Leading the News
Musk Speaks On Mars Mission, Colonization, At International Astronautical Congress.
The New York Times (9/27, Chang, Subscription Publication) reports that at a talk at the International Astronautical Congress, SpaceX founder Elon Musk presented “engineering details, optimistic timelines,” and a video covering plans to send humans to Mars. According to Musk, rocket development would cost around $10 billion, and a first launch could occur as early as 2024.
The Christian Science Monitor (9/27, Shekhtman) reports Musk estimates that for a first trip to Mars, the cost would be about $10 billion per person, but that “to make [Mars] colonization sustainable” would require reducing costs to $200,000 per person.
The Washington Post (9/27, Davenport) quotes Musk saying that his goal is to “make Mars seem possible. To make it seem like it’s something we can do in our lifetimes. That you can go.”
Business Insider (9/27) features the video presented at the Congress.
National Science Foundation Grant To Fund Research Into Supporting LGBT Engineering Students.
The Washington Times (9/27, Ernst) reports the National Science Foundation is giving Worcester Polytechnic Institute a $150,000 grant “to study ways of making LGBT-friendly engineering classes” and to “explore the ‘notoriously inhospitable’ classroom conditions faced by aspiring LGBT engineers.” Researchers “will employ interviews and other research methods to find the ‘most inclusive and supportive spaces’ for LGBT students, which will then allow them to ‘extend these elements into engineering classrooms and other formal learning experiences.’”
ED’s Regulatory Actions Impacting For-Profit Sector, Students.
Nerd Wallet (9/26, Helhoski) reports on how ED’s announcement that it is withdrawing its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has added to the anxiety being felt by for-profit college students, already facing “mass school closures” in recent months. The article muses on ACICS’ future, specifically on whether Education Secretary John King will uphold the ruling against it. The piece focuses on how students are navigating the new environment in for-profit higher education, and on how the sector itself has evolved in recent decades. The latter half of the article lists a number of recourses available to students impacted by closing schools.
ED’s OIG Releases Guidance On Auditing For-Profit Colleges.
Politico Morning Education (9/27) reports ED’s Office of Inspector General has, for the first time in over 16 years, released “new instructions for how independent auditors should evaluate for-profit colleges’ compliance with federal financial aid regulations.” Colleges must “hire independent auditors to review their financial aid programs each year,” and those auditors “will be required to conduct a more-aggressive verification of a college’s compliance with the rules.”
ED Gives California Colleges STEM Grants.
The Monterey County (CA) Herald (9/27) reports that ED is giving several California colleges grants worth over $27.5 million “to improve and expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs serving Hispanic and low-income students.” The grants come through ED’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (HSI STEM) and Articulation Programs.
Colleges Increasingly Using Financial Aid To Attract Wealthy Students.
The AP (9/27, Melia) reports that colleges are increasingly using financial aid “to attract students from more affluent families” instead of the poorer students who traditional rely on such assistance. State colleges are competing with private schools “to lure the most qualified students, raise average test scores and entice students from high-income families who can pay the rest of the full sticker price.” However, critics say public colleges “are punishing the poor, making it harder for them to attend college when the gap between tuition costs and affordability is only growing.”
Research and Development
NSF Grants Upstate NY Colleges $4.2 Million To Support Entrepreneurial Tech Growth.
The Cornell Chronicle (NY) (9/27, Weissmann) reports the National Science Foundation awarded $4.2 million to the Upstate New York (UNY) Alliance for Entrepreneurial Innovation, which is a partnership of Cornell University, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the University of Rochester, to support “entrepreneurship and commercialization support programs targeted at the scientific community through an NSF I-Corps Node site at Cornell.” The Chronicle explains “the I-Corps program is designed to help teams determine the commercial readiness of their technology concept and identify obstacles that must be overcome to launch their product.”
The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (9/27, Brooks) says the grant will help “create an umbrella organization geared toward turning faculty research into businesses.” Through the UNY Alliance, “the universities will create programs that show scientists, researchers and engineers the ins-and-outs of business-model development and customer discovery.”
NSF Launches I-Corps Node In The Southwest.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle (9/27, Karkarta, Subscription Publication) reports a $3.4 million National Science Foundation grant created “the I-Corps South Node, which includes Georgia Tech, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business.” The Chronicle describes I-Corps as “a boot camp that shows what it’s like to form a startup,” which “helps NSF-funded researchers learn how to commercialize their findings and determine if a market exists for what they developed.”
NSF Awards CU Boulder $24 Million To Launch Imaging Center.
