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

Leading the News

BlackBerry, Ford Partner In-Car Connectivity Software Development.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Stoll, Subscription Publication) reports that on Monday, BlackBerry’s QNX Software Systems head, John Wall, announced that Ford recognized BlackBerry as a “Tier One” supplier. The Journal says BlackBerry’s relationship with Ford began several years ago and centers on SYNC infotainment service software.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) explains that Wall said the agreement would cut out the middleman, a move that will allow BlackBerry to develop more software products with the car manufacturer. Bloomberg notes that QNX is currently used almost exclusively for infotainment systems, but BlackBerry has explored the possibility of self-driving car software development.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Woodyard) explains that BlackBerry’s QNX software is already being implemented by around 40 car manufacturers, but the agreement could grant Ford the opportunity to exercise “more control over the features” of the software, according to Wall. The move could also improve security for in-car communications systems.

Higher Education

New ED Rules Offer Relief To Misled Student Borrowers.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Nykiel) reports that on Friday, the ED announced final regulations “aimed at making it easier to get federal student loan forgiveness if your school misleads you or your college closes.” The Monitor says this “should be welcome news for borrowers who formerly attended a for-profit school owned by now-defunct Corinthian Colleges.” The article lists the benefits available for borrowers under the new rules.

Study Finds High Demand For Flexible Online Coursework.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1) reports on a new paper entitled, “Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education?” that examined Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree in computer science. The analysis found “there is large demand for such flexible online programs, especially among mid-career professionals juggling work and family life.” The researchers pointed out, “Online education can provide mid-career training without forcing individuals to quit their jobs or move to locations with appropriate educational institutions.”

NYTimes Analysis Compares Clinton, Trump Plans On Student Debt.

In an analysis, the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Irwin, Subscription Publication) examines the plans offered by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to make higher education more affordable. Trump would cap repayment of federal loans “at 12.5 percent of [the graduate’s] income and eliminate remaining debt entirely after 15 years.” Trump has also spoken “in broad terms about pushing colleges to cut costs more aggressively, particularly by limiting spending on ‘administrative bloat.’” Clinton’s “central pledge is for students from families with an income of under $125,000 a year to be able to attend their state school tuition-free.” Clinton would dedicate “new federal resources for tuition grants…but ones that would be available only in states that fund public universities at a high level.” Her plan “includes financial penalties for universities that fail to trim costs, reduce tuition and ensure students are able to get good jobs,” and she expects “students to work 10 hours a week as part of the debt-free college calculations.”

Columnist: Online University’s Popularity Soars Due To Small Class Size.

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) contributor Jason Schmitt says “hundreds of Asian students” are “flocking” to the tuition-free, online University of the People. In Asia, new online education platforms are competing against “large scale massive open online course (MOOC) players like Coursera, which directs 22 million learners, and edX, which leads 9.3 million in the pursuit of education.” Yet, Schmitt speculates UoPeople is increasingly popular because “only 20 to 30 students are enrolled in each course,” offering a small class size that “fosters student interaction and provides a network of personal support–both of which are important and rare in broad based online curriculum.”

University Of Missouri To Name Connecticut Provost As President, Source Says.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Stafford) reports an unnamed source indicated the University of Missouri is planning to name University of Connecticut Provost Mun Y. Choi as its president. U-Missouri’s “Columbia campus was roiled by protests over administrators’ handling of racial and other issues” last year, resulting in the resignation of the university’s former president and chancellor.

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

Engineers Create See-through Battery To Study Why They Explode.

IEEE Spectrum Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/20) reported on University of Michigan engineers’ development of a see-through lithium metal battery cell, which allows researchers to observe how a cell changes as it goes through charge cycles. In particular, engineers can use the technology to see in real time the growth of dendrites: filaments that grow, short the circuit and can cause fires. These “visualization cells” are cheap and straightforward for any researcher to build, the U-M professors indicated.

Additional coverage was provided by Motherboard Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/22) and New Atlas Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/20, Turpen). Over the weekend, a video on the research hit the front page of reddit Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/29) with over 200,000 views.

Dutch Team Develops International Standards For Probabilities In Forensics.

