Leading the News
NASA Astronauts Install Docking Port At ISS, Facilitating Future Commercial Spacecraft Access.
USA Today (8/19, Dean) reported that NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins performed a spacewalk on Friday at the International Space Station (ISS) to install an International Docking Adapter (IDA) that will receive the Boeing and SpaceX capsules currently being the developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew. The article explains that ground engineers first used the 58-foot robotic arm at the ISS to move to the 1,000-pound docking port from the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft and place it near the Harmony module, after which Williams and Rubins took over, “connecting a slew of hooks and cables.”
The AP (8/19, Dunn) noted that Boeing and SpaceX, which are expected to launch astronauts soon, will be unable to dock at the ISS without the IDA, “which replaces the now obsolete shuttle setup and is meant to be internationally compatible.” After installing the docking port, Mission Control radioed, “Thanks for your help in getting the front door on the space station.”
SPACE (8/19) adds that Williams told NASA TV after the spacewalk, “We’ve opened up a new chapter [in] the story of the International Space Station.”
NPR (8/19) explains that the port is part of an effort to allocate ISS duties to commercial companies, “allowing NASA to focus its resources on bigger projects like getting to Mars.”
According to Reuters (8/19, Klotz), NASA mission commentator Rob Navias characterized the IDA as “a gateway to a new era in commercial space.”
The Christian Science Monitor (8/19) reported that in an interview with NASA TV, NASA Program Manager Shaun Kellet similarly said, “We’re entering a commercial sector now. Any company in the world, any country in the world, can build to that standard and be sure that they can be compatible with us.”
Tennessee Leads Nation In FAFSA Completion Rate.
The Tennessean (8/19) reports that according to data from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, over 70% of high school seniors in the state filled out FAFSA forms in the last school year, “a rate higher than any other state in the country.” Tennessee also led the nation in FAFSA completions last year. Tennessee’s Hope lottery scholarship requires students to fill out a FAFSA form.
Colleges No Longer Requiring SATs.
The Boston Globe (8/22, Krantz) reports that “several top New England colleges have joined a growing number of schools nationally that no longer require applicants to submit scores from SAT subject tests, saying the specialized exams lend little insight into students’ readiness and can work against low-income and minority students.”
Coding Boot Camp Claims Almost All Graduates Get Hired.
The San Francisco Chronicle (8/20, Pender) reports that according to Hack Reactor, “98 percent of its graduates land jobs at an average salary of $104,000.” However, the Chronicle found that their “ads don’t say is that those placement rates generally don’t include all graduates. They typically exclude foreign graduates who can’t work in the United States and sometimes exclude U.S. students who are deemed to be not looking for work.”
Parents Delaying Retirement To Pay Kids’ College.
In continuing coverage, the Deseret (UT) News (8/20, Collins) reports that a T. Rowe Price Group survey shows “most parents prioritize funding their children’s education above their own retirement needs: 57 percent said they’d saved some money for their child’s education, while only 54 have set aside money for their retirement.” One of the financial firm’s senior marketers and a certified financial planner Marty Allenbaugh said that “delaying retirement to help fund college is a realistic option…as long as retirement needs aren’t being ignored.”
ED Refuses To Make University Of Iowa Gender Equity Complaint Public.
The Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette (8/19) reports that ED has again refused the University of Iowa’s “request to make public a gender equity complaint filed last fall against the Athletic Department.” The piece explains that ED’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating allegations that the school “fails to provide equal athletic opportunities to men and women in 13 areas, including facilities, practice times, travel budgets and equipment.” OCR originally refused to make the complaint public in November.
King Visits Ohio Community College.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/19, Farkas) reports that Education Secretary John King visited Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland on Friday, where he “hosted a roundtable discussion with current and former students to hear how they succeeded and what could be improved for future students.” King said the school “is at the forefront of efforts to partner with businesses and prepare students for careers.” The piece reports that the discussion centered on college affordability, and quotes King saying, “States are spending more to fund prisons than public higher education. They have their priorities exactly wrong if they have dollars invested in punishment instead of advancement.”
Op-Ed: How College Freshman Can Overcome The Fear Of Failure.
In an op-ed for the New York Times (8/20, Kirp, Subscription Publication), University of California, Berkeley professor David L. Kirp writes that the fear that many freshman have of not having “the necessary brainpower or social adeptness to succeed in college” is especially hard on “poor, minority and first-generation college students.” Kirp concludes that based on studies conducted of incoming freshmen, it is clear that “undergraduates will be more engaged and fewer will drop out if universities adopt this two-pronged approach, giving students essential psychological tools and making their success an institutional priority. With a scandalously low 59 percent of undergraduates earning bachelor’s degrees in six years, the rest departing with no degree, sizable debt and weak job prospects, taking such action isn’t simply a smart strategy. It’s a moral imperative.”
