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

Leading the News

Solar Car Challenge Offers Students Change To Design, Build, And Race Solar-Powered Cars.

The Dallas Morning News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/19, Venkatraman) reports on Sunday’s start to the 2016 Solar Car Challenge that gives students “an opportunity to design, construct and race solar powered cars.” The race goes 786 miles from “Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth to Minneapolis.” The race is also “making an effort to bring young girls into the field.” The Morning News says, “The girls at the competition hope that this generation will bring changes to the demographic in STEM fields.”

Higher Education

Morgan State University Names Dean Of Engineering School.

The Washington Informer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/19) reports Morgan State University has named Michael Spencer as dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering. Spencer is currently professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. Spencer “has more than 160 publications and 20 patents in the fields of compound semiconductors, graphene, power conversion, microwave devices and solar cell technology.”

NSF Grant To Fund Scholarships For Math And Science Teachers At The College of St. Scholastica.

KQDS-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Duluth, MN (7/20, Lentz) reports The College of St. Scholastica has received a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant “to increase the number of new math and science teachers committed to teaching in high-need districts in Minnesota.” The money will fund scholarships for “34 students who plan to teach and major in math/science teacher education fields.”

NSF Grant To Support Polymer Chemistry At Armstrong State University.

The Savannah (GA) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20) reports seven chemistry professors at Armstrong State University have received a National Science Foundation grant for $279,297. The grant will support “the infusion of polymer chemistry, a multidisciplinary science, throughout the curriculum.” The money will be used for funding “several undergraduate research students and faculty mentors in individual projects focusing on polymer chemistry.”

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Engineering in P12 education.

Research and Development

Stretchable Electronics Show Promise For Medical Applications.

WFMZ-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Allentown, PA (7/20, Falcon) reports on the work of Marvin Slepian, associate department head of biomedical engineering at the University of Arizona, who described “stretchable electronics,” explaining that it is possible “to put thin electronics into materials that move with the body.” Slepian explained, “If the patient is wearing this, we can track that and we can actually see decompensation, which may occur even before they wind up in the hospital.” He works with “researchers at the University of Illinois, Tufts, and Northwestern.”

WNDU-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter South Bend, IN (7/20, McFadden) reports, “Wearable, stretchable electronics can now monitor several body functions and instantaneously send the information to a doctor.” The story describes a “bio stamp” that “sends metrics on heart rate, movement and more to an iPad in real time,” and “a catheter and balloon with a thousand sensors to detect atrial fibrillation,” as well as “a wearable sweat sensor that can track electrolytes and hydration.” The same story was aired earlier on KXAS-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Dallas (7/7, Castro).

Researchers Develop Bioengineered Microbes To Deliver Anticancer Toxins Directly To Tumors.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Hotz, Subscription Publication) reports an animal study published in Nature revealed that genetically engineered bugs may be able to deliver regular doses of anticancer toxins to shrink tumors. Using quorum sensing, researchers developed anticancer microbes that grow or self-destruct based on the their overall population. The bioengineered microbes that survive then grow and seed the next dose.

DOE Backing GE Research To Boost Efficiency Of Gas Turbines.

The Albany (NY) Business Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Subscription Publication) reports the US Department of Energy is investing $30 million over 3.5 years toward research project on gas turbines, including three projects with General Electric. “The money will go toward research to increase efficiency in gas turbines.” The story goes on to detail the GE projects receiving funding.

New Technology Captures Carbon To Generate Power, Bleach.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Roston) reports scientists from Cornell University Wednesday developed a technique that “sucks up CO2 from exhaust streams and generates useful electricity as a byproduct” along with a type of bleach used by pharmaceutical and textile industries, as well as in antifreeze and plastics. The process “kidnaps” more carbon than it emits but its scalability remains uncertain.

DARPA Looking To Create Modular Robots.

The Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Prigg) reports DARPA is looking to condense traditional military machines into “chiplets,” which could be combined into a robot. The chiplets would cover a range of functions, including “data storage, computation, signal processing, and managing the form and flow of data,” which would be combined along with an interposer to create machines capable of translation, video feeds, and UAS swarm coordination, along with other tasks.

Industry News

Corning Announces New, Improved Gorilla Glass 5.

Coverage of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 announcement garnered significant, broad media coverage, largely with the US tech media. The reaction to the product was uniformly positive with most media noting the attributes of its improved drop performance, and a few speculating the glass will make its way to Apple’s iPhone 7. CNBC picked up an article from The Verge Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Goode) reporting on Corning’s announcement of Gorilla Glass 5 which “was formulated to improve drop performance…onto rough surfaces from certain heights — specifically, waist height to shoulder height.” The Verge notes that Gorilla Glass 5 can survive drops from 1.6 meters “up to 80 percent of the time.” The Verge adds that Corning found two-thirds of drops happen from waist height to shoulder height, with Corning’s research team also focusing on improving how the glass would react to “drops on rough surfaces and sharp contact damage.” The Verge also spoke to Corning vice president and general manager John Bayne on the resiliency of the product in the real world, with Bayne saying “What will define the performance of the overall device on those types of corner drops is stiffness of the phone design, but also how the glass is packaged,” adding that high-sitting or “proud” glass “wouldn’t perform as well as one that had a different design.”

