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

Leading the News

Obama Announces More Than $300 Million In Science, Technology Funding.

President Obama on Thursday participated in the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh, which is organized to promote the use of technology. Reporting on the event is limited – mostly Internet and local media – and focuses on Obama’s speech, which included an announcement of more than $300 million of funding for science and technology. Wired Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Alba) reports the conference is a one-day event “intended to encourage Americans to use technology to face the biggest challenges of the next five decades – medicine, climate change, space travel, artificial intelligence.”

CNET News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Ng) reports Obama announced more than $300 million in federal and private money that will support science and technology. The funds include $165 million for smart city initiatives such as reducing traffic congestion; $70 million for research into diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression; $50 million for small-satellite technology that enables high-speed Internet; and $16 million for improved medical care through the Precision Medicine Initiative.

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Balakrishnan) reports on its website that Obama “called out political rivals that seek to cut scientific funding.” Obama said, “That’s why I get so riled up when I see people willfully ignore facts. Or stick their heads in the sand about basic scientific consensus.” Obama added that such a position “leads to bad policy” and “undermines the very thing that has always made America the engine for innovation around the world.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports Obama “also took a few pokes at the Republicans who had dogged his administration.” Obama said, “It’s not just that they’re saying climate change is a hoax, or throwing a snowball on the Senate floor to prove that he climate’s not getting warmer. It’s that they are doing everything they can to gut funding for research and development.”

The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Deppen) reports Obama said, “I confess, I’m a science geek, I’m a nerd and I don’t make any apologies for it.” Obama added, “It’s cool stuff and it is that thing that sets us apart.” The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Lederman) reports Obama “was in his element Thursday as he toured cutting-edge projects” during the conference. KDKA-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Pittsburgh (10/13) reports on its website that Obama started his day with the “tour of some nerd-worthy projects,” which included a Boeing space flight simulator, a self-flying drone used for infrastructure inspection and the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft that carried cargo to the International Space Station.

The Beaver County (PA) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Stonesifer) reports that prior to his speech, Obama “stopped to exchange a handshake and fist bump with a quadriplegic man who was paralyzed after a car accident.” The CBS Evening News (10/13, story 13, 0:25, Pelley) reported that Obama gave the handshake and fist bump to the “mind-controlled robotic hand” of 28-year-old Nathan Copeland, who was paralyzed in a car accident. CBS said “tiny chips implanted in Copeland’s brain allowed him to feel the President’s touch.” The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Nutt) reports this is “a breakthrough in the restoration of a critical function in people with paralyzed limbs: the ability not just to move those limbs, but to feel them.” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Aupperlee) reports Obama addressed the meeting during his speech. Obama said, “That’s what American innovation can do. Imagine the breakthroughs that are around the corner. Imagine what’s possible for Nathan if we keep on pushing the boundaries.”

Higher Education

NSF Giving Pennsylvania College $4 Million For Transfer STEM Students.

The Pocono (PA) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports the National Science Foundation is giving Pennsylvania’s East Stroudsburg University a $4 million grant “to help transfer students complete their education at ESU in the fields of science, technology and math.” The Clear Path project “provides scholarships for about 120 students who start their education at community colleges and transfer to ESU for bachelor’s degrees in such fields as biochemistry, physics, computer science and mathematics.”

ED Beefs Up Financial Oversight In Settlement Over DeVry’s Deceptive Ads.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that ED “is subjecting DeVry University to tougher financial oversight” as “part of a settlement over the for-profit college chain’s alleged use of misleading information about the employment of its graduates in radio, television, online and print advertisements.” On Thursday, the department “said the school can no longer advertise that 90 percent of its graduates land jobs within six months of leaving school and must post a notice on its website stating that the claim is unsubstantiated.” DeVry “must also provide a letter of credit from a bank assuring the availability of $68.4 million to participate in the federal financial aid program.” DeVry “has also been placed under a form of oversight known as heightened cash monitoring” that requires the school “to provide certain documentation before accessing federal financial aid dollars,” and “its participation in the financial aid program is now provisional for the next five years.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Binkley) reports the chain is “dropping one of its marquee advertisement claims after the federal government found there was no evidence to support it.” DeVry “has long advertised that 90 percent of its alumni since 1975 found employment in their fields of study within six months of graduation,” but has “agreed to stop using the statistic.” The AP quotes Education Secretary John King saying, “Students deserve accurate information about where to invest their time and money, and the law is simple and clear: Recruitment claims must be backed up by hard data.”

