Leading the News
GM, TARDEC Partner In Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Car Project.
Reuters (8/30) reports General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, are collaborating to develop a Colorado-based fuel cell electric vehicle, scheduled to be unveiled in October at an Association of the United States Army fall meeting. CNET News (8/30) said in an online video that the concept truck will help TARDEC test fuel cell viability in the field and lead GM into “a bit of non-traditional powertrain development.”
Mashable (8/30, Jaynes) reports the collaboration will enable TARDEC to use consumer-driven automotive technology without developing its own hydrogen fuel cell plant. TARDEC will provide GM with feedback on its applications of the non-standard fuel cell technology, which will allow GM to determine the durability of the hydrogen fuel cell. Forbes (8/30) explains the project will also benefit GM’s research into fuel cell stack technology, which enables vehicles to travel longer distances than traditional electric cars powered with batteries. The article notes that GM and Honda have also partnered together to create fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems by 2020.
The Detroit Free Press (8/30, Gardner) reports TARDEC director Paul Rogers explained, “Hydrogen fuel cells as a power source have the potential to bring to the force incredibly valuable capabilities.” Rogers said he expects the concept truck to offer quieter mobility and electricity generation “for needs away from the vehicle.” The Army plans to conduct demonstrations and user assessments next year.
Digital Trends (8/30) says GM and TARDEC’s relationship began in 2013, when the two parties agreed to partner together to research potential hydrogen fuel cell materials and designs. Research for the project will take place at TARDEC’s Michigan facility, where GM has a technical center.
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.
VA Warns Veterans Of Possible Collapse Of ITT. Military (8/30) reports that the Veterans Affairs Department is warning veterans enrolled in schools owned by ITT Educational Services that they should “brace for the possibility the for-profit college franchise ‘goes out of business.’” The article describes the unfolding troubles the firm is facing in the wake of ED’s recent decision to bar its students from Federal student aid, and says that while ED’s sanctions don’t impact GI Bill benefits, they do raise concerns about the chain’s future.
Des Moines Register: Crackdown On ITT Long Overdue. An editorial in the Des Moines (IA) Register (8/30) says ED’s moves against ITT are overdue, saying they follow “fraud lawsuits filed against the school by the SEC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” The piece says ED “is concerned that the school is nearing financial collapse and could take students and taxpayers down with it,” quoting Education Secretary John King saying, “Looking at all of the risk factors, it’s clear that we need increased financial protection and that it simply would not be responsible or in the best interest of students to allow ITT to continue enrolling new students who rely on federal student aid funds.”
Colorado University Gets NSF Funding To Research Ways To Increase Students’ Interest In Science.
The Greeley (CO) Tribune (8/30) reports that the National Science Foundation has awarded a $255,000 grant to researchers at the University of Northern Colorado who “are looking into whether a research-based class at UNC boosts student retention in science.” The three-year study will incorporate “data at three other colleges and universities that are incorporating the class into their curriculum.”
Documentary Fires Back At Public College Critics.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (8/30, Mangan) reports that a documentary called “Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt and Reform America’s Public Universities,” which takes the view that public universities “are reeling from the effects of 35 years of underfunding, combined with a coordinated campaign by reform-minded groups to treat universities as businesses and students as customers,” is scheduled to open on Friday in Washington, and next week, in New York City. The documentary “includes lengthy interviews with some of the most polarizing figures who have sought to shape the futures of the flagship campuses at the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of North Carolina. In many cases, the battles being waged reflected similar philosophical shifts.”
Research and Development
New Contact Lenses Gradually Deliver Medication To The Eye.
In “To Your Health,” the Washington Post (8/30, Cha) reports investigators have “come up with a new type of contact-lens system that gradually delivers medication to” the eye while being worn. The lenses have “a thin film that holds a medication, but only on the periphery so that the middle is clear.” What’s more, the “middle part can be designed with no refractive power…or to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness, as contacts usually do.”
HealthDay (8/30, Dallas) points out, “This kind of contact lens could help people who have a hard time using eye drops to treat conditions such as glaucoma.” The lenses “were able to effectively lower the eye pressure in monkeys with glaucoma at least as much as the standard eye drops used to treat the disease.” The findings were published online in Ophthalmology.
EmDrive Paper To Be Published In AIAA Journal Of Propulsion And Power.
