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

Leading the News

Facebook Introduces App Featuring Augmented Reality Processing.

Engadget Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports Facebook introduced its Caffe2Go platform in October and “brought some of the effects to a new camera in a limited European release.” One feature of the app is its ability to transfer “styles from Van Gogh or Monet onto any still or moving image,” including live video. Facebook said it was “able to provide AI [processing] on some mobile phones at less than 1/20th of a second.” Engadget says the development will likely expand augmented reality possibilities on smartphones.

MIT Technology Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) called the AI-powered filter “a modest move” for Facebook, but adds that the measure reflects Facebook’s “grand ambitions to bake artificial intelligence into every aspect of its business.” The article explains that the platform “will actually perform all the computation on your phone,” a necessity for real-time application. Google and Apple have facial recognition systems similar to Facebook’s Caffe2Go, but unlike Google and Apple, Facebook’s engineers took the traditionally resources-intensive artificial intelligence arena and created an AI processing system that is lightweight.

Cade Metz of Wired Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) says Facebook’s “new app and its extravagant photo filter” can transform ordinary users “into a Picasso,” but the underlying technology, which incorporates a form of artificial intelligence called “deep neural networks,” is an even more impressive accomplishment. Metz explains that that the technology is loosely based on the human brain’s network of neurons and “can learn discrete tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data.” Facebook is applying these deep neural networks to users’ photos, and the resulting technology serves as “another sign that deep neural networks will push beyond the data center and onto phones, cameras, and various other devices spread across the so-called Internet of Things.”

Higher Education

King Affirms Ruling Relieving Defunct For-Profit School Of Debt Repayment.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports Education Secretary John King has “affirmed an administrative judge’s March ruling that relieved now-defunct Decker College of a $31.6 million repayment the Education Department demanded the for-profit institution make in 2005.” The judge said ED had “based its finding at that time on misinformation provided by Decker’s accreditor, the Council on Occupational Education, which Decker officials have argued helped push the college into bankruptcy and ultimately destroy it.”

ED Gives California College $4.3 Million To Support Minority STEM Students.

The East Bay (CA) Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports that ED has given California’s Cañada College a $4.3 million grant “to support underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math.” ED’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program grants are “intended to improve student achievement in basic math courses and strengthen ties with universities and industry.”

Colleges Get Early Draft Data Over How They Will Fare Under Gainful Employment Rule.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports that though ED is not expected to publish its gainful employment draft data until January, “colleges — mostly for-profit schools — have been receiving draft data over the past several weeks that gives them a heads-up about how their programs will perform under the rule’s debt-to-earnings test.” A number of large for-profits have been “disclosing to investors in SEC filings how they expect their programs to perform under the rule, based on the draft data.” The article gives thumbnail sketches on the data disclosed by several firms, including Career Education Corporation, Grand Canyon University, DeVry Education, and Strayer Education.

Virginia Deficit Could Lead To Higher Education Funding Cuts.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that colleges in Virginia are bracing for state funding cuts in the face of a $1.5 billion budget shortfall, noting that officials have called on colleges to “prepare for a 7.5 percent decrease in appropriations from the state’s general fund in the fiscal year that begins July 1.”

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

Notre Dame Official Touts Technology Commercialization Effort.

In an online video, Inside INdiana Business Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/6) reports, “the University of Notre Dame is putting a major effort behind commercialization, innovation and entrepreneurship,” noting that the school is implementing “24 recommendations to transform the university, including the creation of the IDEA Center and Quinn Hall.” Vice President of Research Bob Bernhard says the IDEA center is intended to transform entrepreneurial efforts and synchronizing related extracurricular activities.

Thales, ATI Partner On Aircraft Communications Tech Project.

Air Transport World Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Nensel) reports that Thales and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) are partnering to “explore next generation aircraft communications technology” with a “jointly funded” $25 million research project. The project will focus on areas of “software network engineering, radio frequency technology and digital and signal processing and security.” Thales said in a statement, “The products developed from this research will transform how safe and secure communications are delivered to passengers and operators in both the cabin and the cockpit. … The market potential for future communications products is estimated in the billions.”

