Leading the News
Pentagon: Iran’s Offensive Cyber Abilities Have Improved Since Nuclear Deal.
Bloomberg News (8/9, Wadhams) reports the Pentagon said “Iran has gradually improved its offensive cyber abilities and developed more advanced ballistic missiles since signing an accord last year to curb its nuclear program.” According to an “unclassified summary from a Pentagon assessment of Iran’s military prowess,” Iran “now has a ‘substantial inventory of missiles capable of reaching targets throughout the region, including U.S. military bases and Israel.’” The summary “includes only one line on Iran’s cyber capabilities,” but “the findings echo a recent report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Michael Eisenstadt, who found that Iran’s cyber operations have evolved ‘from a low-tech means of lashing out at its enemies to a pillar of its national security concept.’”
Japan To Set Up Cybersecurity Training Program For Critical Infrastructure. The Nikkei Asian Review (8/10) reports that Japan plans to create in the next fiscal year “a training center aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity of such infrastructure as power, gas and water.” Under the program, “engineers at private-sector companies…will receive guidance on cyberdefense technology and instruction from experts including former hackers. Upon completing the course, lasting about a year, trainees will be endowed with a new national credential being launched next fiscal year.”
“Deluge” Of Spyware In Vietnam May Be Linked To South China Sea Dispute. Bloomberg News (8/9, Boudreau) reports a dispute between Vietnam and China over territory in the South China Sea may be linked to spyware attacks on “Vietnam’s major airports and national carrier last month.” Wias Issa, senior director for Asia Pacific at security company FireEye Inc., says in an email that the cyberattacks on the “airport and airline appears to be the work of cyber activists who are using it to promote a political agenda.”
ED Calls On Colleges Not To Change Financial Aid Deadlines Despite Accelerated FAFSA Schedule.
The Washington Post (8/9, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that ED has written to US colleges “imploring” them “not to make any changes to their financial aid deadlines, despite the earlier availability of the federal government’s application for grants and loans.” The Post explains that some colleges are considering moving up their deadlines “to meet the department’s request that colleges provide earlier award notifications to students who take advantage of the availability of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in October.” However, according to the letter from Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, “setting earlier deadlines for school aid could disadvantage low-income students and those who are the first in their families to attend college, a population that often has the least amount of information and support through the college application process.”
Administration Steps Up Efforts To Regulate Student Loan Servicers.
The Street (8/9) reports that as the Administration expands “efforts to crack down on student loan servicers with plans to make them more accountable to borrowers,” Education Secretary John King recently “acknowledged that current the system needed fixes.” The piece quotes King saying last month, “Student loan servicers have a responsibility to inform borrowers of the status of their loans and available repayment options. But too often, servicers fail to meet that responsibility.” The piece reports that Under Secretary Ted Mitchell recently issued a memo regarding the Administration’s plans to reform student loan servicing.
Embattled UC Davis Chancellor Steps Down.
The San Francisco Chronicle (8/9) reports that Linda Katehi, the UC Davis chancellor who was suspended in April amid “allegations of nepotism and misuse of student funds.” University of California President Janet Napolitano released a statement saying that an investigation “found ‘numerous instances where Chancellor Katehi was not candid, either with me, the press, or the public (and) that she exercised poor judgment and violated multiple university policies.’” Katehi took a different tack in her resignation letter, which “noted that the investigation by the former head of the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco, Melinda Haag, found that she ‘remained properly walled-off at all times’ from decisions around the campus jobs of her son and his wife, whose pay rose by $50,000 while Katehi was chancellor.”
The AP (8/9, Har) reports that Katehi’s resignation followed “an investigation launched amid questions about her role in the hiring of image consultants to counter bad publicity from a pepper-spraying debacle on campus in 2011.” Katehi said she “would return to teaching,” and stressed “that the investigation had cleared her of accusations involving nepotism, travel expenses and retaliatory practices.” The report found that she “played down her knowledge of and role in the university’s hiring of social media consultants to minimize negative information online about the school and herself.” Reuters (8/9) also covers this story.
Research and Development
National Science Foundation Gives University Of Arizona Grant For Organic Semiconductor Research.