International Business Times (UK) (8/30) reports that the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is set to publish a paper, titled “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio Frequency Cavity in Vacuum,” on NASA Eagleworks Laboratories’ work on achieving thrust from EmDrive space propulsion technology. The International Business Times reports the paper will be published in the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, and describes the AIAA as “one of the world’s largest technical societies dedicated to aerospace innovations.”
Blasting News (CHE) (8/30, Whittington) reports that the drive is the “brainchild” of British engineer Roger Shawyer.
Researchers Explore Communication Between Driverless Cars And Pedestrians.
The Atlantic (8/30, LaFrance) reports that designers and engineers of driverless cars are exploring means of communication between driverless cars and pedestrians. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that “Nearly 5,000 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2014 in the United States alone.” The article notes that driverless cars “may be able to reduce those statistics significantly,” but that “even the best-programmed autonomous cars will be unable to prevent every pedestrian death unless those vehicles can find a way to prompt safer pedestrian behaviors.” Experts say that “gaining public trust” will be a major challenge for the autonomous vehicle industry as the technology continues to emerge.
Solar Developers, Duke Energy Agree On Grid Connection Standards.
The Charlotte (NC) Observer (8/30, Henderson) reports Duke Energy has reached an agreement with “33 utility-scale solar developer…on grid connection criteria” following “a dispute over how they were applied.” The utility says the a number of solar farms built North Carolina “are sometimes going up in inconvenient places.” Solar farms in North Carolina “are most often built in rural places served by lower-voltage distribution systems.” Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless said, “In some areas of our system we’re reaching a saturation point with solar, and in some places it is ill-placed.” He added that “too much energy from solar farms may flow into some circuits…while elsewhere the off-and-on nature of solar power causes energy fluctuations for customers.” Energy Central (8/30) and Engineering News-Record (8/30) also carried the piece.
The Charlotte (NC) Business Journal (8/30, Subscription Publication) has a paywalled report headlined, “Duke Energy Compromises On New Requirement That Threatened To Curtail Solar Projects.”
Volvo To Hire 400 Engineers.
Reuters (8/30, Pollard) reports Volvo announced on Tuesday that it will hire an additional 400 engineers in 2017 to increase its safety technology, autonomous driving, and electrification development initiatives. The company also revealed that it is opening a research and development facility in Sweden, at which it will staff an initial 35 employees in September.
MarketWatch (8/30) says Volvo’s new recruits will predominately focus on software development. The article notes that Volvo recently announced its new partnership with Uber as well and is developing autonomous driving pilot projects in both London and China. Additionally, Volvo plans to launch a fully electric vehicle by 2019.
Central Washington University Geologists Receive Grant To Study Earthquakes In Chile.
KNDU-TV Yakima, WA (8/30) reports on its website that two Central Washington University geology professors received over a quarter million dollars in grant money from the National Science Foundation “towards a three year research project in Chile, where the professors and some students will study the powerful effects of earthquakes and tsunamis.” Professor Lisa Ely said “that Chile’s earthquake zone is almost a mirror image to the Pacific Northwest’s.” She has traveled to Chile to study these zones scene since 2009 and was present when a massive earthquake struck Chile in 2010. The data she gathers can be used to further “understanding of how and why these earthquakes occur in Chile, and how they could happen here in Washington.”
The Yakima (WA) Herald-Republic (8/30, Guerro) also reports on this story.
Drummond’s Departure Heightens Self-Driving Car Rivalry Between Google, Uber.
USA Today (8/30, Cava) reports Google executive David Drummond’s departure from Uber’s board of directors signifies an intensifying rivalry between Google and Uber in the race to develop autonomous driving vehicles. The article says Uber is aggressively pursuing the self-driving car market and has not only recently acquired Otto, but also increased its Advanced Technologies Center staff “with engineers from longtime self-driving car hotbed Carnegie Mellon University.” Meanwhile, Google has suffered “recent high-level departures” from its autonomous car program, including Chris Urmson, the program’s “public face” and “longtime technology lead.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Study: Clean Air Act Upgrade Spurred Strip Mining For Coal.
Greenwire (8/30, Brown, Subscription Publication) reports that according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Policy, “air pollution regulations have likely played a role in elevated mortality rates near mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia” with mountaintop-removal activity. The study focuses on the “unintended consequences” to central Appalachia of changes to the Clean Air Act. Following Congressional efforts to curb pollution in the 1990s, demand for low-sulfur coal, common deep beneath the mountains of central Appalachia, “exploded.”
US Universities Have Cut Coal Consumption.
