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

Leading the News

Obama Supports Native Americans In Dakota Access Pipeline Issue.

In a 1,000-word article, the Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Williams) reports, “As the Dakota Access Pipeline protests enter their fourth month, activists have received major support from a friend in high places: President Obama.” The President “voiced his support” of Native Americans on Tuesday and “announced that the US Army Corps of Engineers was looking for alternatives to shift the path of the pipeline away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.” Although “many protesters have expressed gratitude for Mr. Obama’s support, some say that he should be doing more to stop the pipeline’s construction.”

Obama’s Call To Reroute Dakota Access Pipeline Draws Fire From Both Sides. The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Richardson) reports that President Obama’s “suggestion to reroute the Dakota Access pipeline” has drawn criticism from both sides of the debate. Environmentalists and pipeline protesters “want to see the project blocked altogether,” while pipeline supporters “say a reroute would be prohibitively expensive and represent flagrant interference with the regulatory process.”

A New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Subscription Publication) editorial calls the President’s comments “a welcome hint of good news in an intensely bitter confrontation that came wrapped in historic injustice and seemed destined to end in grief.” The Times quotes the President as saying, “I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” and opines, “Of course there is. There has to be.”

Pipeline Expert Slams Dakota Access Review. Politico Pro Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Subscription Publication) reports that “an independent pipeline expert and outside adviser to the DOT found the Army Corps of Engineers’ review of the Dakota Access pipeline ‘seriously deficient’ and unable to justify its conclusion that the project would not pose a potentially serious spill risk, according to a report released today by environmentalists.” Richard Kuprewicz, “whose consulting firm has worked for the pipeline industry as well as green groups, warned that the broad environmental assessment crafted by the pipeline company for the Corps failed to fully gauge the impact of a possible oil leak and reached conclusions about the landslide risk to the pipeline that verged on ‘downright false.’” The Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal chairman, David Archambault, “seized on the report to urge the Obama administration to order a full-scale environmental impact statement on Dakota Access.”

Higher Education

DeVry Aims To Lead For-Profit Sector Reforms.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports that DeVry Education Group CEO Lisa W. Wardell says “she’s trying to position the company to ‘be a voice for how this industry needs to change’ — and she sees the new presidential administration as ‘a time for us to step forth as a leader.’” DeVry has announced that it will “start providing more-robust disclosures to its students about the debt they’re taking on to attend the school” and recently announced that it “will voluntarily cap its receipt of federal funding — including veterans’ benefits — at 85 percent of its annual revenue.”

Colleges Increasingly Adding New Fees To Cover Things Once Covered By Tuition.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Sharpe, Subscription Publication) reports on the wide variety of extra fees colleges charge students above and beyond tuition, “including a slew of euphemistically named fees for costs that used to be covered by tuition.” The article quotes Ohio University professor and Center for College Affordability and Productivity Director Richard Vedder saying, “This is a way to try to disguise the actual price of college.” Meanwhile, Seton Hall University Professor Robert Kelchen says “since 1999, mandatory fees have risen 30 percent more than tuition has.”

New Endowment To Improve South Dakota Mines Chemical Engineering Lab.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports that former Dow Chemical executive Gary Veurink, an alumnus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, “has established a $1 million endowment at his alma mater.” The endowment will support scholarships and a chemical engineering lab at the school, which has renamed the lab in Veurink’s honor.

Staples Latest Big Employer To Offer Student Loan Payments As Perk.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports that full time employees at office supply chain Staples “can now get $100 a month, up to $3,600 over 36 months, toward their student loan payments.” Staples is “the first major retailer to offer a student loan repayment program for employees,” though other major companies in other sectors “provide similar perks.”

From ASEE
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 Develop New System For Manufacturing Airplane Wings.

Science Daily Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports engineers at MIT and NASA have developed new wing architecture that “could greatly simplify” aircraft manufacturing and reduce fuel consumption “by improving the wing’s aerodynamics, as well as improving its agility.” The architecture is based on a system “of tiny, lightweight subunits that could be assembled by a team of small specialized robots, and ultimately could be used to build the entire airframe.” The wing would be “covered by a ‘skin’ made of overlapping pieces that might resemble scales or feathers.” The team of researchers is currently conducting tests, and says some of the first uses of the technology “super-efficient long-range drones,” according to MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms Director Neil Gershenfeld.

