Leading the News
NASA To Launch Hurricane Microsatellite Fleet In December.
SPACE (11/10, Lewin) reported that “NASA scientists are gearing up for the Dec. 12 launch of the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), a dedicated fleet of storm-watching microsatellites that will track hurricane evolution over Earth’s oceans.” SPACE says that agency researchers discussed the new mission in a news conference last week. The report explains that “CYGNSS will be an octet of 64-lb. (29-kg) microsatellites, each slightly larger than a carry-on suitcase, set in Earth orbit to monitor developing hurricanes and tropical cyclones.” According to John Scherrer, CYGNSS’ project manager at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, “We’re doing real science with a spacecraft that can literally sit on your desk. … Not just one of them, but eight – they’ll be orbiting in the tropics where the hurricanes are, and every 90 minutes they’ll be making another measurement.”
The Orlando (FL) Sentinel (11/10) reports that Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said: “This is a first-of-its-kind mission.” He explained that the new constellation “will do what a single craft can’t in terms of measuring surface wind speeds” inside violent storms. “There is a gap in our knowledge of cyclone processes in the critical eyewall region on the storm – the gap that will be filled by the CYGNSS data,” University of Michigan professor Chris Ruf said. Ruf elaborated, “The models try to predict what is happening under the rain but they are much less accurate without continuous experimental validation.”
Report Points To Record Numbers Of International Students Fueled By STEM Interest.
U.S. News & World Report (11/14, Ross) reports that according to a new report from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education, “US colleges, universities and employers hosted more than a million international students in a single academic year” for the first time ever. The article reports that “some of the most popular areas of study” for international students “are those related to science, technology, engineering and math fields – collectively known as STEM.”
Growing Number Of Foreign Schools Accepting Federal Student Loans.
U.S. News & World Report (11/14) reports that an increasing number of foreign colleges are allowing American students to apply US Federal student loans to cover their college costs. Federal grants and work study aid, however, are not available to such students, according to financial aid experts. The latest ED data show that some 400 foreign universities in 38 countries are eligible.
California District Expanding Dual Enrollment Program.
KFSN-TV Fresno, CA (11/14) reports that California’s Fresno Unified School District is undertaking “a major expansion of a program that helps high school students get college credit.” The piece explains that the program is an offshoot from an ongoing expansion of CTE offerings in the district, and is a partnership with Fresno City College.
After Trump’s Election, Push For Free Public Higher Education Loses Steam.
The Washington Post (11/14, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the prospects of making public higher education free for the vast majority of American families “have faded with the election of Donald Trump.” Trump policy adviser Sam Clovis “made it clear during the campaign that the Republican would not support free public higher education, calling the idea ‘absurd’ in an interview with Inside Higher Ed.” But proponents of debt-free college “remain convinced that the movement still has legs.” There are at least 85 initiatives at the municipal and state level aiming to cover the cost of tuition at community colleges, according to the Upjohn Institute. Tennessee, Oregon, and Minnesota currently have free community college programs. Celeste Carruthers, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee, said, “These programs are gaining popularity at the state level and would be hard to walk back even if there is no support at the federal level.”
College Of New Jersey Program Helps Low-income Science Majors.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (11/14, Lai) reports that a decade ago at The College of New Jersey the African American graduation rate in biology and chemistry “was 49 percent; for Hispanic students, it was 71 percent.” However, “in 2008, with a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, TCNJ biology and chemistry teachers created the Program to Enhance Retention of Students in Science Trajectories in Biology and Chemistry.” The Inquirer explains that “the program provided yearly scholarships up to $10,000 to students from low-income families, assigned them peer mentors and faculty advisers, and mandated tutoring and academic skills workshops.” The paper says the first round of PERSIST program resulted in 40 of the first 49 students graduating or being “on track to do so within five years, a rate of 82 percent.”
Interest High In Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship Program.
The Ashland (KY) Daily Independent (11/13) reported that “barely five months since its inception, the Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship Program is already yielding dramatic results across the commonwealth.” Preliminary Kentucky Department of Education data reveals that “36.3 percent more high school students are enrolled in dual credit courses this semester, compared to Fall 2015 (22,707 vs. 16,659) – with a 49.9 percent increase in the total number of courses taken (42,477 vs. 28,334).” Gov. Matt Bevin said, “The response to this initiative has been truly astounding. … We want Kentucky to have the most well educated, well prepared and work-force-ready young adults in the nation. This program is a vital step in advancing us toward that exciting goal.”
DeVry President: For-profit Colleges Face Scrutiny, Must Prove Their Worth.
Lisa Wardell, President and CEO of DeVry Education Group, writes at the Washington Post (11/14, Wardell) that “for-profit higher education has faced major challenges recently as policymakers focus on ensuring that institutions serve their students.” She says that “for-profit higher education is an integral part of our diverse education system” and “that’s why DeVry Education Group recently announced a set of student commitments that we hope will inspire institutions throughout our industry.” She explains that DeVry is “limiting the amount of funding we accept from federal student aid, including veterans’ benefits and military tuition assistance, to 85 percent of revenue.” She also says they have “announced a renewed set of student commitments that set a new standard in our industry.” Wardell concludes that “there’s no reason to believe that for-profit educators can’t continue to positively shape the future.”
