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

Leading the News

North Dakota Authorities Build Up Presence Before Oil Pipeline Ruling.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports that “North Dakota authorities are recruiting law enforcement officers from across the state to guard the site of a protest in anticipation of an impending federal ruling on whether to block the construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline.” The AP says the buildup “comes after a skirmish between protesters and private security guards on Saturday that turned violent; the crowd dispersed when officers arrived, and no one was arrested.” The report explains that “a ruling is expected by Friday on the tribe’s challenge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits to the Dallas, Texas-based operators of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cross North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.”

Reporting similarly are Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7), NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7),

North Dakota Warrant Issued For Green Party Candidate Over Role In Pipeline Protest.The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Bromwich, Subscription Publication) reports law enforcement officials said Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, are facing North Dakota criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges “after she spray-painted a bulldozer at a rally protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.” In a statement, the Stein campaign said that it “supports the courageous Indigenous leaders who are taking a stand to protect future generations from the deadly greed of the fossil fuel industry.” It also confirmed “that she had spray-painted a bulldozer.”

Reporting similarly are The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Cama), Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7), TIME Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7), and theWall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Maher, Subscription Publication).

Support For North Dakota Pipeline Protest Grows. The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, A1, Heim) reports in a 1,574-word analysis that the “simmering showdown” between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the company developing the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline has become a national movement for Native Americans. In the past few weeks, thousand of Native Americans representing tribes from across the country have traveled to the Standing Rock reservation in central North Dakota to protest the construction of the pipeline. Frank White Bull, a tribal council member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said “the people have shown us they’re here to help us. We made our stance and the Indian Nation heard us. It’s making us whole. It’s making us wanyi oyate. One nation. We’re not alone.” The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has called on the US to provide the tribe a “fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Cullen, Munoz) also reports that the protest has drawn “international attention and the support of movie stars and social media.” The report explains that “protesters have included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.” Reuters says the tribe has “enlisted the help of online petition website, which helped it gather more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the pipeline.” The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Lindsay) also reports.

U.N. Investigator Says Dakota Access Violates Tribe’s Rights. Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Subscription Publication) reports that “a United Nations investigator says the U.S. government violated the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by approving permits for the contentious Dakota Access oil pipeline.” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said, “Apparently, the pipeline was decided without obtaining the consent [of the tribe], so of course that is a violation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

McKibben: Clinton Needs To Address Dakota Access Pipeline. Bill McKibben, founder of the global climate campaign, writes at the Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) Hillary Clinton should end her silence “about the drama unfolding on the high prairie, where native Americans are bravely resisting the further destruction of their water and land.” He says she has been silent “despite the fact that the Democratic platform devotes more space to protecting Native American rights than any single other issue.” McKibben says that if she did speak out “perhaps the Obama administration and the Army Corps would wake up.”

Higher Education

ITT Students Look To Uncertain Future In Wake Of Shutdown.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Mack) reports on the some 40,000 students who are displaced by the closures, explaining that the firm has given next to no information about whether they’ll be able to transfer credits or get refunds. Though students were blindsided by the shutdown, it “was unsurprising to many who followed the recent unraveling of ITT Tech, which reached a critical point in late August” when ED “banned the school from enrolling new students who rely on federal financial aid — ITT’s main source of revenue — and required it to put aside $247.3 million in case the school went out of business.”

The CBS Evening News (9/7, story 8, 1:55, Pelley) reported that ITT Technical Institute, “one of the largest for-profit colleges, [was] shut down yesterday with little warning.” CBS’ Don Dahler said, “Last month, the Department of Education banned ITT from enrolling new students who received federal aid. That turned out to be the death sentence since 80 percent of ITT students depend on that aid. … ITT calls this a lawless execution caused by the Department of Education.” ITT’s 40,000 students and 8,000 employees are unclear what to do next. Students can apply to have their federal student loans forgiven, or “they cant try to have those credits transferred to another school,” Dahler said.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that students looking to continue their studies are finding few simple answers. Though some other schools are offering to take ITT students, transferring credits is complicated because they don’t always share accreditors, course catalogs are different, and such a move makes students ineligible to get Federal forgiveness for their loans. Moreover, if students transfer to other for-profit colleges, they stand the risk that the second school could also come under regulatory scrutiny.

