Leading the News
Study: DOE Finalizes More Energy Efficiency Rules Than Under Prior Administrations.
The Washington Post (8/5, Mooney) reports the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project found the Energy Department under President Obama “has finalized more new standards for energy efficient appliances and products than any past administration.” The organizataion also found that “the net consequence of the work has been to push improvements to 45 separate types of energy-consuming products so far – ranging from refrigerators to light bulbs.” Appliance Standards Awareness Project Executive Director Andrew deLaski said, “If you compare that to what prior administrations have completed, it’s far and away the most any president has been able to achieve through the administrative process.”
Udall Urges Administration To Shape Oil Shale Regulation. In an op-ed for the New York Times (8/5, Udall, Subscription Publication), former Colorado Senator Mark Udall examines an Enefit American Oil oil shale project in Utah. Udall says that “the decision about whether to allow commercial-scale oil shale mining in the American West rests in the hands of the Bureau of Land Management.” He urges the BLM to “delay its decision on Enefit’s pipelines until the company has provided a full development plan for its strip-mining and power-plant operation; this should include detailing the sources and quantity of water the project requires and the project’s total greenhouse gas emissions.” Udall concludes that “decisively shaping oil shale regulation can be a key part of the president’s climate legacy.”
University Of New Orleans Computer Scientist Awarded $300K Grant.
The Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate (8/7) reports that the National Science Foundation awarded University of New Orleans computer science professor Vassil Roussev a two-year, $300,000 grant to improve the delivery of cybersecurity education. With his Automated Platform for Cyber Security Learning and Experimentation project, Roussev seeks to improve the efficiency of instruction by providing a language to specify lessons and exercises, and by automating most management tasks. The platform also allows instructors to embed hints and sub-tasks within lessons to create more personalized student experiences. Roussev’s development of an automated platform will also allow instructors to spend more time teaching and less time on administrative duties.
ED Pilot Allows Low-Income Students To Get Financial Aid For Coding Boot Camps.
TechCrunch (8/6) reports that amid concerns that coding boot camps are so expensive that only the wealthy are able to afford them, steering less affluent students to for-profit schools, ED last year “launched the EQUIP initiative, a pilot to extend the federal student loan umbrella over a handful of coding bootcamps via partnerships with accredited institutions.” The piece reports that Under Secretary Ted Mitchell “believes the EQUIP program ‘represents a critical first step in broadening access to high-quality programs.’”
Des Moines Register Hails Obama’s Push Against For-Profit College Abuses.
An editorial in the Des Moines (IA) Register (8/5) harshly criticizes abuses in the for-profit college sector, and says the “federal government did essentially nothing to address the mess until President Barack Obama came along” and “made honesty and transparency a priority in higher education.” The piece praises ED for “sanctioning schools that don’t comply with regulations,” noting that the department said last week “it would cut off funding to three Medtech College campuses” after a “government investigation uncovered egregious misrepresentations of job placement rates.” The piece quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying, “Students should be able to trust that colleges are telling the truth. When schools mislead students, accreditors or the federal government, we will take action.”
College Board Reports Theft Of Unpublished SAT Exam Material.
The Wall Street Journal (8/5, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that according to the College Board, unpublished SAT exam material, including hundreds of math and reading questions, have been stolen. The Journal says the content had not yet been distributed and was removed from future testing packets. An investigation is underway.
Harvard Medical Students Launch Campaign To Eliminate “Redundant” Standardized Test For Medical License.
The Washington Post (8/6, Douglas-Gabriel) reported a group of Harvard Medical students are attempting to get one of three standardized tests needed for medical licenses eliminated. The students argue that “the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam,” which includes $1,275 registration fee, is only available in five cities, and “measures bedside manner and real-world problem-solving while interacting with people acting as patients, is a financial burden and is redundant.” The campaign has gained support from 15,000 medical students, residents, and physicians from more than 130 medical schools since launching in March.
Summer Programs Help Prepare Minority Students For STEM Education & Careers.
