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

Leading the News

“Zero Days” Documentary Looks At the Future Of Cyberwar, Stuxnet.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Popescu) reported a new documentary film by Alex Gibney, called “Zero Days,” focuses on the “global threat posed by computer viruses and other kinds of malware.” The Post said the film “makes an argument for the potential for computer hackers to transform warfare as we know it.”

PC Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Steele) reported the film “recounts the discovery of Stuxnet…by two Symantec engineers.” The Daily Beast Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/9, Schager) says the film is a “compelling recitation of already-known facts,” but its “bombshell” comes from an anonymous former Cyber Command official who “verifies” that “America and Israel were behind Stuxnet.”

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Rainer) and The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Zeitchik) reported similarly.

Higher Education

UC San Diego Recruits New Robotics Institute Director.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/6) reports that UC San Diego has recruited Georgia Institute of Technology’s Henrik I. Christensen to be the new director of UC San Diego’s new Contextual Robotics Institute, “which focuses on developing machines that can anticipate and meet people’s everyday needs, including caring for the elderly.” Christensen “says he’ll try to make the school’s young robotics program so good that San Diego will become known as ‘Robot Valley.’”

ACICS’ Potential Shutdown Would Impact California For-Profit Students.

The Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) reports that if ED revokes its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, as it has been moving to do in recent months, “students attending three Sacramento area for-profit colleges stand to lose financial aid.” However, local school officials “expressed confidence that they can find another accrediting agency that passes federal muster.”

Accreditor Awaiting ED’s Response Before Decision On University Of Phoenix Merger.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) reports The Higher Learning Commission says it will “defer action on a proposed merger agreement from” University of Phoenix parent Apollo Education Group until ED “provides a written response regarding the agreement, according to a corporate filing.”

NYTimes: Clinton’s College Plan Is A Credible Start.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Subscription Publication) editorializes that Hillary Clinton’s college affordability initiative is a “credible start” but requires substantial monetary commitments from states, which contradicts the “years-long trend” of cuts to education funding seen in most states. The Times argues Clinton would have more luck by developing “more realistic improvements.”

WSJournal: Clinton’s Free Tuition Proposal Would Lead To Higher Taxes. The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10, Subscription Publication) editorializes that Hillary Clinton’s adoption of Bernie Sanders’ proposal for the government would pay college tuition for students from families making less than $125,000 per year is part of her goal to make every American from cradle to grave dependent on the government. The Journal says the plan requires subsidies that will eventually lead to higher taxes. Furthermore, the Journal argues that schools will increase tuition costs once they realize the government will pay for it.

Massachusetts Higher Education Officials Praise Plan, Question Costs. The Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10, Levenson) reports Clinton’s plan met with praise from Massachusetts higher education officials, but some “questioned how the state, which faces perennial budget deficits, would afford the costly program.”

Thousands Of Maryland College Freshmen Will Require Remediation.

The Baltimore Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) reports that thousands of rising college freshmen in Maryland will have to take remedial math and English classes, saying that some 40% of students in the Baltimore suburbs “scored too low on the SAT and other college prep tests and must do ‘transition’ remedial coursework.” This number rises to at least 50% in the city itself.

Businesses Taking Greater Interest In Where Tuition Reimbursement Is Spent.

Jeffrey J. Selingo writes at the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) “Grade Point” blog that businesses that include tuition reimbursement in their employees’ compensation “want more oversight in where their dollars are used.” As an example, Selingo cites a JetBlue program in which the company encourages employees with partial credit to finish school and obtain their degree. JetBlue “works with just seven pre-approved providers” and “evaluate credits that can be awarded for workers’ previous work experience or military service and offer one course at a time to employees.”

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Engineering in P12 education.

Research and Development

WPost: NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Is Influential For Science And Humanity Alike.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/9) editorializes that NASA’s recent success with its Juno spacecraft mission is not just a “giant leap” for space research but also a huge step forward for the average person. The Post asserts that while there is no way to predict what scientific advances will come from Juno’s expedition, the mission will undoubtedly influence the scientific community in a major way–as well as the average person, as Juno’s success is an opportunity for us to “get some perspective in the stars.”

NPS Partners On American Solar Challenge.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/9) reported on cars competing in the American Solar Challenge, a race that partners with the NPS to promote developments in renewable energy. Park Superintendent Mark Engler “said the cars are a testament to how far technology has come, and is pleased the teams will be stopping in Beatrice,” Nebraska. Engler said, “It’s very inspirational and it’s letting people see some of the latest technology out there in sustainability. Then to be in a competition and see these teams work together, I think it’s really cool for this to come through our community.”

USAF Looks To Amass Firepower Using Advanced Technologies.

Defense News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10, Insinna) reports the US Air Force is planning on how to use UAS, upgraded legacy aircraft, and advanced weaponry to “bring additional firepower to the battlefield without having to buy new aircraft,” citing USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who said that there are “platforms and sensors” that can amass firepower against enemy targets. Defense News reports on the Strategic Capabilities Office’s “arsenal plane,” the “loyal wingman” paired manned-unmanned concept, and DARPA’s Gremlins UAS program, for which contracts have been awarded to Composite Engineering, Dynetics, General Atomics and Lockheed Martin, as examples.

Michigan State Receives $2 Million Donation For Bridge Research.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) reported Michigan State University said a “Lansing-area couple” is donating $2 million “from their estate to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to fund an endowed faculty chair with an emphasis on bridge research.” School President Lou Anna K. Simon says in a statement the gift from the anonymous donors will “deepen our capabilities in developing the infrastructure needed for the transportation of today and tomorrow.”

Global Developments

Amazon Announces Bursaries To Draw Women Into IT.

