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

Leading the News

Officials Cautious To Warn About Cyberthreats Against Public Perception Of Election.

ABC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) says national security officials “have found themselves in a delicate position” in that they must “warn about possible Election Day cyberthreats that pose a bigger risk to public feelings about the election than to the integrity of the results.” A “senior Department of Homeland Security official” is quoted saying, “This is where it gets confusing for the general public. … You have to separate the threat to actually manipulate the official vote count from an attempt to cause confusion and a perception” of a tainted election. The same official is quoted saying, “We don’t have that concern” about manipulating the outcome of an election, adding, “We don’t believe that that is possible.” ABC News adds that officials have tried avoiding fueling voter anxiety about “possible cyber attacks on election systems,” and “have limited the release of certain information on threats and downplayed security breaches.” Fox News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports in a video story that 48 states have been prompted by the threat of cyber attacks to seek DHS help. Fox News featured footage of the Secretary expressing confidence in “the integrity of our ballot-counting process” and the cybersecurity of state- and locally-run election processes.

Federal Officials Preparing For Potential Election-Day Cyber Attacks. NBC Nightly News (11/7, story 6, 2:05, Holt) reported the scope of government preparation for potential cyber attacks on Election Day is “unprecedented,” with six national cybersecurity centers set up along with 54 state emergency operation centers. Hundreds of federal employees, “including both military and intelligence cyber experts,” will be on the lookout for any threat to the government’s communication and command systems.

NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports that concern is “so high” that “military and intelligence cyber experts who work out of top secret facilities…will be monitoring intelligence about a U.S. presidential election” for “the first time.”

Cybersecurity Firm Demonstrates Voting Machine Hack. Mashable Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Beres) reports cybersecurity firm Cylance “demonstrated a hack against a Sequoia AVC Edge Mk1 [voting] machine in a video released Friday.” Cylance “was apparently able to mess with the internal memory and results cartridge using a doctored card, completely changing candidates’ names and the number of votes each received.” Cylance claims the voting machines “will be used by more than 8 million registered voters.” Mashable says the hack demonstrated by Cylance cannot be performed remotely, so a malicious hacker “would have to be physically present at a polling place to tamper with a machine after everyone cast their vote.” PC World Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Gross) similarly details Cylance’s breach of the voting machine.

Symantec Researchers Discover Security Flaws In Machines Used In Previous Election. NBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports on its website that researchers at Symantec “tracked down voting machines used in the last election, and found plenty of security flaws.” Samir Kapuria, a senior vice president of cybersecurity for Symantec, says, “It literally took a couple of days…we were able to then reverse engineer all the stuff on that system. What was fascinating is the last election’s information was still on those hard drives.”

Fox Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Piazzola) reports Vincent Troia, CEO of information security consulting firm Night Lion Security, says the software found in many of the voting machines used around the country can be hacked because they are running on software that is 10 years old that no longer receives updates. Troia adds, “Securing the systems at the end of the day really isn’t all that complicated, it just takes manpower to do it and that’s really kind of where we’re slacking.”

Higher Education

NSF Gives Missouri Colleges Grant To Promote Minority STEM Participation.

The Kearney (MO) Courier Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports that the University of Central Missouri and seven other colleges in the state are sharing “a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program.” Gov. Jay Nixon released a statement saying “that ‘by increasing the diversity of students completing their degrees, entering graduate programs, working in research laboratories and mentoring the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students, Harris Stowe and the Missouri Alliance will build a foundation for increased diversity in STEM education across the nation.’”

Experts: Presidential Transition Could Delay Borrower Defense To Repayment.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports that experts say that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the transition could delay implementation of ED’s newly beefed-up borrower defense to repayment program, which could help “thousands of student borrowers seeking loan forgiveness…most of whom attended for-profit colleges.” The piece reports that experts say that “if Hillary Clinton wins, the political appointee who must sign off on the loan forgiveness applications will likely be replaced.” Should Donald Trump win, “some worry claims won’t be processed at all” given his history of having once owned a for-profit college.

Survey: Dual-Enrollment Programs Benefit Colleges As Well As Students.

Catherine Gewertz writes at the Education Week Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) “High School and Beyond” blog that a new survey from the National Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers shows that dual-enrollment programs have “distinct benefits” for colleges. The piece notes that such programs “have many well documented benefits for students,” increasing their chances to enroll and succeed in college. But the new survey shows that “most higher education institutions view dual-enrollment programs as an important tool for recruiting students and managing their overall enrollment strategies.”