The Los Angeles Times (8/7, Agrawal) reports on academic programs working to expand access and improve the success of students from underrepresented minority groups (including blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans) completing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math. Minority and low-income students face numerous hurdles, including the quality of high school instruction; limited access to advanced STEM courses; and a lack of guidance on how to navigate college and social stigma. For instance, the South Central Scholars Summer Academy, a seven-week summer program in Los Angeles, features classes taught by USC faculty on campus which mirror the curriculum and rigor of freshmen classes, but with more support. “We’re really trying to bridge this gap between under-performing high schools and elite colleges,” said Joey Shanahan, the program’s executive director. Preliminary results suggest the program is a success, with internal data showing that 72 percent of attendees either graduate college with STEM degrees or are on track to do so.
Research and Development
National Drone Racing Championships Kick Off In New York.
The AP (8/5, Balsamo) reports on the National Drone Racing Championship being hosted this weekend in New York City, where “more than 100 pilots” will be “vying for a $50,000 prize.” According to the story, the pilots in the race “donned headsets that gave them a cockpit view as they remotely directed their drones – most no larger than a paperback book – through an obstacle course of gates and flags at speeds up to 60 mph.” ESPN3 has broadcast rights to the tournament.
New Material For Aircraft Frames Developed By MIT, Industry Research.
Aerospace Technology (8/5) reports that MIT aerospace engineers have developed a new technique that uses carbon nanotubes to fasten and bonds composite layers to create a “significantly stronger and more damage-resistant material when compared with other advanced composites.” Article notes that “aerospace groups such as Airbus Group, Boeing, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, Saab, Spirit AeroSystems, Textron Systems are also involved in the research.” The team is led by Spain’s IMDEA Materials Institute researcher Roberto Guzman and “found that stitched composites were 30% stronger than the current composite materials.”
DARPA Invents Smaller, Cheaper LIDAR System.
Relying on information in last week’s guest post in IEEE Spectrum (8/4, Poulton, Watts), Popular Mechanics (8/7, Weiner) reports on the so-called “LIDAR chip” invented by DARPA and MIT engineers, which can be produced “using the same process currently used for microprocessors, significantly bringing down the cost of production.” DARPA’s LIDAR chip is also significantly smaller than previously constructed LIDAR systems, Popular Mechanics says. The article describes LIDAR as an enhanced form of radar that uses light to detect and map environments.
Hyperloop One Designing Underwater Hyperloops For Off-Shore Cargo Transportation.
Business Insider (8/5) reported Hyperloop One is interested in building a Hyperloop that can travel underwater, possibly to transport cargo to ports 10 miles off shore. Ships would dock “like a giant oil platform” to off-load their cargo, then the Hyperloop would travel between the coastline and the port to transport cargo containers. Hyperloop One board member and CEO of the X-Prize Foundation Peter Diamandis said the startup has “been talking to a lot of the port authorities around the world about re-engineering their ports in this kind of fashion.”
Female Engineers On Commuter Rail Project Are Breaking Barriers, Traditions.
The Denver Post (8/7, Whaley) reports that a commuter rail project in Denver is breaking barriers and changing traditions by having four women engineers in high-profile leadership roles. Women remain underrepresented in the engineering workforce. More than half of all persons graduating with bachelor’s degrees are women, but according to the US Census Bureau, only 10.1 percent of civil engineers are women, as are 6.5 percent of mechanical engineers, and 24.6 percent of software engineers. Pointing more girls toward careers in science and math will help boost the ranks of female engineers, as will breaking down institutional barriers, providing careers support, and implementing better strategies for recruiting and retaining women.
Free Job Training Program Focuses On Manufacturing Careers.
The AP (8/7) reports details of a program designed to provide training for Detroit-area residents interested in manufacturing careers. Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, Goodwill Industries, Focus: HOPE, and TechShop Detroit are collaborating on the free program. Organizers say that “nearly 119,000 jobs” were posted last year in Michigan for advanced manufacturing workers, including skilled trade workers and engineers.
Brookings Report: Auto Industry Driving STEM Jobs South.
The Wall Street Journal (8/5, Subscription Publication) reported science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) jobs are increasingly moving south, according to a Brookings Institution report released last Thursday. After examining the 100 largest metro areas, the study found the Nashville metro area had the largest growth at 7.9 percent increased employment in sectors using STEM, followed by the Bay Area and Jackson, and that the auto industry is driving those jobs to the South.
