Leading the News
Maryland Officials Fine Power Plant Owners Companies For Polluting State Rivers.
The AP (8/29) reports the owners of two Maryland power plants “have agreed to pay a $1 million penalty to resolve allegations over polluting in the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers.” On Monday the agreement was announced by the Maryland Department of the Environment. According to the department GenOn Mid Atlantic and NRG Chalk Point operate the Dickerson Electric Generation Station and Chalk Point Electric Generating Station and the two companies “will perform $1 million in environmental projects and upgrade wastewater treatment technologies at the coal-burning facilities.” The Baltimore Sun (8/29) reports the plants “were found to have violated the Clean Water Act from 2010 to 2013.” As the facilities cut “more nitrogen from their emissions into the air, they were discharging more of the harmful nutrient in their wastewater, state environmental officials said.” The Washington Post (8/29, Nirappil) reports State Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said, “The Chesapeake Bay is dying a death of a thousand cuts, or, more appropriately, a million cuts. … When someone fails to abide by the law, we will hold them accountable.”
Morgan State Dean Credited With Educating Black Engineers In Baltimore.
David Wilson, president of Morgan State University, writes at the Baltimore Sun (8/29) that Eugene M. DeLoatch, dean of the school’s Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering in Baltimore since its founding more than 30 years ago, “is credited with producing more black engineers than any other individual in the history of American higher education.” Wilson says DeLoatch “set about recruiting faculty members and put in place initiatives such as an effective pre-college summer transition program to ensure that students began their college careers on strong footing.” He also “worked to develop special courses for teaching introductory subjects such as mathematics and physics in innovative ways.” Wilson explains that DeLoatch served as the first African-American president of the American Society for Engineering Education in 2002 and 2003. Wilson says Deloatch retired in June and that during his career he “produced a large cadre of graduates who will undoubtedly continue to serve the state of Maryland and the nation uncommonly well.”
Stanford University Restricts Drone Use Over Campus.
The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (8/29, Kelly) reports Stanford University has banned the use of drones over the campus by anyone not a member of the Stanford community. In a news release, Stanford said the use of drones could endanger helicopters bringing critically injured patients to its two hospitals, and also raise “privacy and other safety issues.” Stanford faculty, students, and staff must seek approval from the University before conducting drone flights. The University uses drones for research in “a wide range of technologies important to infrastructure inspection, agricultural monitoring and various humanitarian applications.”
ITT Stops All Enrollment.
The Indianapolis Star (8/29) reports that ITT Technical Institute has now ended all student enrollment, noting that the move follows in the wake of ED’s “decision last week to ban ITT from enrolling new students who depended on federal loans to pay for classes.” Most ITT students receive Federal aid, but the school “could have continued accepting new students outside of the government’s Title IV program.” The Star reports that the firm’s “future has been in question since the Education Department announced its sanctions amid an Obama administration crackdown on for-profit colleges.”
The AP (8/29) reports that the firm announced the move on its website on Monday, in said in an email “the company has ‘voluntarily suspended new student enrollment as we assess our options.’” The AP notes that ITT “has been the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices.”
Noting that the firm “operates more than 130 ITT Technical Institute campuses in 38 states,” the Indianapolis Business Journal (8/29) reports that the firm “was hit hard” by last week’s sanctions from ED, “made after ITT fell out of compliance with its accreditor’s standards and ‘put its students and millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded federal student aid at risk.’”
WSJournal: Administration Policies Will Force For-Profit Colleges Into Bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal (8/29, Subscription Publication) editorializes that the Administration would like to put as many for-profit colleges as possible out of business. The decision last week by the Education Department to deny ITT Technical Institute federal financial aid funds sends a signal to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and state attorneys general to vigorously investigate ITT and other for-profit colleges. The Journal is worried that the Administration’s policy could force ITT into bankruptcy, which would mean that current ITT students would be left with significant debt but no college degree. Additionally, taxpayers would be liable for any student-debt relief in the wake of an ITT bankruptcy.
Threatening Emails Under Virginia Tech Police Investigation.
