Leading the News
Obama: Administration Rolling Out Rules To Ensure Self-Driving Cars Are Safe.
In an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9/19), President Obama discusses the potential benefits of self-driving cars including “safer, more accessible driving” and “less congested, less polluted roads.” He adds, however, that “we have to get it right. Americans deserve to know they’ll be safe today even as we develop and deploy the technologies of tomorrow.” To that end, the President writes, his Administration “is rolling out new rules of the road for automated vehicles – guidance that the manufacturers developing self-driving cars should follow to keep us safe.” In addition, the Administration is “giving guidance to states on how to wisely regulate these new technologies.” The President writes that his Administration is “determined to help the private sector get this technology right from the start,” and notes that technology is “about making people’s lives better,” which will “be the focus of the first-ever White House Frontiers Conference on Oct. 13” in Pittsburgh.
Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, and Transportation Secretary Foxx unveiled the “long-awaited guidelines” in a joint appearance Monday, the New York Times (9/19, Kang, Subscription Publication) reports, promising “strong safety oversight, but sent a clear signal to automakers that the door was wide open for driverless cars.” The guidelines “outlined safety expectations and encouraged uniform rules for the nascent technology.” According to the Times, they “signaled to motorists that automated vehicles would not be a wild west where companies can try anything without oversight, but were also vague enough that automakers and technology companies would not fear over-regulation.” In a front-page story, the Washington Post (9/19, A1, Halsey, Laris) says federal officials “intend to aggressively shape the emergence of driverless cars, increasing their role well beyond the traditional recalls of cars when they prove defective,” a determination that Foxx “spelled out…in issuing a long-awaited policy paper that details 15 points he expects automakers to comply with as they rush to put autonomous cars on the road.” In a conference call with reporters, Foxx said, “As technology races forward, the government could sit back and play catch-up down the road, or we can keep pace with these developments, working to protect public safety while allowing innovation to flourish.”
The Detroit Free Press (9/19, Gardner) says the framework announced Monday “contained four sections — vehicle performance guidance, a model state policy, current regulatory tools and modern regulatory tools.” Said Foxx, “This is just the first step. … The policy will be updated annually to ensure it remains relevant and timely and will continue to be shaped by public comment on the entire policy at www.transportation.gov/AV.” The Free Press adds that the “major automakers and suppliers are closely watching NHTSA’s proposals.” USA Today (9/19, Cava) reports that officials “stressed that the government reserves the right to create new rules for the nascent industry, and reiterated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have the power to ‘remove from the road’ any vehicle whose technology poses a safety risk.” Specifically, NHTSA “noted that certain semi-autonomous driving systems – ‘ones in which the human continues to monitor the driving environment and perform some of the driving task’ – may be subject to recall.”
The Detroit News (9/19) calls the guidelines, which will be published Tuesday, “unprecedented,” and notes that this is “the federal government’s first attempt to regulate the emerging technology, which is already on the road in some parts of the country.” It comes as “Michigan and other states attempt to amend regulations to allow automakers and tech companies such as Google Inc. to test and ultimately operate autonomous vehicles without drivers.”
National Science Foundation Awards Grants To Promote STEM Participation.
Several media outlets are covering recently-awarded grants from the National Science Foundation aimed at promoting participation in STEM courses, particularly among female and minority students. For example,WBMA-TV Birmingham, AL (9/19) reports the NSF has given the University of Alabama a $5 million grant “to increase the number of under-represented minority groups in” STEM fields. WBRC-TV Birmingham, AL (9/19) reports the school “leads a group of nine four-year colleges and other partners participating in the five-year Alabama Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation,” which “provides outreach activities that promote STEM fields to middle-school students and others over time.”
Meanwhile, the Idaho Business Review (9/19) reports the NSF “has partnered with Boise State and five other universities to help engineering students succeed,” giving Boise State “$907,000 to create an academic redshirt program for engineering students.” The program “targets nontraditional students, such as those from low-income families who are eligible for Pell Grants, and provides extra help freshman year.”
UT Chancellor To Seek State funds For ORNL Data Science Doctoral Program.
The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (9/19, Boehnke) reports University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said Monday he will ask the Legislature to fund a new engineering building and for a new data science doctoral program that will be housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Also in a partnership with ORNL, Cheek hopes to add new Governor’s Chair faculty members.
ED Launches Online Platform To Help Former ITT Tech Students.
The Washington Post (9/19, Douglas-Gabriel) reports the Education Department on Monday announced new resources for students affected by the abrupt closure of ITT Technical Institute. Education Department officials are partnering with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and Beyond 12 – which helps first-generation, low-income college students – to match students with financial aid and academic counselors through a free-of-charge online platform. Staffers on the website will field questions from students by email, phone, and text messages about the various academic, financial aid, and federal loan discharge options available. The Post quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying, “We’re grateful to Beyond 12 and the NASFAA team for their leadership, their creativity and their commitment to aiding affected students. We’ve been working around the clock to make sure ITT students remain inspired to pursue the promise of a higher education. “
The Oregonian (9/19) reports that the “website – NextStepsEdu – is designed to help students of the closed for-profit college figure out their options.” Students will have access to financial aid and academic advisers for free. This piece quotes Mitchell saying, “We learned that we needed to be communicating directing with borrowers as quickly as we can to make material resources available to them.” Mitchell noted that ED “has been encouraged by the level of activity across the country by states trying to help ITT Tech students find a home,” adding that “community colleges or schools cannot use the fact ITT Tech’s accrediting body is under scrutiny as the sole reason not to allow students to transfer credits to their institution.” The Detroit Free Press (9/19, Tompor) also covers this story.