Computer Weekly Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Saran) reported Amazon announced that in an effort to lure more low-income women into IT, it has created three bursaries “to support female undergraduates taking computing engineering courses at the universities of Edinburgh, King’s College, London and Cambridge.” Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, said, “We want to foster the next generation of tech superstars. Through the Amazon in the UK Women in Engineering Bursary scheme, we will give financial support. We hope this will help to grow innovation in the UK.” He added that there are 1,000 tech jobs in the UK supporting Amazon’s global projects, including work on Alexa in Cambridge, Amazon’s recommendation engine in Edinburgh, Prime Video and TV app development in London, and Prime Air.

Industry News

Pentagon, Lockheed Martin Expected To Reach Deal Soon Over Fighter Jet Contracts.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/9, Shalal) reports the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager on Saturday said the agency and Lockheed Martin are working to wrap up negotiations over two contracts for 160 fighter jets valued at $14 and $15 billion. An agreement is expected soon. In an interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said, “We’re in the end game.”

Samuelson: Car Culture Appears To Be Dying.

Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10) columnist Robert Samuelson says both recent and long-term declines in the purchase of automobiles by young adults indicates that in America, the “car culture may be dying or, at any rate, slumping into a prolonged era of eclipse.” The Federal Highway Administration recently published figures showing that the number of licensed drivers 16 or younger dropped 37% from 2009 to 2014 to “the lowest number since the 1960s.” Some believe the decline is due to cars being too expensive, while others attribute the falloff to Millennials’ lifestyle choices, including their disapproval of carbon-emissions that contribute to global warming. The “most fascinating theory is that the Internet has displaced the automobile.”

Mashable Profiles Blind Apple Engineer Jordyn Castor.

In a profile of Apple’s Jordyn Castor, an engineer who has been blind since birth, Mashable Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10, Dupere) describes how Castor’s physical limitations have given her a unique “personal perspective” on how gadgets can “help change the world for people with disabilities.” Castor is not only working on developing new Apple technology for the disabled, along with projects related to VoiceOver and code learning app Swift Playgrounds, but also hopes to enhance currently available Apple features with blind users in mind. Castor tells Mashable, “Blindness does not define you. It’s part of who you are as a person, as a characteristic — but it does not define you or what you can do in life.”

9 to 5 Mac Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10) and AppleInsider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10, Fingas) also reference the Mashable report.

Engineering and Public Policy

Virginia Unveils $1.4 Billion Atlantic Gateway Transportation Plan.

In his Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Thomson) “Dr. Gridlock” column, Robert Thomson reports on Virginia’s $1.4 billion Atlantic Gateway plan, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe described Friday as “the most comprehensive transportation package in Virginia history,” a combination of road and rail projects that includes $165 million in Federal grants. In fact, Virginia is set to receive “20 percent of the money available nationwide” through the Transportation Department’s FASTLANE program. According to the column, the Atlantic Gateway program becomes “the biggest single program to ease travel congestion in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

Federal Investigators Open Two Probes Into Fatal Tesla Crash.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Lowy) reports NTSB is opening its own investigation into Tesla Motors’ Autopilot system, alongside the NHTSA’s ongoing probe, following the recent fatal Tesla Model S crash in Florida. According to the AP, the chief of NTSB’s highway investigations division, Rob Molloy, “says a team of investigators will go to Florida next week to examine the wreckage of the Tesla Model S.” NHTSA likewise said last week that its investigation will examine the vehicle’s Autopilot system.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Levin) reports that even as “U.S. investigators have been calling for more automation on motor vehicles, such as sensors that slam on the brakes to prevent a crash,” NTSB has also cautioned “that such devices may also have a down side: the technology can confuse operators if it’s poorly designed or lead to complacency that breeds its own hazards.”

Kansas DOT Names UAS Program Director.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/9) reports the Kansas Department of Transportation has selected retired Air Force officer Bob Brock to be the first director of the state’s unmanned aircraft systems program. Brock “was introduced Tuesday at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina, which recently was ranked second in the nation among UAS-training colleges.” In his new role, “Brock will oversee establishment of policies and procedures for the operation of UAS in Kansas.”

Email Shows PG&E Knew Of Hazards Before San Bruno Blast.

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Avalos) reports Friday testimony helped “bolster” the criminal proceedings against PG&E, with emails saying the utility “was aware of’ ‘prevalent’ hazards” for months on the gas pipeline that exploded in San Bruno “and management displayed a ‘near-criminal’ indifference to safety concerns.” PG&E risk assessment supervisor William Manegold “warned” the utility via “emails to senior PG&E executives and engineers” that “the utility had so many problems with pressure spikes and missing records that the PUC audit might take the firm to task over the deficiencies.”

The San Francisco Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8, Egelko) and Courthouse News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/8) report with similar coverage of Manegold’s testimony.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Oregon High School Focuses On Marketable Job Skills.

On its website, NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10) has a feature on Willamette High School in Eugene, Oregon, which is affiliated with the Distributive Education Clubs of America program, “which focuses on merchandizing, retail sales, marketing and entrepeneurship.” With about one-quarter of high school graduates not going on to college, “and survey after survey shows that employers are demanding – even of college-bound students – some level of job skills and professionalism: punctuality, customer service, managing people and teamwork,” the school emphasizes the need for “job skills with real market value.”

Duval, Florida Expanding Lego Robotics Teams To More Schools.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/10) reports Duval, Florida intends to spend $187,700 “to set up Lego robotics teams in 50 schools, an increase from the 36 schools currently operating such clubs.” Eventually, the district hopes to have robotics teams in all 161 public schools.

Friday’s Lead Stories

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