Engineering and Public Policy
Louisiana Politicians Suing Oil Industry Over Coastal Erosion.
The AP (8/5, Burdeau) reports that on the lead of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA), “prominent leaders of both parties join[ed] lawsuits seeking billions of dollars for environmental improvement projects.” Edwards “joined a campaign by local governments suing” the oil industry over “Louisiana’s loss of 1,900 square miles of coast since the 1930s.” The AP explains that he wrote to oil executives in May, saying, “Our coast is in crisis,” and urging them to reach an “amicable solution” rather than drawn-out litigation. Legislators also hope to stop coastal erosion by diverting sediment flows from the Mississippi River as well as building up “marsh flats, barrier islands, ridges and swamp forests.”
Congress Poised To Approve Fort Worth Waterfront Project. McClatchy (8/5, Recio) reports that Congress is set to approve funding for the Trinity River Vision project in Fort Worth, TX, which would “divert the Trinity River and create an urban lake and waterfront in northern Fort Worth.” Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) “has been the lead booster” on the project.
WPost: Metro Must Do More To Improve Safety.
The Washington Post (8/7) editorializes that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has “made a mockery of its claim to put safety first” as evidenced by “serial failures of the system to live up to its most basic safety obligations.” These failures, the Post argues, not only endanger passengers’ lives, but “make it even more difficult to persuade Congress and the local jurisdictions to provide Metro with the revenue it needs to maintain the system.” The Post concludes that Metro’s General Manager Paul J. Wiedefield, and its chief safety officer, need to “lay out a convincing argument that progress is being made in addressing the agency’s institutional rot.”
White House Races To Finish Drone Rules.
The Hill (8/7, Zanona) reports that the Administration is expediting its development of a regulatory scheme for integrating drones into the national airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration promulgated one major rule on the use of small commercial drones, and another is due by the end of 2016, with regulators also planning to implement several White House policy initiatives announced last week. The industry generally applauded the flurry of action, but some are disappointed it did not happen sooner. Drones are utilized for several commercial purposes, including inspection of physical infrastructure, response to natural disasters, search-and-rescue missions, agriculture monitoring, and the study of severe storms. The industry is expected to generate more than $80 billion for the US economy over the next decade while creating up to 100,000 jobs. “This is an industry that’s moving at the speed of Silicon Valley,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a White House drone workshop last week. “We can’t respond at the speed of government.”
Steel Company Argues It Shouldn’t Be Sued For 2013 Oil Train Derailment.
The AP (8/6) reports that Standard Steel, named in a suit over an oil tanker train derailment near Casselton, ND in 2013 is arguing that it shouldn’t be held liable. Standard Steel was named as a defendant in the case, brought by train engineer Bryan Thompson, because of allegations it “produced a defective axle that contributed to the crash, which he says left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.” In court documents filed Friday, Standard Steel said that “the axles were properly designed and manufactured and that the suit should be dismissed.”
Native Americans Protest Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Hill (8/6, Rachal) reported in its “Blog Briefing Room” blog that this weekend, Sioux nation members gathered in Washington, DC to protest the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which they argue “would contaminate their drinking water and violate sacred lands.” Reservation youth “ran a nearly 2,000-mile relay to Washington, D.C. to deliver a petition with over 160,000 signatures to the United States Army Corps of Engineers” protesting the project. The agency approved all the final permits to construct the pipeline last month. However, tribal members are requesting construction of the pipeline be stopped.
Gulfport High School Students Building Robots To Benefit Community.
The AP (8/7, Vicory) reports that Gulfport High School engineering and robotics teacher Clinton Brawley, who “also instructs engineering and robotics teachers from across the state,” is teaching his students how to build robots under Mississippi’s STEM program that have “a practical application” to the community. According to the AP, “the primary goal is to better prepare Mississippi students for careers in the science and technology fields. The larger goal is to lift the technical proficiency of the U.S. workforce on a global scale.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Black Hat Hackers Demonstrate How To Hack EMV Technology At PoS Systems, ATMs.
• ITT Tech Faces Possible Loss Of Accreditation.
• New Device Could Create Artificial Airway In Wounded Soldiers.
• DOE Proposes Battery Charger Conservation Standards.
• Missouri Teachers Get Training To Boost Math, Science AP Test Scores.