MIT Develops End-to-End Self-Driving System For Cars, Scooters.

Digital Trends Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Furness) reports the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed an “end-to-end self-driving system” for cars, golf carts, and now scooters, that researchers hope will “provide mobility-impaired users more freedom.” The article notes that the system “is one of the first of its kind” and was both developed and tested by “the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and the National University of Singapore.”

Kapersky Labs: Russian Hackers Targeting Money Before Political Systems.

The AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Marchand) reports research from Kapersky Labs found that underground Russian hackers are more likely to target money before a political system. Kapersky “has estimated that there are over 1,000 hackers in Russia specialising in financial crimes.” Kapersky estimates that between 2012 and 2015, “Russian-speaking hackers stole at least $790 million across the globe.” A Kapersky report adds, “It is no secret that most of today’s crypto-ransomware has Russian roots, both in terms of the authors of the malicious code and of the actors who spread the malware and demand the ransom.”

DoD Changes Policy On Industry R&D With Public Funds.

Federal News Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Maucione) reports DoD “changed its policy on independent research and development (IRAD) last week,” and will now require companies to receive approval from the department regarding research done using government funding. The new policy, which states that companies “engage in a technical interchange with a technical or operational DoD Government employee before IR&D costs are generated,” is intended to tighten control over use of public funds, but critics say that “requiring companies to report to DoD harms industry’s intellectual independence.”

Industry News

Tesla To Acquire German Automated Manufacturing Firm.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Blumenthal) reports Tesla confirmed it would buy Germany’s Grohmann Engineering, an “automated manufacturing company,” with 700 employees. Tesla will make the company’s base in Prüm, Germany into its “headquarters for Tesla Advanced Automation Germany.” USA Today notes Tesla has been aiming to design “innovative factories,” along with its cars with Musk saying automated machines would be a “way to boost productivity and hold down costs.”

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Minaya, Subscription Publication) reports the deal should close in 2017, and should help Tesla compete with larger manufacturers as it moves towards a production goal of 500,000 cars per year by 2018.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports Tesla said in a blog post that it has already increased production “at our Fremont Factory by 400 percent in four years,” with the facility now producing “about 80,000 cars this year.” Reuters notes the deal will have to be “approved by the cartel authorities in Germany” before finalization.

Tesla’s Production Vice President Discusses Future Of Car Manufacturing Process. Business Insider Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports Tesla’s vehicle production vice president, Peter Hochholdinger, recently told Manufacturing Leadership Journal that the Model 3’s simplicity will not only lead to the model’s mass success, but also change the auto-manufacturing process. Hochholdinger said the Model 3 embodies the concept of integrating manufacturing and supply chain logistics into the engineering and design process and maintained that the factory automation could significantly streamline auto production. Business Insider said Hochholdinger’s vision mirrors that of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and, if their strategy proves successful, “it would be a much bigger achievement than getting hundreds of thousands of electric cars on the road” because the same automated factory concept could be applied to gas-powered vehicle production as well.

Intel Pushes For UAV Marketshare.

ITinCanada Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/9, Arellano) reports on a push by Intel to capture more of the market for UAVs, and quotes Intel VP Anil Nanduri, who said, “We believe drones are an important computing platform for the future and we are continuing to invest in technologies and companies that will enable us to provide the best compute, sensor, communications and software integration for the growing drone ecosystem.” According to research firm Grandview Research, the companies dominating the commercial UAV market are: “AeroVironment Inc, BAE Systems, DJI, Draganfly, Elbit Systems, General Atomics, Israel Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Parrot SA, Textron, and the Boeing Company.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Energy Transfer Did Not Agree To Halt Construction Of North Dakota Pipeline.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Hampton) reports Energy Transfer Partners on Tuesday “said it was not slowing down construction” of the Dakota Access pipeline. Energy Transfer “said it was moving equipment to prepare for tunneling under Lake Oahe, the water source that has been a focus of protests, even as federal regulators have not given a go-ahead signal that the line will be able to proceed.” Army Corps spokesman Thomas O’Hara “told Bloomberg News on Monday that the company had agreed to slow down construction, a statement Energy Transfer refuted.” CBC (CAN) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports similarly.

