Leading the News
Apple Claims Improved Gender, Racial Diversity Numbers In New Report.
Apple says that according to its latest racial and gender diversity report, the company made modest gains in improving workforce diversity, with nearly 54% of the company’s new employees listed as minorities.
The Guardian (UK) (8/3) reports that Apple also increased its overall number of black and Hispanic employees by a combined two percentage points compared to last year, while the number of women in the firm’s technical positions went up by one percentage point against last year’s numbers. MacWorld (8/3, Raymundo) says 37 percent of Apple’s new hires were women.
According to the Huffington Post (8/3, Todd), the results of the survey place Apple well ahead of other Silicon Valley mainstays, including Google, where blacks and Hispanics make up 2 and 5 percent of their workforce respectively. Facebook boasts similarly low numbers, where that same demographic comprises just 1 and 3 percent of the firm’s tech employees.
Apple says the most recent survey results reflect an active, sustained effort by the company to diversify its workforce after the company received increased scrutiny for its recruiting efforts amid low diversity statistics. Reuters (8/3, Todd) reports long-time civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, one of the leaders who recently challenged Apple CEO Tim Cook to improve the company’s lack of diversity and disparate compensation numbers, recently “applauded its efforts” to turn around recruiting among engineers of color, particularly through partnerships with historically black colleges and other minority-focused scholarship institutions.
USA Today (8/3, Cava) reports Apple has also made fair pay a higher priority. The company’s latest report explains, “we’ve achieved pay equity for similar roles and performance. Women earn one dollar for every dollar male employees earn. And underrepresented minorities earn one dollar for every dollar white employees earn.”
Study Finds Calculus, Confidence Keep Women Out Of STEM.
Education Week (8/3, Heitin) reports that a “study, published in PLOS One last month, found that women are 1.5 times more likely to drop out of the STEM pipeline after Calculus I than men are. And that’s likely because women, when compared to men of similar capabilities, tend to start and end the course with lower confidence in their math skills.” The researchers from Colorado State University and San Diego State University write, “This work points to female students’ mathematical confidence entering college as a major contributing factor to women’s participation in the STEM workforce, and thus more work is needed to understand the factors (such as classroom environment, home environment, extra curricular involvement, etc.,) that help to shape students’ perceptions of their own success before they enter college.”
The Huffington Post (8/3, Mosbergen) reports that according to the research, girls in early grades are “just as interested and are definitely not less skilled in STEM subjects than boys,” and explores the “‘leaks’ in the so-called STEM pipeline,” but says that “the notoriously difficult college math class, Calculus I” could be having one of the most significant impact on girls’ participation in STEM courses and careers.
Twenty Percent Of Students Do Not Seek Financial Aid.
Politico (8/3, Stratford) reports that “one in five undergraduate students in the country did not seek out any form of financial aid – federal, state or institutional – to attend college, according to a new report by the National Center for Education Statistics.” Politico says “the most-frequent reason (cited by 44 percent of these students) was they thought they were ineligible” while 43 percent “said they could afford college without it.”
Report: Low-Income Students Need More Support For Workplace Success.
Education Week (8/3, Gewertz) reports that, according to a new report from the GE Foundation called “New Dimensions of College and Career Readiness,” getting “low-income students into and through college isn’t enough to position them well for success in the workplace.” According to the report, “they need programs that give them strong mentors and real-world work experience, and help them build their science, math, and technology skills.” The report offers five strategies, including: “Fostering mentorship programs; Offering internships, apprenticeships and jobs; Turning up the focus on technical science skills; Building their skills in science, technology, engineering and math; and Developing ‘essential skills’ such as higher aspirations, teamwork, grit, perseverance, and adaptability.”
Study Identifies Challenges Facing Rural Dual-enrollment Programs.
