ASEE First Bell – Breaking news in the engineering and technology field

Leading the News

Nevada, Utah Named Finalists For National Geothermal Energy Research Lab.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Brean) reports Nevada and Utah have been announced as the two finalists “to host a federal laboratory to develop the next generation of geothermal energy technology.” On Wednesday, the Energy Department announced “that its choice to host the new Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal, or FORGE, is down to a pair of candidate sites: one within the U.S. Naval Air Station in Fallon and the other near Milford, Utah.” The team in Nevada “is led by Sandia National Laboratories and includes the U.S. Navy; the U.S. Geological Survey; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the University of Nevada, Reno; Reno-based Ormat Technologies; California-based consulting firm GeothermEx; and the Minnesota-based Itasca Consulting Group.” The effort in Utah is being lead by the University of Utah’s Energy & Geoscience Institute “with partners such as the USGS, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Temple University and others.”

The Deseret (UT) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, O’Donoghue) reports the two sites will “share $29 million in funding under the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, or FORGE program.” The News adds that the “idea is to harness a potential 100 gigawatts of power by injecting cold water deep into the earth to interact with hot, crystalline rocks…and subsequently transfer that heat to the surface to produce electricity.” DOE Undersecretary for science and energy Franklin Orr said, “Enhanced Geothermal Systems can help us tap into a vast energy resource with the potential to generate enough clean energy to power millions of homes.” The Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal Share to
FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) also notes this story.

Higher Education

Wells Fargo, Amazon Abruptly End Student-Loan Discount Program.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that Wells Fargo has stopped offering customers discounted interest rates on private student loans “barely a month” after beginning the program. Neither company explained the partnership’s abrupt end. Advocacy groups were pleased by the decision to end the program. “We congratulate Amazon for deciding to stop promoting Wells Fargo’s costly private education loans,” said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Andriotis, Subscription Publication) reports the partnership was intended to drive Amazon Prime Student membership and Wells Fargo student loan applications. Both companies confirmed the end of the arrangement, but neither would offer details as to why it ended.

The Seattle Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, González) comments that it was “an unusually short life for a partnership announced with great fanfare just in mid-July.”

CNN Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Vasel) reports that when the deal was first announced John Rasmussen, Wells Fargo’s head of personal lending group, said in a statement, “This is a tremendous opportunity to bring together two great brands. At Amazon and Wells Fargo, delivering exceptional customer service and helping customers are at the center of everything we do.” Additional coverage is provided by Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Shankar, Freed), MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Berman), Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, McGrath), and Seeking Alpha Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(8/31, McCaffrey).

UC San Diego Names New Contextual Robotics Institute Chief.

XConomy Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) reports “veteran tech industry manager and expert in neural-based processing technology” Todd Hylton has been named executive director of UC San Diego’s new Contextual Robotics Institute. The piece describes Hylton’s work at startup Brain Corp., which was “founded in 2009 to develop computer systems and software based on algorithms that emulate the ‘spiking neuron’ processes of the human brain.” Hylton has worked on research which led to the development of “BrainOS, software technology designed to enable robotic systems to adapt to their environments and learn from humans.”

Tennessee’s First Manufacturing Degree Program Set To Begin.

KFVS-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Cape Girardeau, MO (8/31) reports the University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Engineering “has announced plans to add a concentration in manufacturing engineering.” This will be “the first and only training program for manufacturing engineers in Tennessee,” which is expected to “help fill a statewide employment gap in the industry.” UT Martin Professor Dr. Robert LeMaster said there’s “a high demand for manufacturing engineers (with undergraduate degrees) in the state, and nobody is producing them.” The university program will begin in the fall of 2017.

CFPB: Student Loan Servicers Standing Between Borrowers, Repayment Plans.

Fox Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports that ED “has often stated that few borrowers are taking advantage of the repayment options available to them,” and says that a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report “shows that the problem may be with the loan servicers, rather than with borrowers.” The report says that consumers “face many difficulties when applying for one of the different types of income-based repayment plans,” and have faced issues applying for relief because servicers “may have incorrect information or be working from old data, and rather than asking borrowers to provide the correct information, they reject the application.”