KTAR-FM Glendale, AZ (8/9) reports that the National Science Foundation recently gave a research team at the University of Arizona a $590,000 grant to study “organic semiconductors that could allow for a wide range of inventions,” such as “being able to take your TV, roll it up and store it or paint solar cells on your roof, or wear gym clothes can monitor your health.” The piece notes that organic semiconductors “are already being used in various flat-screen televisions and cell phones.”
University Of Colorado Partners With ISS On Research.
The Denver Post (8/9) reports on the BioServe Space Technologies center at the University of Colorado’s Engineering Center, which links students and researchers with the International Space Station, where astronaut Kate Rubins is doing biomedical research. The researchers “represent the latest version of CU’s continually evolving link to the nation’s space program.” For nearly three decades, “the center has sent materials into low Earth orbit on vehicles from the space shuttle to Soyuz to the SpaceX Dragon capsule that transported the current gear to the ISS last month.”
Lockheed Tests Dual Mode Plus Laser-guided Bomb For Increased Accuracy.
IHS Jane’s 360 (8/9, Fein) reports that Lockheed Martin “is testing a new Dual Mode plus laser-guided bomb (LGB) kit that integrates an inertial guidance package with the weapon’s semi-active laser guidance system.” Lockheed is quoted saying: “The low-cost, next-generation LGB kit incorporates Inertial Navigation System [INS]/GPS capability to provide dual-mode accuracy for fixed and relocatable targets in all-weather and moving target semi-active laser engagements.”
Lockheed Martin To Open Research Lab In Melbourne. C4ISR & Networks (8/9, Peck) reports Lockheed Martin Australia CEO Raydon Gates and CTO Keoki Jackson have announced the establishment of a Science Technology Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, to take part in research in fields such as “hypersonics, autonomy, robotics and C4ISR,” according to a company statement. The decision was partly based on the company’s success with “Australia’s Defense Science and Technology Group and Australian universities over the last 20 years,” said Jackson.
UC Riverside Receives $1.2 Million Grant For Smart Grid Technology Development.
Smart Grid News (8/9, Nowicki) reports the California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $1.2 million grant “to support a University of California Riverside research project that is developing advanced smart grid technology,” the university announced Monday. Funds will be used to research options that could help California meet its goal of adding 20 gigawatts of renewable power generation by 2020.
US Army Awards Morgan State $340K Grant For Electronics Research.
RF Globalnet (8/5) reported Morgan State University “has been awarded a $339,365 research grant” from the US Army for the purchase of instrumentation “to support the measurement, evaluation and development of Gallium nitride (GaN)-based electronics.”
US Army Funds Vision Prosthesis Projects.
UPI (8/9, Feller) reports that the US Army is funding research for sight-improving vision prosthetics for veterans who sustained eye injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Army Medical Research and Material Command in Fort Detrick, MD “announced three projects have been chosen for further development that may lead to some measure of healing for soldiers whose sight has been damaged, and eventually other patients whose sight has been damaged by injury or disease.” Among the three is a “wireless, implantable neural prosthesis” developed by Massachusetts Ear and Ear. The prosthesis “bypasses a patient’s damaged optic nerve and stimulates the lateral geniculate nucleus. This is a main part of the brain’s visual processing pathway, and would mean patients do not need to have a working optic nerve in order to have sight restored.”
Ugandan Villagers Enthusiastically Await Solar Polar Plant.
The AP (8/9, Muhumuza) reports that the construction of one of “largest solar plants in sub-Saharan Africa” is causing much excitement in some Ugandan villages. The solar plant is “expected to supply electricity to 40,000 homes and businesses” in the Soroti region, a “big deal in a country that is still heavily dependent on hydroelectric power for its energy needs, said Philip Karumuna, an engineer managing the project.” The plant is “financed under a scheme called GET FiT, a renewable energy facility funded by the European Union and supported by the governments of Germany, Norway and the UK.”
Opinion: Physics Could Prevent Prime Air Drone Deliveries.