Research and Development
IBM, Modiface Develop Tech To Diagnose Skin Issues.
CNN Money (11/14, McFarland) reports online that “IBM researchers have developed a computer system” called a Dermascope “that early research shows is more effective at identifying” melanoma “than expert dermatologists.” Meanwhile, Modificace is using smartphones to provide “recommendations about whether someone needs to moisture their skin.” CNN adds that Modiface’s AI “also powers beauty apps that lets consumers see how cosmetics might look on them or how a Botox treatment would change their appearance.”
IBM Researchers Make Breakthrough In Nanotechnology.
Wired (11/14, Finley) reports IBM Research Materials Scientist George Tulevski and his team say they’ve made a breakthrough in nanotechnology that makes it easier for nanotubes to create microchips. Wired reports that “Tulevski and his team have figured out a way to ‘coax’ the nanotubes into specific structures using chemistry. Instead of a ‘top-down’ approach of trying to place each block manually, the team is treating the nanotubes with chemicals that cause them to assemble themselves into new structures.”
Analysis Of Martian Meteorites Finds “Incredibly Dry” Planet.
SPACE (11/14, O’Neill) reports that analysis of iron in meteorites found on Mars has found their rust rate is “10-10,000 times less than how long it would take iron-rich meteorites to rust in the driest deserts on Earth,” suggesting that the planet has been “incredibly dry for millions of years.” The University of Stirling’s Christian Schröder said, “Evidence shows that more than 3 billion years ago, Mars was wet and habitable. However, this latest research reaffirms just how dry the environment is today.” The meteorites were inspected by the Mars Opportunity Rover, which used its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to analyze the rocks’ composition. The article notes that the finding is “obviously pretty bad news for the hope of finding any basic forms of Martian life remotely near the surface,” and says it “adds another layer of uncertainty for future Mars missions.”
AI Researcher Urges Others To Do More To Help AI Learn To Become More Self Aware.
Arend Hintze, an AI research from Michigan State University, wrote an article for The Conversation (US) (11/14, Hintze) describing the four classes of AI and urged researchers to do more to teach AI to learn in order to make them self aware. Hintze writes that “while we are probably far from creating machines that are self-aware, we should focus our efforts toward understanding memory, learning and the ability to base decisions on past experiences.” Hintze adds that this “is an important step to understand human intelligence on its own” and “it is crucial if we want to design or evolve machines that are more than exceptional at classifying what they see in front of them.”
Nvidia CEO Sees A “Two-Decades” Long Relationship Blossoming With Nintendo.
PC Magazine (11/14, Humphries) reports Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang sees a “relationship that will likely last two decades,” following Nintendo’s decision to use the company’s Tegra system on a chip in its upcoming Switch console. As for the Switch, Huang noted several hundred Nvidia engineers had been working with Nintendo on the device for two years, and that “I really believe when everybody sees it and enjoy it, they’re going be amazed by it. It’s really like nothing they’ve ever played with before.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Administration Delays Dakota Access Pipeline.
In a move that “further delay[s] work” on a segment of the Dakota Access pipeline, the Obama Administration “plans to carry out more discussions and analysis before deciding on a permit for the controversial” pipeline, Bloomberg News (11/14, Vamburkar) reports. In a statement Monday, the US Army Corps of Engineers said “that further talks are warranted given the importance of the lake to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” and “said it’ll work with the tribe on a timeline ‘that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously.’”
The Washington Times (11/14, Richardson) reports that the struggle of “local ranchers, farmers and others…to maintain their livelihoods has gone largely unnoticed as protesters upend the rural communities along North Dakota’s southern border.” Rewards are being offered by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association “for information on the rash of livestock depredations during the past two months, including butchered and burned cows and bison, horses and cows shot and killed, and at least 30 missing cattle.”
Trump Aims To Roll Back Obama Environmental, Energy Policies.
The AP (11/14, Daly, Pace) reports that President-elect Trump plans to “roll back President Barack Obama’s environmental and energy policies and allow unfettered production of oil, coal and natural gas.” At the top of his “to-do list is repealing the Clean Power Plan,” which is “the linchpin of Obama’s strategy to fight climate change.” Trump is also targeting efforts by the Administration “to reduce air and water pollution” including “a rule to protect small streams and wetlands and ozone regulations designed to cut down on smog.” In addition, Trump is “likely to move quickly to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.”
Steyer Urges Obama To Block Offshore Drilling In Atlantic, Arctic. Politico (11/14, Whieldon) reported that Democratic activist Tom Steyer is urging the President “to invoke largely untested authority to permanently block offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and Arctic before Donald Trump takes office.” The billionaire said in a statement, “The Trump administration has the potential to do serious damage to our climate – but in the last few months of his presidency, President Obama can take concrete steps to secure his environmental legacy. … We will continue to support bold action by President Obama to fight for our families, and we will keep pushing back against Trump’s dark vision and dangerous plans for our country.”
Sperling: California ARB Will Not Back Down On Zero-Emission Car Regulations.