ITT Had Long History Of Investigations, Sanctions. The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Cohen, Subscription Publication) reports that though ITT’s “collapse” may have seemed sudden to a casual observer, “the unraveling stretches further back, to a time when ITT was a Wall Street darling, raking in record profits.” The piece notes that ITT campuses have seen Federal raids with agents “closing schools briefly as they hunted for evidence of fraud related to student recruitment, enrollment, dropout rates, grade inflation, loans, and reported job placements and salaries.” The piece details the firm’s history, saying that its character changed when “liberals and conservatives began a wholehearted embrace of privatization on the theory that professionally managed, profit-oriented businesses could do a better job of delivering public services than nonprofits or the government.”

Two Former ITT Employees Sue Over Abrupt Layoffs. The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports that a pair of ITT employees have sued the firm over their layoffs, “claiming the company violated federal law by not providing 60 days’ notice.” The two are seeking class action on behalf of some 8,000 “employees who are losing their jobs as a result of ITT’s decision to shut down” its campuses. The piece explains that the Federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act “requires 60 days’ advance written notice in the case of mass layoffs or plant closings.” The Indianapolis Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports the complaint also “claims the layoff violates California labor laws, which also require 60 days notice during mass layoffs.”

ED Expected To Continue For-Profit Regulation Push.

The Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) “Morning Education” blog reports that even as ITT is engulfed in its “sudden collapse,” ED “is set this fall to make a series of other big decisions on for-profit colleges.” The piece touches on ED’s pending decision, due by September 21, as to “whether to follow through on its recommendation to terminate federal recognition of” the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and schools, “the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit schools.” Meanwhile, ED must decide whether to recognize a change in ownership of the University of Phoenix and finalize plans “to toughen federal oversight of financially troubled colleges” and a “rule governing how state regulators oversee online programs that enroll students in their state.”

Clinton Renews Commitment To Provide Child Care On College Campuses.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that Hillary Clinton has renewed “her commitment to invest in child-care programs on college campuses, spotlighting the need for a service that has been disappearing at many schools just as the number of student parents grows.” Clinton said during a campaign event in Florida, “I want to do more to help you to make sure every student parent has a safe place to bring their child while they’re studying and working, and trying to get their education.”

Feds Release Report On Post-High School Remedial Education.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports that the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics this week released a report analyzing data regarding college students who took remedial courses and those who completed them. The study followed first-time students from 2003 to 2009, finding that 68 percent of community college students took remedial courses (with almost half taking at least two), and that 40 percent of incoming students at public, four-year institutions took such courses (with 21 percent taking two or more). The report also found that 49 percent of community college students completed their remedial course work, as did 59 percent of students at public, four-year institutions. Finally, 16 percent of remedial course takers at community colleges and 15 percent of their counterparts at public, four-year colleges failed to complete any remedial courses at all.

Envisioning the Future of the Maker Movement
A new report from ASEE on this important development in engineering education.Election Forescasting
Election Analytics, a student run STEM project at the University of Illinois (with ASEE member Sheldon Jacobson as advisor) makes sense of the daily stream national polling data to provide a snapshot of the current state of the election, with no political commentary or partisan opinion.

Research and Development

Stanford Scientists Develop Cooling Fabric.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Overly) reports scientists at Stanford University last week announced “a plastic-based material” that could keep “skin several degrees cooler than clothing made of cotton.” The fabric is made of cotton mesh with two sheets of polyethylene treated to “allow water vapor to pass through it.” The fabric allows not just perspiration, but infrared radiation “to escape” and so is able to keep the “skin’s surface 3.6 degrees cooler than cotton.” The scientists are still working on color, texture and “other characteristics” to make the fabric more attractive.

