Leading the News
High-frequency Trading Firms Boost Hiring In Asia.
Bloomberg News (11/2, Tan) reports on the growth of high-frequency trading firms in Asia, while banks are “cutting trading jobs in the region.” One firm, Grasshopper, is “looking for mainly tech and quantitative roles.” One hiring officer said, “campus recruiting is the bulk of hiring and usually little or no experience in finance is required.”
Global Job Market Requires Computer Skills At “Unprecedented Levels.”
The Hill (11/2, Bertram) writes in its “Pundits Blog” that today’s global job market “requires computer skills at unprecedented levels,” adding that as the world becomes “more technologically interdependent, it is critical that American students have the skills to compete with their global counterparts.” The article urges the next president to “encourage and incentivize states and cities to prioritize computer science and STEM education – and not just at the college level, but also throughout our elementary, middle and high schools.”
Community College President Teaches Course On Career Development.
Relying on information in the Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star (10/31, Loughlin), the AP (11/2) reports on Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann’s Monday lecture on career exploration, in which she said she stayed at an engineering job for a year to complete a one-year training program and “to know I wasn’t a quitter.” Ellspermann’s IVYT Student Success class is her “chance to get to know 20-some students and understand their experience here as well as work with them on a little bit of career development,” the president said.
University Of Missouri Names Mun Choi As President.
Diverse Education (11/2) reports, “The University of Missouri has named Mun Y. Choi as the new president of its four-campus system.” The article notes the university’s previous president, Tim Wolfe, resigned “amid protests over racial issues at its Columbia campus.” Choi said, “The voices of faculty, students and staff – the true heart and soul of the institution – matter greatly to me. I will be meeting but, more importantly, listening to their perspective, their history and the programs that mean a great deal to them.”
Study Finds Students Loans One Of Several Obstacles To Home Ownership Among Recent College Graduates.
The Washington Post (11/2, Douglas-Gabriel) reports on “a new report from Fitch Ratings” finding that while there may have been a “meteoric rise of student debt” it is “not the only barrier” keeping recent graduates from home ownership. The report identifies “stagnant wages, appreciation in home prices, conservative lending and rising student loan balances” as all being factors. It also cites recent data from Fannie Mae showing that millennials over 28 “are purchasing homes at a faster pace as the housing market continues to recover.”
Louisiana School Settles Desegregation Claims.
In continuing coverage, the AP (11/2) reports the Department of Justice announced a settlement “designed to resolve lingering desegregation issues at the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School” in Louisiana. The settlement calls for expanding school facilities, “offering tuition scholarships to black students and taking steps to recruit black candidates for staff and teaching jobs at the school.” Louisiana Tech University “agreed more needed to be done to increase the percentage of black students enrolled in the school.” Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement, “We commend the Louisiana Tech community for its firm commitment to make the promise of equal access to education a reality for all children, regardless of the color of their skin.”
Financial Aid Dean Offers Advice On Getting Free Assistance.
Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post (11/2) “Answer Sheet” posts a piece by Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, warning families about the companies offering to help guide them through the financial aid process, pointing out that such services “are often free” through high school counselors or the National Association for College Admission Counseling, that is “dedicated to helping students make choices about post-secondary education.” He also recommends Raise.me which “helps students earn ‘micro scholarships’ supported by more than 180 colleges and universities.”
Research and Development
Scientists Develop Algorithm To Improve Analysis Of DNA.
Technical.ly Baltimore (11/3, Babcock) cites a report in the JHU Hub that “a team of 17 scientists led by Michael Schatz” at Johns Hopkins University has developed a “new algorithm” that “could revolutionize the way scientists look at genes.” The algorithms are available free as open-source software, FALCON and FALCON-Unzip. The results from using the algorithm to examine DNA were published in Nature Methods. The team analyzed three samples of DNA and “provided a more complete picture of the genomes than was previously possible.”
Virginia Tech Team Produces Flexible Solar Panels.
Science Daily (11/1) reports on “a team of mechanical and materials engineers and chemists at Virginia Tech” led by Shashank Priya that is “producing flexible solar panels that can become part of window shades or wallpaper.” The production makes use of “a screen-printing process using low-temperature titanium oxide paste” that results in flexible tiles, “less than half-a-millimeter thick” that “can be combined together to cover large areas.” The team has documented its work in the December issue of Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.
NIH Awards $1.8 Million Grant To Rochester Institute Of Technology Professor To Engineer Ultrathin Membranes.
The Rochester (NY) Business Journal (11/2, Feltner) reports National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.8 million grant to a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology “to develop ultrathin membranes for tissue engineering.” Thomas Gaborski, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will use the grant to develop “improved porous membranes that will be the building blocks of in vitro tissue models.”
Three Latinas Leading In VR And AR.
NBC News (11/2, Ladish) reports on “several Latinas” who are “leaders” in “Virtual and Augmented Reality.” They are “not only breaking the glass ceiling…but are fervent mentors to young minority women” in the STEM fields more broadly. They are: Cecilia Abadie, 47, of Meta; Gemma Busoni, 18, of Discovr Labs; and Cathy Hackl, 37, of VR Scout. Abadie focuses on “the way people are able to manipulate digital objects or holograms” through “neuroscience research.” She works at Meta which “produces Augmented Reality, or AR headsets.” Busoni works on “product development” and “engaging with the education community.” Hackl is involved in making a VR documentary on child trafficking.
