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

Leading the News

DOE Task Force Issues Recommendations For Future Of Advanced Nuclear Technology.

Nuclear Street Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) reports that the Energy Department’s Task Force on the Future of Nuclear Power has “concluded that deployment of new technology ‘at a significant rate’ in the period of 2030 to 2050 requires a competitive cost based on lower construction costs and a monetary recognition of nuclear power as a benefit to the country’s goal of reducing carbon emissions.” The task force said in a adopted in late September by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board that the two are “key issues” that must “be addressed for full cost competitiveness to be achieved for both existing and advanced U.S. reactors.” The task force report said, “First, nuclear overnight capital costs must decline, and electricity markets must recognize the value of carbon-free electricity generation based on the social cost of carbon emissions avoided.” Second, energy market rules that vary around the country must be rectified.

Power Engineering Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Barber) reports that the task force argued that electricity markets must recognize the value of carbon-free electricity generation based on the social cost of carbon emissions avoided. This “could be done by either a carbon charge on power generation or extending a production payment on carbon-free electricity generation of about $0.027 per kilowatt-electric-hour (kWe-hr) or $213m for a 1,000 MWe reactor.” For existing plants, “the Task Force endorses DOE’s efforts to work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), State regulatory authorities, and regional and independent system operators to encourage arrangements that will preserve the U.S. fleet until the end of their useful life.”

Higher Education

Perkins Reauthorization Stalls In Senate.

THE Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) reports that the Senate HELP Committee has canceled a hearing on the reauthorization of a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which would “overhaul…the federal regulations and funding rules related to career and technical education.” The piece cites reports about “major disagreements over bill language related to prohibitions on the U.S. Secretary of Education proposed by Senate Republicans.” The piece notes that the House version passed by an overwhelming margin.

National Science Foundation Awards $2.2 Million To UNM’s Center For Quantum Information And Control.

Albuquerque (NM) Business First Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Higdon) reports the National Science Foundation has awarded a $2.2 million grant to the University of New Mexico’s Center for Quantum Information and Control, which makes the center a designated Focused Research Hub in Theoretical Physics, one of only two in the nation. The article reports center director Carlton Caves said “the goal is to produce experts in the field,” adding that the center “has five faculty members, one of which is located in Arizona, 10 associate faculty members located at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and 20 Ph.D. students.” Caves said, “We’re training people to be the quantum information scientists of tomorrow.”

Indian College Chain’s Expansion Into US Sparks Controversy.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Binkley) reports that Amity University, a “system of private colleges based in New Dehli,” is opening its first school in the US. The college has bought “one campus in New York” and is planning to buy two more in the US. The move has drawn “opposition from state officials in Massachusetts about the quality of the education it will offer.” Few foreign schools have opened campuses in the US, “in part because of the cost and tighter regulation.”

Udacity Launches VR Developer Course.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Kendall) reports that online education platform Udacity has recently launched a new course offering “to give the next generation of VR developers the skills they need to succeed in the growing industry.” The firm says students “will learn about mobile and desktop VR, game engines, VR design, 360-degree immersive imagery, performance and different VR platforms.”

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Research and Development

University Of Illinois Opening New Design Center.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/9) profiles technology entrepreneur Thomas Seibel, a University of Illinois alum who is “the driving force behind the UI’s new Siebel Center for Design, scheduled to open in January 2020.” The center is “designed to pull together students from across campus to work on groundbreaking projects and solve real-world problems.” Seibel has “donated $25 million toward the $48 million project, on top of $32 million he gave in 1999 for the UI’s sleek computer science building that also bears his name.”

NIH Honors University Of Illinois Engineering Professor For Nanomedicine Research.

The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/8) reports that University of Illinois materials science and engineering professor Cecilia Leal has been named “one of 48 winners of the 2016 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, which recognizes ‘bold ideas from some of the nation’s most promising early-career scientists.’” Leal will receive $1.5 million to fund her research, which “focuses on nanomaterials used in medicine, made up of tiny nanoparticles.” Such devices are “used to deliver drugs that target cancer cells or other diseases in the body but don’t harm healthy tissue.”

Zymergen Raises $130M To Scale Robot-Powered Microbe Factory.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/11, Chapman) reports Zymergen Inc. is raising $130 million to “buy more robots” for its factory, where the company takes genetically engineered microbes and makes materials “in everything from medicine and flexible electronics to radar resistant paint for stealth bombers.” The startup – with 200 employees “and an army of robots” – uses machine learning “to instruct its robots how to genetically engineer microbes.” Then the microbes are used “to grow new and existing materials more efficiently.”

Cloud Security Alliance Releases IoT Security Report.

eWeek Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/11, Kerner) reports the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) has released a 75-page report describing “a detailed road map for developing secure internet of things products.” Leidos Chief Engineer of Cyber Security Solutions Brian Russell, who also chairs the alliance’s IoT Working Group, said the CSA has “well-defined cloud security guidelines, with the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) and other guidance, but we realized that if the IoT products themselves are not secure, then there will continue to be compromises.” He also said that IoT product vendors are “often challenged in their ability to secure their products” because “they haven’t been exposed to the need for security engineering in the past.”

SCE, GE To Partner On Battery Storage And Gas Turbine Hybrid.

