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

Leading the News

Senate Considering Legislation That Would Provide Funding To Flint To Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure.

The Detroit Free Press Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Spangler) reports the US Senate is considering the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which would provide $100 million to improve the drinking water infrastructure in areas where an emergency has been declared because of high lead levels. The article points out that Flint is the only place in the US that would currently qualify for such funding.

Former State Official Facing Criminal Charges Scheduled To Appear In Court Next Week. MLive (MI) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Fonger) reports Corrinne Miller, the former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Epidemiology, is scheduled to appear in Genesee District Court next week where she is facing criminal charges. Miller is the only defendant facing charges in relation to the Flint water crisis that is scheduled to make a court appearance next week amid speculation that she may have reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, but Miller declined to comment when asked about the rumors.

Higher Education

ITT Closure Fuels Debate Over ED’s Regulation Of For-Profit Schools.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Douglas-Gabriel) reports on its front page that “the closure of ITT Technical Institutes, a national chain of career schools with a 50-year legacy, is fueling a debate over the federal government’s aggressive policing of for-profit higher education and whether it could destroy the industry.” ED is “holding for-profit colleges such as ITT accountable after years of consumer complaints about shoddy programs, deceptive marketing and high loan defaults.” The Post writes that “to some experts, the collapse of ITT this week…is the latest evidence” that the federal government “is going after the industry by pushing tough employment regulations that only really apply to for-profits.” However, Education Secretary John King said recently that the Obama Administration “is not singling out any group of schools but instead is working to ensure that students – and billions of dollars in taxpayer money – are not put in jeopardy.”

NYTimes Faults Lax Regulation Of For-Profit Colleges.In an editorial, the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Subscription Publication) criticizes the Education Department for failing “over decades to regulate for-profit colleges,” which it calls “predator schools” that hit students “with crushing debt and [give] them worthless degrees in return.” The Times focuses on the ITT closure, which leaves “about 35,000 students in the lurch,” and calls on the Education Department “to adopt and vigorously enforce recently proposed rules that shield the taxpayers from loss when a school is forced to close.”

Koch Industries Donates $1M For Business, Engineering Scholarships At University Of Kansas.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports that Koch Industries is “donating $1 million for scholarships for business and engineering students at the University of Kansas.” According to the article, “$600,000 will go toward recruiting, retaining and providing scholarships to underrepresented and first-generation business students,” and “the rest of the money is earmarked for scholarships for juniors and seniors studying engineering and business.” Jeff Gentry, the CEO of INVISTA, said that “the hope is that the scholarships will ‘enable promising KU students to develop their innate talents, succeed, and help others do the same.’”

Additional coverage was provided by the Wichita (KS) Eagle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), the Wichita (KS) Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Subscription Publication), the Topeka (KS) Capital-Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), the Lawrence (KS) Journal World Share to FacebookShare to
Twitter (9/8), the Hays (KS) Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), the University of Kansas Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), and KANU-FM Lawrence (KS) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Lawrence, KS (9/8).

Naval Academy Names New $106 Million Building After Woman Who Helped Shape Computer Age.

The Baltimore Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Duncan) reports that the Naval Academy plans to name its new $106 million cybersecurity building “after Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, a computing pioneer who helped lay the foundations digital age through her work in the Navy during World War II.” The new “building will be the first at any of the three military academies to be named for a woman.” Naval Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter said, while announcing that name at a function recognizing 40 years of female students at the Annapolis school, said, “Admiral Hopper’s foresight in computing and pioneering contributions to cyber security, memorialized in ‘Hopper Hall,’ will inspire midshipmen, support their technical and professional development, and serve as a role model to encourage midshipmen ingenuity and determination for many years to come.”

Chicago Nonprofit Training Veterans In Coding Boot Camp.

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Elejalde-Ruiz) reports that Code Platoon, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization, is “addressing both tech talent gaps and challenges to veteran employment” by putting “military veterans through an immersive coding boot camp.” The organization is graduating its first class of nine veterans, and Code Platoon founder and executive director Rodrigo Levy hopes this will be the start of “a broader push to put veterans on paths to lucrative, high-demand software development jobs.” Levy said that while comparable camps charge upwards of $12,700, and provide a $500 scholarship to veterans, Code Platoon provides “a $10,500 scholarship, funded mostly by sponsor companies as well as some private fundraising and foundation money, so they end up paying just $2,500 of the $13,000 price tag for the 14-week course.”

Pennsylvania State University Faculty Union Votes On Strike.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports that “faculty at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities are voting on whether to authorize a strike.” Contract “negotiations are focused around health care, course load and class size.” According to the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, there has never been a strike, although there have been close calls in recent years.

