Leading the News
University Of Maryland Engineers Create Low-Soot “Blue Whirl” Flame.
Popular Science (8/5) reports that engineers at the University of Maryland-College Park are experimenting with “a new kind of blaze,” a “blue whirl,” which “burns nearly soot-free, and may be able to produce energy with low amounts of pollution, or offer a new tool to clean up oil spills.” In a natural setting, fire whirls “can form in urban or wildland fires and generate powerful winds that pick up and hurl burning debris.” The researchers were “attempting to study fire whirls that burn over water, with an eye to improving oil-spill cleanup, when they discovered the new phenomenon.”
Gizmodo (8/8) reports that “the yellow color of a flame actually comes from glowing soot particles that weren’t able to completely burn away due to insufficient oxygen.” In a blue flame, “there’s enough oxygen for complete combustion to occur, which means there’s less soot and pollutants being released in the process.”LiveScience (8/5) and Nature World News (8/8) also cover this story.
University Of Michigan Wins National Solar Car Competition.
The Detroit Free Press (8/8) reports that the University of Michigan won the 2016 American Solar Challenge race held on cloudy days. UM’s car “was the only one to finish the race under its own power. The other 23 cars had to be driven across the finish line on trailers after being unable to get enough energy stored in batteries.”
University Of Oklahoma Summer Bridge Program Helps Incoming Engineering Freshmen.
The Norman (OK) Transcript (8/6) reports on the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering’s Summer Bridge Program, “a month-long camp for 41 incoming freshmen” engineering students who were “divided into teams and asked to perform the simple task of applying a Band-Aid to something by using the most complicated process they could imagine.” The article characterizes the students’ devices as Rube Goldberg machines.
California Federation Of Teachers Says ED Should Break Ties With Accreditor.
The Highland (CA) Community News (8/8) reports that the California Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the AFT local that covers teachers at City College of San Francisco have filed a complaint calling on ED to “delist” the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, “arguing that the accreditor of California’s community colleges has failed…completely to fulfill its duties.” The piece notes that a similar complaint in 2013 sparked “a finding by the Education Department that the ACCJC was in violation of numerous accreditation standards.”
Warren Blames ED For Rising Higher Education Costs.
In a piece for Diverse Education (8/8), Matthew Lynch writes about the rising cost of higher education, saying that there is “less return on investment than in previous years.” Lynch explores various reasons the cost of college is rising much faster than inflation, and says that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) says that ED is “partly to blame.” Warren last year complained to Education Secretary John King “regarding how the department handles student loan fraud” and accusing ED “of not having a proper handle on student loan contractors, and specifically cites its relationship with Navient, formerly known as Sallie Mae.”
New Jersey State Senators Investigate Student Loan Program.
The New York Times (8/8, Waldman, Subscription Publication) reports that approximately 12 people who had “harrowing experiences with New Jersey’s controversial student loan program” testified on Monday at a hearing before the Higher Education and Legislative Oversight Committee of the New Jersey State Senate. The hearing was prompted by an investigation published last month by ProPublica and the Times into the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, which runs the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with nearly $2 billion in outstanding loans. The agency charges higher interest rates than similar federal programs, and has broad collection powers.
The AP (8/8) reports that the committee “approved a measure Monday that would forgive NJCLASS student loans if the borrower dies, even if a parent or guardian co-signed the loan.” However, student borrowers “said much more needs to be done to fix how the state handles the loans.”
The Philadelphia Daily News (8/8, Hanna) describes the testimony of “a mother still paying off student loans for her murdered son” and one “whose son declared bankruptcy after he was unable to keep up with payments.” WHYY-FM Philadelphia (8/8) also covers this story.
Student Loan Issue Could Gain Millions Of Votes For Trump.
Founder of StudentLoanJustice.org and author of The Student Loan Scam Alan Collinge writes in The Hill’s (8/8) “Pundits Blog” blog that Donald Trump and other Republicans have an opportunity to attract “tens of millions of voters who otherwise would be on the fence” if they found a way to restore “bankruptcy protections to federal student loans.” According to Collinge, Democrats “were instrumental in killing legislation in 2007 that would have restored bankruptcy protections to private student loans,” and Hillary Clinton “has not so much as uttered ‘bankruptcy’ and ‘student loans’ in the same sentence since she announced her candidacy for the 2016 election.”
WPost: Allow Inmates To Benefit From Pell Grants.
The Washington Post (8/8) editorializes that “legislators made a mistake two decades ago” when they prevented prison inmates from receiving Pell Grants, because recidivism rates fall substantially for prisoners who receive an education while incarcerated. The Post cites studies that show “funding for prisoners took up less than 1 percent of Pell Grants” and that Congress could help prisoners “ease their transition to civilian life and reduce the chances they will commit crimes again upon release” by expanding a pilot program to cover all inmates.
Research and Development
Engineers Build Dust-Sized, Wireless Sensors To Monitor Muscles, Nerves.