In continuing coverage, Energy Storage News (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Ryan) reports Southern California Edison and General Electric recently announced “that they plan to install the world’s first battery storage and gas turbine hybrid.” The article reports “the two-project system calls for the installation of a battery energy storage system from GE’s energy ‘start-up’ Current – along with upgrades to a GE LM6000 gas turbine to merge the two systems.” SCE vice president of generation Phil Herrington said, “GE’s new LM6000 Hybrid EGT product fits well with SCE’s objective of providing cost–effective, innovative solutions that enhance grid reliability, flexibility, and fast response for our customers.”

Additional coverage was provided by Battery Power Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/8) and Process and Control Engineering (AUS) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10).

Automakers “Intensifying Development” Of Fuel-Efficient Vehicles.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Phelan) reports automakers “are intensifying development” of fuel-efficient vehicles as “prices are falling and practicality is rising.” Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs said fuel efficiency “remains extremely important to car buyers,” noting that about half the people his company surveys “have said so for the past year, despite relatively low gas prices.” USA Today concludes by listing “some of the electric, hybrid and alt-fuel vehicles about to hit the road.”

Industry News

Telsa’s Musk To Unveil “Unexpected” Product.

International Business Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) reports that on Sunday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a Twitter message that the company will unveil a product “unexpected by most” on Oct. 17 and will launch its Tesla/SolarCity on Oct. 28. The article said industry rumors suggested that Tesla’s Model 3 will be the company’s “unexpected” product launch. Tesla/SolarCity is the company’s solar roof to be located in the San Francisco Bay, previously explained by Musk as “not a thing on the roof” but “the roof, which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else.”

TechRadar Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) suggested that Musk could, on Oct. 17, unveil a second Tesla Roadster model but will more likely offer a glimpse into Tesla’s autonomous car technology progress. TechRadar pointed to the company’s recent release of its Autopilot 8.0 update and Musk’s recent “bullish” promotion of Tesla’s self-driving car program over competitors’ programs.

Engineering and Public Policy

Army, DOJ, Interior Department Request Pause In Construction Of Dakota Access Pipeline.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) reports the US Army, the Justice Department, and the Department of the Interior on Monday asked the company building the Dakota Access pipeline to voluntarily halt construction within 20 miles of a contested section of the proposed pipeline route. The joint statement came a day after a federal appeals court lifted an injunction and allowed construction of the pipeline to continue. The Army is still reviewing concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other tribal nations about the pipeline’s path, the joint statement said.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Healy, Subscription Publication) reports in a 1,141-word analysis that tensions are rising in North Dakota as protesters continue their efforts to prevent construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Protesters have begun building winter shelters at their camp near the pipeline construction site. Tribal leaders have been handing out thick blankets and coats to protesters. Ranchers in the area now arm themselves before surveying their lands. Surveillance helicopters make constant flights over the protesters’ camp. The Times mentions the joint statement by the Army, DOJ, and Interior Department requesting a further pause in pipeline construction efforts. David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, said that the tribe would make a “full-court press” to urge President Obama and federal officials not to let the pipeline cross the river. “We’re hoping he does the right thing by our people at Standing Rock,” Archambault said. The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Nicholson) has a similar report.

Federal Court Denies Tribe’s Request To Block Dakota Access Pipeline. ABC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Thorbecke) reports the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Sunday night ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request “for an injunction to block construction of a four-state crude oil pipeline that tribal leaders say threatens their water supply and traverses culturally sacred sites.” The ruling means construction on the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline can continue near the tribe’s reservation in North Dakota. The judges appeared sympathetic to the tribe’s plight in the ruling, saying “we can only hope the spirit of Section 106 may yet prevail,” referring to a section of the National Historic Preservation Act that mandates federal agencies “take into account effects on historic properties and gives the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment.” The tribe is considering its legal options, and tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said his people will continue the fight to protect its water and sacred sites.

Actress Arrested While Protesting North Dakota Pipeline. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Whitcomb) reports actress Shailene Woodley was arrested in North Dakota on Monday “while protesting a planned pipeline that Native Americans say will desecrate sacred land and damage the environment, an incident that was live streamed on Facebook.” A spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff’s office said the actress was taken into custody along with 27 other people on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Woodley was broadcasting the event on Facebook Live when she was seen being taken into custody. She narrated the arrest, saying she was returning to her vehicle when “they grabbed me by my jacket and said I wasn’t allowed to continue … and they have giant guns and batons and zip ties and they are not letting me go.” Woodley is known for her environmental activism and has “has previously joined members of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protest against the proposed construction of the $3.7 billion project.”

IEA: World Improved Energy Efficiency By 1.8 Percent.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10) reports the amount of gross domestic product per unit of energy, improved globally by 1.8 percent last year, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Monday. “Measures to improve energy efficiency include car fuel economy standards, lighting technologies and building standards.” Global energy efficiency needs to improve by at least 2.6 percent per year to put the world on track to meet targets to move away from fossil fuels, according to the report.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Group Giving Philadelphia School $1.1 Million For CTE Transformation.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/10, Graham) reports that the nonprofit group Philadelphia School Partnership is giving Roxborough High School a $1.1 million grant “to continue its transformation,” explaining that the grant will allow the school “to continue its shift to a career and technical education model.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

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