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

Leading the News

Six Michigan Employees Charged With Deliberately Concealing Lead Levels In Flint Water.

Major print dailies and two of the three network broadcasts reported on the news that six Michigan state employees face criminal charges in relation to Flint lead crisis, with two of the networks devoting under half a minute each to the story and a couple national newspapers carrying stories of a couple hundred words.

ABC World News Tonight (7/29, story 8, 0:20, Llamas) broadcast that the six employees facing charges stand accused of “allegedly hiding or covering up the contamination.” NBC Nightly News (7/29, story 6, 0:25, Holt) reported the charged employees “are all health and environmental employees.”

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/29, Haimerl, Goodnough, Subscription Publication) reports that Michigan Attorney Gen. Bill Schuette announced the charges on Friday. The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/29, Householder, Karoub) reports Schuette said that “each” person accused with these new charges “attempted to bury or cover up, downplay or hide info that contradicted their own narrative, their story … (that) there’s nothing wrong with Flint water, it’s perfectly safe to use.” Schuette has also filed litigation “against two water engineering companies,” the story adds.

The Detroit Free Press Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/29, Wisely) reports that “Schuette’s investigative team highlighted emails and interviews with more than 180 people including employees in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the state Department of Health and Human Services as evidence of the crimes.” The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/29, Bernstein, Dennis) observes that one of Schuette’s investigators said State Health and Human Services employees Nancy Peeler and Robert Scott “conspired with others ‘to effectively bury’ a report from an epidemiologist that warranted more investigation.”

Higher Education

NYU Announces It Will Ignore Common Application’s Criminal History Question.

TIME Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) reports that New York University has announced “that it will ignore the Common Application’s checkbox questions about criminal and disciplinary history, opting for more specific questions that focus only on violent incidents.” The university said the move “is an effort to reduce barriers to a second chance through education.” The article explains the nature of the Common Application’s questions about past misconduct, and notes that ED “has advocated for similar changes at universities in order to eliminate barriers to higher education for an estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records.”

ED Gets Over 1,000 Comments On Defense To Repayment Rules.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) reports that ED “received more than 10,000 comments in response to a proposed rule for federal loan forgiveness for students whose colleges have defrauded them,” noting that ED released its defense to repayment proposal “in response to the collapse of Corinthian Colleges.” Consumer advocacy groups are praising the rules, but “a range of groups, including taxpayer advocates and historically black and other colleges, have raised alarms over wider repercussions of the rules.”

Private College Presidents Blast Clinton’s Free College Plan.

Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Hefling) reports that private college presidents are sharply criticizing “Hillary Clinton’s free college plan,” saying “it could rob families of choice and put some private colleges out of business.” Clinton’s plan emerged at the Democratic National Convention, is “a key point of ‘unity’ between the Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the party.” Private college leaders “warn that the tuition help for public schools would reverse decades of federal policy, undercut private institutions and spur an exodus of middle-class students that would turn private schools into bastions of the rich.”

University Of Texas Professors Sue Over Campus Gun Law.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/3, Vertuno) reports that three professors at the University of Texas filed a lawsuit last week against the state’s “new law allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms…seeking to block it before students return for the fall semester.” The lawsuit argues the law “is unconstitutional and is forcing colleges to impose ‘dangerously-experimental gun policies.’”

Hassan Vows To Crack Down On Colleges Deceptively Targeting Students, Veterans.

The New Hampshire Union Leader Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Landrigan) reports that US Senate Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan said that if elected, she would “stand up to federal regulations and crack down on for-profit universities targeting veterans with deceptive marketing so that these schools can maximize what they get in federal student loan support.” According to the Union Leader, Hassan’s plan, titled “Protecting Students & Veterans from Predatory For-Profit Colleges & Universities,” states in part that “Unfortunately, predatory for-profit colleges and universities threaten to undermine these efforts to expand opportunity in higher education. Trump University has made headlines this year for its predatory practices, deceptive marketing and exploitation of vulnerable students.”

