Leading the News
Airbus A350-1000 Wide-Body Makes Maiden Flight.
USA Today (11/24, Dwyer-Lindgren) reported that Airbus’ new A350-1000 wide-body jet made its first flight on Thursday from the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport near Airbus’ headquarters in France. The A350-1000 is the largest twin-jet aircraft that Airbus has made, has a range of 7,950 miles, and seats between 366 and 440 passengers. Airbus is using lightweight carbon-fiber composite materials for its construction, “allowing for greater fuel efficiency and more flier-friendly features, such as larger windows [and] more-comfortable cabin humidity levels.” The article noted that the aircraft is “the latest bid in an ongoing battle for sales in the twin-engine long-haul jet market,” long dominated by Boeing. Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier said that the aircraft is 25% more fuel efficient and 30 tons lighter than then the Boeing 777-300, and said that, “The -1000 has killed the 777-300ER.”
Reuters (11/24, Hepher) reported that the debut featured “a white-painted $300-million A350 jetliner being prepared for delivery without an airline livery, breaking an industry taboo,” and that according to “online records of the serial number on the tail” of the aircraft, it has been sold to the leasing company AerCap.
MarketWatch (11/25, Wall) reported that Brégier also “said Thursday the company would aim to deliver at least 50 of the slightly smaller, 325-seat A350-900 this year.”
Airbus Reorganization To Cut 1,000 Positions. Bloomberg News (11/23) reported that Airbus Group SE plans to cut an estimated 1,000 positions in the areas of “public affairs, legal, IT, and other white-collar functions” from offices in France and Germany, in a move aimed at eliminating “duplication between its main plane-making arm, and the rest of the group.” The reorganization will also involve closing an engineering research facility outside Paris, according to union officials. The article noted that the company already has plans to cut 582 positions at its helicopter unit.
Defense News (11/23) reported that Airbus’ “six regional offices will be centralized into one international department,” and that “120 jobs in cyber and computer security will be shed.”
Colleges Reducing Out-Of-State Tuition To Attract More Students.
The AP (11/26, Amy) reports that at least 50 public colleges across the country “have lowered nonresident tuition by more than 10 percent in recent years without making similar reductions for in-state students.” The AP says some colleges are seeing a decline in the number of “traditional college-age students,” given a decline in the number of high school graduates. Now, “some universities in rural areas with declining populations” are charging “all students the in-state rate, abolishing out-of-state surcharges.”
Mathews: Struggling DC School Requires All Students To Take AP Courses.
Jay Mathews writes in a Washington Post (11/27) column that Cardozo Education Campus in Northwest Washington, DC requires all students to take AP courses, even though the school has very poor standardized test scores and AP exam scores. He writes that the school “has developed a team of teachers using AP to raise the understanding and skills of students even if they do not pass the three-hour exams.” This year, the school “has enrolled every senior in AP English literature.”
Research and Development
Caltech Researchers Make Superconductor Breakthrough.
Pasadena (CA) Now (11/27) reports researchers at Caltech have published a paper in the journal Nature Physics on their research into “how so-called high-temperature superconducting materials work.” The paper says the researchers “have confirmed that a transitional phase of matter called the pseudogap—one that occurs before these materials are cooled down to become superconducting—represents a distinct state of matter, with properties very different from those of the superconducting state itself.” Scientists “previously had detected hints of some type of ordering of electrons inside the pseudogap state. But exactly how they were ordering—and whether that ordering constituted a new state of matter—was unclear until now.”
Pentagon Exploring Having Deep-Sea Underwater Drones.
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (11/27) reports the Department of Defense “is now looking to deploy autonomous robots underwater, patrolling the sea floor on what one top Navy official called an ‘Eisenhower highway network,’ complete with rest stops where the drones could recharge.” Such devices would have to contend with corrosive salt water, high pressure, and limited communications. Navy researchers have “been testing and fielding several new systems designed to map the ocean floor, seek out mines, search for submarines and even launch attacks.”
APH Test Version Arrives At Kennedy Space Center.
Nature World News (11/25) reported that a “high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH)” has been delivered to the Kennedy Space Center, to be used for training “engineers, scientists, and technicians,” and to test integration with the planned habitat’s various systems. The APH is “a close-loop system with a controlled environment that could hold large plants” for use aboard the ISS, and features “four times the light output” of the Veggie growth system currently in use aboard the ISS.