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that in August of last year, ED asked the firm to “provide data backing up the 90 percent placement rate and, after reviewing the information, found the evidence did not substantiate the claim.” The firm “neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, according to the settlement, but put a more positive spin on the agreement in its own news release.”

WLS-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Chicago (10/13), the Chronicle of Higher Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13), and Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) also cover this story.

Report: Few Minority Students Admitted To Selective Research Universities.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that according to a new study from the Center for American Progress, “too few minority students are getting into the nation’s most selective research universities.” The report says that if the schools enrolled students at the same rate regardless of race, “nearly 200,000 more black and Latino students would be enrolled.”

MarketWatch Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Berman) reports the study found that only 9% of black students and 12% of Hispanic students in college “were at the nation’s top public research universities.” Moreover, “these students were overrepresented at less-selective schools; 40% of black students enrolled at public colleges were in four-year regional schools and 51% were at community and technical colleges.” Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) also covers this story.

Courting Youth Vote, Trump Proposes Liberal Student Loan Repayment Plan.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Douglas-Gabriel) reports Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, promised “the most liberal student loan repayment plan since the inception of the federal financial aid program, in a clear effort to court” student debt borrowers. Trump’s plan is “more generous than all of the existing government programs that let borrowers cap their monthly student loan payments to a percentage of their earnings.” The Post points out that this plan “flies in the face of the fiscal conservatism that’s supposed to define the Republican Party.”

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Research and Development

University Of Pittsburgh Researchers Working On Sense Of Touch For Prosthetic Arms.

U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports researchers with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have developed a set of four brain-implanted chips that “have allowed a 30-year-old man to not only control a robot arm but also feel sensations from the individual fingers of the arm.”

NSF Gives Boise State Researcher Grant To Improve Wireless Technology.

KTVB-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Boise, ID (10/12) reports the National Science Foundation is giving Boise State University electrical engineer Hani Mehrpouyan over $1 million “to improve wireless communication systems.”

IoT-Enabled Cars May One Day Perform Continuous Health Checks Of Drivers.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Quain, Subscription Publication) reports automakers and technology companies have begun integrating cars into the Internet of Things (IoT), and they could one day become “a four-wheeled digital stethoscope that compiles a continuous record of your condition, generating a more accurate assessment of your health compared with the snapshot of a once-a-year checkup,” according to one Ford engineering executive, James A. Buczkowski. Carmakers already have some features that communicate with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, while Tesla has shown “expanding ability to monitor its vehicles remotely and even download entirely new software operating systems.”

Automakers Focus On Integrating Vehicles Into The Internet Of Things.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Quain, Subscription Publication) reports automakers and technology companies have begun designing and developing cars that are integrated into the Internet of Things. There are already multiple examples of cars with communications connect-ability, “but cars more fully integrated into the so-called internet of things – everyday devices able both to send and receive data – could become more of a seamless piece of the daily digital fabric of people’s lives.” According to James A. Buczkowski, who oversees advanced engineering at Ford, the next generation of vehicles “will focus on managing our entire digital lives, aided by semiautonomous systems that assume more responsibility for actual driving tasks.” Experts claim that although “being constantly online may have its drawbacks, it also makes vehicles more resilient.” Tesla has already shown that “cars will be upgradable over the air, making them easier to update and repair.”

Sandia Labs Researchers Conduct Tests To Improve Performance Of Wave-Energy Converters.

Science Daily Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports Sandia National Laboratories engineers are “conducting the largest model-scale wave energy testing of its kind to improve the performance of wave-energy converters (WECs).” According to Science Daily, “The project is taking place at the U.S. Navy’s Maneuvering and Sea Keeping facility at the Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the largest wave tanks in the world at 360 feet long and 240 feet wide and able to hold 12 million gallons of water.” Ryan Coe, project co-lead, said, “Our goal is to improve the economic viability of these devices.” He said many initial studies “estimate that improving control of the WECs’ generators can dramatically increase energy absorption by as much as 300 percent.”

Industry News

Companies Pitch Plans For Commercial ISS Modules.

Space News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Subscription Publication) reports that at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, just a day after NASA indicated it’s open to adding a commercial module to the International Space Station, “Axiom Space and Bigelow Aerospace said they’re proceeding with development of modules that could be added to the ISS as soon as 2020.” Michael Baine, lead design engineer at Axiom Space, said that the company plans to start a preliminary design review in December for a module that would later detach from the ISS and form core of a commercial space station. Bigelow Aerospace is moving ahead with previously announced plans for B330 expandable modules, one of which could be installed on the ISS. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said in a speech at ISPCS, “We’re honestly struggling with” the challenge of determining how to best deal with the interest from several companies in the single available docking port.

