Leading the News
Sioux Tribal Leader Heads Protest Against Dakota Access Pipeline.
The AP (9/3, Macpherson) reports on protests led by Dave Archambault II who heads the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access pipeline which he says “will disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for thousands of tribal members on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation” and downstream. The tribe has filed suit seeking to overturn the US Army Corps of Engineers’ approval. At present, Energy Transfer Partners has suspended the project while awaiting the ruling, but ETP has also sued Archambault “for interfering with the pipeline.” Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox, whose “reservation produces about 20 percent of the state’s daily oil output” supports Archambault, urging pipeline builders to “figure another way around the river and the reservation.”
Several Injured In Confrontation. The AP (9/3, Macpherson) in a separate article said the protest “turned violent Saturday after tribal officials say construction crews destroyed American Indian burial and cultural sites.” Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said that “four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured” in a confrontation between protesters and construction crews. Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said that “six people had been bitten by security dogs,” and “at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.” Archambault said that crews had “removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for 2 miles,” adding, “The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced.”
The Bismarck (ND) Tribune (9/3, Eckroth) reports some of the “protesters broke through a fence line at an alternate construction site” of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Saturday. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said, “Any suggestion that today’s event was a peaceful protest is false. This was more like a riot than a protest.”
California Blocks ITT’s Access To GI Bill Funding.
Stars And Stripes (9/2, Horton) reports that the California State Approving Agency for Veteran Education “revoked GI Bill approval for all 15 campuses of ITT Technical Institute on Thursday, a decision that will affect more than 1,300 California veterans and beneficiaries at the troubled for-profit school.” The agency released a statement saying “the move was to ‘protect the hard-earned GI Bill education benefits for California veterans.’” The piece explains that the troubled chain’s woes skyrocketed when ED recently “stripped federal student aid for all new students at ITT” and “required ITT to pay more than $250 million in assurances to offset losses in federal loans if the company went under.”
Research Firm CEO: ITT Victim Of High Tuition, Low Quality.The Indianapolis Business Journal (9/3) reports on the declining fortunes of ITT Educational Services over the past decade, noting that analysts say the firm “is likely to go out of business following the U.S. Education Department’s Aug. 25 order barring it from enrolling new students who depend on federal aid.” The piece notes that while the firm has its defenders, who criticize the Obama Administration for giving ITT “a raw deal,” ITT gets no “sympathy from Bradley Safalow, the founder and CEO of PAA Research, who began waving the red flag about ITT seven years ago.” Safalow says “tuition was too high (about $45,000 for a two-year associate’s degree) and the quality of the educational programs too low.”
ITT-Run Indianapolis Charter Shut Down. The Indianapolis Star (9/4, Wang) reports that Indiana charter school officials have shuttered Early Career Academy in Indianapolis just weeks into the school year, saying it “was widely dysfunctional and operating in violation of state law.” The Star reports the school was open for just a year and explains that it is owned by ITT Educational Services, which “now sits on the precipice of bankruptcy and has closed its doors to new postsecondary students.”
Murray State Engineering Program Receives Full ABET Accreditation.
KFVS-TV Cape Girardeau, MO (9/1) reports Murray State University’s flagship engineering degree program in engineering physics “has received full reaccreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).” The university’s rigorous four-year engineering degree “offers tracks of study in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and advanced physics.” The article says the degree is “particularly strong in preparing students to work in cutting-edge technologies where traditional science and engineering disciplines overlap.”
Clinton Campaign Hires Point To Continued Pressure On For Profit Sector.
Inside Higher Ed (9/2) reports that the Clinton campaign has hired a pair of advisers who have a history of holding the for-profit college industry’s feet to the fire, signaling continued strict oversight should she become president. The piece cites the hiring of Rohit Chopra, who had been serving as a special adviser to Education Secretary John King, and its association with former ED official Robert Shireman, a chief architect of the gainful employment rule.
University Of Chicago Weighs Disciplinary Measures To Protect Academic Freedom.
Reuters (9/2, Ingram) reports the University of Chicago is considering measures for cracking down on hecklers and dissenters on campus who disrupt unpopular speakers, including “suspensions, expulsions or other punishment for those it sees as violating free speech rights.” Ecology and evolution professor Jerry Coyne, who has been a critic of the dissenters, said, “What they’re basically saying is, ‘We have the right to harass anybody we don’t like.’” As part of the move, the university is also looking to “streamline a ‘cumbersome’ student disciplinary system,” to prevent the interference of “freedom of expression, inquiry and debate.” Reuters says this is just the latest “volley in a battle” over academic freedom on university campuses.
WPost Examines Bill Clinton’s Lucrative Honorary Post At For-Profit College.