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

Researchers Recording Sounds In New York City To Study Noise Pollution.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/6, Rueb, Subscription Publication) reports that researchers from New York University and Ohio State University have begun recording short intervals of ambient sounds in New York City. Researchers will collect several 10-second “snippets of audio” from over the course of the next year, the Times reports, adding that the “cacophony will be labeled and categorized using a machine-listening engine called UrbanEars.” Researchers’ goal is “to create an aural map that a group of researchers hopes will help city agencies monitor and enforce noise pollution, and will empower citizens to assist in the process.” The project is supported by a $4.6 million National Science Foundation grant.

University Of Wisconsin Engineers Create Flooring That Generates Power.

WKOW-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Madison, WI (11/7) reports that University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers “have created the floor of the future that produces its own power when it’s walked on.” Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Xudong Wang said the material passively converts kinetic energy from walking and is environmentally friendly to produce.

Grant To Allow Carnegie Mellon To Study AI, Robotics Ethics.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports that the K&L Gates LLP law firm is giving Carnegie Mellon University a $10 million grant to establish the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies. The grant is intended to facilitate research into principles of ethics related to artificial intelligence and robotics, exploring such questions as “who’s at fault should a driverless car crash cause human injury.” Other questions include social reaction to technological job displacement and whether society should “tolerate computer monitoring of human communication, be it email, phone calls or even open dialog?”

NASA Science Chief Zurbuchen To Prioritize Innovation.

Space News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Subscription Publication) reports that at an October 31 roundtable at NASA Headquarters, new NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen discussed how to incorporate innovation such as “so-called ‘disruptive’ technologies, like small satellites” into science missions. Zurbuchen is Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, where he has done research on innovation, and also has chaired “a National Academies study on the potential use of cubesats for science missions.” Commenting on NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which “consists of a constellation of eight smallsats” for weather data collection, Zurbuchen said, “This kind of disruption is what I’m looking for. … How can we develop new technologies, how can we invent new architectures of missions that can go in and really do science that otherwise we can’t do?”

Juno Mission Could Extend Beyond 2019.

The Verge Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Grush) reports that NASA’s Juno probe will stay in its 53-day orbit around the planet Jupiter longer than originally planned, due to engine problems that are delaying a shift to a shorter, two-week orbit. During engine burns in October, engineers found that “a few engine valves were taking longer to open than they were supposed to,” forcing them to cancel the change in orbit. Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken said, “We’re not going to do [the burn] if we can’t do it safely. And so we’re looking at different ways we can do the burn. Right now, it’s too early to say which way it’s going to go.” If Juno stays in its currrent orbit, its mission “could conceivably last beyond 2019, instead of its previously scheduled end of February 2018.”

Juno, Intelsat Thruster Problems Could Be Linked. SPACE Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Foust) reports that NASA is investigating a possible connection between a thruster problem on NASA’s Juno spacecraft and a “malfunction of a similar thruster on a recently launched Intelsat satellite.” NASA Planetary Science Division chief James Green said at a November 1 Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) meeting that, “It was made known to us that the rocket we currently have on Juno, the retrorocket that gets us into orbit, is in the same family as one that has been malfunctioning on the Intelsats.” Launched in August, the Intelsat 33e satellite’s entrance into geostationary orbit has also been delayed because of a problem with thrusters in its Leros engine.


Boeing, Other Manufacturers Could Face Skilled Worker Shortage As Boomers Retire.

The Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports that there are some 10,000 mechanics eligible for retirement at Boeing’s Puget Sound manufacturing base, “a trend that’s also looming for other U.S. manufacturers.” Boeing’s “most experienced workers are packing up their tools during critical upgrades of its two largest profit-drivers: the 737 and 777 jetliners.” The article notes that Boeing suffered from a “smaller, mid-1990s exodus” of skilled workers, which “contributed to a factory meltdown that halted production of its cash cow, the 737. So earlier this year, the manufacturer carefully structured a voluntary layoff aimed at retirement-age workers, staggering the departures of 1,057 machinists to avoid massive disruptions.”

Tennessee Manufacturers Scramble For Workers As Industry Rebounds.

The Tennessean Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/6, McGee) reports the manufacturing industry is Tennessee “is grappling with a labor shortage that could be about to get much worse as older manufacturing workers draw closer to retirement.” Of the 344,000 manufacturing workers in Tennessee, the article says, “about a quarter – roughly 77,000 – will retire in the next decade, according to Randy Boyd, Tennessee Economic & Community Development commissioner.” Part of the problem “comes down to perception,” but Boyd says manufacturing jobs “are now high-paying, high-quality, high-demand jobs.” According to the economic development office, Tennessee manufacturing jobs “have increased by 15 percent in the past five years and advanced manufacturing jobs have grown by 33 percent.” Manufacturing Institute Vice President Gardner Carrick said the resurgence in manufacturing jobs “is underway nationally, too, as rising wages overseas and transportation costs have made local production more attractive.” Carrick added that “close to 900,000 manufacturing jobs have been added in the past five to six years.” The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) also covers this story.