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Research and Development

Michigan Engineering Professor Researching New Liquid Crystal Elastomer Technique.

The Holland (MI) Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) reports on research being conducted by Hope College engineering professor Matthew Smith on “a new, simpler technique for shaping liquid crystal elastomers for a wide range of applications.” The National Science Foundation has given Smith a grant for his research, and the paper explains that “liquid crystal elastomers are rubbery materials that experience length changes of more than 300 percent when exposed to certain stimuli.”

ExxonMobil Invests $15M In UT Renewable Energy Research.

The Dallas Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Doopfer, Subscription Publication) reports that, “in an effort to develop technologies to meet the demand of energy while mitigating environmental impact,” ExxonMobil announced it invested $15 million in the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute. The funding backs research on how to integrate renewable energy sources into the current mix of energy sources. “Our scientists and engineers look forward to collaborating with UT’s faculty and students through the Energy Institute to develop breakthrough technologies that can help reduce emissions,” Sara Ortwein, president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, said in a prepared statement.

Industry News

Samsung Announces The Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 announcement generated widespread coverage among major media and tech outlets, with a general focus on the phone’s specifications, its high-quality design, and Samsung’s attempts to keep the momentum of its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge alive. Outlets also focused on the phone as the first globally available handset to have an iris scanner, while other outlets noted it is the first phone to come with Gorilla Glass 5. The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Cheng, Subscription Publication) reports Samsung announced its Galaxy Note 7, which is the first globally available smartphone to include an iris scanner. The Journal reports the phone is a bit larger than the Galaxy S7 Edge, on which Samsung is trying to build more sales momentum before the release of Apple’s iPhone 7. The phone includes a stylus, has expandable memory, and is waterproof.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Tsukayama) reports the Samsung says it’s 5.7-inch edge-to-edge display “will blow users away.” The phone comes standard with 64GB of memory, which is expandable up to 256GB, and also sports a USB-C port. The Post notes the phone is waterproof, and that its iris-scanning feature is “compatible with Samsung’s Knox security feature,” and will offer support to “Samsung Pay in the future.” The Post also notes that Samsung announced an updated Gear VR “redesigned to be lighter and just better-looking overall.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) reports that Samsung’s senior vice president for product strategy, Justin Denison, said of the iris scanner “We challenged our engineers to design a security system that’s convenient and safe at the same time. It took five years to perfect, but it only takes a glance to unlock your phone.” The AP notes the Galaxy Note 7 comes with “a stronger glass screen and more storage,” as well as a “better camera” though it is the same one from the Galaxy S7. The AP adds the Galaxy Note 7, the new $100 Gear VR, and the previously announced $350 360-degree camera called the Gear 360 will be available on August 19.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Lee) reports the Galaxy Note 7 has a “curved screen display,” and “employs a similar design to the Galaxy S series,” though it includes a stylus. Wired Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Moynihan) reports the 5.7 inch phone has an “AMOLED display (1440×2560, 518ppi)” and comes with 4GB of RAM.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Lee) reports the Note 7 comes with “support for so-called high-dynamic range video content,” which Bloomberg refers to “as one of the next big advances in television and movie picture quality, alongside 4K Ultra HD and virtual reality.” Bloomberg notes the Note’s iris-scanning technology uses “an infra-red camera lens mounted on the front of the phone,” and “can also be used to unlock a secure folder within the Android operating system.” Bloomberg adds the Note’s stylus has also been waterproofed.