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

NASA Launches OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft On Mission To Asteroid Bennu.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Chang, Subscription Publication) reports that NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft from Cape Canaveral on Thursday evening atop an Atlas 5 rocket. The rocket entered Earth orbit 12 minutes after liftoff, firing its engines again to put the spacecraft onto a path around the sun. After separating from the second stage, the OSIRIS-REx “deployed its solar arrays and established communications with controllers on the ground.” Lockheed Martin’s Richard Kuhns says, “The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is happy and healthy.” OSIRIS-REx is planned to travel to the asteroid Bennu, where it will take a sample of its surface material before returning it to Earth for analysis.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Dean) quotes Mission Lead Scientist Dante Lauretta, who says, “We’re really going back to the dawn of our solar system. … Some areas of this early solar system had key organic materials and ices that accreted, and we think that was really critical for establishing the habitability of our planet.”

NASA Releases High-Definition Virtual Reality Video Of Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Moon) reports that NASA has released a 360 ultra high-definition video of its Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, where astronauts train on a full-scale replica of the International Space Station (ISS), situated underwater in the world’s largest indoor pool. Astronauts log more than 100 hours performing various tasks on the underwater replica in preparation for visits to the ISS. The video was created using Harmonic’s Virtual Reality technology.

MIT Coordinating Clean Energy Research.

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports MIT’s MIT Energy Initiative “is looking to harness the world’s brightest minds to develop technology and ideas to provide ‘clean, affordable and plentiful sources of energy.’” The piece quotes MIT research engineer Jean Francois Hamel saying, “In our lab here we are producing biofuels as part of student projects, which are being sponsored in part the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, based in Colorado.”

Global Developments

Shell Considering Next Tender For Dutch North Sea Wind Farm.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports Royal Dutch Shell, which in July “lost a bid to build a Dutch North Sea wind park…is interested in entering a second tender process opening next week, an official said on Thursday.” Shell executive Marjan van Loon on Thursday told parliament “the potential for wind energy in the Netherlands is really very attractive.” A spokesman for the company couldn’t “confirm that Shell would bid on the 680 megawatt (MW) Borssele III and IV wind farms, but said it was studying the option.”

Dong Energy Installs World’s Largest Wind Turbines Off UK.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports Dong Energy has installed the first of the world’s largest wind turbines, standing 195 meters tall from sea level and have a rotor diameter of 164 meters. The 32 turbines, made by Vestas, will each be able to generate 8 megawatts of electricity.

Industry News

Carbon Fiber Wheel Company Plans To Take Product Mainstream.

CNET News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports Australian company Carbon Revolution plans to bring its manufactured carbon-fiber wheels to mainstream vehicles models. To date, the company’s carbon fiber wheels have been featured on Koenigssegg’s One: 1 supercar and Ford’s Shelby GT350R. Both companies stated “carbon fiber wheels for there cars to improve track performance,” but they also “work towards a recent goal of automotive engineers, increasing fuel efficiency through reducing weight.” Carbon Revolution Executive Director Brett Gass states the weight savings presented through carbon fiber wheels “would be a boon on electric cars, where efficiency is critical” and highlighted the wheels’ lack of noise.

Google To Purchase Apigee.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Stynes, Subscription Publication) reports Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to purchase Apigee Corp. at a price of around $625 million or $17.40 per share. Apigee makes software that helps customers communicate across Application Programming Interfaces. Walgreens, AT&T, and Burberry are listed as major clients. Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Cao) confirms the Journal’s numbers.

Vator News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Loeb) reports Walgreens used Apigee to allow it to offer its photo-printing service through an iPhone app. Apigee’s software enabled “Walgreen’s engineers to make the website photo-sharing available on mobile devices.” MediaPost Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(9/8, Sullivan) also mentions the mobile app Photo Prints Walgreens created with Apigee software, as does ZDNet Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Gagliordi) .

Other coverage also mentions Walgreens as a customer of Apigee including Stack (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), ITworld Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Gross),investing News Network Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Rivera), AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), CIO Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Boulton), SiliconTap (CA) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8), The Tech Portal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/9, Sachdeva), 9 to 5 Google Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Schoon), eWeek Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Taft), and Law360 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Akinnibi).

Engineering and Public Policy

Study: Coal Plants Could Burn Trees Killed By Western Drought.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Mooney) reports that 66 million dead trees across California may be used to generate power as alternative fuel for coal plants, according to Erica Belmont, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming. Coal plants face strong climate regulations under the Clean Power Plan, and “in this regulatory context, burning trees that are already destined to decompose, catch fire, or be incinerated — and thus, give off greenhouse gases to the atmosphere no matter what — could conceivably supplant some of coal’s voluminous emissions.” The US Forest Service spends considerable money to treat forests and rid them of these dangerous trees, but could instead give them to companies that burn them for energy, the study suggests.

California Governor Signs Sweeping Greenhouse Gas Emissions Legislation.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Dillon, Megerian) reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a law “committing the state to some of the most drastic greenhouse gas emission reductions in the world.” The legislation passed last week by the California State Legislature requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Reaching that goal “will likely involve significantly more electric cars, additional renewable energy and drastic cuts in emissions from dairy farms and other key industries.”

North Dakota Governor Calls In National Guard Against Pipeline Protesters.

