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


Leading the News

Trump’s Energy Adviser Suggests Methane Emission Regulations Will Be Rolled Back.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Mooney) reports President-elect Donald Trump may be rolling back regulations limiting methane emissions put in place by the current Administration. Trump energy adviser Kevin Cramer reaffirmed Trump’s “commitment to rolling back regulations and returning more oversight back to states, things like the fracking rule, methane emissions rules, for example,” and stated that the fossil fuel industry is feeling “tremendous renewed optimism.”

Mark Brownstein, vice president of climate and energy at the Environmental Defense Fund explains that it “would be no easy thing for the incoming administration to revisit the new source rule.” However, Trump can still stop pending rules from being implemented or implement new rules through the standard administrative procedures, which can “can significantly curtail at least some of Obama’s existing or intended methane regulations.”

Climate Scientists Warn That US Emissions May Not Decrease Under Trump. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/10, Doyle) reports three European scientific groups have warned in a study “that in 2030, US emissions will be similar to what they are today” if President-elect Donald Trump abandons the Paris climate agreement. While there are “huge uncertainties” regarding the potential fallout of Trump’s environmental policies, the study shows a continuing trend toward renewables, allowing global leaders “to ride through the turbulence that a climate skeptic in the White House could bring.”

Industry Leaders Worry Nothing Can Revitalize Coal. Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/10, Loh) reports most energy industry leaders don’t believe Trump can revitalize the coal industry. Coal’s share of electricity production in the US has dropped to “less than a third,” from its nearly half in 2008. Robert E. Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp, praises Trump’s commitment, but does not “see an increase in the market for coal.” Murray still wants to maintain the industry, calling on Trump to roll back several regulations, and pushes for exiting climate agreements, calling global warming a “total hoax.”

Higher Education

Purdue Renames Chemical Engineering Building In Honor Of $20 Million Gift.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13) reports that Purdue University is renaming its School of Chemical Engineering after Charles D. “Chuck” Davidson, an alumnus “who donated $20 million to the school.” The school will be renamed the Charles D. Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, and the gift “will be through multiple endowments allocated to specific purposes.”

Higher Education Advocates Concerned About Future Of ED Under Trump.

The Street Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13) reports that President-elect Trump has said “he wants to abolish the Department of Education,” but says this “would be a radical–and according to higher ed experts–improbable task, something Trump couldn’t do with just the stroke of a pen.” The piece explains that ED was created through an act of Congress, and that another such act would be required to eliminate it. The article continues with speculation from education experts about Trump potentially defunding programs or moving student loan management under the umbrella of the Treasury Department.

King, Carter, McDonald Tout Obama’s Push For Better College Supports For Veterans.

In commentary for Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11), Education Secretary John King, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald write about the successes of veterans who use their GI Bill benefits to attend college, but note that “over time, we’ve learned that veterans – who tend to be older, have families, may have a disability or may simply need to brush up on skills they learned in high school – need more than financial assistance.” The write that to address this issue, on Veterans Day, “President Obama issued a presidential memorandum that directs our agencies to work together to do more to help veterans identify institutions best able to help them, and also to hold colleges accountable for treating veterans, their spouses and eligible family members fairly.”

Barron’s Suggests For-Profit Colleges “Could Prosper” In Trump Presidency.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13, Prentice) reports Barron’s “said in a report” that for-profit colleges “could prosper” under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress, and stocks of companies including “Grand Canyon Education, DeVry Education Group and Capella Education rose about 14 percent last week.”

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

IBM, Nvidia Launch Deep Learning Enterprise Solution.

IBM and Nvidia announced Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/14) this morning that they are collaborating on a “new deep learning tool” that will help “train computers to think and learn in more human-like ways at a faster pace.” Venture Beat Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/14) writes that the new software toolkit has been dubbed PowerAI and is “designed to run on the recently announced IBM server built for artificial intelligence that features Nvidia NVLink technology optimized for IBM’s Power Architecture.” Ken King, general manager of OpenPower at IBM, is quoted as saying, “PowerAI democratizes deep learning and other advanced analytic technologies by giving enterprise data scientists and research scientists alike an easy to deploy platform to rapidly advance their journey on AI.”

ZDNet Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/14, Dignan) observes that the “Power S822LC for high performance computing (HPC) uses Nvidia NVLink technology to work with IBM’s architecture.” IBM and Nvidia said in the announcement that “the S822LC system can run AlexNet with Caffe faster than x86 servers with multiple configurations.” ZDNet adds that IBM and Nvidia see high performance computing “as a growth market as more enterprises adopt deep learning for big data and analytics workloads.”