Research and Development
NASA Launches Free Online Database With Research Papers, Data.
The Verge (8/19) reported NASA announced last week that its launching a free online archive called PubSpace that will make public “research and data that are often hidden behind the subscriptions and paywalls of scientific journals.” The article explains that PubSpace rose to the fore as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s “Open Science” initiative, which was established to enhance access to government-funded research.
The Independent (UK) (8/20, Walker) adds that the new database is part of a “trend in the worldwide scientific community towards making knowledge more readily available.” In a statement, NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan said, “Making our research data easier to access will greatly magnify the impact of our research,” adding, “As scientists and engineers, we work by building upon a foundation laid by others.”
Virginia Tech Researchers Help Create Backpack Energy Harvesters For Army.
MyInforms (8/19) reports that researchers at Virginia Tech are working on “a backpack energy harvester” to help soldiers “have a lighter, more energy-efficient load to bear” in the field, where they often “carry seven types of batteries weighing up to 16 pounds.” a pair of mechanical engineering professors have received a $344,000 grant from the Army for research on the device, “which is expected to weigh about one pound with a harvesting capacity of 5-20 watts.”
Engineers Develop Wi-Fi Connected Contact Lenses.
The Daily Mail (8/19, Mailonline) reports engineers have created a contact lens that is able to connect using technology known as “interscatter communication” via wi-fi radio signals to mobile devices to send information about the wearer’s health. Lead researcher and electrical engineer at the University of Washington Vikram Iyer said, “Wireless connectivity for implanted devices can transform how we manage chronic diseases.” Engineers also constructed “an implantable neural recording device that can communicate directly with smartphones and watches,” potentially for use in treatment of patients with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s.
Stanford Professors Developing Carbon Nanotube-Based Computer Processors.
TechCrunch (8/20, Maffei) reported that Stanford University electrical engineering and computer science associate professor Subhasish Mitra and his colleague, Stanford electrical engineering professor H.S. Philip Wong, have partnered with IBM and others to design carbon nanotube-based computer processors. The carbon nanotube-based processors would allow computers–including wearables and smartphones–to run faster and be more energy efficient than silicon-based processors. Mitra predicted that the commercial implementation of carbon nanotubes will take as long as 10 to 15 years, but the technology offers vast promise in “Internet of Things and beyond.”
A First In SE Asia: Ilocos Norte Univ Opens Graduate Course On Renewable Energy For Engineers.
The Philippine Information Agency (8/21) reports Mariano Marcos State University “is now accepting engineering graduates who would like to enroll for the Professional Science Master’s in Renewable Energy Engineering (PSM-REE) program,” the first in Southeast Asia. It “was established in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) and the Energy Development Corporation (EDC).” Dr. Susan Brems, USAID mission director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia, said, “This collaboration is a significant achievement that supports our mutual goal to propel the Philippines to achieve and sustain broad-based economic growth and development.”
Ford Pledges To Launch Level 4 Autonomous Driver-Less Taxi Service In 2021.
Business Insider (8/20) reported in continuing coverage Ford announced on Tuesday that in 2021, it will launch a level 4 autonomous self-driving taxi fleet in at least one US city. Ford advanced research and engineering vice president Ken Washington said Ford will select a city where its vehicle sensors can “operate at their optimum performance.” Washington told Business Insider that Ford has not yet established how consumers will request the taxi service or what partnerships or companies it will pursue, but Ford “talking to everybody and everybody is talking to us.”
Engineering and Public Policy
NHTSA, EPA Finalize Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Standards For Large Trucks.
There is some coverage of the finalized fuel-efficiency rule for buses and large trucks from NHTSA in conjunction with the EPA. Reporting on the new Phase 2 greenhouse gas standards is balanced between showing praise and criticism of the new rules, but commentary tends to be in favor of environmental measures.
Tire Business (8/19, Putrich, Jansen) reports the new fuel standards “are expected to cut more than 1 billion tons of carbon pollution, save about $170 billion in fuel costs and reduce related oil consumption by 84 billion gallons by the time they are fully implemented in 2027.” Secretary Foxx said the new standards are “ambitious but achievable,” pointing out that manufacturers are allowed to achieve the fuel objectives “through a range of innovations and technology pathways.” The American Trucking Association, which helped craft the rules over the past four years, stated it is “cautiously optimistic” about these next-phase standards.
Food Logistics (8/19) reports that “the new standards will allow the owner of a new long-haul truck in 2027 to recoup the investment in fuel-saving technology in less than two years,” according to some estimates.
On one end of positive coverage, Environmental Defense Fund (8/19, Mathers) reports “the extraordinary and far-reaching support for the new Clean Truck standards ranges from leading public health organizations to the companies and workers who manufacture these vehicles, the businesses that depend on fleets of these vehicles, and the consumers who rely on goods and services delivered by these fleets.”