The Washington Post (9/5, A1, Helderman, Lee) takes a 2,600-word look “inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college.” The former president was paid $17.6 million over five years by Laureate International Universities, and the company’s president, Doug Becker, was personally included by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an invitation to a private State dinner on higher education policy in 2009. The Post says that there is “no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange” for the hiring, but the company “had much to gain from an association with a globally connected ex-president and, indirectly, the United States’ chief diplomat,” including “an added level of credibility for the business as it pursued an aggressive expansion strategy overseas, occasionally tangling with foreign regulators.”
South Carolina Professors Research Outcomes Of Coding Boot Camp Grads.
The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier (9/4) reports that a pair of College of Charleston professors are researching what kind of students are drawn to coding boot camps and “how they fare after graduating.” Their planned study will be “one of the first studies of the code school business and how it compares to a traditional, four-year computer science education.”
Research and Development
Michigan State Professor To Test Stress Sensors On Mackinac Bridge.
Drawing from the Lansing State Journal, the AP (9/4) reported that Michigan State University engineering professor Nizar Lajnef is testing stress sensor prototypes on the aging Mackinac Bridge in East Lansing, Michigan, and other structures across the US as part of a “project he’s been working on for seven years with funding from the Federal Highway Administration.” Lajnef said, if successful, the sensors could be incorporated into the structures to monitor stress over time – a problem researchers have been trying to solve “for a long time,” he said. “When the stresses are outside the normal range, the sensor will tell you so that you can fix it before it is too late, before the components break,” he said.
WWTV-TV Cadillac (MI) Cadillac, MI (9/5, Munguia) reports online that MSU is among several universities “that received part of a $1.5 million grant, which will be used to install sensor prototypes on structures across the country.”
NASA IG Says Crewed Space Travel Likely Won’t Happen Until 2018.
The Christian Science Monitor (9/3, Lindsay) says a NASA OIG report indicates the agency’s “ability to resume crewed space travel by the end of 2017, stating that 2018 is a more achievable goal at this point.” The Monitor says the report was published before the Friday SpaceX rocket explosion, which it says “underscor[es] the inspector general’s point almost before he was done making it.” While delays in crewed missions into space have typically been the result of underfunding, this time, the article says, it’s “due to myriad technical difficulties and overly optimistic timeline projections.”
NASA To Launch Spacecraft To Take Soil Sample From Asteroid.
CBS News (9/5, Harwood) reports NASA is launching the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Thursday, “an SUV-size, robot arm-equipped spacecraft” being sent “on a two-year voyage” to the “small near-Earth asteroid known as Bennu” in order to retrieve a soil sample and return to Earth. It will be launched from Cape Canaveral. Bennu was chosen because of its location, slow rotation, and expectation that “it is rich in carbon compounds and, possibly, organic precursors to life.”
Texas A&M Joins Solar Research Initiative Led By University Of Texas At Austin And Funded By NSF.
The Killeen (TX) Daily Herald (9/5) reports on a joint project of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin – “a major solar research initiative” funded by a “four-year, $400,000 grant from NSF.” It will be part of NSF’s Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics, which is “led by UT Austin.” The project is intended to address the technical difficulties raised by widespread adoption of solar energy.
After Explosion, Some Ask Whether Musk Is Pushing SpaceX Too Hard.
The Christian Science Monitor (9/4, Dussault) asks whether with “the explosion of a SpaceX rocket last week”, CEO Elon Musk is “pushing too hard?” Former NASA official Scott Pace said regarding the explosion, “There is probably some human factor involved here. To what extent was human error part of this? And if so, why? Are you running your people too hard? What are your safety requirements?” Yet former ISS program manager Michael Suffredini said after a 2015 explosion, “We’ve always assumed we would lose a vehicle every so often.” And the company “bounced back quickly”, but the recent explosion means that the company’s future launches will be delayed as another launch pad will not be available at Cape Canaveral until November.
Milwaukee Microgrid May Boost Energy Research.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (9/3) reports Milwaukee’s Century City development would be an industrial-scale microgrid that is being studied by We Energies and the Electric Power Research Institute. It is hoped the microgrid project will attract and retain Wisconsin energy and power engineering jobs.
Sempra Energy Unit Acquires Mexico’s Largest Wind Farm.
The Wall Street Journal (9/5, Harrup, Subscription Publication) reports Sempra Energy’s Mexico unit Ienova said Monday it has signed an agreement to buy two wind farms in northeastern Mexico from Blackstone Energy Partners, Fisterra Energy, and others for $375 million and assume $477 in project financing debt. Bloomberg News (9/5, Williams) reports Ienova will acquire 100 percent of the Ventika I and II wind parks in Nuevo Leon state, the country’s biggest wind complex with an installed capacity of 252 megawatts from 84 turbines.
Google, Uber Appear To Be Preparing For Competition Over Ride-Sharing Space.