ED Facing Criticism Over ITT Students’ Plight. Politico (9/19, Wermund) reports that ED has been facing criticism from across the political spectrum “for not doing enough to guide students who have no idea what to do next.” The article relates criticisms from various officials, and reports that nearly two dozen Senate Democrats have written to ED over “concerns that former ITT Tech students might be ‘lured by other for-profit colleges facing state and federal investigations and lawsuits.’”
Rubio To Propose Legislation For Survivors Of Terror Attacks To Defer Student Loans.
The Hill (9/19, Carney) reports in its “Floor Action” blog, that Sen. Marco Rubio plans to propose a legislation that would “allow survivors of terrorist attacks to automatically defer their student loan payments.” Under the proposal, which came about when a survivor who was injured during the shooting at Pulse night club in Florida became concerned about his ability to repay his loans, “survivors of terrorist attacks a ‘one-year pause’ on payments that wouldn’t count against the three-year cap on federal student loan deferments.” Rubio said, “Unfortunately, existing law does not automatically recognize an extraordinary situation like this, where giving survivors some time to regroup and delay their payments should be commonsense.”
Research and Development
Rowan University Launches New R&D Facility.
The Philadelphia Business Journal (9/15, Subscription Publication) reports on the recent launch of the Henry M. Rowan School of Engineering Center of Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. The school calls the research and development facility “a game-changer for both the fast-growing university and South Jersey’s economic future.”
NSF Gives New York Professors Computing Education Research Grant.
The Henrietta (NY) Post (9/19) reports the National Science Foundation has given Adrienne Decker, assistant professor of interactive games and media at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Monica McGill, associate professor of game design at Bradley University, a grant worth $1.19 million “to study the long-term impact of computing activities students engage in prior to college.” The study will examine “the number of groups devoted to increasing interest in computing among kindergarten through 12th grade students.”
Atlanta Summit To Focus On Empowering Women In STEM Disciplines.
Metro Atlanta CEO (GA) (9/15) reports on the Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit, to be held in Atlanta on November 2-4. The event is being organized by University of Georgia engineering professor Takoi Hamrita “under the auspices of the Women in Engineering organization of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.” The piece quotes Hamrita saying, “This is the first time a summit of this type has been held in the Southeast. Our goal is to give women in STEM access to powerful tools, strategies and networks to help them realize their full potential and shatter the glass ceiling in traditionally male dominated fields.”
US, China Investigating Chinese Firm For Aiding North Korean Nuclear Program.
The Wall Street Journal (9/19, A1, Wong, Solomon, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that the US and China are investigating the Chinese company Hongxiang Industrial Development, which Washington believes is helping North Korea develop its nuclear program. US officials indicated that Justice Department prosecutors visited Beijing twice last month to provide information about criminal activities conducted by the company and its founder Ma Xiaohong, who is a Communist Party member. The Journal says Chinese police on Thursday indicated they began an investigation for “serious economic crimes.”
Feith: Ideology Plays Significant Role In China’s Support Of North Korea. In a Wall Street Journal (9/19, Subscription Publication) column, David Feith says that while North Korea is a liability for China, the high level of importance that Beijing places on ideology and loyalty leads to the continued alliance between the countries.
Galaxy Note 7 Recall Presents An Opportunity For Lee To Solidify His Role.
Nikkei Asian Review (JPN) (9/19) reports the recall has put the spotlight on Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, “the only son of the company’s ailing chairman,” as analysts watch to see if he “can set the tech giant back on track again.” Nikkei notes Samsung recently announced Lee would be assuming a director position at the company in October. IBK Securities head of research Lee Jon-woo said of the situation “Samsung may boost Lee Jae-yong as its new strong leader after the company patches up confusions from the recall.” Nikkei adds that Lee Jae-yong’s purchase of 65,000 shares worth 99.3 billion won on Monday helped push the stock up 2.03%, adding Lee, who has led the company since 2014,”has shown himself to be an aggressive but capable leader by divesting the company’s non-core businesses over the last few years and shifting its focus to the three essential sectors of electronics, bio-pharmaceuticals and finance.”
Samsung And Amperex Announce Chinese Note 7 Fires Not Due To Battery Issues. The AP (9/19) reports Samsung announced it had “found no battery problem” related to a recent Galaxy Note 7 fire in China. Battery supplier Amperex added “We believe the heat problem comes from outside the battery. A very large likelihood exists that other factors gave rise to the heat problem.” The AP notes Samsung was only able to investigate one of two reportedly damaged phones.
Bloomberg News (9/19, Lee) reports the damage to the phones was “likely due to unspecified external heat sources.”
The Wall Street Journal (9/19, Dou, Subscription Publication) reports that though Note 7 phones sold in China used batteries from Amperex rather than Samsung SDI, which was where the problematic batch came from, the Journal notes the statement may not be enough to appease Chinese consumers. Reuters (9/19) reports similarly.
Monday’s Lead Stories
• PHMSA Asks Colonial To Take Corrective Action Before Pipeline Operates Again.
• ITT Files For Bankruptcy, Begins Preparing For Liquidation.
• ORNL Facility Creates Mini Excavator Through 3-D Printing.
• China Launches Tiangong-2 Space Lab.
• One Year Later, Volkswagen Still Affected By “Dieselgate” Scandal.
• Appeals Court Suspends Construction On Dakota Access Pipeline.
• Despite Fragmented Opportunities, Coding Instruction Gains Momentum In Bend, Oregon Schools.