In Inc. Magazine (8/9, Solomon) drone hobbyist and engineer Yoram Solomon writes that Amazon’s Prime Air drones are an “especially exciting” commercial application for drones, and while FAA rules prevent drone delivery in the US, Solomon argues that so too do “the laws of physics.” While developing a drone program for his US Air Civil Air Patrol squadron, he began testing flight times and payloads, determining that “For a 30-minute flight, a drone’s overall weight (drone + batteries + package) must be 20 times that of the package alone,” with batteries accounting for most of the weight. However, the overall weight for a five-minute flight would need to be 1.5 times the package’s weight, and a drone won’t be able to carry a package for more than 32 minutes. Solomon concludes that Prime Air drones must fly for no more 30 minutes round trip, maintain speeds of no more than 40 MPH, deliver packages to locations within 10 miles of a fulfillment center, and weigh 100 pounds.
Columnist: The Top Tech Companies Are Platforms.
Bloomberg View (8/9) columnist Leonid Bershidsky writes that Amazon, Alibaba, Alphabet, Facebook, PayPal, Uber, Apple, Tencent, Snapchat, and Airbnb all fit within Alex Moazed and Nicholas Johnson’s definition of an online platform: “a business that connects two or more mutually dependent groups in a way that benefits all sides.” The two New York consultants argue that all of the biggest Silicon Valley companies are platforms. According to Bershidsky, “successful platforms are monopolies…or…members or small oligopolies,” and the skills needed to develop a platform have “little to do with engineering or product design and everything to do with knowing how to get people to interact.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Court Rules In Favor Of DOE Efficiency Rules.
The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (8/9, Nelson) reported manufacturers that are critical of the Department of Energy’s “aggressive efficiency rulemaking posture under President Barack Obama suffered a big blow last night.” The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “that not one of the pointy ends of the industry’s multi-pronged legal attack on DOE’s 2014 regulation for commercial refrigerators broke skin.” The court “gave DOE legal cover for considering environmental factors in its economic justifications for new efficiency rules, including a social cost of carbon, a dollar-figure estimate of damages associated with carbon emissions.” In an opinion, Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple said, “Petitioners challenge both the decisionmaking process and the substance of the final rules. … Upon review of those challenges, we conclude that DOE acted in a manner worthy of our deference.”
The Hill (8/9, Cama) reports that in making the ruling, “the court specifically backed the so-called social cost of carbon, President Obama’s administration-wide estimate of the costs per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere — currently $36.” The Washington Examiner (8/9) reports Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, said, “We are disappointed in the court’s ruling, as well as the court taking nearly a year after oral argument to issue a decision. … Our members must now comply with the efficiency standard by March 27, 2017.”
DOE Working On New Efficiency Rules For Air Conditioners.
The Hill (8/9, Devaney) reports “new efficiency rules” for residential air conditioners are being considered by the Energy Department. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE has “submitted new energy conservation standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for approval.” If the White House grants approval “of the energy conservation standards, they would be issued directly as a final rule, bypassing the proposal process.”
Agreement Would Limit Impact Of ACs On Global Warming. The New York Times (8/9, Schlossberg, Subscription Publication) reports “representatives from nearly 200 countries” last month “worked on a new environment agreement to regulate the use of HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons.” These are the chemical compounds “responsible for keeping you cool on hot summer days, in air-conditioners and refrigerators” and “environmentalists, government officials and scientists say an agreement to limit HFCs represents a significant step in the fight to stave off the worst effects of global warming.”
Two Republican Former EPA Administrators Back Clinton Saying Trump Threatens GOP Environmental Legacy.
Roll Call (8/9) reports that former EPA administrators William D. Ruckelshaus and William K. Reilly who served Republican presidents have endorsed Hillary Clinton. “Republicans have a long history of support for the environment dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. Donald Trump threatens to destroy that legacy of respect for the environment and protection of public health,” a joint statement released by the Clinton campaign on Tuesday reads. The Hill (8/9, Cama) reports that the statement goes on to say that “Donald Trump has shown a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws.” Clinton, they wrote, is “committed to reasonable, science-based policy to meet those challenges.” Politico (8/9, Mccaskill) reports that Ruckelshaus and Reilly wrote that for the US to back away from the Paris Agreement, as Trump wants to do, “would set the world back decades — years we could never recover.”