Davis: California Should “Buy Clean” To Lower Emissions.

Steven Davis writes for the Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Davis) reports that “studies show that almost 25 percent of worldwide carbon emissions that cause climate change are embodied in products that are made in one country, but sold and used in another.” Davis writes that the difference adds up, citing Lawrence Berkeley National Lab research showing that “the best steel furnaces emit a little more than a ton of carbon dioxide per ton of steel, while the dirtiest factories emit more than twice that amount.” Davis urges a “buy clean” consumer principle.

DoD Changes Policy On Industry R&D With Public Funds.

Federal News Radio (DC) Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Maucione) reports DoD “changed its policy on independent research and development (IRAD) last week,” and will now require companies to receive approval from the department regarding research done using government funding. The new policy, which states that companies “engage in a technical interchange with a technical or operational DoD Government employee before IR&D costs are generated,” is intended to tighten control over use of public funds, but critics say that “requiring companies to report to DoD harms industry’s intellectual independence.”

Study: Wind Turbines Kill Bats.

The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Ramirez) reports that Texas is “producing twice as much wind energy as the next leading state, Iowa,” but is causing between 123,000 and 146,000 bird fatalities a year. The story reports that research shows that the wind turbines also kill bats as well. According to the study, “bats may be attracted to wind farm sites for a variety of reasons, including the emission of ultrasound from turbines and increased prey availability.”

DOE Proposes Efficiency Standards For Manufactured Homes.

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8, Devaney) reports new efficiency rules have been proposed by the Energy Department “for manufactured homes.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE yesterday “floated new test procedures for these manufactured, or mobile, homes.” The public will have an opportunity to comment for the next 30 days.

Elementary/Secondary Education

White House CTO Honors Pennsylvania STEM Programs.

THE Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports that White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, speaking at the White House’s recent Symposium on State Implementation of Computer Science for All, said “that Pennsylvania’s commitment to STEM and computer science education is accelerating opportunities for the commonwealth’s students and families.” The event “highlighted Pittsburgh’s STEM Ecosystem for transforming its community through STEM and maker education.” Smith also praised Gov. Tom Wolf, “who has championed STEM education and has made clear his goal of increasing by 10,000 the number of students enrolled in STEM-specific majors at state universities by 2020.”

WDAM-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Hattiesburg, MS (11/8) reports that Smith said that Pennsylvania’s “commitment to STEM and computer science education is accelerating opportunities for Pennsylvania’s students and families.” The piece quotes Smith saying, “Pennsylvania is honored to receive recognition for its efforts to increase access to resources and education in the sciences for all students.”

Kansas Elementary Schools Focusing On Coding, Robotics.

The Kansas City (MO) Star Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) reports that local elementary schools in Olathe, Kansas are incorporating robotics and coding lessons “into their curriculum by using technology labs and innovation centers known as makerspaces.” The piece cites ED estimates indicating that the US “will need to add about 1 million professionals in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to meet the workforce demands of the future.” Area schools are looking to pique students’ interest in STEM subjects at an early age by “adding Legos, robotics and other brain-boosting technology.”

Dickson Area Robotics Among 3 Top Midstate Teams.

The Tennessean Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/8) recaps the “Music City BEST” robotics competition held in Nashville Saturday, which was hosted by TVA, Nissan North America, and Lipscomb University. During the event, which is part of “a national six-week robotics competition,” 400 area middle and high school students had the opportunity to “apply the math, science and technology they learn in classroom into the design and construction of their robot through teamwork and real life problem solving.” Three teams advanced to the regional competition scheduled for December.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

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