Leading the News
MIT Engineers Develop “Bomb-Sniffing” Spinach.
TIME (11/1, Samuelson) reports engineers at MIT have developed technology to turn “spinach plants into bomb-sniffing machines that can wirelessly relay warning signals to a handheld device similar to a smartphone.” The engineers placed carbon nanotubes into the plants’ leaves that “emit a fluorescent signal that can be read with an infrared camera” if they “detect ‘nitroaromatics’–chemical compounds often used in landmines and other explosives.”
Results Of NAEP Indicate Schools Teaching Science In “Hands-Off” Manner.
In a more than 1,400-word article, Science Magazine (11/1, Mervis) reports that the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science released last week were “eye-catching” and “seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom that hands-on learning is the best way to teach science.” While the Administration “honored the nation’s best science and math teachers by staging what it called ‘Active Learning Day’ at the White House,” Science Magazine says the NAEP showed students in US high schools “who regularly handle rocks or minerals in science class did much worse…than those who never engage in such hands-on activities,” although what was “perhaps even more sobering…is how few students report engaging in hands-on activities at all.” However, Education Secretary John King and presidential science adviser John Holdren “were quick to tout the new results as evidence” the Administration’s efforts “are beginning to pay off” while National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Acting Commissioner Peggy Carr in Washington, D.C., “offered an even rosier assessment, telling reporters that the results show ‘we’re kind of at the top when it comes to science.’”
Financial Aid Loss Linked To College Dropout Rates.
Marketplace (11/1, Tam, Scott) reports a study released Tuesday by education research firm EAB found “the more financial aid students lose, the more likely they are to drop out of college.” While “students who lose $1,500 to $2,000 in financial aid are 3 percentage points more likely to drop out than their peers,” other “students who lose over $10,000 in aid are 19 percentage points more likely to drop out than their peers.” Marketplace notes that in September, US “Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. highlighted the importance of funding for college students,” pushing “to streamline the FAFSA process in hopes of reaching the students who are eligible, but slip through the cracks.” King said in September, “Our hope is that by making the process simpler, folks who should be getting aid will be able to take advantage of those opportunities. We know college remains the best investment one can make in one’s future.”
Former Education Secretary Rod Paige Returns To Jackson State As President.
The AP (11/1) reports former US Secretary of Education Roderick Paige is set to take over as president at Jackson State University next week. On Tuesday, “the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning named Paige as interim president.” Board President Doug Rouse expressed confidence Paige will “lead with a servant’s heart and guide the university well through this transitional phase.”
Accreditation and Professional Development
IET To Hold Young Woman Engineer Of The Year Awards Ceremony.
World Pumps (UK) (10/31) reports the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has announced its Young Woman Engineer (YWE) of the Year awards ceremony will be held at its headquarters in Savoy Place in London on Thursday, Dec. 1. The winners of the three available awards will “become ambassadors for the IET and the engineering profession, as well as role models for the younger generation.”
Research and Development
Engineer Group To Investigate Nipigon River Bridge Failure.
Northern Ontario (CAN) Business (11/1) reports Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) “has launched an investigation related to last January’s failure of the Nipigon River Bridge,” which is “a cable-stayed structure, spanning 252 metres over the Nipigon River” and is part of the Trans-Canada Highway. PEO registrar Gerard McDonald is quoted saying, “As a regulator, it’s our responsibility to investigate any possible engineering practice deficiencies related to the failure and determine if engineering work was carried out by appropriately licensed people and companies.”
Scientific Community Adopts Social Media To Accelerate Research.
In a more than 1,600-word article, The Scientist (11/1, Henry) reports on how the scientific community “in fast-moving and data-driven fields” is using social media platforms, such as Twitter, to “enable real-time dissemination of their work.” According to The Scientist says “sharing research on social media also fits with the community’s growing interest in accelerating scientific publishing, as evidenced by a spate of new preprint servers.” In addition, “casual crowdsourcing,” The Scientist adds, has also “become a regular activity for many scientists” with “a responsive Twitter following.”
University Of Pittsburgh Will Lead Effort To Study Brain Aneurysms.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (11/1, Templeton) reports the National Institutes of Health awarded a five-year $2.95 million grant to a group of institutions led by University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering to research when surgery is necessary to remove cerebral aneurysms, which can be fatal if they rupture. Anne M. Robertson of the University of Pittsburgh will work with “experts from Allegheny General Hospital, George Mason University, the University of Illinois in Chicago, and Helsinki University Central Hospital and Kuopio University Hospital, both in Finland” on the research. The article notes that about 30,000 individuals in the US have ruptured aneurysms in the US each year, according to the NIH.
Airway-On-A-Chip Model Offers Means To More Accurately Study Effects Of Smoking.
MedPage Today (11/1, Boyles) reports on the “newly developed asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) airway-on-a-chip model” which is “lined with living human bronchiolar epithelium” and was developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University in Boston explained in Cell Systems. The developers expect to be able to discover “more accurate biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COPD and other smoking-related diseases.” According to researchers, “the smoking chips were shown to reproduce the cellular phenotype of smoking-induced oxidant damage to the lungs.” They also said it “can be used to identify COPD-specific biological responses and discover novel molecular signature that may serve as potential therapeutic targets or diagnostic biomarkers.”
