Leading the News
Administration Invites Tribes To Consultations About Infrastructure Projects.
The AP (9/23) reports representatives of “567 federally recognized tribes” have been invited by the Administration to “a series of consultations aimed at getting input on infrastructure projects.” The consultations were called in response to the “Standing Rock Sioux’s fight over the Dakota Access oil pipeline.”
Tribes To Ask Obama To Stop Dakota Access. McClatchy (9/23, Hotakainen) reports a number of tribes are asking President Obama to help them stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. They argue the pipeline “would jeopardize sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.” On Monday, President Obama will host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II will offer “an update” at an advance meeting on Sunday.
Canadian Tribes Pledge Support To Opponents Of Dakota Access. Reuters (9/23, Nickel) reports Canadian native groups are also joining the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said, “I can tell you with great certainty that in the event there’s an escalation of aggression on the part of the state or (U.S.) federal government, there will certainly be a response on the Canadian side from indigenous peoples.”
Dakota Access Has Purchased Land Along Route. Reuters (9/23, Scheyder) reports Dakota Access LLC has purchased over 6,000 acres along the pipeline’s route in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says the land has burial grounds of importance to the tribe that could be destroyed by the pipeline construction.
Sunoco Has Record Of Pipeline Leaks. Reuters (9/23, Hampton) reports in a separate story that Sunoco Logistics which would operate the pipeline has had more leaks than other firms with 200 since 2010. Reuters points out that that record of leaks has not been part of the argument over the pipeline. A Sunoco spokesman said that the company has been working to improve that record with some success since 2012.
Schools Scrambling To Find New Accreditor After ED Severs Ties With ACICS.
The Wall Street Journal (9/23, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports on ED’s decision last week to withdraw recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which oversaw around hundreds of for-profit colleges, saying the move is leaving those schools scrambling to find a new accreditor so they can continue to have access to Federal student aid. Rival accreditor the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges Executive Director Michale S. McComis says some 200 former ACICA schools have reached out to begin working with his group.
Inside Higher Ed (9/23) reports barring a reversal from Education Secretary John King, ACICS will “no longer be a gatekeeper to federal aid for 245 member colleges, which collectively enroll 600,000 students.” The piece explains that “after the outcome of an appeal…member colleges would have 18 months to find a new accreditor.” The Kansas City (MO) Star (9/23),Politico Morning Education (9/25), and WHNT-TV Huntsville, AL (9/23) also cover this story.
Robot Breaks Ground For Montana State University College Of Engineering.
The AP (9/25) reports that “a prototype of a lunar mining robot built by Montana State University engineering and computer science students” has “dug up symbolic scoops of sand” for the groundbreaking of the school’s new College of Engineering. The new building is expected to be complete in 2018.
Alum Gives University Of Kansas $2 Million For Chemical, Petroleum Engineering Faculty Development.
The AP (9/24) reports that John V. Bossi, who earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Kansas in 1948, has given the school “a gift of more than $2 million for faculty development in the university’s department of chemical and petroleum engineering.”
Tulane Creates New Certificate Programs In Engineering.
The AP (9/24) reported that Tulane University, in a news release, announced an expansion to its engineering program, and has included “certificate programs in electrical, mechanical and computational engineering.” The program, which is available to engineering physics majors, allows students to “to choose one of the four concentrations so they can graduate with both a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a certificate in their specialty area.”
For-Profit Sector “Decimated” Under Obama.
BuzzFeed (9/23, Hensley-Clancy) reports that at the beginning of the Obama Administration, the “seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion, with more than 815,000 students.” Now, “the industry has been decimated,” worth only $6 billion and with two of its largest players in bankruptcy. Moreover, “the most valuable company in the sector has spent the last two years desperately trying to become a non-profit.” The piece cites an “improving economy that made trade schools less lucrative” and a “withering war on for-profit schools by federal and state authorities” as the reasons for the industry’s collapse. The “administration’s more aggressive approach” has drawn criticism from the for-profit sector and critics of “federal overreach.”
Northern Michigan U Awarded Grant To Increase Number Of Native Women In STEM.
The Indian Country Today Media Network (9/25) reports that the National Science Foundation has awarded Northern Michigan University nearly $300,000 to launch a two-year pilot project intended to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native female college graduates, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The project is also intended to address the “lack of American Indian teaching methods within the sciences education curricula.” The grant will provide: training for STEM educators on inclusive methods and materials; college preparation opportunities utilize inclusive STEM practices; and educational mentors for AI/AN female students moving from high school to college. “By introducing American Indian methods and materials to K-16 STEM educators, we will be inviting them to teach beyond the conventional academic box,” said April Lindala, director of NMU’s Center for Native American Studies.
Research and Development
NASA Researchers Find Evidence Of Possible Subsurface Ocean On Pluto.
The Los Angeles Times (9/23, Khan) reports NASA has published research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that provides evidence of a possible 560-mile-wide ocean beneath the surface of the dwarf planet Pluto. According to NASA researchers, the gravitational bond between Pluto and its moon Charon appears to treat the site, called Sputnik Planum, as if it has “extra mass” rather than less, as it might if the site were a crater. A sea of liquid salt water “could account for that extra mass in Sputnik Planum.”
Research Casts Dark Matter Theory Into Doubt.
Brian K. Oberlein wrote on the Forbes (9/23) website that new research on galactic rotation curves “could mean that dark matter is wrong after all.” Researchers “looked at the observed rotation curves for 153 galaxies, and calculated the radial acceleration at various distances in each galaxy. They then compared these results to the gravitational acceleration as predicted by the distribution of visible matter within a galaxy,” and “found a strong correlation between the two.” Among other possibilities, this could mean that “some new kind of dark matter physics” is needed.