Engineering and Public Policy

Obama Administration Expands Research Efforts And Funding For Drones.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Zanona) reports at a conference on Tuesday the Administration announced that it is “mounting a new effort to expand drone use, which includes boosting funding for research, directing federal agencies to use the technology for department missions and teeing up new rules for flying drones over crowds.” Part of these efforts include $35 million in federal funding over the next five years from the National Science Foundation for the purpose of research, design, and applications of drone technology.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Jansen) reports at the conference FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the FAA is chartering an Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team and Drone Advisory Committee, which will analyze drone flight information and develop regulations and policies respectively. Huerta said, “We need to incorporate unmanned aircraft and their users into our culture of safety and responsibility,” but he added, “we need to do it in a way that doesn’t stifle the enthusiasm for this growing industry.”

FAA Sanctions Testing Of Alphabet’s Project Wing Delivery Drones.

Bloomberg Politics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Levin) reports the White House on Tuesday announced Alphabet’s Project Wing drone delivery services will be tested at a US site. Both Amazon and Alphabet have announced plans to deliver packages by drone, and Amazon announced July 26 it plans to test drone deliveries in the UK. Current FAA regulations don’t permit the kind “of automated, long-distance flying that Alphabet Inc.’s X and Amazon have proposed for their package delivery systems.”

CNN Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Marsh) reports the announcement “was part of a larger drone initiative by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy,” which includes $35 million in federal research funding over the next five years.

Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, D’Onfro) reports the Federal Aviation Administration has sanctioned Project Wing’s drone testing at one of the six FAA UAS Test Sites, “flying its drones under 400 feet, while developing an airspace management system.” BI mentions that Amazon and Alphabet expect to launch their drone delivery services next year.

AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Lever) reports the White House announced that the FAA “is working on the next regulatory steps for safely integrating (drones) in the airspace” for “beneficial uses of drones near crowds, such as aerial photography or videography for news-gathering; for certain types of infrastructure inspection; and other applications.”

GeekWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) adds that the Project Wing test could benefit Amazon Prime Air indirectly, “but if there is any benefit, Project Wing will get it first.”

Additional coverage was provided by Popular Science Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2), San Jose (CA) Mercury News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Baron), PC World Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2), and Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2).

NSF Funding Goes To Smart Grid Projects.

Smart Grid News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Mitchell) reports that the National Science Foundation is funding projects aimed at “design[nng] a smart grid that addresses uncertainty in energy demand and renewable energy production.” Pennsylvania State University engineer Necdet Serhat Aybat’s received $235,852 for his work on a project to that would enable “sart meters, solar inverters and smart thermostats contain[ing] computation resources” to reach maximum potential.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Colorado School Of Mines Offers Water-Energy Training To K-12 Teachers.

The Higher Education Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1) reports that a group of nine public school teachers in Colorado recently attended a summer training session on the Water-Energy Education for the Next Generation at the Colorado School of Mines, “giving them the understanding and educational tools to better teach STEM topics.” The article quotes CSOM professor Andrea Blaine saying, “This first cohort of teachers has set the bar high. I believe that a systemic, sustained method of bringing real and exciting science problems into the classroom could revolutionize the way the next generation of scientists addresses critical issues.”

Triton’s Camp GADgET Opens Girls’ Eyes To World Of Manufacturing And Engineering.

In a contribution to the Chicago Tribune’s Elmwood Park (IL) Elm Leaves Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2) community news website, Triton College highlighted the school’s “Girls Adventuring in Design, Engineering and Technology” camp, known as Camp GADgET. The event offers area middle- and high-school-aged girls the opportunity to learn about careers in manufacturing and engineering through hands-on activities. Nicor Gas is listed among the sponsors.

UC Berkeley Program Teaches Middle School Girls About Engineering.

THE Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/2, Schaffhauser) reports that middle school girls in fifth through seventh grades at the four-week “Girls in Engineering” camp at the University of California, Berkeley “received a major dose of real-life engineering exposure.” According to THE Journal, the university stated that the camp, “taught by Berkeley female faculty, staff and students,” is aimed at closing “the ‘gender gap’ in STEM fields,” and “promotes leadership skills and encourages campers to pursue further education and careers in engineering and related fields.”

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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