The Boulder (CO) Daily Camera (9/27, Kuta) reports the National Science Foundation awarded the University of Colorado a $24 million grant to launch an imaging center. The so-called Science and Technology Center on Real-Time Functional Imaging “will focus on photon- and electron-based imaging, advanced algorithms, big-data analysis and adaptive imaging, according to a CU news release.” The grant also benefits “the University of California Los Angeles, University of California Berkeley, Florida International University, University of California Irvine and Fort Lewis College.”
NSF Funds Two Arkansas University Researchers’ Work.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (9/27) reports the National Science Foundation awarded University of Arkansas at Fayetteville researcher Jia Di a $349,198 grant “to study microcontroller computers able to withstand harsh environmental conditions, such as those in space.” The NSF also awarded University of Arkansas industrial engineering professor Haitao Liao “a $176,860 grant to study models for efficiently collecting and analyzing health care data.” Di will collaborate with Radiance Technologies Inc., and Liao will collaborate with University of Arizona researchers.
Researchers Engineer Blood Vessels That Can Grow After Being Implanted In Animals.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (9/28, Carlson) reports “a scientific first” published in Nature Communications and accomplished by researchers at the University of Minnesota, who succeeded in implanting “a section of dead blood vessel” in sheep, which subsequently “turned into living tissue that grew along with the host’s body for a year.” The researchers said the success indicates that “tiny sections of lab-grown blood vessels” could be used to replace “defective arteries in children,” which, because they would grow, could remove the need for “risky and expensive surgeries” later in life for children with congenital heart defects. Over 1,000 children in the US each year “could benefit.” The Star-Tribune points out that as a medical device, the material would have to meet “good manufacturing process” standards, and a human clinical trial would have to be approved by “bioethics experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
LiveScience (9/27, Blaszczak) reports the “blood vessels were engineered to replace real vessels that would normally carry blood from the lambs’ hearts to their lungs.” The findings , published in Nature Communications, may “one day help to make vessels that could prevent the need for repeated surgeries in children with certain heart defects, although more research is needed to test whether these vessels could eventually be implanted in humans…said” the investigators. Also covering the story are The Guardian (UK) (9/27, Sample) and Popular Science (9/27, Baggaley).
Continental AG Takes Gradual Route To Self-Driving Cars.
The Detroit News (9/27, Martinez) reports German-based Continental AG “is taking a more cautious approach to self-driving vehicles” compared to many of its competitors that “have vowed to implement fully autonomous cars…within the next five year.” During a technology showcase in Michigan on Tuesday, Continental executives “would only commit to a vague ‘2020s’ timeframe for the rollout of its most advanced self-driving system,” called the “Cruising Chauffeur.” The company has been testing the vehicle on roadways “across the globe for years,” believing that “it can better perfect the systems by slowly implementing driver-assist technologies” and gradually rolling out this new technology consumers. Jeremy Tuggle, Engineering Manager of Systems Concepts, Systems and Technology Chassis and Safety Division, said at the showcase, “It’s really necessary to make the general consumer comfortable with this technology.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Appeals Court Hears Arguments In Clean Power Plan Case.
The AP (9/27, Biesecker) reports lawyers representing “a coalition of states and businesses reliant on fossil fuels made their case Tuesday” to a 10-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan “is an unlawful power grab.” West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin “argued” on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency “overstepped the authority provided it by Congress to impose emissions standards under the Clean Air Act” and “said the EPA was in effect requiring states to transform their electricity generation systems by favoring one source of energy over another.” Justice Department lawyer Eric Hostetler countered that the rule “addresses the key environmental challenge of our time, and does so cost effectively.”
“The nation’s second-most powerful court grappled Tuesday with the intractable and potentially catastrophic problem of climate change, weighing whether constitutional questions surrounding President Obama’s climate change regulations should trump the moral obligations of upholding a plan to curb global warming,” the New York Times (9/27, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports. According to the Washington Post (9/27, Marimow, Dennis), the President’s “signature effort to combat global warming was alternately lauded as a reasonable attempt to move the nation toward cleaner energy sources and faulted as an unconstitutional, job-killing power grab during seven hours of vigorous legal arguments Tuesday.”
The Wall Street Journal (9/27, Harder, Subscription Publication) says that Judge Brett Kavanaugh hailed the EPA’s policy as “laudable” given “the Earth is warming. Humans are contributing. I understand the frustration with Congress.” However, he questioned whether the Administration had the authority to take action when Congress would not, as “global warming is not a blank check,” according to Kavanaugh.
Minnesota Solar Projects To Supply Power To Major Companies.