Education Week (8/3, Mader) reports that, according to a new report by the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia, “high school students taking college courses in rural areas can face fewer options and higher cost.” The report found that “many rural dual-enrollment programs lack enough high school teachers who have the proper credentials to teach dual-credit courses.” It suggested rural districts “might offer scholarships or other incentives to students and to teachers to gain credentials; partner with online schools; or regularly review the quality of the courses available.”
Research and Development
NSF Gives University Of Rochester $2 Million For Photonics Research.
The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (8/3) reports Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have announced that the National Science Foundation is giving the University of Rochester a $2 million grant “to develop new technology officials say will ‘open up new opportunities for the AIM Photonics Center in Rochester.’” Schumer also said the funding “promises to also create educational materials for the industry, new areas of study for K-12 students and increase participation by minorities and others currently under-represented in the field.”
The Rochester (NY) Business Journal (8/3) reports that the grant will help researchers “investigate challenges in quantum photonics,” and explains that researchers are working on “transforming the capacity of information processing for secure communication, metrology, sensing and advanced computing.”
Facebook Opens Hardware Lab For New Technology Projects.
The AP (8/3, Bailey) reports deep inside Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters, “engineers have stocked a new lab with computerized lathes, industrial mills and tools for making physical goods.” According to the AP, it’s not a mass-production facility but rather a space for engineers to work on “some of the high-tech gadgetry needed for the company’s long-term plans to connect people through smart devices, virtual-reality headsets and high-flying drones that deliver internet signals via laser to remote parts of the world.”
Wearable Device Measures Person’s Blood Alcohol Level Within 15 Minutes.
Yahoo! Beauty (8/3, Capetta) reports that engineers have devised “a sensor that can measure a person’s blood alcohol level within 15 minutes.” The device, which is flexible and wearable, “includes two parts: A temporary tattoo and a portable electronic circuit board that connects to the tattoo by a magnet.” In a nine-participant study, investigators “found that the device provided accurate readouts before and after the volunteers consumed either a bottle of a beer or a glass of red wine.”
Lockheed Mini Missile Successfully Complete Second Test Flight.
UPI (8/3, Ziezulewicz) reports that Lockheed Martin’s Miniature Hit-to-Kill, or MHTK, interceptor missile successfully completed its second test flight at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The article notes that the “engineering demonstration of the MHTK’s agility and aerodynamic capability was part of the US. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center’s (AMRDEC) Extended Area Protection and Survivability program,” also known as EAPS.
Phys (UK) (8/3) reports that Janice Booth, program manager at AMRDEC, said, “We still need to review the data gathered, but we are pleased with what we have seen so far. The MHTK has the potential to bring miniaturized capabilities to the warfighter with lower costs and reduced logistic footprints, and opens up a world of opportunities for applications of small interceptors.”
Army Technology (8/3) reports that the 72cm-long MHTK interceptor is “designed for use against rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) targets at ranges greatly exceeding those of current and interim systems.”
Xcel-Funded Microgrid Project Seeks Researchers, Vendors.
Smart Grid News (8/3, Nowicki) reports Xcel’s Renewable Development Fund “has invested $2.1 million into a microgrid research project on the University of St. Thomas campus, and the project needs collaborators.” Midwest Energy News wrote today that the university “will not own any intellectual property associated with the microgrid project, creating a unique opportunity for third party vendors to join forces.”
New App Helps Patients To Find Lost Memories.
Science Daily (8/3) reports that students at Cornell have created a new app called Remember Me! to help “people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of age-related dementia” to “stay connected to their memories – and thus to their friends and family – and perhaps will even help them keep a conversation going.”
Execs: Cyber Talent Shortage Causing Harm.
Federal News Radio (DC) (8/3, Serbu) reports that according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Intel Security, hundreds of IT leaders worldwide agree that “a national and global shortfall of cybersecurity talent is a genuine problem.” According to Federal News Radio, the study revealed “the extent to which the talent shortage is a problem not just for government agencies, but also for private companies who are usually able to vastly outspend the salaries the public sector can offer,” but “expect 15 percent of their critical cyber positions to remain unfilled by the year 2020.”