ComputerWorld (8/8, Gaudin) reports engineers at the University of California’s Berkeley campus have built “dust-sized, wireless sensors that could be implanted in the human body, monitoring everything from muscles to nerves and organs.” The sensors could work inside the body “to keep track of how much we’re exercising, to stimulate the brain or muscles, or to monitor how certain organs are working.”
UAS AI Uses Fuzzy Logic To Defeat Fighter Pilot.
Breaking Defense (8/8, Clark) reports a company called PSIBERNETIX has published a paper claiming that its ALPHA artificial intelligence software has enabled UAS to “repeatedly and convincingly ‘defeat’ a human pilot” in Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) simulations. Former Air Force battle manager Gene Lee said the program “seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed.” Breaking Defense credits a special application of fuzzy logic for enabling the AI to accept “enormous” amounts of data, process it, and make decisions rapidly.
India To Train 15 Million People In STEM Jobs By 2020.
The Wall Street Journal (8/8, Choudhury, Subscription Publication) reports India is struggling to find people to fill STEM jobs to fulfill obligations on several billion-dollar deals to make parts for aircraft, helicopters, and trains. The country is preparing to train 15 million people by 2020 in order to bring more high-grade manufacturing to India. The push is in part to further Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” program. The biggest challenge is highlighted in a report by Indian employability assessment firm Aspiring Minds that says 80% of engineers in India are unemployable.
Japan Exploring For Metals 900 Miles Offshore, 5,000 Feet Deep.
Bloomberg News (8/8, Suga) reports Japan is exploring for metals in the ocean as deep as 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) under water and 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Tokyo. Bloomberg News adds that a Japanese consortium, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.’s engineering unit, “will conduct a pilot mining and lifting of ore at the Izena sea hole in the area off the southern island of Okinawa in the next financial year starting April.” Japan has confirmed the deposit has about 7.4 million tons of ore, twice what was detected just three years ago.
Symantec Identifies New Spyware Targeting Russia, China.
Reuters (8/8, Auchard) reports Symantec Corp. released information Monday on a new spyware called Remsec that is being used to conduct “cyber-espionage attacks against selected targets in Russia, China, Sweden, and Belgium.” Symantec says the malware was deployed by a new group called “Strider,” which “could have links to a national intelligence agency.”
Researchers Advocate “Naming And Shaming” Cybersecurity Tactics. CSO Magazine (8/8, Armerding) details a recent research paper called “Hacking Back Without Cracking Up” by Jeremy and Ariel Rabkin, who advocate so-called “active defense” measures such as “naming and shaming” as a means to respond to a cyberattack “without prompting a catastrophic cycle of retaliation.” The Rabkins say a victim should not hack back, but rather hire a professional “so the retaliation will be measured and much more likely to be against the actual perpetrator.” Anthony Di Bello, director of strategic partnerships at Guidance Software, disagrees with the Rabkins, and “said he thinks it is both infeasible and very risky to ‘deputize’ expert civilian security vendors to hack back against suspected attackers.”
Engineers Hack Amazon Dash Buttons To Create New IoT Applications.
ComputerWorld (8/8, Thibodeau) reports on applications for IoT technology, including using sensors to help patients with cognitive issues, and a clock that uses photos to communicate time of day. Amazon’s “Dash Buttons” are wireless buttons that users are hacking to create new applications; in response, Amazon recently announced a “limited release” of an IoT button that can be programmed through AWS services. Booz Allen Hamilton has pointed to the potential of technology to help an aging population, saying that IoT solutions “can help empower older adults to thrive in their own homes, improving their quality of life and decreasing the cost of long-term care.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Record Review Finds Hundreds Of Oil, Gas Spills Affected Water.
In a more than 1,000 word article, E&E News PM (8/8, Subscription Publication) reports on the 640 oil and gas spills that “affected groundwater or surface water in some way in 2015,” according to EnergyWire’s review of state and federal records. Yale univeristy Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor Desirée Plata said water spills can be more problematic that land spills because the contaminants spread more quickly. Most of the spills which affected water “were of crude oil, drilling wastewater or some combination of the two.” In total, “there were at least 10,348 spills, blowouts and other mishaps at oil and gas sites last year, compared to 11,283 such events in 2014,” according to EnergyWire.
Moniz Role As Energy Secretary Could Carry Into Clinton Administration.
The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (8/8) reported that with Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in the polls, “rumors around who she could potentially bring into her cabinet are intensifying.” But Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s “expertise and bipartisan support make him a top candidate for carrying over into the next administration.” Informal advisor to Clinton, Carol Browner said, “All the folks I know who are very respected in the energy space have the utmost respect for [Moniz] and I think everyone would be happy to see him there for an extended period of time.”
President Obama To Address Environment, Climate Change At Lake Tahoe Summit.