The AP (8/29) reports that “a threatening email message” has been sent to “dozens of people” at Virginia Tech, and according to Tech Police Chief Kevin Foust, the similar messages were sent to other schools, although he was vague on the specifics of the threat and did not identify the other schools. Anyone with information regarding the threat is being asked to contact the police.
Report Blames Servicers For Issues With Income Driven Student Loan Repayment Programs.
The Street (8/29, Sandman) reports that according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), “servicer delays as a big reason for income-driven repayment sign-up fails, and recommends speeding up this process. When applications languish, income and other data used to support them becomes out of date.”
Research and Development
Simulated “Mars Mission” Crew Emerges After 365 Days.
NPR (8/29, Hersher) reports in its “The Two-way” blog that “after 365 days, the longest mission in project history, six crew members exited their Mars simulation habitat on slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii on Sunday.” NPR explains that “the crew lived in isolation in a geodesic dome set in a Mars-like environment as part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s fourth Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, project.” The report points out that “a committee of space experts chooses crew members they describe as ‘astronaut-like,’ and the candidate criteria include an undergraduate degree in science or engineering, at least three years of research experience or graduate study, and mental and physical strength.” The crew included a German physicist, “a NASA physician, a hydrologist from Montana, an MIT-trained engineer and pilot, a French astrobiologist and an architecture student from Tongji University in Shanghai.”
JWC Founder Warns Maritime, Offshore Industries To Take Cybersecurity Seriously.
In an editorial for Maritime Executive (8/29), Jordan Wylie Founder and Principal Consultant at JWC International Ltd, asserts the vulnerabilities of an ever-increasing reliance on information and communications technology (ICT) extend to the maritime and offshore industries. Detailing recent research JWC “conducted with the Company Security Officers (CSO) Alliance and Coventry University,” Wylie explains that “more than half of the [HSSE] personnel questioned did not believe cyber was a security or safety issue” and “many organisations…did not implement cyber or ICT usage policies or procedures,” a finding that was “more prevalent in the shipping industry and less so in the offshore oil and gas sector” – though “still significant.” According to Wylie, increasingly interconnected systems are creating “more vulnerable junctions within the system” that hackers could exploit to cause a catastrophic “operational shut down.” He warns, “cyber security is a threat that needs to be taken more seriously and management need to take responsibility sooner rather than later.”
DARPA Using EW Systems To Thwart Future Enemies.
Defense News (8/29, Insinna) reports the US military is working to develop “new electronic warfare technologies that, in real time, use artificial intelligence” to scramble enemy systems “using never-before-seen frequencies and waveforms.” These “cognitive electronic warfare” systems remain in early stages of development, but researchers at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency say the tech could debut on the battlefield within the next decade. Yiftach Eisenberg, deputy director of DARPA’s microsystems technology office, said the military’s approach – studying enemy systems to discover vulnerabilities to exploit – “has worked well for us in the past when the adversaries systems were relatively stable.” However, a “fundamental shift” in recent years has prompted researchers to look for new ways to “respond to new threats, new waveforms that those systems are using that we haven’t anticipated. … If things are changing quickly, then we need systems that can respond in similar timeframes to enable us to protect our aircraft.”
Southwest Research Institute Leading DOE-backed Clean Coal Power Pilot Project Planning.
The San Antonio Express-News (8/29) reports that San Antonio’s Southwest Research Institute announced it’s taking the helm of a $3.3 million project to plan a coal oxy-combustion pilot power plant. Oxy-fuel combustion “uses pure oxygen instead of air to burn the coal and generate electricity” burning less coal, and emitting water and carbon dioxide which can be sequestered. Other project partners include Italy’s ITEA, Houston-based Jacobs Energy, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The project is being funded by the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
3-D Printed Tool Developed At ORNL Achieves Guinness World Records Title.
Science Magazine (8/29) reports “a 3D printed trim-and-drill tool,” developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers “to be evaluated at The Boeing Company, has received the title of largest solid 3D printed item by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.” At an awards ceremony at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the lab, “where the component was 3D printed on the lab’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS judge Michael Empric measured the trim tool, proved it exceeded the required minimum of 0.3 cubic meters, or approximately 10.6 cubic feet, and announced the new record title.” ORNL’s polymer materials development team leader Vlastimil Kunc said, “The recognition by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS draws attention to the advances we’re making in large-scale additive manufacturing composites research. … Using 3D printing, we could design the tool with less material and without compromising its function.” The Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press (8/30) also covers the feat.