On the opposite end of coverage, Trailer/Body Builders (8/19, Weber) reports the Phase 2 rule is “creating a world of confusion for trailer manufacturers,” according to the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association. TTMA engineering manager John Freiler comments that NHTSA and EPA “changed the way they’re counting trailers as far as which ones are in there … They tried to narrow it, but as we’re looking it, we’re thinking maybe in some ways they expanded it.”
Two Environmentally Conscious New England Dairy Industry Employees Support Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Standards. Writing for The Hill (8/19, Drake, Miller) “Congress Blog,” Stonyfield yogurt’s director of sustainability Lisa Drake and Ben & Jerry’s social mission activism manager Chris Miller say food production just became a little more sustainable with the finalization of the new fuel standards for large trucks, which “move about 70 percent of the freight crossing the United States, burning almost 2.7 million barrels of oil every single day.” The new rules make sense from both an economic and environmental standpoint, the authors say.
New EPA/NHTSA Fuel Emissions Standards Favors Bigger Businesses. The Daily Caller (8/21, White) reports the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday announced “changes to fuel emission standards for work trucks, vans and over-the-road semi-trucks” that have raised concerns with smaller trucking companies that would be “throttled” by the cost of compliance with these new regulations. Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute Energy Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, explained that the EPA and NHTSA’s new regulations “essentially allow bureaucrats and government meddlers to wiggle their way inside an industry” where they can, “whether purposely or inadvertently, give an unfair advantage to bigger businesses.”
Report Highlights Impact Of US Energy Efficiency Policies.
The Washington Post (8/19, Mooney) examines the “enormous amount” of energy being saved through energy efficiency efforts, noting a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found the “huge number of forms” energy efficiency efforts have taken have “truly been transformative.” According to the Post, several experts “agreed about the overall effectiveness of energy efficiency” in terms of energy savings and the impact on climate change. Charles Goldman of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory stated energy efficiency policies implemented by the US “have served US customers well if they are well-implemented and have the potential to continue producing cost-effective savings going forward to 2030.”
Former Interior Officials Support BLM’s Fracking Rule In Appeal.
The Hill (8/19, Cama) reports four bipartisan “former high-level Interior Department officials” from the most recent three presidential administrations “said a Wyoming judge was wrong in June when he struck down Interior’s fracking regulation and ruled” the BLM “does not have authority to regulate the process at all.” According to brief to the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeals by the former officials, “Congress has enacted broad organic statutes that govern mineral leasing and federal land management, and authorize the Bureau of Land Management to regulate oil and gas drilling activities on the public lands.” The former officials added, “BLM has for decades specified operational requirements for lessees engaged in oil and gas drilling activities. The hydraulic fracturing rules are simply the latest manifestation of this well-established authority.”
Los Angeles Regulators Scrutinize Drilling Company’s Regulatory Compliance.
The Los Angeles Times (8/19, Reyes) reports that Los Angeles “is taking a first step toward scrutinizing whether Freeport-McMoRan…has flouted city conditions imposed” on its South Los Angeles drilling site, with the Department of City Planning recently sending the company a letter “requiring it to turn in an application that would ultimately trigger a public hearing” about its compliance.
North Texas School Designs Building To Inspire STEM Learning.
KTVT-TV Dallas (8/18) reports that a North Texas school district pushing for more student interest in STEM has designed “the entire school building…to support STEM instruction.” Grand Prairie ISD STEM Director Nancy McGee said, “We’ve got lots of open spaces. We race cars in the hallways, we can fire rockets. This really helps us with being able to get kids involved in their own education.” According to KTVT-TV, “staff worked with engineers from nearby Lockheed Martin on experiments that turned water bottles in rockets, and old DVDs into race cars. And supporters say the building’s creative, collaborative spaces support the STEM style of engaged teaching and learning.”
Bethel Schools Hire Math Specialists For Struggling Students.
The Danbury (CT) News Times (8/21, Perkins) reports that beginning this school year, Bethel school Superintendent Christine Carver said Bethel schools have begun implementing a five-year plan to help improve math and science for students, and “specialists were hired for this year to work with elementary school students who struggle with math.”
Michigan Engineering Students Win $15,000 NASA Grant.
WDIV-TV Detroit (8/20, Humphrey) interviewed science and engineering students in Michigan who “won a $15,000 NASA grant for research to help astronauts stay alive on future missions to space.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Uber To Use Driverless Cars In Pittsburgh Within Weeks.
• Coalition Of Groups Call On King To Track Student Debt Racial Disparities.
• NSF Gives University Of Colorado Grant For Repairing Brain Connections With Miniature Microscope.
• World’s Largest Aircraft Completes First Flight in England.
• Greens Groups Sue US Army Corps Of Engineers To Stop Sabal Trail Pipeline Project.
• North Texas School Designs Building To Inspire STEM Learning.