Forensic Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Augenstein) reports on a Dutch forensics team’s work to develop “international forensic standards for probability in forensic science.” The Netherlands Forensic Institute indicated the “initial phase of the work is establishing ‘likelihood ratios’ for biometric evidence collections.” The article notes “the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has already undertaken what could become a ‘transformational’ reevaluation of American forensic science,” in response to a 2009 report by the National Research Council, entitled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” which “called for major reforms to the criminal-justice system – and to establish national forensics scientific standards.”

NIH, NSF Funding Three-Year Project To Improve Treatment Of Sepsis In US Healthcare System.

In an over 1,800 word article, Health IT Analytics Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Bresnick) reports the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation are funding the Sepsis Early Prediction Support Implementation System, a three-year project that aims to use the skills of many different kinds of professionals “to tackle a number of fundamental problems with how the healthcare system identifies and treats sepsis patients.” The article highlights the work of researchers at North Carolina State University’s Industrial Engineering and Systems Engineering department as part of the broader project. The article points out that sepsis is responsible for 258,000 deaths per years, 8.4% of Medicare hospitalizations, and $24 billion in annual spending, according to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research.

University Launches $1.6M Study To Determine Feasibility Of Turning Coal Into Carbon Fiber.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) reports the University of Utah is investing $1.6 million to study “the feasibility of turning coal into carbon fiber, a material used in manufacturing of skis, cars and planes.” University Chemical Engineering Professor Eric Eddings announced the effort Wednesday, “saying finding a new way to use coal would be a boon for the environment and the economy.” Eddings added the process is “more carbon friendly than just burning coal in a power plant.” Carbon County Commissioner Jae Potter said Utah’s coal-rich counties “are working to diversify their economy and find new outlets for coal.”

Bats Can Detect Prey Despite Noise Pollution, Study Suggests.

Phys (UK) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) reports on recent research by Dr. Ryan Taylor of Salisbury University’s Biological Sciences Department – published in Science magazine by the American Association for the Advancement of Science – that found bats are not negatively affected by noise pollution created by humans. Instead, the bats “are able to switch their modes of detecting prey,” and can use high-frequency echolocations to detect frog movements in spite of urbanized noise.

Engineered Potatoes Receive Regulatory Approval.

KOMO-TV Seattle (10/31, 6:54 p.m. PDT) reported, “An Idaho company got the green light to start plant gene clean-engineered potatoes. The Department of Agriculture approved the request of to plant innate potatoes, engineered to resist engineering and black spots, as well as the pathogen that lead to the Irish potato famine. The Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency still need to sign off before potatoes go to the market. Simplot expects the approval in January.”

Global Developments

China’s FAST Telescope To Join “Breakthrough Listen” Project.

SPACE Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, O’Neill) reports that China’s new Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) will join the Breakthrough Listen project’s “hunt for intelligent aliens” in the area around star KIC 8462852, “otherwise known as ‘Tabby’s Star.’” Berkeley SETI Research Center Director Andrew Siemion said, “The FAST telescope will be absolutely incredible for conducting extremely sensitive searches of Tabby’s star for evidence of technologically produced radio emissions. … We are very excited to work with our colleagues in China on conducting SETI observations with FAST, including of Tabby’s star. Within its frequency range, FAST is the most sensitive telescope in the world capable of conducting SETI observations of Tabby’s star, and will be able to detect the weakest signals.” Beijing Planetarium Director Zhu Jin said, “Looking at Tabby’s star on FAST will be a very easy thing to do. … When the telescope was proposed, SETI was listed as a major goal. I don’t think we can turn a blind eye to Tabby’s star.”

Industry News

SpaceX Makes Progress Toward Finding Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion.

In continuing coverage, the Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/29, Lindsay) reports that SpaceX has determined that its Falcon 9 explosion occurred while helium “was being prepped, leading SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell to believe that the problem was with fueling process rather than a vehicle design or engineering flaw.” Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Kremer) reports that, based on that belief, SpaceX zeroed in on the helium pressurization system and has made “significant progress in replicating the failure” within the system that they think led to the explosion. Business Insider adds that even though the “problem at the heart of the anomaly appears to be in the helium loading system,” the “root cause of the explosion still remains elusive at this time.”

Sharp CEO Confirms Next Generation iPhone Will Feature OLED Panel Display.

