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

Leading the News

ED Report: For-Profit Career Training Grads Earn Less Than Peers From Public Colleges.

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that according to a new ED report related to the gainful employment rules, “graduates of career-training programs at public colleges earn nearly $9,000 more than those who attended comparable programs at for-profit institutions.” The Post notes that collecting such data is vital to determining whether colleges are preparing students to earn good salaries, but says it’s “unclear” whether the gainful employment rules will outlast the Obama Administration. The piece quotes Education Secretary John King saying, “We can’t speculate on what the next administration will do, but we’re seeing the difference that these regulations are making already in that institutions have made decisions about which programs to continue. Students are benefiting, families are benefiting and that will make a strong case for continuing to build on this.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Kerr) reports that the ED report “also found nearly a third of for-profit students graduated from programs with median earnings below the federal minimum wage, which now stands at $7.25 an hour.” The piece reports that King said that such “information ‘is an important thing for students to pay attention to as they decide what programs to pursue and where to pursue them.’” The piece reports that

The Hechinger Report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) says the report shows “that graduates of some private, for-profit colleges and universities make near- or below-poverty wages, in spite of their investments in a higher education.” The article presents as more surprising that “the graduates of nearly 1,000 programs at public, taxpayer-supported community colleges and some four-year universities are earning less than $14,500 a year.” New Hampshire Public Radio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) and Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) also cover this story.

Higher Education

University Of Georgia College Of Engineering To Reorganize.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Quinn) reports that the University of Georgia College of Engineering “will reorganize its administrative structure. The move is designed to streamline operations as the college has seen its enrollment quintuple in five years.” The college “will divide into three academic units: the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering; and the School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering, in the spring of 2017.”

The Atlanta Business Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Williams, Subscription Publication) reports that Dean Donald J. Leo said in a statement, “Our rapid growth demands that the college evolve to ensure the integrity of our academic programs and the efficiency of our administration. But we need to evolve in a way that preserves and enhances the interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit of our teaching and research.”

ED Officials Consider Uncertain Future, Tout Higher Education Innovations.

Diverse Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/16) reports that at an event in Washington, DC Tuesday, ED officials “commented on the current administration’s efforts to drive innovation in higher education” and “enumerated some of the innovations put forward at the federal level over the past eight years that are designed to benefit students and families.” Examples include ED’s College Scorecard, the new modified FAFSA, and efforts to regulate the for-profit college industry. At the event, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell “did not comment on the specifics of what might be expected” under the Trump Administration, but “affirmed that the [Obama] administration was committed to carrying out its education initiatives to the end.”

ACT: Many Students Unprepared For STEM Majors Or Careers.

THE Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Chang) reports that while many of this year’s high school graduates are interested in STEM majors and careers, “few of those students are well prepared to succeed in first-year college STEM courses,” according to the ACT’s annual STEM report. ACT found that “nearly half (48 percent) of the 2.1 million 2016 American high school graduates who took the ACT test expressed an interest in STEM majors or careers, the report found.” But just 26% of those graduates “met or surpassed the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in STEM.”

Shares In For-Profit Colleges Have Surged Since Trump’s Victory.

CNN Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Lobosco) reports on its website that for-profit colleges “have had a rough couple of years” but are “hoping for easier days ahead under a Trump administration.” Since Trump’s victory, shares in DeVry and Strayer “are up about 23%. The University of Phoenix parent company Apollo Education Group has risen nearly 8% since November 8, and Capella University’s stock is up about 15%.”

Radio Host Says Trump Could Help Resolve Student Debt Crisis.

Talk radio host Richard Fowler writes in The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) “Pundits Blog” that “to the surprise of many,” President-elect Trump’s “plan for the student debt crisis appears to be a potential ray of hope for young, debt-stricken Americans on both sides of the aisle.” While information on Trump’s plan has been “limited,” it appears to be “focused on income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness regulations. … Trump has been wrong on quite a bit, but this is one area where is bombastic style might be appropriate.”

Safe Zone Ally Training
Join us for a free Safe Zone Ally Training webinar on December 6, 2016 at 3 PM, ET on LGBTQ and engineering culture. Learn more about the impacts that STEM culture has on LGBTQ inclusion, and explore different ways that you can support increased diversity on your campus. Register today – space is limited.