Nebraska Prepares For Changes In Manufacturing.

The Omaha (NE) World-Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports dozens of students “recently visited Omaha-based Distefano Technology and Manufacturing for demonstrations of modern manufacturing.” In the world of welding and manufacturing, the article says, “it’s not the 1950s anymore. … It’s 21st-century high tech.” The National Association of Manufacturers “estimates our country will need to fill almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade,” the manufacturing sector “is poised to offer great opportunity…only if new workers have the needed technical skills.” Distefano’s General Manager Janice Podsada is quoted saying, “We need IT people, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, accountants, welders, people who like to design and fix things.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Kaine: Rerouting Dakota Access Is “Right Thing To Do.”

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Henry) reports Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine “has endorsed President Obama’s call to reroute the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.” Kaine told Fusion in an interview that “If it’s changed once, if it’s an important enough project, you ought to be able to find a route that works. So what the Obama administration has done by saying, let’s look at route alternatives, I think is the right thing to do.” Obama last week “told NowThis News that he hopes the Army Corps of Engineers eventually reroutes the $3.8 billion pipeline project.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign “has not set out a specific position on Dakota Access, making Kaine’s Monday statement the clearest answer yet on what would happen to it should the dispute stretch into Clinton’s administration.”

Clinton Transition Team Head Opposes Pipeline. Greenwire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Subscription Publication) reports co-chair of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s transition team Jennifer Granholm “has come out against the $3.78 billion Dakota Access pipeline in a sign of how the contentious oil project might fare if the Democrat wins the White House.” The former Michigan governor “said in a speech last week at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., that she stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in opposing” the pipeline. Granholm said, “We ought to be doing everything we possibly can to keep fossil fuel energy in the ground and [develop] the renewable side.”

Analysts Say Trump’s Tax Proposals Threaten Renewable Energy Financing.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Ryan) reports that according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Donald Trump’s “proposal to boost the US economy by slashing corporate taxes may put a damper on the rapidly growing clean-energy industry.” Wind and solar companies leveraging tax-equity financing would face tighter access to financing if Trump lower corporate rates. “Investors will have less need for write-offs through tax-equity investments.” A smaller cut “could still leave the incentives in place but dull their effectiveness, though it’s not clear how much.”

Study Finds Bat Deaths From Wind Turbines Underestimated.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Schwartz, Subscription Publication) reports a new study out of the United Kingdom on wind turbines “found that each turbine killed one to two bats each month on average, with some killing” over 60. The study found “that the efforts that are required in many countries to assess the environmental effect of planned wind farms have proved faulty and inadequate in measuring the risk to bats.” Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter, lead author of the turbine study, said that the risks turbines pose to bats haven’t been defined well. Bats may “be attracted to turbines, whether because of the noise the machines make or the bugs that are trapped in the air movement: ‘It’s a ready food supply,’” Mathews said. The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Dennis) reports Mathews “and several colleagues surveyed 46 wind farms across the U.K. over the course of a month to estimate bat fatalities, relying heavily on search dogs to locate fallen bats.” The researchers “then compared their findings from each site to the environmental assessments they were able to access.” In the majority of cases, “the pre-construction assessments had not accurately predicted the risks” to bats.

Utah Solar Energy Program Almost Sold Out.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7) reports Rocky Mountain Power in Utah “says its pilot solar energy program has nearly sold out.” The majority of the power generated by new solar energy in the state next year, “has been sold to residential or business customers.” The program permits “customers to cut their monthly utility bills and rely on a cleaner energy source.” The company’s Subscriber Solar program, according to officials, “is 95 percent sold out and they expect to sell the last few blocks of power soon.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

NIU Provides Training In Teaching STEM Projects.

The Chicago Daily Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Boucher) reports Northern Illinois University’s STEM program trained 10 teachers from Stanton Elementary School and Gavin South Middle School on Monday during a science, technology, engineering and mathematics workshop focused on “STEM projects and concepts using hands-on activities they can pass on to their students.” Kristin Brynteson, director of Professional Development at the Center for P-20 Engagement at NIU, said, “We are looking at how we can get kids excited about coding and programming. But we are also looking bigger in terms of developing STEM programming for kids and piloting different activities for the classroom.”

Florida Students Compete In New Robotics Challenge.

The Miami Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/7, Guarnizo) reports hundreds of Florida students on Saturday “gathered in the name of innovation at Miami Springs Recreation Center, competing with and against each other for a chance to qualify for state final VEX and VEX IQ Robotics Competition.” The Herald identifies the winning teams that “will prepare for the state competition which will take place at the Tampa State Fair in February.”

Monday’s Lead Stories

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