BGR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) reports that Sharp CEO Jeng-wu Tai confirmed industry rumors that Apple’s next generation iPhone, to be released in 2017, will switch from low-temperature poly-silicon panels to OLED panels. BGR says that rumors of Apple’s transition to OLED for its iPhone line “are of course nothing new, but Tai’s position at Sharp and at Foxconn (where he is also an executive) puts him in a unique position to know of Apple’s design plans months in advance.” The Next Web Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) says that with his duties at both Sharp and Foxconn, Tai is now closely involved with Apple. Thus, Tai’s confirmation of the OLED panel transition “is a much clearer indication that the Cupertino company could finally be moving forward with the new display technology.”

Phone Arena Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) similarly says Tai’s executive position at Foxconn also lends him “a great deal of credibility in these regards, and this might be the most official confirmation we get that the iPhone 8 will have an OLED display until Apple confirms this themselves.” The article says OLED panel production is more expensive and the quality declines over time, but “the advantages that OLED brings definitely outweighs the hardships that Apple will have to overcome in order to implement the new screen tech into the world’s most popular phone.”

TechnoBuffalo Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) says Tai did not confirm which iPhone models will feature the OLED panels. Yet, sources revealed to Nikkei that the switch will be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch models. International Business Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) also says Apple will likely introduce three models, with the larger 5.5-inch model to feature a curved OLED screen. Apple will likely market its next generation iPhone as the iPhone 8 and not the iPhone 7S, with the two smaller models expected to retain the LTPS panels.

Gizmodo Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) notes that Apple’s primary rival, Samsung, used OLED panels in its S7 Edge and Note 7 devices. OLED panels are preferred to the LCD screens because they provide sharper color contrasts, brighter colors, and the ability to flex, rendering OLED panels “more durable and practically shatter-proof.” As such, writes Gizmodo, “It should be no surprise that Apple and Sharp are exploring OLED technology.”

In a separate article, BGR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) posits that an OLED display with curved sides will comprise more of the phone’s face. BGR says Apple can replace the aluminum back with glass if it replaces its “iconic home button and the traditional Touch ID fingerprint scanner” with an optical scanner embedded under the screen.

SlashGear Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) adds that the forthcoming iPhone generation “may or may not be made extra-special because of the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone’s reveal and release.” SlashGear suggests, “If Tai is correct, Apple may be on track to create a device that leaves previous iPhones in the dust.” Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) says industry followers widely believe “that the 2017 iPhone will be all glass, at least in the front, which would give off the visuals of a bezel-less phone,” and Tai’s confirmation of an OLED display “sort of confirmed the rumor.” Additionally, Forbes points to Apple’s alleged $2.5 billion agreement in April with Samsung to purchase around 100 million OLED panels.

Apple’s Next iPhones May Have Wireless Charging. Nikkei Asian Review (JPN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Wu) reports Foxconn is developing “wireless charging modules to go with the iPhones 10th anniversary” set of devices, “according to an industry source familiar with the matter.” Nikkei quotes the source as saying the feature will only come to Apple’s phones if “Foxconn can boost the yield rate to a satisfactory level later on.”

SlashGear Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) reports that an anonymous industry representative revealed that Foxconn is also testing wireless charging technology that could introduce a new industry standard. SlashGear notes that currently, the two primary standards are Qi and Rezence. The new technology could be a long-range automatic charging solution, which SlashGear says “will seem quite natural.”

Investor’s Business Daily Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Seitz) reports that though analysts expect the 2017 10th-anniversary iPhone to receive a “major design revamp,” the wireless charging technology may not make it into phones until the 2018 models.

AppleInsider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/1, Campbell) reports that adding to Foxconn’s need to boost yield in the technology is that next year’s iPhone “is expected to see unusually high demand.” AppleInsider adds that Apple has been “working on powerful technology that could enable long-distance charging,” as evidenced by its patents, and recent hires from uBeam, a firm developing long-distance charging.

ComputerWorld Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Evans) and Seeking Alpha Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31) report similarly.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Vermont “Floating Classrooms” Program Teaches STEM In The Middle Of A Lake.

Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/31, Hinton) reports teachers in Vermont take students to the Community Sailing Center on Lake Champlain in Burlington as part of the “Floating Classrooms” program, which provides STEM “learning opportunities through hands-on experiences related to sailing.” One teacher cited the benefits of learning about water quality while standing next to a lake.

Monday’s Lead Stories

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