Snyder Hails Job Training Programs In Michigan.
MLive (MI) (11/1, Jones) reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday toured “career-path expo for high schoolers” by the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) as well as “a new career training program for working adults” at the Texas Township campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC), which he praised as a model for the state. According to Snyder, the students are “excited” and they “see the value because they’re going back and forth between being in a great educational place such as KVCC and then using these skill sets at work.” MLive adds that “Snyder seemed fascinated by some of the displays at the Expo Center that showed young people the work being done by any of about 100 Michigan businesses and organizations.”
NY State Helps Prisoners Prepare For College.
In a 3,300-word article, the New York Times (11/1, Spencer, Subscription Publication) reports, “With widespread consensus that the” American penal “system is failing both offenders and their victims, state and federal governments are reinvesting in rehabilitative programs,” with access to college “one of the most popular.” New York’s Prison-to-College Pipeline helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men pursue college degrees. The staff advise them “on financial aid matters, what classes to take, ways to perfect term papers, and how to deal with ornery professors and manage girlfriends, parents and children while trying to hold down jobs.” The article focuses on program enrollee Juan Echevarria, who served 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter and “is desperate to remake himself,” and the challenges he faces, including academic requirements, monetary issues, housing problems, and forming emotional connections with others.
US Car Sales Down In October
he AP (11/1) reports that analysts expected new car and truck sales to fall in October in response to waning consumer demand. General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen have already reported a decline in sales figures, and other automakers will likely release sales figures later on Tuesday. Reuters (11/1) says the rate of decline in October from sales figures a year ago will remain unclear until later this week, but analysts predicted a six to eight percent decline across the industry. Ford Motor is delaying the release of its sales report because of a Monday fire at its Dearborn headquarters.
Bloomberg News (11/1, Butters) reports that GM’s sales declined 1.7 percent, exceeding Bloomberg analysts’ estimates of 6.9 percent. Toyota Motor reported an 8.7 percent drop, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported a ten percent drop, and Nissan reported a 2.2. percent decline. Bloomberg analysts predicted a 9.8 percent, 4.7 percent, and 1.5 percent sales drop for Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan, respectively.
USA Today (11/1, Bomey) says that these figures suggest that the auto industry could still match or exceed its record 2015 year. Autotrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs emphasized “that while we are seeing sales off last year’s peak, they are just barely off.” Overall, crossover SUVs and pickups, which are collectively more profitable than cars, sold well. In the last four months, discounts increased by about 12 percent, which Barclays analyst Brian Johnson claimed was at “the highest level we’ve seen post the Great Recession.”
Facebook Introduces Voyager Fiber Optic Networking Product.
Business Insider (11/1) reports Facebook on Tuesday announced details of its Voyager optical switch network product and OpenCellular project. Facebook infrastructure and engineering head Jay Parikh explained in a blog post that the focus of its OpenCellular project is to create an open wireless ecosystem. Business Insider says the measure, which is a part of Facebook’s larger Telecom Infra Project, reflects Facebook’s new goal of “disrupting the telecom equipment market and the vendors that dominate it like Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Fujitsu, Juniper Networks and others.”
The Wall Street Journal (11/1, Clark, Subscription Publication) reports that Facebook will encourage hardware companies to sell Voyager and software companies to manage it. Voyager is, according to Facebook, the first real-world implementation of fiber optic networking in a white-box device.
Ornate’s New Yumi Robot Said To Bring Amazon’s Alexa “To Life.”
A number of tech-focused reports yesterday covered “Yumi,” the new “goofy robot version of Amazon’s Alexa,” which Forbes (11/1) describes as housing a 5-inch high-definition display, dual speaker configuration, and single on-off button to “bring Amazon’s Alexa to life” in robot form. Laurent Le Pen, founder & CEO at Ornate, which manufactures the device, said, “We have spent over a year from design to engineering in order to give birth to Yumi. It required deep Android software customization to combine high-end audio and state-of-the-art AI into its complex mechanical design. Yumi has been built on AI from the ground up, it is an incredibly smart and cute robot; a personal assistant, a music hub and a smart-home control point all in one.” For the time being, reports UberGizmo (11/1, Fiolet), the Yumi remains a prototype, although the firm’s initial developer version will be available to pre-order starting November 15 for $349. Engadget (11/1) says actual shipping dates will begin in March 2017. According to New Atlas (11/1, Robarts), which provides similar, largely spec-focused coverage, Yumi includes a 1.3 GHz quad-core ARM Cortext processsor, 3,000 Alexa skills, ARM Mali graphics chip, 1GB of on-board memory, and dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity.
Samsung Engineer Suggests Next Galaxy S8 Will Feature 90 Percent OLED Display.