Russia Announces Test Of Pulse-Detonation Rocket Engine.
The Daily Mail (8/29, MacDonald) reports the Russian Advanced Research Foundation has “announced the construction and testing of a pulse-detonation rocket engine,” which uses detonation waves to combust fuel and oxidizer. According to the researchers, such an engine could allow rockets to carry a heavier payload, reducing the cost of shipping cargo into orbit. The Daily Mail reports the US is involved in the development of pulse-detonation engines as well, and tested such an engine in 2008 through the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
Apple Watch 2 Could Add Longer Lasting Battery.
Business Insider (8/29, Leswing) reports that among the new features expected from the next Apple Watch, a more durable, longer-lasting battery is expected to be one of them. Speaking to the possibility, Apple head of software engineering Craig Federighi said, “It turns out that when we first were coming out with watchOS we were being really conservative about understanding how people were going to be using the Watch and trying to make sure we could hit our goal of very solid all-day battery life. So that you could use it all day and charge it at night. And we found that we actually really overshot the goal, which was an area of just massive focus and paranoia through the release.”
Verizon Announces Launch Of LTE Advanced Network.
Business Insider (8/29) reports Verizon on Monday is launching its new high-speed cellular data network, LTE Advanced. Verizon said the network is up to 50 percent faster than its existing standard 4G LTE network. SlashGear (8/29) says Verizon rolled LTE Advanced, or LTE-A, in 461 US cities not only in urban areas, but also in rural regions. Verizon said the service is available to 288 million of its consumers. The Verge (8/29, Kastrenakes) notes that Verizon has slowly introduced its LTE Advanced in increments. Verizon communications director Kelly Crummey said the company has been “lighting up markets as recently as the last few days.” Consumers can only use the network with phones that support the technology.
BGR (8/29, Mills) explains Verizon will send and receive packets on several channels at once through a process dubbed “carrier aggregation,” with two-channel aggregation providing speeds of 225Mbps and three-channel aggregation providing speeds exceeding 300Mbps. PC Magazine (8/29, Segan) says phones capable of offering LTE-A speeds in two-carrier aggregation markets are called “Category 6” phones, and phones compatible with three-carrier aggregation markets are called “Category 9” phones. The article says Verizon is essentially offering faster speeds for everyone, with 200Mbps three-carrier aggregation speeds “in sight for everyone.”
Fortune (8/29) adds that according to BTIG Research analyst Walt Piecyk, “It’s nice to have super fast speeds at random cell sites but if the consumer is handed off to less spectrum intensive LTE or 3G as they walk down the street, the consumer could be disappointed.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Anti-Fracking Initiatives Will Not Be On Colorado Ballot.
Reuters (8/29) reports that environmental groups have failed to gather sufficient signatures to put two measures on the November ballot in Colorado that aim to curb hydraulic fracturing and natural gas work, the state said Monday. Proponents of the initiatives gathered more than the 98,492 signatures required to put the questions on the ballot, but failed to gather enough to offset the number that would possibly be rejected during a random sampling examining the validity of the signatures. Proponents of the measures have 30 days to appeal the decision.
Analysis: North Dakota Pipeline Protests Draw Attention To Tribal Issues.
An 1,800-word analysis in the High Country (CO) News (8/29, Wiles) reports that protests to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Cannon Ball, ND are drawing attention to a “long history of battles between Native American communities…and extractive industry and the federal government.” Tribes assert the proposed use of the land is part of a “long-term pattern” of the US taking Native American land and polluting waterways. The piece also says the protests “illustrate a new era of direct action enabled by social media,” as activists are able to more easily spread their message.
Tribes Protest Natural Gas Pipeline Under Lake Sakakawea.