Organizations Seek To Boost Women In STEM Fields.
The Guardian (UK) (11/2, Jolin) reports on efforts to increase participation of women in STEM fields, pointing out that women are “just 14.4%” of the STEM workforce in the UK. The reason given is that “girls often lack the confidence to pursue a subject that is dominated by boys.” To combat that organizations are holding “breakfasts, networking events and panels,” as well as “codeathons” exclusively for “school-age girls and students.”
Kuo Says Apple Could Have AR Products Within 1-2 Years.
AppleInsider (11/2, Campbell) reports KGI Analyst put out a new note suggesting Apple’s augmented reality product will not be out for “at least one or two more years.” Kuo does not describe any specifics about an AR platform, but AppleInsider notes that as Android phones are already integrating VR, Apple may “test the waters with a system akin to the hit iOS game Pokémon Go.” Kuo added that once the technology is mature Apple could integrate “AR to redefine key product lines, perhaps leapfrogging competitors by three to five years. For example, augmented user interfaces could drastically change the way users interact with Apple Watch and Apple TV, eliminating obstacles like small screens and clunky controls.” AppleInsider adds the technology could also be expanded to other fields like automotive technology, according to Kuo.
BGR (11/2, Smith) reports on the AppleInsider story, highlighting Kuo’s assertion that an “Apple AR experience could leapfrog the competition by 3-5 years,” as the iPhone could “provide the building blocks for AR.” BGR notes that Apple would still need to work out how to squeeze out more processing power and battery life from an iPhone before AR is feasible.
9 to 5 Mac (11/2, Lovejoy) reports that Kuo broke down Apple’s competitive advantages in AR into three categories: “(1) redefining existing key products and leading competitors by three to five years. For instance, this could happen for iPhone, iPad and Mac; (2) eliminating obstacles of Apple Watch and Apple TV by offering an innovative user experience; and (3) entering new business fields, such as autonomous driving system.”
Apple Patents VR Headset For Use With A Smartphone. Phone Arena (11/3) reports Apple was awarded a patent for a “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus For Retaining A Portable Electronic Device With Display,” which Phone Arena notes is “a VR headset for smartphones.” Phone Arena adds the headset includes attachments for a phone, but the patent describes a device that uses “phones with screens that are considered small by today’s standards.”
Digital Trends (11/2, Parrish) reports the device is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR, but designed to “favor smaller phones and customers who wear glasses.” Digital Trends notes that if the device takes a larger phone, “the system will display the content smaller than the actual screen, and possibly in a lower resolution.” Digital Trends notes that Apple appears to be thinking about a headset that is “a sleek solution for iPhone owners that sports its own rechargeable battery.”
Technology Startup Magic Leap To Introduce Mixed Reality Technology.
Forbes (11/2, Ewalt) features a report highlighting the history and business model of lucrative technology startup Magic Leap. The company’s “arcane invention” is a mixed reality headset not yet released to the public. Magic Leap Founder and CEO Rony Abovitz has kept the company “in extreme secrecy since it was founded in 2011,” allowing very “few people” to see its technology. Despite its privacy, “Magic Leap has raised nearly $1.4 billion in venture capital, including $794 million this past February, reportedly the largest C round in history.” As the company emerges from the “shadows,” Abovitz states that “Magic Leap has spent a billion dollars perfecting a prototype and has begun constructing manufacturing lines in Florida, ahead of a release of a consumer version of its technology,” which “could usher in a new era of computing, a next-generation interface we’ll use for decades to come.” The mixed reality display screens are expected to have extremely diverse applications and allow users to have all “the computing power” they need in the glasses.
Ford’s US Vehicles Sales Down 11.7 Percent In October.
Reuters (11/2) reports Ford reported an 11.7 percent drop in October US vehicles sales, “led by a decline in sales of cars such as the Mustang and Ford Fusion sedan.” The company said Wednesday, “October vehicle sales in the United States fell to 188,813 from 213,938 a year earlier.” Ford’s October sales were below “Autodata Corp’s estimate of 208,259 vehicles.” According to Autodata, US auto sales dropped 5.8 percent to 1,372,320 vehicles in October. The Detroit Free Press (11/2, Gardner) reports Ford’s passenger car sales decreased “27.5% and truck sales slipped 2.2% in a month with two fewer selling days.” However, “F-Series pickup sales increased modestly, by 0.1%, to 65,542 trucks, the best October for the Clydesdale of Ford’s lineup since 2004.” Ford Vice President for US Marketing, Sales and Service Mark LaNever said that “Ford’s average transaction prices are up $1,600 versus a year ago, exceeding the $600 average increase for the industry.” Bloomberg News (11/2, Naughton) reports in October, US auto sales “hit the highest annual selling rate in almost a year, fueled by a 14 percent boost in the discounts it took to coax car buyers into showrooms.” The annual selling rate “was 18.02 million vehicles in October, the first month to top 18 million since last November,” according to Autodata. Sales dropped “from a strong year-earlier month,” but “the pace beat the 17.7 million average estimate in a Bloomberg survey.” MarketWatch (11/2, Steele) reports Ford delayed the data report one day because of a fire at its headquarters. The fire disrupted “power to several buildings, including one of the company’s main data centers that its dealers use to report and track sales.”