BGR (11/1) reports Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S8 is expected to feature a variety of new design changes, such as a dual rear lens camera, but a Samsung Display researcher all but confirmed the inclusion of a button-less, all-screen design. BGR says this anticipated feature will be “the most exciting feature of next year’s Galaxy S8 phone.”
Citing a report from The Investor, Android Authority (11/1) says the Galaxy S8 is expected to feature an OLED display that will have a screen-to-body ratio of more than 90 percent. Samsung Display engineer Park Won-sang unveiled bezel-less Galaxy S7 Edge concepts and alleged that Samsung could, within the next few years, produce a device that boasts a 99 percent screen-to-body ratio.
The Next Web (11/1) reports that Won-sang, speaking at the iMID Display Exhibition last week, also hinted that Samsung is heavily investing in screen technology innovations. Won-sang did not explicitly confirm that the updated OLED panel will be included in the Galaxy S8, but “he made it clear the tech giant is serious about improving the quality of its screens.”
Phone Arena (11/1) says that if officially confirmed, the Galaxy S8’s updated OLED screen would exceed the Galaxy S7 screen-to-body ration by about 20 percent. Phone Arena says Samsung will likely accomplish this bezel reduction on the phone’s top and bottom, where most of the bezel on the S7 and S7 edge is located. DroidLife (11/1) explains that the top and bottom bezel typically houses the smartphone’s various cameras and sensors. A possible 90 percent display area ration will likely require fingerprint readers and other sensors to be embedded beneath the display area, “meaning no sacrificed features for the larger display areas.”
Continuing Coverage: iPhone 8 Could Adopt Wireless Charging Mechanism.
According to continuing coverage from several tech-related outlets, all citing a recent Nikkei report, Apple could in fact feature wireless charging on its next flagship iPhone 8. Geek (11/1) is among those covering the prospective wireless module, and reports that Apple manufacturer Foxconn already is in the process of testing the feature. Business Insider (11/1, Martindale) says it remains unknown whether Apple would incorporate wireless charging on all iPhone models or limit the feature to a specialized edition. Part of that decision, according to Cult Of Mac (11/1), will depend on whether Foxconn can achieve a sufficient yield rate on the modules. As Mashable (11/1, Wong) reminds readers, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were once expected to launch with new scratch-resistant sapphire displays, but that plan got scrapped once the manufacturer, GT Advanced Technologies, determined it could not glean a satisfactory yield rate on the screens. Regarding the wireless charging rumors, Quartz (11/1, Murphy) and Fortune (11/1, Reisinger) continue to report that Apple has not confirmed any plans to incorporate the feature, although as CNET News (11/1, Gottsegen) points out, the firm continues to hire on engineers from wireless charging firms “and cite 2017 as the year we will see this technology.” Business Insider (11/1, Leswing), PC Magazine (11/1, Gupta), 9 to 5 Mac (10/31) and BGR (11/1, Epstein) offer similar coverage.
HP Labs Combines Physical, Cyber Approaches Into Combined “Ambient Computing” Vision.
CNET News (11/1) briefly divides innovation in Silicon Valley into three chapters, with atoms at the central focus of the first chapter, the Internet as the focus of the second, and a combination of both physical and ethereal approaches in the third. HP Chief Engineer Chandrakant Patel asserted that HP Labs’ vision has transitioned to “ambient computing” and explained, “The 21st century will require Silicon Valley to be a cyber-physical valley.” CNET says his sentiment is shared by Tesla, Google, Amazon, and other companies, including those involved in Internet of Things technologies. For HP, the transition into this new chapter is inherent in the works of its HP Labs, at which researchers are focusing on new computer user interfaces, Internet of Things technologies, computer security, 3D printing, and biotechnology.
Maryland Student Among Obama’s Kid Science Advisors.
The Baltimore Sun (11/2, Anderson) profiles Khristian Ward, 10, a fifth grader at Roye-Williams Elementary School, who “is one of 11 children from across the country who recently met with” President Obama on Oct. 21 as part of his Kid Science Advisors program. In an interview on Friday, Ward described Obama as “a lot taller in person, a lot cooler in person.” Ward added that he was invited to the White House because “I wanted to invent [a] microchip that helps gets rid of soldiers’ PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] when they come home from war.” The Sun mentions that Ward’s parents “now work as civilian Department of Defense contractors in the personnel office at” Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Atlanta School To Host “STEMsational” Camp.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (11/1, Cooper) reports Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs will host a free “STEMsational” camp for children ages 3 to 5 at its Alan A. Lewis Primary School on Saturday, Nov. 5. According to the Journal-Constitution, the children “will spend the afternoon with other science students crafting small cars, programming robots and shooting off straw rockets.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• BlackBerry, Ford Partner In-Car Connectivity Software Development.
• New ED Rules Offer Relief To Misled Student Borrowers.
• Engineers Create See-through Battery To Study Why They Explode.
• China’s FAST Telescope To Join “Breakthrough Listen” Project.
• SpaceX Makes Progress Toward Finding Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion.
• Vermont “Floating Classrooms” Program Teaches STEM In The Middle Of A Lake.