Engineering and Public Policy

White House Increases Spending For BRAIN Initiative.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports the Obama Administration on Thursday said it plans to spend $70 million “to fund more than 100 new grant awards through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.” That will nearly double White House spending on BRAIN to more than $150 million for fiscal year 2016. The Administration says DARPA and IARPA are two of five federal agencies with active research programs related to BRAIN.

IARPA Awards BAE Systems With Contract To Develop Forecasting Technologies. Defense Daily Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Abott) reports IARPA has awarded BAE systems with a contract worth a total lifetime value of $11.4 million “to develop forecasting and early detection of cyber attacks technologies for the U.S military and intelligence” agencies. The contract comes as the IARPA Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment (CAUSE) program seeks to create technologies that “allow for defensive actions to respond ahead of attacks.”

Senators Ask Obama To Order Review Of Dakota Pipeline.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Volcovici) reports that Bernie Sanders was among five senators who called on the President Thursday to “order a comprehensive environmental review” of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the wake of a federal appeals court’s denial of a request to halt construction of the pipeline, Sanders, along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Ed Markey, Patrick Leahy, and Benjamin Cardin, “asked Obama to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a full environmental impact statement, including stronger tribal consultation, for a contested part of the route.” Additional coverage was provided by Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Northey, Subscription Publication) and the Sioux City (IA) Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13).

Meanwhile, E&E Publishing Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Subscription Publication) reports that “while the Dakota Access pipeline grinds forward, more than 1,000 opponents at the Sacred Stone Camp delegate daily chores, listen to speakers at the central campfire and plan civil disobedience actions designed to halt the ‘black snake’ that has brought them all together.”

Also providing coverage are the Bismarck (ND) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13), the San Francisco Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13), and the Indian Country Today Media Network Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13).

New York To Offer Funding To Clean Energy Companies.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports the state of New York “is investing $10 million into efforts to assist new clean energy companies.” The funds “will go to business incubators, a series of centers around the state that work to connect startup companies with investors and partners.” According to officials, “$14 million has already been invested in existing incubators that have assisted 146 energy technology companies which have created more than 1,000 jobs.” The funding was announced on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Alabama Schools Chief Calls For Strategy To Address Math “Crisis.”

Alabama Live Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that new Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance “says the state faces a crisis in math education and called for a strategy to address the problem.” Speaking to the state Board of Education, Sentance lamented Alabama students’ low math scores on the NAEP, saying, “We have a crisis in math education in this state.” Though reading and science scores also lagged, “math poses the most urgent concern,” he said, adding that he “plans to name a panel of about 25 people to come up with a strategy.”

The Montgomery (AL) Advertiser Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that Sentance warned members that the fix will not be easy, but that he “hopes to have a draft report on the issue available to them in December.”

Connecticut Legislators Blast State BOE’s Plan To Close Two CTE Schools.

The Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that Connecticut House Majority Leader Joseph Aresimowicz (D) on Thursday “lambasted the State Board of Education’s proposal to shut two” of the state’s CTE schools in an effort to “reduce the Education Department’s budget 10 percent next fiscal year.” Aresimowicz said the board “should build more” CTE schools instead of closing the ones it has.

Texas Instruments Programs Attach STEM To Topics Students Like.

Fox Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13, Elavia) reports Texas Instruments “created a series of programs and curriculum materials to promote STEM education by inserting the lessons into” students’ “daily lives and attaching it to what they like,” such as STEM Behind Hollywood and STEM Behind Cooking. The company is currently “highlighting the STEM Behind Sports,” for which it “enlisted Baltimore Ravens guard John Urschel to get kids excited about math.” Peter Balyta, President of Texas Instruments Education Technology, “says that the programs have reached ten times more students than he thought it would.”

Indiana Summit Pushes Girls To Consider Careers In Manufacturing.

The Goshen (IN) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/13) reports that Joe Veter, a precision machining instructor at Century Career Center in Logansport, Indiana, has “helped create the Girls in Manufacturing Summit, a program aiming to tap women in traditionally male-dominated manufacturing jobs to inspire middle school and high school-aged girls to consider those career paths.” This is the second year of the summit, which partners with Ivy Tech to introduce “girls in eighth to 12th grades to local women who have made manufacturing a career.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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