House Democrats Propose Bill To Address Sexual Harassment In Research Fields.
Politico Morning Education (9/25) reports that a group of House Democrats headed by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) have proposed legislation to address “pervasive” sexual harassment in scientific research fields “driving women out of” STEM fields. The legislation would require colleges “to disclose any ‘substantiated’ findings of sexual abuse by a professor to all federal agencies that have awarded research grants to that school within the last 10 years.”
UPS, CyPhy Test Delivery Of Emergency Medical Supplies By Autonomous Drone.
There is much media interest in the launch of UPS’ drone tests in Massachusetts with the mock delivery of medical supplies to Children’s Island off the coast. Coverage focuses on statements about the successful delivery from UPS and its partner in the tests CyPhy, as well as new developments in Federal drone regulations. The autonomous test was conducted off of CyPhy’s Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications vehicle system.
USA Today (9/23, Weise) reports online the “series of tests” being conducted by UPS and CyPhy seek to prove that “unmanned aerial vehicles can safely be used for deliveries in the United States” and will help FAA “as it seeks to find ways to safely integrate drones into America’s airspace, in this case showing that drones can be trusted to fly farther than the pilot can see.” USA Today observes that UPS has also been conducting UAS testing in warehouses and “is also exploring the use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach parts of the world and has done tests in Rwanda.” USA Today (9/23) also posted a video report online.
The AP (9/23) reports that CyPhy is using test data “to gather engineering and cost information and then work with UPS to look at where drones can add the most value to UPS’ extensive network.” The AP also mentions Wal-Mart and Amazon’s UAS testing in warehouses and for home delivery. The Wall Street Journal (9/23, Stevens, Wells, Subscription Publication) reports that while Amazon and Alphabet have eagerly pursued drone delivery tests, shipping companies remain ambivalent about the benefits of UAS delivery. The story quotes FedEx CEO Fred Smith on Amazon’s announcement in 2013 that it would start drone testing “There are two enormous transportation networks that are built around moving light packages and freight, and they are FedEx and UPS.”
The Boston Globe (9/23, Ngowi) reports that Greiner herself believes “Drones aren’t going to take the place of all delivery, but there are places where you have inaccessible location, an emergency situation where the infrastructure is down, you want or need the package quickly — these are the areas where drones will be the best way to get a package to a location.”
Engineering and Public Policy
US Court Of Appeals For DC To Hear Challenge To Clean Power Plan Tuesday.
Bloomberg News (9/23, Dlouhy) reports on the lawsuit over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, saying that it has been beneficial to lawyers and pointing out that there will be 16 lawyers addressing the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday, and 70 “appellate briefs, appendices, supplements, and, yes, corrections” have already been submitted. The plan’s survival is seen as important, but not absolutely necessary to the US reaching its emissions reductions goals. Opponents argue that it would give the EPA too much authority over power production and transmission.
WPost: Regulators Must Be “Reasonable” About Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturing.
The Washington Post (9/23) editorializes it is “crucial” for the Transportation Department to insist on autonomous vehicle safety “without strangling the very innovation that will make that happen.” The paper praises the Administration’s approach so far, saying it lays out “areas of concern” and press carmakers to produce safe, sound technologies without “mandating” too many specifics.
DOE Move Aims To Accelerate Permitting Of Power Lines On Federal Lands.
The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (9/25, Crowley) reported the Energy Department on Thursday released a final rule “aimed at accelerating permitting for interstate power lines on federal lands.” The rule “comes as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to speed up federal reviews for large transmission projects that will be needed to accommodate coal plant retirements and new renewable generation.” It will provide developers with the option of a “simplified integrated interagency permitting process,” in which the department “and the developer would meet with other agencies and outside interest groups to identify issues that could trip up projects before the developer files an application.”
Nations Near Agreement On Jet Emissions Proposal.
The New York Times (9/25, Fountain, Subscription Publication) reports that government officials from around the world will gather in Montreal this week “for final negotiations on a deal to cap greenhouse gas emissions from international jet flights.” The accord on aircraft emissions is seen as building on the momentum of the Paris agreement on climate change. And at least 55 countries, including the US, China, and most of Europe, have announced support for an aviation agreement. “If all of them participate, it would be a major step in reducing the environmental impact of international air travel, an often-overlooked contributor to climate change, largely through the purchase of credits to offset emissions,” the Times says.
The Wall Street Journal (9/25, Wall, Subscription Publication) also covers this story.
Wyoming Board Of Education Approves New Science Standards.
The Sheridan (WY) Press (9/24, Dunn) reported that on Friday, Wyoming’s State Board of Education adopted the 2016 Wyoming State Standards, to be implemented no later than the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year. The new standards were created by 41 individuals on the Wyoming Science Standard Review Committee. The most notable change is in the approach to teaching science, which will now “have a three-dimensional focus” that includes “cross-cutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas and science and engineering practices.” Wyoming standards supervisor Laurie Hernandez said, “Instead of just teaching science concepts, the approach is to have students just be scientists. … We don’t want them to just regurgitate facts but instead they want them to inquire, to ask questions, to research and develop their own investigations to come to their own conclusions.”
Friday’s Lead Stories
• ED Moves To Sever Ties With ACICS.
• Rice’s Rebecca Richards-Kortum Named MacArthur Fellow.
• Georgia Tech Systems Engineers Use Inspiration From Honeybees To Improve Internet Efficiency.
• Cuts To North Dakota CTE Programs Spark Concerns About Future Oil Industry Workforce.
• German Media Claims Audi Heavily Involved In VW Dieselgate.
• Trump Vows To Deregulate US Energy Production.
• NYC Council Discuses Expanding CTE Programs, Tracking Progress.