Celltrion To Expand R&D Five-Fold Over Next Two To Three Years.
Reuters (11/2, Lee) reports that South Korea-based Celltrion “aims to expand R&D spending five-fold” to $876.24 million “in the next two or three years to help bolster a pipeline of original drugs.” Celltrion’s biosimilar version of Remicade (infliximab) “is about to hit the US market” and Celltrion CEO Kim Hyoung-ki expects the biosimilar to take a greater market share in the US than it did in Europe.
Engineering and Public Policy
ED To Experiment With Requiring Counseling Before Students Agree To College Loans.
Marketplace (11/2, Scott) says that “students have so much debt” because there is no counseling for prospective students who are about to assume that debt. US Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell pointed out, “The law is clear that colleges can’t discourage students from getting the loans that they’re entitled to,” adding, “Congress wants to be very careful that we’re not creating impediments for students to getting the loans that they deserve, and that counseling doesn’t turn into a kind of discouragement – or in fact even a kind of redlining.” Yet, as a result of the burgeoning student debt problem, “the Department of Education is launching an experiment to see if more loan counseling could help students make better decisions.” Mitchell said, “Think of it as sort of an annual checkup, where you would meet with a financial aid officer and talk about your program of study and how much debt you have incurred so far, what it would take to finish, and really work through a number of different options.”
Colorado District Launches PLTW STEM Curriculum In Elementary School.
Crested Butte News (11/3, Lueckemeyer) reports the Gunnison Watershed School District has now expanded its STEM curriculum from the middle and high schools to elementary students at the Crested Butte Community School. That happened “thanks to a generous private donor.” School principal Sally Hensley said that she was inspired by “the elementary curriculum offered by Project Lead the Way.” She recruited several families to provide financial support and then went to the district. Hensley explained that though some believe that STEM involves “too much time learning in front of a screen, Project Lead the Way Launch incorporates elements that limit excessive computer exposure.”
Student, Teacher Present Findings On Using Analytics To Improve Education.
The Renton (WA) Reporter (11/2, Abraham) reports on a presentation by Jennifer Fernandez a 10th grader at Renton Prep Christian School, and Michelle Zimmerman, director of innovative teaching and learning sciences at Renton Prep. They attended STEM Summit 4.0 in New York and “presented their findings on integrating data from analytics to advance education and better prepare students.” The school has been honored by the 2016 Future of Education Technology Conference as “one of the three best middle schools with STEM programs in the country.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Partners In Million Orchid Project.
The Miami Herald (11/2, Guarnizo) reports the Miami-Dade County Public Schools have joined with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the University of Miami School of Architecture Design Build Program on the Million Orchid Project, which “aims to grow and reintroduce one million native and endangered orchids back into South Florida’s urban spaces.” Fairchild Director Dr. Carl Lewis said, “It’s a high-tech process and we need a lot of help from the community.” The school system’s mobile STEMLab will visit each of the 30 middle schools twice “because the orchids must be transplanted every once in a while.” The students receive instruction on growing orchids from Fairchild volunteers and staff. On the STEMLab they “plant and transplant orchid seeds in sterile conditions.” They also “cultivate orchid seedlings in mini botany labs in their classrooms.”
“Engineering Extravaganza” To Encourage Youngsters To Consider Engineering Careers.
Eureka Magazine (UK) (11/2, Austin) reports that as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, “The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3), have joined forces to launch the ‘Engineering Extravaganza’ to inspire youngsters to become engineers.” The event will take “place at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing’s Knowledge Transfer Centre on…November 10 and will involve around 120 pupils from the surrounding region’s schools.”
Bay Area Science Festival Is Saturday.
The San Francisco Chronicle (11/2, Perlman) reports on the Bay Area Science Festival’s sixth annual Discovery Day this Saturday at which “teenage coders will be creating virtual reality, other kids will be showing off their robot athletes, and real-life scientists will offer brains, hearts and eyes for dissection.” The day is free and “more than 35,000 adults and children are expected” for “more than 150 hands-on science exhibits, games, competitions and experiments.” Similar annual events are happening in over 50 cities in the US to boost interest in STEM courses. Former astronaut Steve Smith will speak on Saturday “on the nation’s need for new crops of engineers.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• MIT Engineers Develop “Bomb-Sniffing” Spinach.
• Financial Aid Loss Linked To College Dropout Rates.
• IET To Hold Young Woman Engineer Of The Year Awards Ceremony.
• Engineer Group To Investigate Nipigon River Bridge Failure.
• Snyder Hails Job Training Programs In Michigan.
• US Car Sales Down In October
• HP Labs Combines Physical, Cyber Approaches Into Combined “Ambient Computing” Vision.