Photo Shows Amazon UAV Prototype In Flight.

The Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Duell) publishes a photo of an Amazon Prime Air UAV prototype being tested in Cambridgeshire, UK, marking “the first time a prototype of Amazon’s new delivery drone has been seen in action in Britain.” The prototype hovered some 50 feet above the ground for two minutes before a group of engineers “picked up the device and made some adjustments.” It was later spotted carrying a large cardboard package. A company spokesperson told the Daily Mail on Wednesday, “We are rapidly experimenting and iterating on Prime Air, working to make it a reality. This includes controlled testing of many different experimental vehicle components, designs, and configurations.”

Advantages, Drawbacks Of Joint R&D Discussed.

In a lengthy piece for Semiconductor Engineering Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Dorsch), editor Jeff Dorsch explores the positive and negative aspects associated with companies pursuing joint research and development projects. Challenges cited, especially in corporate and academic partnerships, include control over intellectual property, pace of work, and differing opinions on commercialization.

Global Developments

China’s C919 Could Fly Before Year’s End.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports that China’s “long-delayed” C919 jet “may make its maiden flight by the end of this year,” according to Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC). COMAC’s Lu Zheng said Wednesday, “We are working hard to achieve our maiden voyage by around the end of 2016.” According to Lu, the C919 will be the first large-scale Chinese civilian aircraft developed in accordance with international test-flight standards. The C919 is intended to compete with the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, but its development “has been held back by inexperience, a shortage of local aerospace design and engineering talent, as well as a lack of home-grown companies with the technology to help drive the project,” according to industry sources.

Industry News

GE Makes $1.4 Billion Offer For Arcam, SLM Solutions.

Aerospace Manufacturing and Design Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports that GE has made a $1.4 billion offer to acquire Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group. Both companies would report to GE Aviation President David Joyce. “Additive manufacturing fits GE’s business model to lead in technologies that leverage systems integration, material science, services, and digital productivity,” said Joyce. “It will benefit from the GE Store and our core engineering capability.” The boards of both companies welcomed the offer and recommended that shareholders accept it. “Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company. We are creating a more productive world with our innovative world-class machines, materials, and software. We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE. “Additive manufacturing will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world.”

Additional coverage is available from Optics (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) and Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/6).

Engineering and Public Policy

SCE Files Letter Agreements For Two Battery Storage Projects.

Electric Light & Power Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Cassell) reports Southern California Edison recently filed a letter agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “with itself as the project developer for the Center Install EGT Project, an energy storage facility in Norwalk, California, to be operating by Dec. 31, 2016.” The article reports the letter agreement provides “an interim agreement whereby SCE as transmission owner will commence the needed engineering, design, procurement and construction work to interconnect this project.” SCE also filed a second letter agreement with the FERC “with itself for the Grapeland EGT Install Project, located at Rancho Cucamonga, California, and due to be in-service by Dec. 31, 2016.” Both projects will provide 10 megawatts of battery energy storage, and are “the latest in a spate of storage projects” triggered by a California Public Utilities Commission resolution “authorizing expedited procurement of storage resources to ensure electric reliability in the Los Angeles Basin due to limited operations of the fire-damaged Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility.”

Senate Advances Waterways Bill With Flint Aid.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Zanona) reports the Senate agreed to advance a $9.4 billion waterways bill on Wednesday that provides emergency funding for lead-contaminated communities including Flint. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said on the Senate floor that they will allow a limited amount of amendments, but added that the provisions must be germane, submitted by noon on Friday and be vetted by both the Republican and Democratic bill managers. “The Flint component would be paid for by cutting funds from the Energy Department’s Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Technology loan program.”

DOE Correcting Mistake On Lamp Standards.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Devaney) reports the Energy Department is fixing “a mistake in new energy conservation standards for lamps.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE “issued new test procedures fro integrated light-emitting diode (LED) lamps in July, but is now going back to fix a minor error in the rule.” The fix will go into effect right away.