NCES: Military Students More Likely To Attend For-Profit, Online Colleges.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports that according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2008 and 2012, “the percentage of military undergraduates attending for-profit institutions increased to 24 percent from 14 percent…while the percentage attending community colleges declined to 37 percent from 42 percent.” Moreover, “military students were more likely to enroll in online programs than their nonmilitary peers.”

ED Grants To Help Massachusetts Schools Implement ELT.

The Springfield (MA) Republican Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports that Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester announced Wednesday that 17 schools in a dozen districts will receive $1.7 million in Federal funding “to support expanded school hours.” The grants will “support a longer school day or extended day programs outside of traditional school hours.” WWLP-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Springfield, MA (8/31) reports that the funding comes through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and is intended to “allow students more time for instruction, not only in core subjects such as math and language arts, but also enrichment activities.”

ABET Update
The Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) Criteria Committee met in Baltimore last month to continue reviewing the EAC Criteria 3 and 5 Proposal. After spending months categorizing, summarizing, and evaluating each one of the hundreds of comments, the committee has taken that feedback into consideration and made a number of modifications to the content of the proposal.

The Engineering Area Delegation will review the proposal in late October, as it has the final approval authority for these proposed changes. The Delegation has three options: approve the proposed criteria as written and implement, delay final approval for one year and seek additional public comment, or reject the proposal.  More details are here.

Envisioning the Future of the Maker Movement
A new report from ASEE on this important development in engineering education.

Sustainable Development Primer for Higher Education Presidents, Chancellors, Trustees and Senior Leaders
This new primer describes the sustainability related, crucial roles and tasks for presidents, trustees, and senior leadership and explains how sustainability is a robust national trend in higher education

Research and Development

IBM’s Watson Shows Of Natural Language Processing In New App At US Open.

CBS News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Mastroianni) reports IBM’s Watson is “powering a mobile app for real-time information” about the US Open tournament that tests the AI computing system’s natural language processing and “enlists visual recognition technology.” The app is “part of IBM’s larger push to show off cognitive computing’s” applications in fields ranging from “medical research to fashion.” IBM Worldwide Sponsorship Marketing Program Manager John Kent said, “Watson’s uses are multi-dimensional. This is part of the reason why we sponsor events like this – to showcase our capabilities.” He added, “So far, we have had hundreds of questions…on a daily basis” and “what we were noticing was that people weren’t asking questions, per se – instead they’d use one word, like ‘smoothie.’ Now, if they type in ‘smoothie,’ Watson is more informed and will respond to that. That’s the beauty of Watson, we don’t have to re-program it, we re-educate it, we train it.”

IBM’s Watson Created A Trailer For Horror Movie Using AI. Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Nguyen) reports IBM’s Watson analyzed movie “trailers of over 100 horror and thriller film trailers to understand what sounds, scenes, and emotions to incorporate” in its trailer for the horror film “Morgan,” selecting ten of the best moments to include. A filmmaker then stitched the footage together to create the trailer, cutting the “time and labor involved in the trailer- making process down from 10-30 days to 24 hours.”

Smog From Oil, Gas Drilling May Cause Children’s Asthma Attacks.

The Dallas Morning News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Mosier) reports new research from Clean Air Task Force and Earthworks suggests that “smog from oil and gas production could be responsible for a nation-worst 45,800 asthma attacks among Dallas-area children by 2025.” The report, titled “Gasping for Breath,” also “estimated that industry-related smog would cause 750,000 summer asthma attacks among children and lead to 500,000 missed days of school.” The findings were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Reilly, Subscription Publication) reports the research ranked Dallas-Fort Worth as the “hardest-hit area,” with New York City as the runner-up, followed by Washington, DC, and Baltimore; Houston; Denver; and Atlanta. The report calls it “critical” for the EPA to wrap up work on “control technique guidelines” to assist state regulators in curbing VOC emissions from existing sources in areas with high ozone levels.