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.

Research and Development

Marines Experimenting With In-The-Field 3D Printing.

The Marine Corps Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports that last month, Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 successfully generated a plastic Humvee door handle “using a 3D printer under austere field conditions during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course” at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The unit became one of the first to experiment with 3D printing after the USMC’s commandant “put out a call to action in September for Marines to begin exploring the new technology that allows a user to design and fabricate parts on the spot.”

Sensory Skin Patch May Be Able To Track Health Measures.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Mozes) reports, “A new type of acoustic sensor that resembles a small Band-Aid on the skin can monitor your heartbeat and other health measures,” according to researchers. The sensor “may one day offer a way to painlessly and wirelessly track an individual’s health.” The light patch “can help doctors monitor heart health, stomach condition, vocal cord activity, lung performance and potentially many other bodily functions.”

Scientists Research Genetically Altered Photosynthesis To Improve Plant Production.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Gillis, Subscription Publication) reports that University of Illinois scientists have announced “a remarkable result” from their research into genetically engineered photosynthesis in tobacco plants, a modification that increased plant productivity by 20 percent. Scientists plan to apply the process to improve crop production. Research leader Stephen P. Long predicts that genetic engineering could lead to a “second Green Revolution” that could possibly increase food production by 40 or 50 percent. Long and Krishna K. Niyogi at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say photosynthesis is not actually very efficient as plants prioritize survival over fruit and seed production. The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Borenstein) reports “scientists were able to increase leaf growth between 14 and 20 percent in experiments with tobacco plants.” The study was published Thursday in the journal Science.

Electric Vehicle Maker To Invest $10.7M For New R&D Facility In Michigan.

The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports electric vehicle manufacturer SF Motors plans “to locate a research and development facility in the Ann Arbor area.” Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) announced Thursday that SF Motors will invest more than $10.7 million in the facility, which is expected to create 150 jobs.

Max Planck Researchers Identify Roundest Natural Object Measured In Space.

SPACE Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Wall) reports that researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research at the University of Göttingen in Germany have identified the star Kepler 11145123 as “the roundest natural object ever measured in the universe,” with stellar oscillations that “imply a difference in radius between the equator and the poles of only 3 km.” The star is located 5,000 light-years from Earth, and has a diameter of 1.86 million miles, “about twice as wide as the sun.” To measure the star, the researchers applied asteroseismological techniques to analyze oscillation measurements collected using NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Researchers Fear Funding Will Dry Up Under Trump.

Politico Morning Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports that university leaders are expressing concerns that Federal science funding “could now be firmly on the chopping block” with the election of Donald Trump, noting that House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith and other Republicans “have fought to pull back on federal funding for social sciences and climate and energy research.” Trump’s campaign rhetoric branding climate change “a hoax” have given “university leaders little hope he’ll be an advocate for science funding.” Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson says schools are “hopeful Trump can be convinced that research is an engine for economic growth.”


Trump Expected To Restrict H-1B Visas.

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Purnell) reports President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tighten the rules around H-1Bs visas. During his campaign, Trump stressed restricting immigration and criticized companies that sent jobs overseas. Following a March debate, Trump issued a statement saying he will end the H-1B program because it contributes to cheap labor. Trump’s policy page on his campaign site and on his separate presidential-campaign website do not mention H-1B visas.

RAND’s Carew: Broader Definition Of “Tech” Careers Needed.

Diana Carew of the RAND Corporation writes in The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) “Pundits Blog” that tech jobs are usually “narrowly defined as computer science engineering occupations found only in Silicon Valley.” In order to increase diversity in the field, “we need to rethink what ‘tech’ is.” Tech jobs “can be found across the United States in virtually every industry,” and “jobs once thought of as being outside of tech – installation and repair, human resources, project management, sales and advertising – increasingly heavily rely on tech-driven skills.”

Engineering and Public Policy

Senate Fails To Advance Energy Bill.

The Washington Examiner Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Gehrke) reports that the Senate “failed to advance an energy bill in its first substantive vote of the lame duck session on Thursday, just before the White House threatened to veto the bill.” The White House “said it opposes the legislation because it would make significant changes to an existing law governing revenue sharing between the states and the federal government from offshore energy production.” The abbreviated schedule of the lame duck session makes it unlikely the bill will come up again.

