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

Leading the News

NHTSA Releases Cybersecurity ‘Best Practices’ Guidelines To Automakers.

Entrepreneur Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Mlot) reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week “released cybersecurity best practices for car makers that aim to reduce the probability of a cyberattack or – if that fails – mitigate the ramifications of a successful intrusion.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement, “In the constantly changing environment of technology and cybersecurity, no single or static approach is sufficient.” Government Technology Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) writes that as with its guidelines for autonomous vehicles, NHTSA “is taking an open approach because its staff and engineers who develop new cars and trucks are learning as they go.” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is quoted in the article saying, “Our intention with today’s guidance is to provide best practices to help protect against breaches and other security failures.”

Additional coverage is provided by Auto Channel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/24), EETimes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Yoshida), and Car and Driver Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26).

Higher Education

College Board: Public College Tuition Inching Up.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports that the College Board has released figures showing modest increases in public college, relative to faster increases during and after the recession. Despite the slow rises in tuition, other factors such as stagnant wages and reduced financial aid are contributing to lingering concerns about college affordability.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports that the College Board says tuition is “rising at a slower pace than in the past but still exceeds the ability of many families to pay for an education.” Moreover, “education borrowing decreased for the fifth consecutive year as students and their families relied less on loans.”

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports that average public college in-state tuition “rose by $230 — about 2.4 percent — to $9,650 in 2016…a slightly smaller increase than in years past.”

Engineering Professors Increasingly Using VR In Classroom.

U.S. News & World Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports that professors at engineering schools across the world are increasingly using virtual reality in the classroom. Students and professors can “visit one another in a virtual space if they can’t meet in person,” and schools “are also exploring medical applications of virtual reality that could save lives, such as 3-D X-rays that allow doctors to peer inside the bodies of patients.” The piece lists three advantages of attending engineering schools with robust integration of VR, including clear 3-D diagrams and visualizations, the ability to “envision new applications” for the VR technology itself, and the career benefits of graduates being able to market themselves to such firms as Google and Facebook which are already steeped in virtual reality technology.

Colleges Working To Retain Minority Students In STEM Grad Programs.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Velasco) reports on the relative dearth of minority and female students in graduate programs in the STEM disciplines, even as minority college attendance is on the rise. As an example, the article points out that black students account for only 4.5% of advanced degrees in the STEM fields. Now some professors around the country are working to find ways to promote minority STEM graduate program participation by “monitoring racial and gender dynamics within departments and lab groups and offering emotional support resources to minority students.” Such academics are “also expanding opportunities for these students to connect with mentors – professors, business leaders, and more senior peers – with similar backgrounds and experiences.”

NEW Report: “Small Schools” by the Numbers
Smaller engineering schools are often missing from our annual “By the Numbers” summary, because of the way it’s tabulated. We have created a “Smaller Engineering by the Numbers” to feature these schools.

Norman Fortenberry Co-Chairs NASEM Project
ASEE’s ED recently co-chaired a workshop on “Enhancing Teachers’ Voices in Policy Making Related to K-12 Engineering Education.”

Research and Development

Lockheed Looks To Expand Into Renewable-Energy Technologies, Reflecting Broader Military Trend.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Hirtenstein) reports Lockheed Martin “is trying to redirect more of its high-tech military knowledge to civilian markets,” applying the company’s know-how to renewable-energy technologies. Bloomberg News says the pivot “reflects broader trends in the military,” noting the US Department of Defense “has become the country’s second-largest buyer of emissions-free electricity.” Lockheed Martin Energy Vice President Frank Armijo is quoted saying, “Tidal has a need for advanced manufacturing, engineering and systems integration.”

Korea Institute, Thales To Develop Satellite Based Augmentation System For GPS.

TelecomPaper Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and Thales Group plan to sign a $40 million agreement to “jointly develop a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for GPS by 2021,” according to information from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The system aims to reduce GPS aviation errors, “providing more accurate location of aircraft by using satellites.”

DHS Working To Finalize Cyber Incident Response Plan.

Federal Computer Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Carberry) reports the government is working to finalize the update to the National Cyber Incident Response Plan (NCIRP), which was last drafted in 2010. FCW says the plan is “on target to be completed by the end of the year, but one question it cannot clearly address is the circumstances under which it should be put into action.” Federal Computer Weeks adds that one DHS official “said there is a full-court press to get the plan completed and signed before the next administration takes office.” The NCIRP is open for public comment until October 31, then the working group will “spend November reviewing and reconciling the comments before presenting a final draft to White House officials for review and approval sometime in December.”

DHS Awards $1.4 Million Cybersecurity Grant To UC San Diego. The San Diego Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Graves) reports DHS has awarded a $1.4 million grant to University of California’s San Diego campus “to explore the global internet and push the frontiers of cybersecurity research.” The University will use the award to “develop new capabilities to let cybersecurity researchers better measure the internet’s vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.” DHS Advanced Research Projects Agency cybersecurity program manager Dr. Ann Cox says, “The knowledge developed in this project will enable better defenses for critical infrastructure that is tied to the internet.”

Wu: Micro LED Technology Has 50 Percent Chance Of Success.

DigiTimes (TWN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Han, Hwang) reports General Director Wu Chih-I for Electronic and Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories said that “based on existing development and established supply chain of Micro LED, the possibility of successful development in terms of commercial applicability is about 50%.” Technologically, Micro LED will be successful, “but commercial application hinges on cost-performance competitiveness with TFT-LCD and OLED.” Wu said makers will face challenges while working “to keep improving performance and decreasing production costs which will pose challenges for Micro LED.” As “Taiwan-based makers are unable to compete with large international enterprises such as Apple and Samsung Electronics in developing Micro LED technology,” Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is developing “a consortium consisting of more than 20 Taiwan-based LED makers, LED material makers, IC design houses, IC packaging & testing service providers, TFT-LCD panel makers and system product makers, which will be established in November 2016.”

