Industry Association this fall will use two Federal grants to “use on-the-job training, via apprenticeships, to teach coding and other tech skills.” The programs are intended to help “local residents to join Seattle’s booming, lucrative tech industry — without having to earn a computer-science degree.”

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Research and Development

Texas A&M Chemistry Professor Working On Battery Advance.

The Bryan College Station (TX) Eagle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports Texas A&M professor of chemistry Sarbajit Banerjee and a team of researchers are studying the materials in batteries to determine what makes them break down, using an X-ray microscope to observe ion flow.

University Of Washington Researchers Team Up With Microsoft On DNA-Based Data Storage Breakthrough.

The Seattle Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports that researchers with the University of Washington and Microsoft say they have made a breakthrough “in the effort to use DNA to help store the world’s rapidly growing stash of digital data,” saying they have “successfully encoded about 200 megabytes of data onto synthetic DNA molecules.”

3D Printed Car On Display At Science Museum.

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Fowler) reports a street-legal, 3-D printed, carbon fiber replica of the classic 1963 Shelby Cobra race car is on display this month at the American Museum of Science and Energy. Scientists and engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory “were on a hurry-up schedule using cutting-edge 3-D printing technology to design a car” to show President Obama and Vice President Biden during their January 2015 visit.

Industry News

Google Tests New Encryption To Fend Off Quantum Attacks.

Wired Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports that Google is starting preparing for the future of quantum computing, “beginning with a web browser designed to keep your secrets even when they’re attacked by a quantum computer more powerful than any the world has seen.” Wired explains that Google “revealed that it’s been rolling out a new form of encryption in its Chrome browser that’s designed to resist not just existing crypto-cracking methods, but also attacks that might take advantage of a future quantum computer that accelerates codebreaking techniques untold gajillions of times over.” Google security engineer Adam Langley said, “The reason we’re doing this experiment is because the possibility that large quantum computers could be built in the future is not zero. We shouldn’t panic about it, but it could happen.”

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Lumb) has a similar report.

Opinion: Technology Curbs Pollution More Than Emissions Tests.

Author James Bovard writes for the Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) that “improved technology by auto manufacturers has probably done a hundred times more to reduce environmental harm than government emission tests.” Bovard cites University of Denver research engineer Gary Bishop whose roadside emissions testing “found that auto emissions in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has no emission testing, were no worse than in locales with strict testing regimes.”

Engineering and Public Policy

California Air Resources Board Considers New Requirements For Automakers.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Lippert) reports that as credits flood the system, California is “contemplating new requirements that anger both Tesla and competitors like Honda Motor Co.” The California Air Resources Board originally projected the market share for zero-emission vehicles to reach 15.4 percent by 2025, however, because of the excess credits, “automakers may now be able to fulfill their requirements with as little as 6 percent of their fleets consisting of electric or fuel-cell vehicles.” Dan Sperling, a member of CARB, said the board could strengthen the mandate by raising the number or credits that automakers need to comply, or limit the number of credits an individual automaker can sell. Tesla VP for business development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said he supports higher emission targets, but rejects the idea to cap credit trades.

Titus Says Nevada’s Opposition To Yucca Mountain Cannot Be “Bought Off.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Rogers) reports that in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing to discuss the “government’s stalled plans to entomb 77,000 tons of spent reactor fuel” at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, opponents stood firm against the proposed repository and rebuked lawmakers for suggesting that the state may benefit if the project proceeds. Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said, “on behalf of the three out of four Nevadans who oppose Yucca Mountain, I am here to say, we cannot and will not be bought off.” Titus added that project supporters have made “false promises,” claiming that Nevada “will receive hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure projects or be allocated more water from the Colorado River.” Titus said, “There is not even money for the completion of the Yucca Mountain project, much less extra bribe funding for Nevada.”

Obama Administration Mulling New Ceiling Fan Efficiency Standards.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Devaney) reports the Obama Administration is considering “new efficiency standards for ceiling fans.” The Energy Department “sent the ceiling fan rules to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget this week for approval.” The OMB will have “the final say on all major rules.” It is “unclear what efficiency requirements will be included in the final rule.” As they are currently being proposed, “the energy conservation standards would cost industry as much as $166 million to comply with, but they could also save consumers $2.7 billion in energy bills.”

Wisconsin PSC Relaxes Wind Farm Noise Standards.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) reports the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has “relaxed noise restrictions on a major wind farm in St. Croix County.” The PSC granted approval to “the Highland wind farm in 2013, but a St. Croix County judge ruled the commission improperly imposed noise restrictions on the farm’s turbines.” The restrictions called for “the turbines to remain within maximum decibel levels 95 percent of the time, or just under 23 hours per day.” The matter was sent back to the PSC for review by the judge. On Thursday, the panel voted “to remove the restrictions and require Highland to comply with a complaint resolution process and abide by noise limits in state regulations — 50 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Ohio District Using Robot-Based Math Intervention Curriculum.

The Cincinnati Enquirer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/29) reports that Ohio’s Northwest Local School District is using a state grant to fund “an innovative intervention that uses C-STEM, a combination of computing-science technology, engineering and mathematics, to improve middle schoolers’ achievement in math.” The program “uses lessons using computer programming and robotics.” The district is working with Harry Cheng, director of the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, “to help with professional development, preparing teachers for the new program.”

Blog Says Next Gen Science Standards Shift Toward Practical Applications.

In its “Curriculum Matters” blog, Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Heitin) summarizes Ed Week commentator Lauren Madden’s take on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Madden said earlier science standards “addressed science content separately from the act of doing science,” while the Next Generation standards shift “toward a deeper understanding of the broad and connected nature of scientific phenomena.” Madden adds, “More than memorization, NGSS lessons focus on applying ideas and making connections.” Yet, the blog says “there’s no doubt still plenty of confusion about what’s really new here.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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