Bill To Boost State Revenue From Offshore Drilling Rejected By Senate. The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Cama) reports that the Senate rejected a bill on Thursday that would have given states a share of the royalties from oil and natural gas drilling offshore. While supporters framed the bill as a way for states to get a fair return for the energy production off their shores, opponents said “it would have incentivized states to seek offshore drilling in areas like the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, while taking billions of dollars out of the federal coffers.”

UN Launches Initiative To Save Peatlands, Prevent Carbon Emissions.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports on the launch of a UN Environment Programme initiative to help prevent the destruction of peatlands which sequester carbon. “Peatlands cover just 3 percent of the world’s land surface, but contain twice as much carbon as the entire biomass of the world’s forests,” Reuters explains, adding that 15 percent of peatlands have been drained, releasing carbon. UNEP head Erik Solheim said in a statement, “This will cause misery and chaos for millions of vulnerable people, so we cannot afford to let any opportunity to reduce emissions slip by.”

Shareholders Approve Tesla Acquisition Of SolarCity.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Sage, Groom) reports Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk won shareholder approval on Thursday for an acquisition of SolarCity. The deal “caps a tumultuous year for Musk and Tesla.” Tesla said the deal was “overwhelmingly” approved by 85 percent of unaffiliated shareholders. USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Cava) quotes Musk saying after the vote, “We’re trying to make an integrated product, where you can go to Tesla store and just say yes.”

The San Jose (CA) Mercury News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Hansen) reports “proxy analyses of the deal by two leading firms reached opposite conclusions.” Institutional Shareholder Services endorsed the deal, saying that Tesla can bridge a financing gap to bring SolarCity to profitability, while other advisers “said SolarCity is in poor financial health and the acquisition amounts to a ‘thinly veiled bail-out plan’ by Tesla.” The Financial Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Bradshaw, Subscription Publication) also reports.

Musk Says Solar Shingles Will Cost Less Than Premium Non-solar Roofing Materials.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17, Randall) reports that after Tesla Motors shareholders approved the acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s new solar roof product will cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.” The new shingles “will still be a premium product, at least when they first roll out,” mimicking the most expensive roofing materials that cost 20 times more than cheap asphalt shingles. Musk anticipates significant cost shipping the comparatively lightweight materials.

Battle Over Green Energy Tax Credits Expected In Utah.

The Salt Lake (UT) Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports “green energy tax credits” may “be up for a fight in the coming legislative session.” This past week “a proposal to extend tax credits for electric and other alternative fuel vehicles garnered a favorable recommendation,” but it was “only by a narrow margin.” A separate “committee recommended phasing out a state tax credit for residential solar installations, which is projected to take a toll on the state budget in 2016 — $20 million, up from less than $1 million annually, as Utah experiences a boom of solar installations.” Bill sponsor Rep. Jeremy Peterson said that “if the trend continues, the impact could be as high as $60 million by the end” of next year and that money “could be used to hire as many as 400 teachers with a salary of $50,000.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Bakersfield, California High Schoolers Teach Science To Elementary School Students.

KERO-TV Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Bakersfield, CA (11/17, Loving) reports on its website that students at Bakersfield, California’s Independence High School students taught science to elementary school students in the Lakeside School District on Thursday. The high schoolers “are members of Independence High’s Energy & Utilities Career Academy. The students are second through eighth graders who attend Lakeside School.” Science teacher Aaron Jacobson, who coordinates the program, said, “Students will be teaching lessons they created that focus on wind, solar, hydropower, hydrogen fuel cell, or the science of energy. The activities that Academy students coordinate will engage their ‘pupils’ on various renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and the overlying concepts of energy.”

Alabama Students Take Part In Simulated Workplace Program.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/17) reports, “Some high school students in north Alabama are getting a head start on what they can expect in a real-world business.” A simulated workplace at the Limestone County Career Technical Center “will have the 70 students in the diesel and automotive technologies programs…punching a clock, donning uniforms and even holding managerial jobs in which they’ll direct other students.” Diesel technology instructor John Dunn said, “It’s run just like a real business. The industry right now is really looking at soft skills. That’s what they’re interested in.”

Thursday’s Lead Stories

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