Rolls-Royce To Invest $30 Million In New CMC R&D Facility.
Ceramic Industry (11/23) reported Rolls-Royce has announced plans for “a $30 million expansion into a new 62,000-sq-ft facility that will be dedicated to the research and development of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials and processes for use in next-generation aerospace engine components.” The facility will be located in Southern California and “reportedly will develop production-ready manufacturing processes and produce components that will be used for engine test programs.” From there, manufacturing processes refined in the Cypress facility “will be applied to a future dedicated production facility for manufacturing of engine components.” The company expects to hire at least 10 people this year, “with the potential for 40 more positions as the production and product testing increase.”
Trump Likely To Cut NASA’s Climate Research.
Newsweek (11/27, Milman) reprints a story published by The Guardian reporting that Donald Trump “is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by NASA as part of a crackdown” on what advisor Bob Walker calls “politically correct environmental monitoring.” Walker said, “We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing NASA programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies.” Vox (11/23, Plumer) says such as move “could affect a host of other key NASA programs that provide info on everything from weather to wildfires to drought.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Experts Expect Wolfcamp Shale Unlikely To Affect Ohio Industry.
The Columbus (OH) Dispatch (11/27, Renault) reports that experts expect the recently discovered Wolfcamp Shale, which could yield 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural-gas liquids, is unlikely to affect Ohio’s natural gas and petroleum production. Ben Ebenhack, a petroleum-engineering professor at Marietta College said, “Most undiscovered resource prospects tend to not have anything commercially successful. … It’s not a real prediction of what’s there; it’s a statement of what could be there. Only drilling will or won’t confirm that.”
Utilities Beginning To Offer Energy-Saving LED Lights To Marijuana Growers.
The New York Times (11/25, Cardwell, Subscription Publication) reports on a pilot effort to provide energy efficient LED lighting to commercial marijuana growers in Washington state. “As cannabis has increasingly gone legitimate … electric utilities have struggled to cope with the intensive energy demands of the proliferating industry.” The story highlights an incentive program by Puget Sound Energy and reports that “many electric utilities have been reluctant to offer incentives or rebates to cannabis growers for energy-efficiency upgrades” because the cultivation and sale of marijuana are still federal crimes.
Ohio Coal Sales Fell Last Year.
The AP (11/25) reported Ohio officials have reported that “coal sales” in the state fell “by 31 percent last year.” Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources reports foal from the state “sold in 2015 had a market value of about $753 million, putting it below $1 billion for the first time since 2007.” The drop was anticipated “because of the long-term shift to fueling power plants with less expensive natural gas.” However, the industry is optimistic “because of the election of Republican Donald Trump as president and his comments about rewriting environmental rules and bringing back coal jobs.”
Duke Resolves Lawsuit By Contributing $1 Million To Protect Wetlands.
The AP (11/25) reported Duke Energy “will resolve a federal lawsuit by contributing $1 million to protect the lower Cape Fear River, Sutton Lake near Wilmington and some wetlands.” The power company “will match up to $250,000 contributed by other sources to the newly created Cape Fear River Restoration and Preservation Fund.” Duke was ordered by a Superior Court judge “to remove coal ash from its retired Sutton power plant near Wilmington. The judge had left open advocates’ claims in federal court that Sutton Lake had been contaminated by ash.” The AP adds “the resolution of the lawsuit means advocates have settled litigation about eight of Duke’s 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.”
Project Aims To Expand Grid In West Virginia Counties.
The AP (11/26) reports parts of Roane and Kanawha counties in West Virginia “will see new power lines and electrical upgrades under a $75 million electric grid expansion plan by energy companies.” The Clendenin-Walton Area Improvements Project are expected to “include construction of about 25 miles of transmission line, three new substations and upgrades to other transmission facilities.” In a news release Transource Energy signaled “it will construct and own the transmission line and key substations that will serve as the anchor of the project.”
Western New York Groups Divided Over Tall Wind Turbines.