In a more than 1,300 word article, the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Baker) also covers the story. “Oil and gas has not been subject to air pollution standards in the way that other major polluters have, and there are feasible and cost effective ways to regulate it,” said the study’s lead author Lesley Fleischman. The study “examines the projected emissions from May to September based on EPA modeling for expected levels by 2025.” The report also “supports stronger regulations of methane emissions by federal and state governments.”

The Texas Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Malewitz) reports oil industry officials “sought to discredit the study, which is not peer-reviewed.” North Texans for Natural Gas spokesman Steve Everley said, “The claim that oil and gas development is a major contributor to Texas ozone levels has been repeatedly disproven with state data, and these groups know it.”

UC Davis Researchers Deploying Clouds Of Robot “larvae” Into Ocean.

The Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports that UC Davis students “are deploying ‘robot larvae’ into the ocean,” explaining that the devices “mimic clouds of microscopic marine larvae, such as baby crabs, mussels, clams and rockfish.” The students are attempting to solve “a decades-old and surprisingly contentious scientific mystery: Where do marine larvae go, how do they get there and back, and what allows them to do this?” The research touches on such issues as “managing marine protected areas, fisheries, invasive species and the impacts of climate change.”


Noblis’ Roger Mason: Cyber Workforce Training, Retention Efforts Should Center On Career Path Understanding.

ExecutiveBiz Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Wilkers) reports on recent research indicating “a fear among government and private industry leaders” that inadequate “numbers or proper skillsets” in the US cybersecurity workforce will lead to “consequences” – including a survey from Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance that found “almost half of respondents aged 18-26 – ‘millennials’ – claimed no cyber education programs or activities were available to them.” Noblis senior vice president for national security and intelligence Roger Mason, a former assistant national intelligence director for systems and resource analyses, said government agencies and businesses have to consider how they can help prospective cyber employees understand available career paths in the field with education programs and in-career training initiatives. Mason also “[said] machines and other technology platforms have largely taken over the job of threat data collection,” which “has shifted the cyber analyst’s job to one that looks for common threads in the information, according to Mason.”

Industry News

Samsung Announces New Gear S3 Smartwatches.

Coverage of Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatch announcement was broad across both tech and major media outlets, with many outlets praising both the design and the features of the smartwatches. The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports Samsung announced its Gear S3, a smartwatch “with GPS capabilities and the ability to call or text for help by triple-tapping a side button.” The AP notes there will be three S3 models, one with LTE, and the other two lacking it and differing “primarily in style,” though all three will have GPS. The AP also reports Samsung will continue to sell its Gear S2 for “those who consider the S3 too big on their wrist.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Wode, Maushagen) reports that Samsung introduced two watches, the Gear S3 Frontier and the Gear S3 Classic, both featuring “large faces that are likely to appeal mainly to male customers.” Reuters notes that the Frontier comes with 4G capability and “does not need to be ‘tethered’ to the wearer’s smartphone.” The watches come with always-on displays, “dust and water resistance features, a built in speaker” and Samsung Pay. Reuters also points out that Apple is expected to announce its new iteration of the Apple Watch next week, but likely won’t introduce “cellular radio [until] 2017.”

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Baig, Blumenthal) reports that the Samsung will announce prices for the S3 Frontier and the S3 Classic at a later date, with both expected to be released this fall on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. USA Today notes the watches are water resistant at five feet for up to half an hour, and run on Samsung’s Tizen OS. The watches also are “compatible with a variety of Android handsets,” and come with 22mm replaceable bands. USA Today also says the watches feel “nice on the wrist,” with the Classic looking “refined,” appearing “more as a regular watch than a computer on the wrist.” The article adds that battery life is 3-4 days.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Preuschat, Subscription Publication) reports that while overall smartwatch sales fell in the second quarter, Samsung’s watch sales rose, capturing 16% of the market. The Journal also says there are two versions, the Classic and the Frontier.

Engineering and Public Policy

FAA’s New Drone Rule Eases Application Process For Commercial Operators.