Philadelphia Lags In STEM Job Growth.
Philly (PA) (8/4) reports a new Brookings Institution study shows Philadelphia, a city with previously high advanced industry jobs, now ranks below average in growth of those jobs over the last few years. Brookings defines advanced industry “as types of business in which more than 20 percent of employees have significant knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math and in which research and development spending is high on a per-worker basis.”
Study: Ride Sharing To Help, Not Harm Auto Industry.
WardsAuto (8/3, Wilssens) says app-oriented mobility services such as car and ride sharing won’t harm the auto industry, according to a Center for Automotive Research report called “The Impact of New Mobility Services on the Automotive Industry.” Lead author of the study Adela Spulber says the growing popularity of Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, and other alternatives to car ownership instead creates “new opportunities for automakers,” such as partnerships with new-age mobility firms, R&D on transportation solutions, in-house mobility services, new-vehicle financing models and fleet sales to mobility providers.
Cybersecurity Firm Details New Methods Hackers Use To Target Business Email.
The Wall Street Journal (8/4, Mcmillan, Subscription Publication) details research released by cybersecurity firm SecureWorks Inc. about new methods hackers are using to target business email. The Journal says SecureWorks traced many of the scams back to Nigeria.
Engineering and Public Policy
Auto Industry, NHTSA, And Environmentalists Clash Over Fuel Efficiency Goals.
Reuters (8/3, Shepardson) reports the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers this week have requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “reconsider its planned 150 percent increase in fines for automakers who fail to comply with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program.” Industry leaders estimate the costs of compliance would increase by $1 billion annually.
The Wall Street Journal (8/3, Spector, Subscription Publication) reports automakers clashed with federal regulators this week at an automotive conference in Michigan. Industry leaders contend that low gas prices have shifted consumer preferences to larger cars and trucks which makes mileage targets harder to meet. This argument is based on findings in a recent technical report co-authored by the NHTSA and the EPA. The report prompted a mandated midterm assessment of future mileage standards, which must be decided by April 2018.
USA Today (8/3, Snavely) reports that even though the technical report did show that that automakers would “likely only reach an average of 50 miles per gallon to 52.6 mpg instead of a fleet-wide target of 54.5 mpg for all automakers by 2025,” environmentalists argue that there should be even higher standards set for the industry to help mitigate greenhouse emissions. Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, “said the standards are inconsistent, too aggressive and will force automakers to sell cars that will cost more than consumers are willing to pay.” The Arizona Republic (8/3, Snavely) reports that the auto industry is arguing that “regulators have set standards that must be met by 2025 far too high,” and that the current regulations are “out of step with the cost of developing the technology and what consumers want to buy.”
West Virginians See “All Pain, No Gain” From Clean Power Plan.
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy executive director Garrett Ballengee and research associate Michael Reed write in an op-ed for The Hill (8/3) that if implemented, the Clean Power Plan will “disproportionately impact states where coal is the majority generator of electricity.” Energy consulting group Energy Analysis Ventures sees wholesale electricity prices rising by 30 percent by 2030, and for West Virginia, “an increase of 30 percent in the price of a critical good through an EPA diktat is a tough pill to swallow.” They go on to highlight the state’s high rates of drug overdose, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and working-age adults on disability benefits, driven they say by joblessness that the CPP will exacerbate.
Clean Power Plan Said to Fall Short On Protections For Low-income Minorities.
George Goehl, co-executive director of People’s Action, writes in an op-ed for The Hill (8/3, Goehl) in its “Congress Blog” that 68 percent of African-Americans live “within 30 miles of a coal plant, major sources of deadly pollutants,” while 80 percent of Latinos live in areas that don’t meet federal EPA air quality standards. Goehl calls the EPA’s Clean Power Plan a “historic step toward slowing climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy,” but laments that there is a “lack of protections for the hardest hit communities.” In Illinois, Goehl urges state lawmakers to pass an expanded Clean Jobs Bill “to bring green jobs and support to people who need it most.”