The AP (11/27) reports that in western New York, “clean energy and environmental interests” are “battling over plans to build dozens of wind turbines that could be among the nation’s tallest, rising 600 feet above the scenic shores of Lake Ontario.” The proposal by Apex “to plant 70 propeller turbines amid the farms and towns east of Niagara Falls is still in its early stages, but it has already generated thousands of pages of comments, studies and legal documents considered by state regulators.” Wildlife groups have expressed concerns that the turbines may “disrupt a major flyway for migrating birds” and “local lawmakers worry about flight operations being compromised at a nearby military base.” The AP says the “debate is playing out as rapidly improving technology for towers and turbines allow the wind industry to move on to increasingly taller structures.”
Maryland PSC To Consider Two Offshore Wind Projects.
The Baltimore Sun (11/23, Gantz) reports “two plans for wind projects off Maryland’s coast” will be considered by the Public Service Commission. The PSC “said it had opened its formal review of proposals from US Wind Inc., a subsidiary of Italian energy and construction giant Toto Holdings SpA, and Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind Holdings LLC.” The commission’s approval “is necessary for either project to secure offshore renewable energy credits, one of several financial incentives established under Maryland’s Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 to encourage wind power projects.” The credits “would be paid by consumers, adding up to $1.50 a month to the average residential customer’s electric bill.”
Minnesota County Changes Position On Solar Energy Project.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (11/23, Adler) reports the Carver County Board has reversed its opinion on “a controversial solar energy project,” voting to approve “the necessary permit after unanimously declaring that they intended to deny the same permit in September.” However, a lawsuit was threatened and that “change things, commissioners and county staff said at a Nov. 22 meeting, but that was little consolation to more than 50 residents who have crowded several contentious County Board meetings to oppose the project.” Commissioner Randy Maluchnik said, “The thinking was if there was ever any litigation … [the judge] could rule that they met the criteria.” The Star Tribune adds “landowner Bruce Lenzen wants to build a 28-acre solar array on his Watertown Township property, next to state Hwy 7” as part of a “joint effort of Florida-based NextEra Energy and Edina’s TruNorth Solar.” Lenzen said, “I’m just happy it passed.”
Oregon DOE Promoting CTE Classes In High Schools.
The Eugene (OR) Register-Guard (11/28) reports on the positive impact that CTE classes can have on some students, citing “an increasing number of high school students in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area who have chosen to spend their high school hours taking” CTE classes in such areas as “construction technology, business management, early childhood development, computer sciences, robotics, engineering, culinary arts and more.” Such disciplines “help students to gain the skills, technical knowledge, academic foundation and experience needed to prepare them for high-skilled, high-demand, living-wage careers after high school, according to the Oregon Department of Education.”
Report Addresses Costs, Demand For CTE In Massachusetts.
The Boston Business Journal (11/27, Subscription Publication) reports that according to a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, “it would cost at least an additional $27 million per year to fulfill the unmet demand for high school vocational education programs across Massachusetts, programs that advocates say are critical to meeting the labor demands of businesses in the state.” The group’s report says that “while a career, vocational and technical education (CVTE) costs about $5,000 per pupil more than a traditional high school education each year, good CVTE programs can boost college attendance and career earning power.”
Connecticut District’s Makerspace Promotes STEM Interest.
The New London (CT) Day (11/27, Drelich) describes the Makerspace at Lyme-Old Lyme High School in Lyme, Connecticut, which “consists of a large, open room for students to create projects and work on machines, including a plasma cutter, mills and saws, as well as an adjacent design lab with computers and a 3D printer.” Students learn coding “while working on robots and how to use a computer to make designs.”
Federal Grant To Boost Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships In Idaho.
The AP (11/26) says a new federal grant will help expand and push for registered apprenticeships throughout Idaho. The $1.4 million federal grant “will expand Idaho’s registered apprenticeships in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and energy.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• NASA Researchers Say EM Drive Generates Thrust.
• Student Loan Servicer ACS Pays $2.4 Million Settlement In Massachusetts.
• BEAM Inflatable Habitat Completes Six Months In Space.
• Baidu Tested Self-Driving Car By Having Engineers Run Out In Front Of It.
• Tech Issues, Space Policy Await Incoming Presidential Administration.
• Massachusetts Announces STEM Internship Program.