DARPA Prepares To Transfer Sea Hunter Program Management To ONR.

Seapower Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Burgess) reports that DARPA is “planning to transfer program management of its Sea Hunter USV to the Office of Naval Research (ONR),” and says the USV is under consideration for use as a minesweeper, as well as for the ASW rules of “track and trail…battle group picket, high-value unit escort, and towing acoustic surveillance arrays.” The Sea Hunter is built by Leidos.

Industry News

Samsung Display To Focus On AR/VR Panels.

The Korea Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Young-won) reports Samsung Display believes “panels for virtual reality and augmented reality” to help increase “its presence in the mobile OLED market,” according to top engineer Park Won-sang. At the International Meeting on Information Display in Seoul, Won-sang cited data from ABI Research, saying “the shipment of virtual reality devices connected with smartphones would rise more than 10-fold to 66 million units in 2017 from 4 million units in 2013.” Global tech firms like Sony, Oculus, Apple, and Google are steadily increasing interest and investment into VR. According to Won-sang, Samsung Display’s biggest challenge with the technology is power consumption, saying the company “is working to increase energy efficiency for high power consumption (of virtual reality).” Samsung Display still has an advantage over rival LG Display in VR “because LG is still focused on LCD and not OLED, which is considered an ideal panel for VR headset as it makes the inside of the headset completely dark.”

Alexa Enhances Utility Of Amazon’s Fire Tablets.

After Amazon’s rollout this week of an update for its most recent Fire tablets, which embeds its Alexa voice assistant in its operating system, the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Olivarez-Giles, Subscription Publication) reports that the company is now mounting a tougher challenge to Apple’s Siri in the mobile device space, reviewing the update favorably. Essential to Alexa’s utility on the tablets is the screen, because Alexa not only provides audible responses to users’ questions, but the screen also provides a more detailed response. Alexa on tablets also has capabilities she lacks on Echo, such as the ability to open apps, although she still lags behind competitors like Siri, which are able to perform particular functions within an app. Although the Journal’s reviewer was impressed by Alexa’s presence on Fire tablets, he observes that it is not yet as useful as an iPad with Siri. Regardless of any shortcomings, this update makes Alexa available on a wider selection of devices.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Jesdanun) reports that Alexa would accompany an update unvelied Wednesday for customers owning affected Fire tablets. The AP notes that for users who own both Fire and Echo who activate Alexa’s Voicecast feature, making a request on Echo activates the Fire’s display, which presents detailed information cards. The AP reports that Amazon distinguishes Alexa from Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant by noting it was designed for tablets, not phones, so its primary focus is on tasks typically performed at home. Despite an overall slump in the tablet market, observes the AP, Amazon remained strong by cutting prices and encouraging users to buy multiple tablets. “So far,” the AP notes, “Amazon is avoiding business-oriented tablets such as Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface,” quoting Amazon’s Aaron Bromberg, a senior product manager for Fire tablets, who said they might function well as laptop replacements, but Amazon also sees “an awful lot of people that want tablets to use around the house for entertainment,” with “the market kind of dividing a bit.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Maine Wind Farm Proposals Rejected By Clean Energy Coalition.

Drawing on coverage from the Portland Press Herald the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(10/26) reports “a coalition of utilities and state agencies in New England has rejected proposals” that aimed to “bring wind farms to sites in northern and western Maine.” The projects “were among 24 bids submitted to New England Clean Energy RFP following their November request for proposals to meet clean-energy goals for the region.” The coalition did choose “two large solar electric projects proposed for Sanford and Farmington to make the first cut.”

Lake Erie May Be Site Of Next Offshore Wind Farm.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26, Ryan) reports “the next U.S. offshore wind farm in the U.S. will probably be almost 500 miles” from the closest ocean. By the end of the year, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. “expects to finalize a deal” with “Fred. Olsen Renewables AS to build a 20.7 megawatt wind project in Lake Erie, off the Ohio coast, the president of the Cleveland-based non-profit group said in an interview.” LeedCo is working on “the $127 million Icebreaker project to demonstrate that offshore turbines are viable in the Great Lakes.” Construction may begin “in early 2018.”

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Bill Exempting Industrial Power From Energy-Efficiency Mandates.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports that by a vote of 35-13, the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday approved a bill “that would exempt large industrial power from state energy-efficiency mandates,” but the bill “is unlikely to be taken up by the House in the current session and the issue will live on in the next General Assembly.” The Inquirer adds the “large industrial and commercial power customers…sought the exemption from the 2008 conservation law known as Act 129.” Supporters of the program “say the exemption would weaken state efforts to reduce power consumption overall.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

NAEP Science Scores Show Gains In Fourth, Eighth Grades.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/27, Brown) reports in new NAEP science test results released Thursday, “fourth- and eighth-graders have made gains” and “large racial achievement gaps have narrowed slightly.” However, the results showed stagnation in high school results. Moreover, in the lower grades, “girls improved faster than boys, narrowing the gender gap at the eighth-grade level and erasing it in the fourth grade.”

Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/26) reports on the “modest” narrowing of the racial and gender achievement gaps on the tests, but notes that “not much of a change has taken place among America’s high school seniors.” Observers credited the Obama Administration’s greater focus on science as contributing to the gains in the earlier grades, but “suggested the stagnation among the nation’s high school seniors is likely due to the fact that students from minority groups are staying in high school longer and graduating more frequently but still not doing as well as their White peers in science.”

Wednesday’s Lead Stories

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