EPA Confident Ahead Of Clean Power Plan Oral Arguments.
The Washington Examiner (8/3) reports that the Obama Administration used the one-year anniversary of the Clean Power Plan “to tout their strong legal standing ahead of oral arguments in federal court next month.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a Wednesday blog post wrote that the EPA’s “charge from the president was clear: to exercise our statutory authority to lay out steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.” McCarthy added that the EPA “remains fully confident in [the Clean Power Plan’s] legal merits.”
Wind Group Responds To Trump’s Claims About Wind Power.
The Washington Examiner (8/3, King) reports wind energy supporters “brushed off” GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most recent “attack on wind farms a day after he declared that wind power ‘kills all your birds.’” David Ward, American Wind Energy Association director of public affairs, “argued wind power has one of the lowest impacts on wildlife among any form of energy generation.” Ward also “said Trump’s statements about wind turbines’ appearance – Trump said wind turbines are ‘driving you loco when you look at them’ because they are ugly – are not necessarily representative of the rest of the population, either.” Ward stated, “Polls shows 91 percent of likely voters favor ‘expanding wind power,’ that includes 81 percent of self-described conservatives.”
Honolulu Praised For New Renewable Energy Project.
The AP (8/3) reports Honolulu is being praised by environmental groups for its “efforts to turn a byproduct from its wastewater treatment plant into renewable energy.” Recently, officials with the city “awarded a contract to Hawaii Gas to capture and process biogas at the wastewater facility into renewable energy.” Blue Planet Foundation executive director Jeff Mikulina “called the move an ‘exciting step’ toward reaching state conservation goals.” According to the AP, “the biogas at the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant is now flared or burned.” The agreement “calls for Hawaii Gas to remove impurities and produce renewable natural gas that can be blended with synthetic natural gas in its existing pipeline.” Honolulu “will then be able to sell the biogas as a way to boost revenue.”
California Expected To Set Computer Efficiency Regulations.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (8/3, Nikolewski) reports the California Energy Commission, by the end of the year, is expected to “adopt energy efficiency guidelines for computers, becoming the first state in the nation to do so.” The CEC “estimates it will add about $18” to the cost “of a computer but promises it will save customers and businesses much more in energy savings.” Given the size and importance of the state, “the rules adopted by the CEC expect to trigger changes across the industry by mandating changes even the federal government has thus far avoided tackling.” The Energy Department “has been considering adopting mandatory energy standards for computers.”
Nebo School District Awarded Grant To Interest Kids In Coding And Create High School STEM Ambassadors.
The Provo (UT) Daily Herald (8/3, Dodson) reports that Nebo School District was recently awarded a $193,000 grant, funded through the state Department of Workforce Services, aimed at getting young kids interested in coding. According to the Provo Daily Herald, “a high school ambassador program to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to get student participation in school technology helpdesks” will also be created under the grant.
New Minnesota Teachers Attend STEM Workshop.
The Owatonna (MN) People’s Press (8/3, Segner) reports that “new educators at McKinley Elementary School engaged in a two-day STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshop on Monday and Tuesday.” Principal Justin Kiel said, “Our current reality is that each year we have new staff coming to McKinley with limited or no STEM experience. … People are coming from undergrad programs, but it’s really just a quick snapshot of STEM and not in-depth, but here at McKinley, we do STEM all day long.” The Press says “new teachers learned methods of encouraging higher-level questioning and thinking in the classroom” and “also worked on enforcing lessons with journaling and art integration.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Six Michigan Employees Charged With Deliberately Concealing Lead Levels In Flint Water.
• NYU Announces It Will Ignore Common Application’s Criminal History Question.
• Michigan Engineering Professor Researching New Liquid Crystal Elastomer Technique.
• Samsung Announces The Galaxy Note 7.
• Obama Administration Expands Research Efforts And Funding For Drones.
• Colorado School Of Mines Offers Water-Energy Training To K-12 Teachers.