The AP (8/8, Freking) reports President Barack Obama will visit Lake Tahoe at the end of the month “to speak about his commitment to protecting the environment and addressing climate change.” The president “will talk about how the United States can ensure that national treasures like Lake Tahoe can be protected for future generations.” The “Blog Briefing Room” of The Hill (8/8, Fabian) reports that with only “five months left in office for Obama, the speech is a chance for him to burnish his legacy on the environment and climate change.” In addition, the speech will be a chance for Obama “to counter Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is pledging to roll back Obama’s executive actions on energy and the environment.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (8/8, Whaley) notes the summit “began in 1997 when President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attended following a personal invitation” from Reid. “Now in its 20th year,” says the Washington Post (8/8, Loveluck), the gathering “brings federal, state and local leaders together to review policy designed to protect the area.”
Climate Change Legislation Targets Southern California Ports.
The Los Angeles Daily News (8/7) reported that Senate Bill 32 “has the potential to have a deep impact on the ports and the way goods move around the state.” The “sweeping legislation,” which aims to set “aggressive goals to cut climate-warming pollution by 2030,” is opposed by the oil industry and some freight operators working in the port. However, Port of Long Beach spokeswoman Samara Ashley “said the bill generally falls in line with Long Beach’s goal of a greener port.”
LATimes: Lawmakers Shouldn’t Delay Vote On Climate Change Bill. The Los Angeles Times (8/8, Board) in an editorial warns that “it appears that lawmakers will punt, rather than vote,” on SB 32, a measure that would extend California’s current climate change regulations implemented under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The Times says figuring out how to effectively address climate change is “one of the most important environmental decisions facing California,” and urges the state’s lawmakers to “continue to lead” on the issue.
Maine Governor, Environmentalists Consider Future Of Solar Policy.
The AP (8/8, Villeneuve) reports Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine “and powerful environmental lobbyists are among those weighing in on the future” of a state policy “that gives bill credits to solar system owners for the retail value of the excess energy they feed back into the grid.” The governor calls the almost “30-year-old law a reverse Robin Hood program that lets those who can afford solar generators shift costs onto ordinary consumers.” But “solar and environmental advocates” contend “he’s downplaying a 2014 state study suggesting solar energy reduces everyone’s electricity rates.”
California Town Aims To Be Fully Powered By Renewable Energy.
E&E News PM (8/8, Subscription Publication) examines Del Mar, California which has pledged to switch to 100 percent renewable power by 2035, the second city in the state after San Diego to set such a target. The city created a list of actions it could take including community choice aggregation, increasing bike use, and making the city more pedestrian friendly. Neighboring Encinitas, Solana Beach and Carlsbad are considering joining together for a CCA.
STEM Girls 4 Social Good Take Part In Booz Allen Problem-Solving Program.
JustMeans (8/8) reports 50 middle and high school aged girls from Washington DC took part in a week-long program, STEM Girls 4 Social Good, that exposed them to the “full lifecycle of problem solving,” from deconstructing a given problem to “designing and building a solution,” JustMeans reports the students learned “basic electrical engineering and circuitry, geographic information systems, and plant science” along the way. BAH female leaders also joined the program participants to share their STEM career experiences. BAH’s Alexé Weymouth is quoted saying, “It is imperative for the US economy that the next wave of STEM professionals not only have mentors ahead of them but that they continue to encourage the talent pipeline coming up behind them.”
Players Of Online Video Games May Do Better In School, Study Indicates.
HealthDay (8/8, Dotinga) reports that “players of online video games do better in school, but those who frequent Facebook or chat sites are more likely to have trouble,” researchers found after analyzing “standardized test scores of more than 12,000 Australian 15-year-olds in math, science and reading” and gathering “information about their online habits.” The findings were published in the International Journal of Communication.
Manhattan Institute Scholar: Clinton Should Support Career And Technical Education.
In the Wall Street Journal (8/8, Subscription Publication), James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute writes that Hillary Clinton should back running mate Sen. Tim Kaine’s proposal from earlier this year to increase funding for career and technical education. However, he writes, this is at odds with Clinton’s stance that everyone should go to college – which Piereson says has driven up costs, pushed students into debt, and created a glut of underprepared graduates with degrees they cannot use.
Mississippi Elementary School Converts School Buses Into Computer Labs.
AP (8/8, Freeman) reports that Summit Elementary School in McComb School District has recycled school buses, which now house the school’s zSpace STEM lab where students can “hold and feel a heart through a computer program.” According to the AP, students are learning with “3-D glasses and state-of-the-art computer programs.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Study: DOE Finalizes More Energy Efficiency Rules Than Under Prior Administrations.
• University Of New Orleans Computer Scientist Awarded $300K Grant.
• National Drone Racing Championships Kick Off In New York.
• Female Engineers On Commuter Rail Project Are Breaking Barriers, Traditions.
• Louisiana Politicians Suing Oil Industry Over Coastal Erosion.
• Gulfport High School Students Building Robots To Benefit Community.