Researchers Develop A Self Healing Ink That Could Impact Wearable Technology.

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Dent) reports a team from the Jacobs School of Engineering has created “a self-healing magnetic ink that can repair multiple cuts in as little as 50 milliseconds.” Engadget notes this breakthrough could lead to battery, sensor, and circuit technologies that “fix themselves autonomously, making the smart textile industry more feasible.” Engadget notes the team used a magnetic field around the ink,” aligning the particles so that when it’s torn or cut, each side is magnetically attracted to the other, healing the breach,” and was able to repair tears up to 3mm.

Researchers Developing Alternative To Lithium-Ion Batteries After Samsung Recalls.

CBS News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports Samsung is facing multiple class action lawsuits claiming its “Note 5, S6 and S7 phones ‘all pose a risk of overheating, fire and explosion.’” In a statement, Samsung said: “We don’t comment on pending litigation, but would like to underscore that the issues with the Galaxy Note 7 are isolated to only that model.” Because “potentially flammable lithium-ion batteries are in many electronics,” the US Department of Energy is “spending tens of millions of dollars on creating a safer alternative, and one research project is showing promising results.” Currently, University of Maryland’s Energy Research Center is working on lithium-conducting ceramic discs that “can handle thousands of degrees without any issues,” according to a researcher. The batteries are not yet ready for mass production, but lead researcher Professor Eric Wachsman says the team

Google Increases R&D Spending.

Venture Beat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, O’Brien) reports Google is increasing spending on research and development, as evident from Alphabet’s latest quarterly earnings report showing “the company spent $3.596 billion, up from $3.230 in Q3 2015.” In the first nine months of 2016, Google “spent $10.326 billion, up from $8.772 for the same period a year ago.” At the current rate, the company “should reach about $14 billion in R&D spending for the year.” Additionally, Google states in the last year “it has increased its R&D headcount by 20 percent, which is the prime driver of that increased spending.”

Industry News

Google’s Android Hits Market Share Milestone, To Apple’s Detriment, But Still Faces Challenges.

CNBC Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports that Google’s Android mobile operating system grabbed a record market share in its third quarter, at the expense of Apple’s iOS, according to a Strategy Analytics research report. CNBC notes quarterly Android shipments reached 328.6 million devices, a year-over-year improvement of 10.3 percent, capturing 87.5 percent of the global market. CNBC reports that Apple, in contrast, shipped 45.5 million iPhones, down 5.2 percent from the same period in 2015, and its iOS retained a 12.1 percent share of the mobile OS market. CNBC further notes that other mobile operating systems including those made by BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung “have all but disappeared,” in the aggregate comprising a mere 0.3 percent of the total smartphone market.

AppleInsider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Fingas) notes that Apple’s dip in iPhone shipments was reportedly due to “mediocre performance in China and Africa.” Although CEO Tim Cook previously touted China as the company’s next frontier, Apple has struggled to compete against growing local rivals such as Oppo and Huawei, although that market remains.

PC Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) notes that Strategy Analytics’ Woody Oh wrote that Android’s market leadership “looks unassailable at the moment,” with its “low-cost services and user-friendly software” remaining “attractive to hardware makers, operators, and consumers worldwide,” yet “several challenges remain for Google. The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers, few Android device vendors make profits, and Google’s new Pixel range is attacking its own hardware partners that made Android popular in the first place.”

Ford Previews Self-Parking Feature.

PC Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Brant) reports Ford has unveiled a preview of “a new, completely autonomous self-parking feature currently in development at” its European research and development facility. Ford released the preview through a YouTube video on Thursday, which “demonstrated how its new park assist feature can achieve parallel and perpendicular parking at the touch of a button.” Along with steering, the vehicle “moves the gearshift automatically and controls the throttle and brake.” It is an improvement upon current “self-parking” features, that require human braking and are often stymied by curved curbs. It is still unknown “how accurate the sensors will be,” because during a test drive of the Cadillac CT6, “the self-parking feature worked flawlessly on straight curbs, but issued disappointing ‘self-parking failed’ messages on even the slightest of curves.” Ford announced “the new parking feature will be available on production cars within two years.” Digital Trends Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/2, Edelstein) reports with the self-parking feature, Ford also plans to introduce “‘enhanced’ active park assist, wide-angle rearview cameras, and a cross-traffic alert system with automatic braking to certain models, and is testing still more tech.” The cross-traffic alert system “uses radar sensors to scan the area behind the vehicle, and provides warnings to the driver if it detects an obstacle.” Additionally, the company is developing “an ‘evasive steering assist’ system that can help a driver steer around obstacles at ‘city and highway speeds.’” Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Dalton) also features a similar article.