Bloomberg News (11/14, Lippert) reports California Air Resources Board member Dan Sperling said the state “has no intention of backing away from clean-air enforcement, even if Trump undermines federal mandates.” Sperling said, “The ARB is definitely committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030…I don’t think the California effort will be much affected.” The article mentions that California “has more people and cars than any other, giving its regulators an outsize influence on what automakers build.” However, Honda Motor Co. Assistant Vice President for Environmental Policy Robert Bienenfeld suggested “automakers may be in a position to promote a compromise between Trump and California, since they need rules that let them sell the same cars in all 50 states.” Bienenfeld said, “Maybe automakers will need to come to the defense of the EPA…We need an enforcement agency to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.”
Trump Would Not Defend Clean Power Plan In Court.
The Washington Examiner (11/15, Ferrechio) reports that a transition document indicates President-elect Trump plans to dismiss the government’s defense of the Clean Power Plan in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The plan, which directs states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2030, is considered a threat to the long-term viability of the coal industry.
DOE Moving Forward With Compressor Efficiency Rules.
The Hill (11/14) reports the Energy Department is going ahead “with new efficiency rules for compressors.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE announced yesterday “it will classify compressors as ‘covered equipment,’ which will subject these devices to the existing energy conservation standards.” In 30 days the rule will go into effect.
DOE Mulling Circulator Pumps Efficiency Rules.
The Hill (11/14) reports the Energy Department “is considering new efficiency rules for circulator pumps.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE “announced Monday it will hold a meeting to negotiate energy conservation standards and test procedures for these devices.” The public meetings are scheduled from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
Trump Team Reviewing Fuel Economy, Vehicle Emissions Standards.
Reporting similarly, the New York Times (11/14, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication) reports that Trump senior adviser, John Mashburn, said that Trump’s team is rethinking of all federal regulations, “a review of the including fuel-economy and emissions standards to make sure they are not harming consumers or American workers.” The Times reports that automakers “are seizing on the change in administration to argue for re-evaluating fuel economy and emissions rules, which are set to become progressively more stringent starting with 2017 model cars.”
St. Olaf Being Fully Powered By Wind Energy.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (11/14, Walsh) reports Xcel Energy and St. Olaf College announced yesterday that the school’s “many dozens of buildings on its Northfield campus are now being powered entirely by wind energy.” By selecting “Xcel’s Windsource program for its energy needs starting at the beginning of this semester, St. Olaf becomes the utility’s largest Windsource customer in the state.” In a statement Xcel Energy-Minnesota president Chris Clark said, “We’re thrilled to help St. Olaf College achieve their renewable energy goals and share their commitment to protecting the environment.”
SCOTUS Won’t Hear Kansas Appeal Over Next Gen Science Standards.
Mark Walsh writes at the Education Week (11/14) “School Law” blog that the US Supreme Court has “declined to hear the appeal of a group of Kansas parents and students who object on religious grounds to the state’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.” The group Citizens for Objective Public Education sued the Kansas Department of Education alleging that “the standards, developed by 26 states based on a framework published by the National Research Council, address religious questions by removing a ‘theistic’ viewpoint and creating a ‘non-theistic worldview’ in science instruction in the public schools.”
Lawrence School Board To Hear Report On Implementation Of Standards. The Lawrence (KS) Journal World (11/14) reports that the school board in Lawrence, Kansas is set to hear a report on the district’s implementation of the standards, where the state BOE adopted in 2013 and “aim to provide students with a deeper understanding of science and engineering, often through a more hands-on approach than previous guidelines, said Terry McEwen, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.” McEwen said students are “taught to ask questions, make educated guesses, and explore the material in a more meaningful way than simply memorizing a formula, for example.”
Arizona District Seeking Students For New STEM School.
Arizona Public Media (11/14) reports that Arizona’s Amphitheater Unified School District is opening a new school providing STEM courses to students grades from Kindergarten through fifth. The Innovation Academy’s inaugural principal, Michael McConnell, “says its active learning approach will let students design projects directly related to the skills they learn, blending reading and writing, math and science, and engineering and social studies.” The school’s enrollment will be set at no more than 500 students.
South Carolina Group Honors Elementary School’s Computer Animation, Coding Curriculum.
The Hilton Head Island (SC) Packet (11/14) reports the South Carolina Association for Educational Technology has given Bluffton Elementary School in Bluffton, South Carolina its 2016 Technology Innovative Program Award to honor it for its “computer animation and coding school choice curriculum.” The piece reports, “The school’s Animation, Creation and Design program, which had previously been featured in a Discovery Channel TV show, encourages students to use technology for research, collaboration and project presentations.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Trump’s Energy Adviser Suggests Methane Emission Regulations Will Be Rolled Back.
• Purdue Renames Chemical Engineering Building In Honor Of $20 Million Gift.
• IBM, Nvidia Launch Deep Learning Enterprise Solution.
• South Africa Experiencing Renewable Energy Boom.
• Car Makers To Debut More EVs At Los Angeles Auto Show Despite Lackluster Sales.
• Speculation About Trump’s Infrastructure Plans Continues.
• Lego Competition Seeks To Inspire Students To Pursue STEM Careers.