PC World Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/14) quotes Sumit Gupta, IBM’s vice president of high-performance computing and analytics, as saying, “Performance is very important as deep learning training jobs run for days.”

Ohio College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology Program Gets Robotic Arm.

The Columbus (OH) Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11) reported mechanical engineering technology students at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) “will have the opportunity to learn how to work with a robotic arm in the classroom” with the latest addition of the Amatrol Pegasus Robotic Arm. The curriculum will teach students about “automation and how to control electro-mechanical systems” as well as “articulated arm servo robotics and their industrial applications.” Engineering Technology Assistant Professor Amir Nassirharand is quoted saying, “Our students need to be prepared and working with the latest technology. When they go out in the world of business and industry, they will be ready.”

Global Developments

South Africa Experiencing Renewable Energy Boom.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13, Onishi, Subscription Publication) reports South Africa “is experiencing a boom in renewable energy” with “dozens of solar plants clustered in the country’s northern reaches and wind farms operating along the southern coast.” However, the Times says “the battle over South Africa’s energy future has become increasingly fierce,” and it is “being fought on South Africa’s larger political landscape, with forces seemingly close to the scandal-ridden administration of President Jacob Zuma pushing hardest” for a nuclear deal “while others support an expansion of renewables.”

Industry News

Car Makers To Debut More EVs At Los Angeles Auto Show Despite Lackluster Sales.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12, Boston, Stoll, Subscription Publication) reports that ahead of tougher emissions standards, automakers are set to unveil a host of battery-powered vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, in addition to the Chevy Bolt, a $35,000 EV set to go on sale next month. However, the Journal notes that consumers are still lackluster on EVs, with higher global sales in 2016 primarily due to Chinese customers receiving tax rebates and incentives. So far total volumes are under 1% of the 83 million light-vehicle sales expected for 2016.

GM’s Chevy Bolt Highlighted. The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(11/12, Colias, Subscription Publication) reports that GM is hoping its new Chevy Bolt, which has a $30,000 price following tax rebates, will drive EV sales, particularly as it has the ability to go 238 miles on a single charge, more than two times the range of similarly-priced EVs.

US, Europe Investigating VW Brand Audi For Carbon Dioxide Emissions Software.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12, Cremer, Shepardson) reports that the EPA is now investigating Volkswagen’s Audi brand after the “discovery of a new cheat software device,” according to sources at the German weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag. The paper said that this summer, the California Air Resources Board found “cheating software in an automatic transmission Audi” that isn’t related to the previous software that led to Audi parent VW’s diesel emissions investigation. The software CARB found lowered carbon dioxide emissions “by detecting whether a car’s steering wheel was turned as it would be when driving on a road.”

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12, Ewing, Subscription Publication) notes that in a statement, the carmaker “tacitly confirmed a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that some Audis with automatic transmissions behaved differently when the cars were being tested.” While Audi has not identified the involved car models, “a lawsuit filed on behalf of Audi owners in United States District Court in Minnesota on Thursday” says that “they include 100,000 Audi A6 and A8 luxury sedans and Q5 and Q7 S.U.V.s with 3-liter gasoline engines manufactured through May.” The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12, Boston, Subscription Publication) also covers the story.

FTC Investigating VW Over Allegations It Destroyed Diesel Emissions Documents. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Shepardson) reports that the US Federal Trade Commission filed documents in Federal court seeking additional testimony from Volkswagen US over allegations that it may have purposefully destroyed documents related to the government investigation of its diesel emissions. Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the company “continues to cooperate with the US Department of Justice and work with other government agencies to make things right for our customers and achieve a fair resolution.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Speculation About Trump’s Infrastructure Plans Continues.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Lowy) reports that although president-elect Donald Trump has pledged “to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and railways,” transportation issues proved tricky over President Obama’s tenure, as “a Republican Congress fought him at almost every turn.” The AP suggests “Trump would have to contend with his party’s deep-seated dislike for government spending and higher taxes to meet the $1 trillion tab for his proposals.” Still, the transportation industry is described as seeing “hope in Trump’s plans.” Of particular debate is the idea of “using federal tax credits to generate $1 trillion in private sector infrastructure investment over a decade.” The AP notes that in addition to Trump’s team of advisors, House Speaker Ryan has been supportive of the idea. In the past, Obama urged Congress to enact a similar plan, “and Clinton cited repatriation as the way she would pay for her infrastructure plan.”

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Harrison, Subscription Publication) similarly reports that it could be difficult to implement Trump’s infrastructure plan. Trump is hoping investors will fund infrastructure projects in return for tax credits that would total 82% of the amount of equity. Industry experts and officials suggest private financing has limits. At the same time, transportation advocates and Congress members from both parties are expressing optimism they can come together for a deal to fund infrastructure projects like updating roads, airports, and power lines.