Engineering and Public Policy

Ballot Measure Would Ban Fracking In Monterey County.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Harder, Subscription Publication) highlights Measure Z, an anti-hydraulic fracturing ballot initiative before Monterey County, California voters on November 8. National groups on both sides of the issue are closely watching the measure, which would ban hydraulic fracturing and new wells as well as restrict how oil companies could use produced water. The initiative is regarded as an important test of whether such restrictions can succeed in areas where oil and gas are actually produced; so far the hundreds of bans have been enacted only in areas without much production. Monterey currently does not have any hydraulic fracture operations though it is the fourth largest oil-producing county in California, and a Chevron engineer is quoted saying that Measure Z would end oil production in Monterey because of its restrictions on handling water.

White House Announces Electric Vehicle Charging Station Push.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports the White House announced yesterday “it will establish 48 national electric-vehicle (EV) charging networks on nearly 25,000 miles of highways” in 35 states. A partnership of “28 states, utilities and vehicle manufactures…and EV charging firms” will “work together to jump-start the additional charging stations.” Reuters adds that electric vehicle sales “have fallen well below President Barack Obama’s goal of reaching 1 million by 2015.” Earlier this year, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz “told Reuters…the country may hit the figure in three to four years with continuing improvements in battery technology, but he acknowledged low gasoline prices have hurt EV sales.” The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Fung) reports drivers on the designated “highways will be able to expect charging stations every 50 miles or so.” The highways “will have signs pointing drivers to nearby charging points, just as drivers of traditional cars currently benefit from highway signs notifying them of gas stations ahead.”

The Detroit News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3) reports the Federal Highway Administration will manage the “charging corridors.” The Energy Department will “conduct a pair of studies ‘to evaluate the optimal national electric vehicle charging deployment scenarios, including along DOT’s designated fueling corridors,’ the White House said.” The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Zanona) reports in a press release the White House said, “The Obama Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to combat climate change, increase access to clean energy technologies, and reduce our dependence on oil. … Already, in the past eight years the number of plug-in electric vehicle models has increased… But there is more work to do.” NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3), the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Lederman), USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Cava) and Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Subscription Publication) also provide coverage of this story.

Elementary/Secondary Education

California Implementing Next Generation Science Standards.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Resmovits) reports that California is seeking to implement Next Generation Science Standards “to make science more experimental, coherent and relevant.” The framework states that the aim of the standards is to “prepare students graduating from high school to be critical consumers of information and capable problem-solvers.” The students will engage in hands-on science projects, rather than simply memorizing information.

Virginia Test Scores Rise As New Curriculum Is Introduced. The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Balingit, George) reports that Virginian students recorded some of the highest scores on tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress – known as the Nation’s Report Card. Virginia officials credit a new curriculum emphasizing the scientific method through application, the Next Generation Science Standards. Director of Virginia’s Office of Science and Health Education, Eric Rhoades said, “Many states are moving in the direction that Virginia has been going in the past several years, and that is a real strong focus on scientific investigations, skills and practices in concert with the content that’s being taught.”

Students Build Microhomes In High School Construction Program.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Lerner) reports that a new project from the Academy of Construction and Design (ACAD) at IDEA Public Charter School in Northeast Washington has implemented a program where students built a microhouse complete with kitchen, bathroom, sleeping loft, and storage loft. The house will be sold this fall for an estimated $50,000-$55,000. The program is designed to facilitate real-world training for the students, director of ACAD Shelly Karriem said, “ACAD was established not just to provide training and workers for the construction industry but to give options to D.C. kids and teach them skills they can use for life…We wanted to help kids who can’t go to college or don’t want to go to college, as well as those who do go.”

Best Practices For Recruiting, Training, Retaining STEM Teachers.

Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/3, Hinton) states in its Curriculum Matters blog that a new survey looks at the best way to recruit, train and retain 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021. The survey found that the best programs focus on teaching Next Generation Science Standards, common-core math, and improving classroom management. Other key findings include the programs that focus on teachers’ development and advancement did a better job retaining teachers, and that the programs emphasizing knowing the material and how to teach it had the best results for teachers finding work.

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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