The Huffington Post (9/2, Grenoble) reports on the plans by Google’s “popular Waze app … to explore a carpooling feature in the Bay Area sometime this fall,” pointing out that the Waze announcement came around the same time Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummon “announced his resignation from Uber’s board of directors.” Even as official statements from Alphabet people and Uber reaffirmed the “collaborative spirit” between the two Silicon Valley titans, “it’s hard not to read this week’s events as signs that Google is planning to get into the ride-hailing game in a big way.” Aside from the fact that Google has enough money to jump into any business venture it wants, “perhaps even more importantly, it has the detailed mapping data necessary to actually put self-driving cars on the road ― an ultimate goal for Uber, Lyft and many other companies.”
Manufacturers’ Self-Driving Car Campaigns Scrutinized.
The Wall Street Journal (9/4, Spector, Subscription Publication) reported Mercedes-Benz in late July pulled a television ad through which it described its E-Class sedan as a “self-driving car from a very self-driven company.” According to a company spokesman, Mercedes pulled the ad to “avoid any potential confusion,” an issue the Journal said other car manufacturers–notably Tesla–have faced in their marketing campaigns. Attorney Mike Nelson explained that car “companies are in an arms race to get the technology out there and demonstrate they have superior engineering,” and because “they’re all exposed on duties to warn and consumer-protection laws for falsely advertising capabilities,” they face “a lot of potential for misuses and misunderstanding.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Quake Prompts Oklahoma To Shut Down Wastewater Wells.
The CBS Weekend News (9/4, story 8, 2:10, Quijano) reported the magnitude 5.6 earthquake in Pawnee, Oklahoma on Saturday has “renewed concerns about the disposal of wastewater from oil & gas production.” The quake prompted the state to begin “the fastest shutdown of wastewater wells in state’s history – 37 are scheduled to be closed.” However, that is only a “small fraction” of the 4,200 currently permitted by the state. Susan Hough of the US Geological Survey said regulatory steps will help reduce the rate of quakes, but she added, “But we don’t have an exact crystal ball, so there is the potential certainly for more earthquakes,” and “bigger earthquakes than what we have seen.”
ABC World News (9/4, story 8, 1:35, Llamas) reported that dozens of the wells that were ordered to be shut down are around the quake’s epicenter. The quake was felt “from Texas to Nebraska” and was the “most powerful to hit the state in years and tied for the strongest ever.”
Small Portion Of Oklahoma’s Wastewater Wells Closed After Weekend Earthquake.
The AP (9/4, Miller) reports that the wastewater wells being closed down in Oklahoma following Saturday’s 5.6 magnitude earthquake “are just a fraction” of the roughly 4,200 wells in the state, and 700 in the “15,000-square-mile ‘Area of Interest’” identified by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. OCC spokesman Matt Skinner said “at any one time, there are about 3,200 active disposal wells.”
Yellowstone Facing Challenges Of Climate Change.
Drawing on coverage from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the AP (9/3) reports on how Yellowstone National Park is dealing with the challenge of climate change. Jennifer Carpenter, the chief of the Yellowstone Center for Resources, “oversees the science that comes out of the center’s six divisions” and last month “she said they could do more to study climate change.” Carpenter stated, “Right now we’ve got a pretty small program in the park, and my intention is to grow that program so we can better meet the challenges of climate change in terms of what our response might be.” A recent study coming out of the park “looked at the impact of declining snowpack on the users of over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles and snow coaches” and “said that climate change has caused significant snowpack declines across the western part of the country in the last 50 years.”
Wells Fargo Apologizes For Ad Suggesting Teens Choose STEM Over Arts.
The New York Times (9/5, Paulson, Subscription Publication) reports Wells Fargo has apologized for a series of print ads promoting a “teen financial education day” program that “seemed to suggest that teenagers should set aside their artistic dreams and choose careers in science.” The ads showed young men and women smiling with headlines reading “A ballerina” or “an actor” yesterday, but an “engineer” or “botanist” today. The pictures had the tagline, “Let’s get them ready for tomorrow.” After “a number of prominent artists took to social media” to object to the “implicit career guidance,” the bank issued an apology on Twitter and said it would change the ad.
Virginia BOE Set To Hear About New Workforce-Friendly Graduation Standards.
The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch (9/4, Llovio) reports the Virginia Board of Education is scheduled to hear later this month about “a plan being created to change graduation standards across the state, an effort aimed at better preparing students for new workforce realities.” The piece explains that a new state law requires “the state Department of Education to create a profile identifying what skills students need to be better prepared for life after high school and to then change statewide graduation requirements to meet those expectations.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• Baidu And NVIDIA Form Partnership To Create Autonomous Driving Platform.
• ITT Discloses Details Of Efforts To Remain Afloat.
• Ohio State Engineers Make Electric Car Battery Breakthrough.
• Manufacturing Jobs Going Unfilled As Skill Requirements Get Tougher.
• US Defense Suppliers Turn To Asia As Growth Market For Military Aircraft.
• Lowe’s To Begin Using In-Store Robots This Month.
• FERC Requires ISO New England To Modify Incremental Power Plant Capacity Plan.