Fuel Fix (TX) (8/30) reports that according to the Energy Department, colleges and universities in the US “pushed by rising hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, have cut coal consumption by almost two-thirds over the past eight years.” The institutions have “reduced the amount of coal they burn to 700,000 tons in 2015 from 2 million tons in 2008, a dip of 65 percent.” Furthermore, “consumption fell at all 57 institutions that burned coal in 2008.” Twenty schools have “quit using the fossil fuel entirely.” The San Antonio Express-News (8/30) also carries this article on its website.
Virginia’s First Community Solar Project To Benefit Western Part Of State.
The AP (8/30) reports the “first community solar project” in Virginia will “provide energy” for over “200 homes and businesses in the western part of the state.” According to the office of Gov. Terry McAuliffe “the solar project at the BARC Electric facility allows homes and businesses in different communities to get solar power generated electricity from one place instead of putting panels on their own rooftops.” The project, officials say, will provide a quarter “of the energy needs for homes and businesses across BARC’s electric system in Rockbridge, Bath, Highland, Augusta and Alleghany counties.”
Rhode Island Residents Push Back Against Wind Turbines.
The AP (8/30) reports despite the first US offshore wind farm being off its coast, Rhode Island residents “are not so fond of wind turbines sprouting up on land near where they live” and “conventional battles over aesthetics and property values have stymied wind projects” in the state. Compared to “the five-turbine, 30-megawatt offshore wind farm recently completed in blustery state waters and scheduled to switch on this fall,” the state’s “20 land-based wind turbines are more modest generators of energy, with a combined capacity of about 21 megawatts, enough to power more than 6,000 homes.” But the state “is tiny and densely populated” and “people who like the idea of wind energy in the abstract rarely want it near their own backyards, according to a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Rhode Island that found that the turbines don’t hurt property values.”
Career & Tech Ed Programs Popular But Difficult To Establish In NY.
Chalkbeat New York (8/30, Disare) reports that as career and technical education migrates into divergent new fields, New York state’s “long and stringent approval process” hinders nascent programs. That process has “raised the quality and rigor of courses to better prepare students for college and career,” according to a state education department spokesperson, but its rigidity impedes schools preparing students for new careers, say critics. The problem is that career paths are evolving and not conducive to a CTE system requiring multiple years for approval. CTE teacher certification is especially difficult. In 2009, the state established a panel to rethink CTE and its goals, with an eye toward preparing graduates for college, and state officials determined in 2014 to allow a technical exam to double as a high school exit exam, but questions remain as to whether CTE should be rethought more radically. Meanwhile, “bureaucratic hurdles” faced by CTE programs have left some foregoing the approval process altogether.
South San Francisco “Science Garage” To Give Students Biotech Lab Experience.
The San Francisco Chronicle (8/30, Colliver) reports that students at El Camino High School in South San Francisco will be afforded real-life laboratory experience on their own campus next year with the establishment of Science Garage, a functioning biotechnology classroom and laboratory. The 6,900 square foot equipped with centrifuges, thermal cyclers, gel electrophoresis machines, and other devises funded with a $7.8 million donation from Genentech Inc.
State Department Tackles Gender Gap In STEM.
Education Week (8/31, Lewis) reports on programs sponsored by the US Department of State engaging girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, where men largely outnumber women worldwide. Among them is “TechGirls,” a summer program which brings students from the Middle East and North Africa to visit tech companies, take part in a coding camp, and engage in service activities – all intended to cultivate their interest in STEM fields. After TechGirls participants return home, their work continues, as the program requires completion of a technology-related project. The State Department also sponsors the WiSci Girls STEAM Camp, which convenes students from around the world for a STEM and art-focused summer camp. “By increasing opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields, we are getting closer to realizing greater equality for women across the world and widening the pipeline for the next generation of female leaders,” Sarah Shields, the State Department’s program officer for TechGirls, said in an email.
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Maryland Officials Fine Power Plant Owners Companies For Polluting State Rivers.
• Morgan State Dean Credited With Educating Black Engineers In Baltimore.
• Simulated “Mars Mission” Crew Emerges After 365 Days.
• Russia Announces Test Of Pulse-Detonation Rocket Engine.
• Apple Watch 2 Could Add Longer Lasting Battery.
• Anti-Fracking Initiatives Will Not Be On Colorado Ballot.
• New STEM Academy Replaces Campostella Elementary School In Norfolk.