Solar Startup Develops Sun-tracking Systems For Commercial Rooftops.

Fortune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports on startup Edisun Microgrids which launched technology that brings what are called “trackers” onto the roofs of commercial and industrial buildings “to move the panels so that they face the sun throughout the day as it moves across the sky.” The system can boost the energy generated by rooftop panels by over 30 percent compared to other trackers modified for rooftops, and over 40 percent for rooftop solar panels that aren’t using trackers, according to CEO Bill Gross

Energy Groups Urge Congress To Renew Expiring Tax Credits.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Henry) reports that trade groups for biomass, hydro-power, and other energy sources sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to renew expiring tax credits for their industries before they expire at the end of the year. Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Koss, Subscription Publication) reports, in the letter, the trade groups wrote that the looming expiration of the tax credits puts their “industries at a significant competitive disadvantage with wind and solar projects with which we compete in bidding on State-level Requests for Proposals for renewable electricity, particularly now that they have the certainty that their tax incentives will be in place over a longer term.” Greenwire adds that the letter was signed by the National Hydropower Association, American Biogas Council, Biomass Power Association and Energy Recovery Council.

Elementary/Secondary Education

LA High School Students Design Prosthetic Hand For Third Grader.

Citing the American Press, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7) reports engineering students at a high school in Lake Charles, LA, are designing a prosthetic hand for Gillis Elementary third grader Harley Guy, who is “missing the fingers because he was born with amniotic band syndrome.” The students will use a 3-D printer to create the prosthetic, which they will make using a mold and measurements of Guy’s hand. The students are reportedly “casting the molds and designing the hand, which they hope to have ready by the end of the month.” Design teacher Marielle Myers was contacted by the family of an additional Calcasieu Parish district student “about creating a hand for their child, and Myers said she hopes to work on it soon.”

Vocational Education Programs Resurging Across US.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Bloom) reports that vocational education programs appear to “be making a comeback” at high schools across the US. After “15 years or so” of cutting vocational education programs in favor of “getting students ready for four-year colleges,” lawmakers “from local districts all the way up to the White House” are again focusing on career education. However, “it could be a bumpy, slow-motion return” because many schools “are scrambling to rebuild career-technical programs, find teachers and purchase equipment” to rebuild their depleted programs. A recent national Phi Delta Kappa International poll found that “most Americans would pick career-tech” programs if given the choice between those or “more advanced academics” at public schools.

Electric Car Project Will Encourage Alabama Students’ STEM, Leadership, And Career Skills.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/7, Cook) reports that students at the Houston County Career Technical Center in Alabama will build and race an electric car. With the purchase of an electric vehicle kit funded by the Farley Nuclear Plant, pre-engineering students will assemble the vehicle, and they will be able to enter the completed vehicle in an endurance race. Principal Glenn Maloy said the electric car affords a project-based learning opportunity that provides relevant job skills and cross-curricular opportunities as students design, build, and market the vehicle. Teacher Shannon Jimmerson hopes the project will encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers. Neecie Tarrant, communications coordinator for the nuclear plant, said such projects provide students with fundamental science and teamwork skills, qualities the plant seeks in employees.

California’s First College And Career Readiness Metric Still Being Fine-Tuned.

EdSource Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/6, Leal) reports that California officials abandoned a key component of the state’s College and Career Readiness Indicator, or CCI, due to insufficient data measuring how well high schools prepare students for careers. Part of California’s effort to create a new accountability system, the CCI is intended to evaluate students by Advanced Placement test scores. The initial draft of the CCI, presented in July, placed students in four achievement tiers — “Well Prepared,” “Prepared,” “Approaching Prepared” and “Not Yet Prepared” — depending on the readiness goals met, but that model was criticized as too focused on college preparation. A revised version to be presented Thursday includes the four tiers but no “Well Prepared” benchmark. “In the absence of robust career data, valid and reliable career criteria for the ‘Well Prepared’ performance level cannot be determined,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a report, adding that his staff would continue to work on an improved system for gauging career readiness.

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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