The Washington Times (8/9, Sherfinski) notes that the endorsements come the day after 50 former national security officials who served in Republican administrations released a letter saying they will not vote for Trump and that he would be a “dangerous” president.
Inspector General Says VA Has Spent Millions On Solar-energy Projects, But Most Haven’t Been Completed.
The Washington Times (8/9, Boyer) reports the Department of Veteran Affairs, “under a mandate to increase its use of renewable energy,” has spent over “$408 million on solar panels over five years, despite significant delays and some projects not being operational years after construction began.” The inspector general for the VA “found that 11 of 15 solar projects awarded between fiscal 2010 and 2013 under the VA’s ‘green management program’ were still in progress as of May 2015, with only two systems completed.” The agency “subsequently reported last month that five solar projects have been completed at VA medical facilities, but three of the systems still are not generating power.” The IG said, “This occurred because of planning errors, design changes, a lengthy interconnection process, and contractor delays.”
TI Commits About $5 Million To STEM Programs.
The Dallas Morning News (8/9, Haber) reports that “Texas Instruments and the Texas Instruments Foundation have committed $5.4 million to advance public school education in science, technology, engineering and math,” the majority of which “will be distributed in North Texas, and the rest will be earmarked for programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and southern Maine.”
Change To Common Core Math Instruction Suffers Backlash.
In an analysis for Education Week (8/9), Liana Heitin examines the similarities between New Math that was implemented in the 1950s and the Common Core, both of which have caused frustration for parents and educators. Heitin refers to a book written by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Matt Larson, and co-authored by Timothy Kanold, which states in part, “In general, when frustration sets in for students, parents, or teachers, there is a tendency to want to place blame and find a scapegoat. The common core became a bogeyman for every concern anyone had about mathematics education.”
Louisiana Public School Science Standards Review Begins Next Week.
The AP (8/9, Deslatte) reports that “Louisiana’s top school board is launching a wide-ranging review of the state’s science standards for public schools.” According to the AP, Superintendent of Education John White described the list “of 85 people who will serve on the review committee and its workgroups” as “highly balanced.” The AP reports that “the classroom standards set guideposts for what students from kindergarten through 12th grade should know in basic science, physical science, physics, biology, chemistry, earth science and other scientific fields by the end of each grade.”
Girls Get a Crash Course in Coding.
NBC News (8/9) reports that under a program through the national non-profit, Girls Who Code, girls were taught to code over the summer. According to NBC News, the organization’s goal is “to close the gender gap and get more girls involved in computer science and technology…through after-school clubs and summer immersion programs, specifically targeting young women from the sixth to the 12th grade.”
Connecticut Teachers Participate In Science Education Training.
The Meriden (CT) Record-Journal (8/9) reports that several Meriden, Connecticut teachers recently spent four days at Quinnipiac University’s School of Education learning to utilize the Next Generation Science Standards to innovate their pedagogy. Those standards are state-driven K-12 initiatives developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other partners. The program at Quinnipiac convened teams of new science teachers, veteran science teachers, and administrators from several school districts to learn innovative approaches to teaching science. Their work will continue throughout the 2016-2017 school year. The training is partially funded by a grant under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, administered by the Connecticut Office of Higher Education, which was awarded to the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Quinnipiac and the University of New Haven.
Also in the News
Indiana College Building $2.1 Million Coal Mining Safety Training Center.
The AP (8/9) reports that despite the decline of the coal mining industry, Vincennes University in Fort Branch, Indiana “is moving ahead with construction of a $2.1 million coal mining safety training center.” The facility “will also be able to train limestone and metal miners and firefighters.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• University Of Maryland Engineers Create Low-Soot “Blue Whirl” Flame.
• University Of Michigan Wins National Solar Car Competition.
• Engineers Build Dust-Sized, Wireless Sensors To Monitor Muscles, Nerves.
• India To Train 15 Million People In STEM Jobs By 2020.
• Engineers Hack Amazon Dash Buttons To Create New IoT Applications.
• Record Review Finds Hundreds Of Oil, Gas Spills Affected Water.
• STEM Girls 4 Social Good Take Part In Booz Allen Problem-Solving Program.