A 1,000-word report in the Billings (MT) Gazette (8/29, Dalrymple) says Paradigm Energy Partners “is installing two pipelines under Lake Sakakawea that will be owned by Sacagawea Pipeline Co.” MHA Nation protested construction of the natural gas pipeline under the lake, but Paradigm sought and was granted “a temporary restraining order to prevent the tribe from halting construction, arguing it has the regulatory approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” Paradigm asserted “the Sacagawea Pipeline system will reduce truck traffic and reduce natural gas flaring in areas where pipeline capacity is limited.” The Billings Gazette adds that “the Tribal Business Council supported the Sacagawea Pipeline system in an April 2015 resolution, finding it in the best interest of the tribe to grant a right-of-way for the project.”
Raytheon Wins Contract To Provide US Navy MK 54 Lightweight Torpedoes.
The Military Embedded Systems (8/29, Iriarte) reports Naval Sea Systems Command officials have awarded Raytheon a $37,723,774 contract to “provide MK 54 lightweight torpedo common parts kits; MK 54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedo kits; and MK 54 exercise fuel tanks including spares, production support material, engineering support, and hardware repair support.” If all of the contract options are exercised, the value could reach $448,737,790. Work on the contract is reportedly expected to conclude by May 2019 “and will be performed in Keyport, Washington; Portsmouth, Rhode Island; and Tewksbury, Massachusetts.”
According to RTT News (8/29), the 98% of the contract purchase is destined for the US Navy, while the remaining 2% are for the Government of Thailand under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
The MK 54, which UPI (8/29, Ziezulewicz) reports was formerly named the Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo, “integrates existing torpedo hardware and software from past torpedo programs with state-of-the-art commercial, off-the-shelf digital signal processing technology, the Navy said.” It can be deployed from surface ships, helicopters, or “fixed-wing aircraft to track, classify and attack underwater targets, Raytheon said.”
Seeking Alpha (8/29, Minkoff) offers brief coverage of the contract details.
DOE Proposing Water Heater Efficiency Rule.
The Hill (8/29, Devaney) reports the Energy Department is “proposing new efficiency rules for water heaters.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE announced yesterday that “a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that would ‘establish a mathematical conversion factor to translate the current energy conservation standards.’” Commercial and consumer water heaters would fall under the efficiency rule. The public will have a chance to comment for the next 30 days.
DC Gets Renewable Energy To Meet Mandate From Out Of State.
The Washington Examiner (8/29) reports that according to the Department of Energy, Washington DC gets the majority of its renewable energy from states as far away as Indiana because the city isn’t able to “produce much on its own.” Approximately “half of the power plants that can meet the District of Columbia’s renewable energy mandate are in Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, the Energy Information Administration…said Monday.” EIA said the city is reaching its renewable energy mandate target “by buying credits and paying millions of dollars in what are essentially fines for not having enough renewables on hand to generate electricity with, according the EIA analysis.” In 2015, “electricity sales totaled 11.3 billion kilowatt hours, with the mandate of 12 percent of that coming from renewable energy,” the EIA said. “Because D.C. has limited renewable capacity, almost all of the … compliance targets were met by generation outside of the District through the purchase of renewable energy credits.”
New STEM Academy Replaces Campostella Elementary School In Norfolk.
WVEC-TV Hampton Roads, VA (8/29, Zverjako) reports that on Monday, the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella opened. According to WVEC-TV, “The facility is just one of five new schools that will be opening up in the city within the next two years. It is equipped with specialized classrooms, media and nature centers, and students even will have access to a 3-D printer.” The new school will serve students in K-8, and replaces Campostella Elementary School.
Utah Elementary School Teacher Trains To Be Astronaut Over Summer Vacation.
The Deseret (UT) News (8/29, Benson) reports that E.G. King Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Tami Pandoff, spent a week at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, training “to be an astronaut through the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy program.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Native Americans Protesting In North Dakota In Hopes Of Halting Major Oil Pipeline.
• ED’s Moves Against ITT Pave Way For Students To Seek Loan Forgiveness.
• Energy Department To Provide $40 Million Funding For Wave Energy Research.
• NYTimes A1: Italy’s Anti-Seismic Codes Challenge Reconstruction Of Ancient Architecture.
• NYTimes A1: GM Airbag Supplier First Informed Auto Industry Of Safety Risks In Takata Airbags Two Decades Ago.
• Biden Announces $2.45 Billion Loan For Amtrak Upgrades In Northeast Corridor.
• Marvel Comics Covers To Promote STEAM Disciplines.