PC Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Brant) reports that “in 80 percent of lab tests, Gorilla Glass 5 survived an impact greater than 850 Newtons of force from a height of 5.2 feet,” around twice the durability of Gorilla Glass 4. PC Magazine adds that Corning will now offer glass as thin as 0.3 millimeters, down from its current 0.4 millimeter offering. The article also references what it calls “Corning Fire” saying the “blend of glass and sapphire” is currently in the works at Corning, with “plans to market Fire glass for the wearables market.” PC Magazine also includes a video Share to FacebookShare to Twitter from Corning on Gorilla Glass 5. Digital Trends Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, de Looper) reports that Corning also said it was “testing glass in the 0.1 to 0.2 mm range” which could “help make phones and wearables thinner while retaining the same strength as previous iterations of Gorilla Glass and even making its stronger.”

Tesla Unveils Second Part Of Master Plan.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s unveiling of the second part Share to FacebookShare to Twitter of the Tesla Master Plan Wednesday evening drew widespread coverage across traditional, financial, and industry media. Calling the plan “much-anticipated,” the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Durbin) reports that it charts out new vehicles and a car-sharing platform, defends autonomous driving systems, and promotes the SolarCity acquisition in order to integrate solar electricity generation and storage. The BBC News (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/21, Lee) reports that Musk writes in the plan that the point of the plan is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.” Achieving the widespread use of sustainable energy is vital, he wrote, “or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse.” Bloomberg Business (7/20, 11:29 p.m. EDT) characterized the plan as one “for the future of sustainable energy,” though it notes investor reservations. The Los Angeles (CA) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Mitchell, Fleming) was similarly skeptical, writing that the release “was not greeted warmly by industry analysts” but that “despite criticism from analysts, whose foremost concern is financial performance, Musk has emerged as the 21st Century’s most audacious, best-known living entrepreneur, replacing the late Steve Jobs as the business world’s leading icon.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Senate Bill Attempts To Boost Return On Federal Research Funding.

MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Tower) reports on The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which has been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and is moving to the full Senate. The bill “would take several steps to help maximize the return on investment of federal money provided for scientific research.” It would also “extend federal funding commitments for training programs.”

Bill Would Change H-1B Program.

Southern California Public Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20) reports on a bill by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that would alter the H-1B program, by “proposing to change certain exemptions that allow companies to hire more foreign workers when qualified U.S. candidates are not available.” Issa would change the exception for foreign workers who have “a master’s degree or higher,” or a salary greater than $60,000 per year. His bill would eliminate the exemption based on degrees, and raise the salary exemption to $100,000.

NHTSA Chief: “No One Incident Will Derail” Future Of Autonomous Driving Technology.

The Washington (DC) Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Laris) reports that the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind said on Wednesday, “no one incident will derail the Department of Transportation and NHTSA from its mission to improve safety on the roads by pursuing new lifesaving technologies,” referring to the fatal Tesla crash. Rosekind went on to say, “We lost 35,200 lives on our roads last year. We are in a bad place. This is a bad situation, and we should be desperate for new tools that will help us save lives.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Carroll, Shepardson) reports that “autonomous vehicles must be ‘much safer’ than human drivers before they are deployed on U.S. roads, Rosekind said,” but “he did not quantify how much safer.” Rosekind added, “If we wait for perfect, we’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. How many lives might we be losing while we wait?”

The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Laing) reports that Rosekind said “we know there will be incidents that occur with highly automated vehicles, and NHTSA will always be ready to use its authorities to investigate all aspects of vehicle safety and take whatever action is necessary. When something goes wrong, or a highly automated vehicle encounters an edge case — something it hasn’t been programmed to deal with — that data can be taken, analyzed, and then the lessons can be shared with more than the rest of that vehicle fleet. It could be shared with all automated vehicles,” he added.

New York Considering Nuclear Subsidy As Part Of Clean Energy Push.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Yee, Subscription Publication) reports the New York Public Service Commission is considering a proposal “offering nearly $1 billion in ratepayer-financed subsidies over the next two years to save [three nuclear] plants battered by rising costs and competition from cheap natural gas.” From the state’s perspective, “the subsidies are a way of putting a dollar value on the benefits of a reliable carbon-free power source.” Exelon would stand to benefit the most from the plan because “it owns two of the three upstate plants, and is in talks to buy the third.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Rowan University Hosts Summer STEM Camp For Middle School Students.

WPVI-TV Philadelphia (7/19) reports on a summer camp at Rowan University at which “middle schoolers are spending the week learning about bridges, bottle rockets and robotics.” The camp makes use of “a hands on approach to teach the students about complicated subjects.”

Wilmington Middle Schoolers Send Weather Balloon Into The Stratosphere.

The Wrightsville (NC) Lumina News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Errante) reports that following “months of planning and research, a group of Wilmington middle schoolers launched a weather balloon carrying recording equipment into the sky on July 13 in hopes it would eventually burst and parachute back to Earth, bringing them data and photos from the stratosphere.” According to the Lumina News, the data retrieved, which includes “temperature readings, light readings, photographs and videos from 100,000 feet above Earth,” will be analyzed at the Wilmington Academy of Arts and Sciences (W.A.A.S.).

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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