The CBS Evening News (9/8, story 6, 2:10, Pelley) reported that 200 Native American tribes are “fighting construction of an oil pipeline” in North Dakota, and North Dakota’s governor has called in the National Guard. CBS’ Mark Albert said, “The clashes near Cannon Ball, North Dakota have at times been rowdy and physical, with demonstrators pepper-sprayed and construction equipment damaged.” A federal judge is expected to rule Friday on the tribes’ request for an injunction against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the demonstrators told CBS that “win or lose, they won’t leave.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Duara) reports that the National Guard is “so far limited to serving as an imposing, uniformed presence at what it called ‘traffic information points’” in North Dakota, “but it could be put to more active duty if needed.”

Reid Criticizes NEI’s Position On Spent Nuclear Fuel Site.

The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reported Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wrote in a letter this week to Nuclear Energy Institute chief Marv Fertel, “NEI’s response to the Energy Department’s efforts to develop a consent-based siting process for spent nuclear fuel is sad and unfortunate.” Reid “said that the two men and their staff tried to figure out a way to address the vexing nuclear waste issue nearly a decade ago only for NEI to take the ‘unfortunate’ position in favor of continuing the Yucca Mountain project.” E&E Daily Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Northey, Subscription Publication) reports Reid wrote that the NEI’s position on Yucca Mountain “untenable and unrealistic.”

California Governor Signs Climate Change Bill Thursday.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Henry) reports California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday “signed a sweeping new climate change bill” that codified “one of the country’s strongest greenhouse gas emissions goals.” The bill requires the state “to cut its emissions by at least 40 percent, from 1990 levels, by 2030 and make new investments in climate change mitigation efforts.” Republicans in the state oppose the bill, “saying it would hurt businesses and ratepayers and give too much powers to state regulators.” The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Dillon, Megerian) reports that at the signing ceremony Brown said, “What we’re doing here is far-sighted, as well as far-reaching. … California is doing something that no other state has done.” The Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Siders) reports Brown also signed Assembly Bill 197 today, “giving lawmakers more authority over the California Air Resources Board.” Brown added, “The bills today…keep California on the move to clean up the environment, to encourage vast innovation and to make sure we have the environmental resilience that the Californians really want and expect.” The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Emshwiller, Lazo, Subscription Publication), the Los Angeles Daily News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) and Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) also provide coverage.

Audit Calls Out Dozens Of Tax Credits Given Out By Oregon DOE.

The Oregonian Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8) reports over “a quarter of the large business energy tax credits” give out “by the Oregon Department of Energy from 2006 to 2014 ‘seemed improper, violated statutes or rules, or exhibited suspicious activity,’ according to an outside investigative audit contracted by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.” The audit found “concerns” with “some $347 million in tax credits issued by the agency, or one-third of program’s projected $1 billion price tag to Oregon taxpayers.” Although the audit did not find “direct evidence of fraud,” its partial examination of the agency’s “project files uncovered sufficient ‘circumstantial evidence of suspicious behavior’ in 79 business energy tax credits…to warrant referral to the Oregon Department of Justice for further review.” ThePortland (OR) Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Subscription Publication) reports the BETC was “popular among renewable energy developers.”

Energy Storage On Track To Grow At Record Levels This Year.

ClimateWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Cusick, Subscription Publication) reports that, according to data released Wednesday by GTM Research, the US “energy storage sector is on track to notch another record growth year in 2016, spurred by government backing, rising utility investment and the scaling of storage systems to provide backup power over longer periods.” According to the data, the US deployed “41.2 megawatts of energy storage capacity during the second quarter,” 126 percent more than what was deployed during the previous quarter and “slightly higher than the same quarter of 2015.”

Rift Inside Solar Industry Becomes Public.

E&E Publishing Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Kuckro, Subscription Publication) reports that a “long-simmering rift” within the solar industry has become public just days before thousands of people from the solar industry gathers in Las Vegas for the association’s Solar Power International trade show, the largest solar trade show in North America. E&E Publishing reports that the rift began several days ago when rooftop solar executives sent a letter to the solar industry and its customers, accusing the Solar Energy Industries Association of being “unwilling to go to bat for rooftop solar companies who are…’in a pitched battle to preserve the stability of their local markets’” and choosing to instead focus more on utility-scale solar issues.

Elementary/Secondary Education

New York’s Lengthy Approval Process Delays Implementation Of CTE Programs.

The Atlantic Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/8, Disare) reports that many career- and technical-education programs (CTE) “are slowed down by the state’s long and stringent approval process.” Former director of career and technical education at Urban Assembly, Eric Watts said “at a minimum, it takes about four years to build a program the state will sign off on,” and sometimes, the process takes up to six years. Critics argue that the length of the process “discourages the creation of certified CTE programs and leaves little flexibility for schools trying to prepare students for new, and potentially lucrative, careers. The approval process can take years, and it often frustrates businesses partnering with schools.” However, New York State Department of Education spokesperson Emily DeSantis said that this “comprehensive process empowers schools to run a multi-year, career-focused curriculum,” and raises “the quality and rigor of courses to better prepare students for college and career.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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