The AP (9/27) reports NRG Energy “has broken ground on its first five community solar projects in Minnesota.” The projects will supply power to some major companies. The company announced “it has agreements to supply power to six U.S. Bank sites, the headquarters for Land O’Lakes, three Macy’s stores and several facilities for Ecolab.” The solar farms are expected to be completed next year.
Proposed Wyoming Wind Tax Causes Disagreements In State.
The Los Angeles Times (9/27, Yardley) reports “roiled by declining revenue from the trifecta of fossil fuels” lawmakers in Wyoming “this spring turned their attention to a relatively untapped source of energy in Wyoming that is clean, abundant and suddenly in demand: the big winds that blow down from the Rocky Mountains.” The plan “was to raise the state wind energy production tax – the only such tax in the nation – to help pay for important school construction projects.” But rather than finding the new revenue, “lawmakers in the conservative state found controversy and, finally, rejection.” Last week, after hearing “five hours of testimony from wind companies, business groups and local communities opposed to the tax increase, the revenue committee voted overwhelmingly to kill the idea.” The Times says “by doing so, they pleased wind advocates but made it harder for Wyoming to balance its budget.”
Massachusetts Develops Energy Blueprint To Improve Energy Efficiency.
ClimateWire (9/27, Cusick, Subscription Publication) reports Massachusetts could join California as a US clean-energy state because of what analysts are calling “a transformational blueprint for how carbon-free electricity flows from power producers and utilities to consumers” and because of supporting “technology that could sock away vast amounts of electricity to hedge against high prices and weather-related emergencies.” The transformation blueprint has been in development for almost two years and coincided with the passage of the 2016 Energy Diversity Act, which mandates “the procurement of nearly 3 gigawatts of new carbon-free electricity, including 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 MW of so-called Class 1 resources.” A recent comprehensive analysis indicated Massachusetts “could incorporate up to 1.76 GW of advanced energy storage technology over the coming years, making it a national model for converting intermittent energy.” California still leads in solar energy, having “installed nearly 10 times more solar capacity than Massachusetts last year.”
California Ties Massachusetts In State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The San Diego Union-Tribune (9/27) reports in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, California is tied with Massachusetts for first place in energy efficiency measures. Both states scored 45 out of a possible 50 points, five points ahead of Vermont. California was awarded “high marks for energy-efficient transportation policies, setting appliance standards and bolstering energy codes and compliance for buildings.”
Automakers Filed Negative Comments On Fuel Standards.
ClimateWire (9/27, Subscription Publication) reports an alliance of car manufacturers has filed official comments with the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sharply criticizing the agencies “setting fuel economy standards for their analysis of available fuel-saving technologies.” The first comments argue “against Obama administration findings that they could meet the 2025 fuel economy standards with existing or imminent technologies like turbocharged engines or dual-clutch transmissions.” By 2018, the two agencies have to decide “whether to tighten, loosen or maintain the standards as part of a midterm review.” The alliance, consisting of 12 auto manufacturers, “suggested yesterday the agencies organize public workshops to go over the modeling.” The agencies and alliance disagree on the number of plug-in vehicles to be included in the standards in 2025. While the agencies state “the standards could be met with no more than 2 to 3 percent electric vehicles,” automakers say to achieve this standard would “require ‘significant’ and costly numbers of electric vehicles.”
California Community College To Host Latina STEM Conference.
The Los Angeles Times (9/27, Corrigan) reports that California’s Glendale Community College is scheduled to host a conference for some 400 local Latina middle school and high school students, “where they will participate in coding and robotics workshops and hear from Latina women who have succeeded in STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math.” The students “will also hear about STEM industries from representatives who work at Microsoft, Apple, Snapchat, LA Makerspace and TECHNOLOchicas.”
IBM’s Watson To Serve As Personal Advisers To Third-Grade Math Teachers.
The New York Times (9/27, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports that the IBM Foundation has been working with teachers and the American Federation of Teachers over the past two years to build a program Teacher Advisor and, “by the end of the year, it will be available free to third-grade math teachers across the country and will add subject areas and grade levels over time.” The Times adds that the program, powered by the Watson technology, “uses artificial-intelligence technology to answer questions from educators and help them build personalized lesson plans.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Clean Power Plan Faces Constitutional Challenges In Court.
• NSF Gives South Dakota Mines Grant To Help Women In Engineering Courses.
• Commentary: Fighting Cybercrime Hinges On Educating Public, Funding Technology.
• Opinion: Tesla Vulnerability Shows That Cybersecurity Must Be Part Of Vehicle Design.
• House Waterways Bill Faces More Opposition.
• Virginia State University Algebra Program To Promote STEM Among Minority Students.