The Flyer Talk Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Reddy) reports the Federal Aviation Administration’s new drone rule is now in effect and “is intended to ease the application process for commercial operators and widen the scope of innovation regarding the use of unmanned vehicles.” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, “People are captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer, and they are already creating business opportunities in this exciting new field.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta added that, “The FAA’s role is to set a flexible framework of safety without impeding innovation,” and predicts “as many as 600,000” drones will be used commercially during the first year the rule is in place.

Michigan Autonomous Vehicle Project Bills Advance.

The Detroit Free Press Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Gardner) reports that, with the approval of a Michigan Senate panel, a legislative package of “four bills aimed at accelerating autonomous vehicle projects” will move to the full state Senate. Kirk Steudle, chairman of the Michigan Department of Transportation, said, “The governor said he wants this bill passed so we can get it signed and give certainty to the auto industry. It is moving so fast, even from when the legislation was introduced.”

Montana Governor Discusses Capturing Plant Emissions With DOE Reps.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana had a meeting set with federal energy officials on Wednesday “to discuss the potential to capture carbon dioxide from burning coal at” the Colstrip power plant. The plant “faces an uncertain future because of the large amounts of pollution it emits.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) also reports federal officials said that “retrofitting” Colstrip “to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions would cost at least $1.2 billion.” DOE representatives “presented that finding to Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday based on an analysis of the Colstrip power plant.” They added that “retrofitting the plant could reduce emissions by 30 to 47 percent.”

KGVO-FM Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Missoula, MT (8/31) reports on its website that Republican Montana State Senator Dwayne Ankney said, “I thought those individuals from the Department of Energy did a very good job. … I think they were happy be there. I don’t think the fossil fuel branch of the DOE is allowed out of the basement in Washington D.C. too often so quite frankly they were very enthusiastic about the presentation.” KTVH-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Helena, MT (8/31) also provides coverage on its website.

Elementary/Secondary Education

CTE Student Says Program Helps Him Prepare For Business.

The Philadelphia Public Schools Notebook Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Schoder) carries a piece offering “the perspective of one District student” who has been in a career and technical education program. It is part of the fall guide to high schools, which has a focus on career and technical education. Benslimani McFarlane, is a student at Martin Luther King High School in the business administration CTE program. He said he enrolled in the program in order to “learn more how to manage my time and how I can be a businessperson in the future.” He also said that “he often works with his classmates on projects.”

Indiana School’s Agriculture Class Teaches Science, Health, And Math.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31) reports on a “project-based agriculture class” at Highland Middle School in Anderson, Indiana. The course includes an “introduction to livestock, lessons on renewable resources and hydroponic gardening in the winter.” The students also “get out of the classroom.” The students in the program “said they’d never been to a farm and had no prior experience growing” plants. It is “an alternative way to teach students the usual lessons in science, health and nutrition, and math.”

Poll: Schools Should Offer More Career And Technical Programs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Bloom) reports on a national poll released this week by Phi Delta Kappa International, in which more than two thirds of Americans said public schools should add more technical and career-focused classes than honors courses, with only 21 percent preferring honors classes. Respondents nonetheless said schools’ main objective should be preparing students academically, as opposed to readying them for the workforce. The survey was taken this spring and based on a random, representative sample of 1,221 adults in all 50 states. The margin of sampling error was ±3.5 percentage points.

School To Teach Computer Coding To Early Elementary Students.

The Eau Claire (WI) Leader-Telegram Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Dohms) reports that Montessori Charter School in Eau Claire intends to hone students’ leadership and problem-solving skills by teaching coding this school year, which starts on Thursday. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade will be taught programming lessons available for free at, and coding will be incorporated into the school’s science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, principal Todd Johnson said. “Coding is great for helping kids learn how to solve problems, and it helps to develop grit or perseverance,” Johnson said. The district also hopes to upgrade its technology infrastructure through a referendum before voters in November. “It’s a really exciting opportunity for students to be able to learn how to code,” said school board member Joe Luginbill. “A lot of what’s driving our economy is software, and to really unlock that potential for kids and get the technology at their fingertips helps equip them to be successful post-secondary.”

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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