NYPost: Trump Presidency To Benefit New Hudson Tunnel Construction Project. In an editorial, the New York Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11) suggests Donald Trump’s presidency may be beneficial to the construction of a new train tunnel under the Hudson River to replace the current one, dating to 1908, because he “is a builder,” and “has vowed to make infrastructure projects a top priority.”

Rhode Island Wind Farm Set To Begin Generating Power This Month.

NBC Nightly News (11/13, story 7, 2:30, Snow) reported that “the country’s first offshore wind farm,” the Block Island wind farm development off the coast of Rhode Island, is scheduled to begin generating electricity this month. The development boasts “five turbines standing twice the height of the Statue of Liberty that will send electricity to the island and the mainland without producing the emissions that fuel climate change.” Block Island residents – who currently rely on diesel generators for their power – told NBC that they were pleased by the wind farm development because it will decrease their power costs. Many mainland residents, however, worried that their electric bills would increase. Deepwater Wind, the company developing the wind farm, said the turbines “will generate enough power for 17,000 homes,” and “serve as artificial reefs” for marine life.

WSJournal: Trump Should Revive Yucca Mountain.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13, Subscription Publication) in an editorial bids farewell to Sen. Harry Reid and urges President-elect Trump and the Republicans to revive the nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which Sen. Reid did so much to oppose.

Obama Administration: No Decision Yet On Dakota Access Pipeline.

Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Schor) reported the Obama Administration denies having made a decision on the Dakota Access pipeline, despite earlier rumors that a decision will be released “as early as Monday.” An official said that “the process is ongoing and no decisions have been made,” clarifying an Army Corps of Engineers statement from Thursday that “an announcement will come in the next few days.” The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Cama) carried coverage as well.

Army Corps Of Engineers Renew Request To Pause Construction Of Dakota Pipeline. E&E Publishing Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/10, Gilmer, Subscription Publication) reported the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday said it was “concerned for the safety of all the people involved with the continued demonstrations” near the Dakota Access pipeline’s route north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Col. John Henderson, commander of the Army Corps’ Omaha district, “said in a statement yesterday that the agency had renewed a request last week for the company to pause construction ‘in an effort to diffuse these tensions.’” The Army Corps also said Wednesday that it met with leadership from local tribes last week to discuss a safe and productive path forward that will prioritize the “preservation of life and safety by encouraging their supporters to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights and provide a safe and sustainable winter camp inside the reservation.”

37 Protesters Arrested When Confrontation With Police Turns Violent. Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11, Keith) reported that 37 people were arrested in protests sparked by the Thursday statement, after police found nearly 100 people blocking a highway next to the pipeline’s construction easement. The police discovered “construction equipment vandalized, with wires cut, machinery spray-painted and windows smashed,” and made the arrests after “activists hurled rocks at them, and one protester who attacked an officer was pepper-sprayed.”

Dakota Access Developer Offers To Pay For Police Expenses Related To Protests. The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(11/11, Press) reported Energy Transfer Partners, the company developing the Dakota Access pipeline, is offering to pay law enforcement for the costs related to the protests. A spokesman for the governor’s office said they have yet not seen the offer.

Fossil Fuels, Renewables Seen Coexisting In Colorado.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13, Yemma) highlights previous reporting on “the fundamental tension in the climate change debate” between “environment and economy,” in which CSM’s “Amanda Paulson shows how that dichotomy plays out in side-by-side communities in northern Colorado.” Weld and Larimer counties coexist in a state “with oil wells, solar arrays, wind turbines, and coal mines.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Lego Competition Seeks To Inspire Students To Pursue STEM Careers.

The Times of Northwest Indiana Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12) reports that the FIRST LEGO League Competition is a worldwide competition to “inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” This year, more than 460,000 students participated in 85 countries. Southern California Public Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/11) reports that for the next three years, the schools will “get district support to add new arts classes, be showered with arts supplies, linked with community arts programs for after-school activities and even get visits from celebrity artists.” The Napa Valley (CA) Register Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/12, Sestito) reports that participants say the competition is not only about building robots, but also about teamwork.

University Of Omaha Expanding Computer Science Teacher Training Program.

The Omaha (NE) World-Herald Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/13) reports that an “initiative at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to train more teachers in computer science” praised by the Obama Administration earlier this year, is set to expand. “UNO has pledged to add 80 credentialed K-12 computer science teachers over the next three years in Nebraska through courses that lead to state teaching endorsements in information technology.” The school will also offer a new computer science education master’s program.

Friday’s Lead Stories

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