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

Leading the News

Female, Black Engineering Students Report Disparities At Clemson.

The Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/26) profiles Crystal Pee, a chemical engineering student at Clemson University, who says that only 10% of her classes have had a female professor. The piece cites statistics indicating that only 26% of engineering graduates are women, noting that “women have to contend with issues that their male peers don’t, like the relative lack of female mentors and occasionally chauvinist or sexist behavior directed at them.”

Meanwhile, in a separate article, the Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/26) profiles Clemson civil engineering graduate Hesha Gamble, who says “being an African-American studying engineering at Clemson University can be discouraging.” The article says that Gamble is “just one success story from Clemson’s Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention program, which helps recruit and retain African-American engineering students.”

Rensselaer Looking To Increase Number Of Women In Engineering Programs. The Albany (NY) Business Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Subscription Publication) reports that there are over 1,000 female engineering undergraduates at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York for the first time ever this year, noting that Dean of Engineering Shekhar Garde “said he wants to increase that to 50 percent before 2030.” Garde “said RPI wants to change the view that STEM careers are often male-dominated.”

Higher Education

Kentucky Chemical Engineering Student Wins International Congress Of Science Sustainability And Engineering Competitions.

The Paducah (KY) Sun Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports University of Kentucky chemical engineering student Chandni Joshi recently won “two competitions hosted by the International Congress of Science Sustainability and Engineering.” Joshi “researches solutions for waste accumulation in developing countries” and is “the lead student member of her school’s Appropriate Technology and Sustainability research team, located at the UK College of Engineering’s Paducah campus at West Kentucky Community & Technical College.”

Observers Uncertain How DeVos Pick Will Impact Higher Education, Student Loan Debt.

The Christian Science Monitor Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports that it remains to be seen where Betsy DeVos, the school choice advocate chosen by President-elect Trump to serve as Education Secretary, “stands on higher education and the rising student loan burden.” Noting that Trump’s “higher education policies are still developing” as well, the Monitor points out that much of DeVos’ past education record applies to K-12 issues.

Inside Higher Ed Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports similarly that DeVos’ education record is mostly related to K-12 issues such as charters and vouchers, and it is not clear “what that vision says about her potential priorities for the higher education sector.” The piece notes that DeVos’ family “has a history of supporting higher education institutions in Michigan through charitable contributions.” Meanwhile, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson said that DeVos’ interest in “making sure low-income students have an opportunity for good education and positive outcomes” is likely to extend to the higher education sphere.

Commentary: DeVos’ Market Focus Could Impact Gainful Employment Rules.

In commentary for the Chronicle of Higher Education Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28), Kevin Carey, who directs the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, writes that DeVos’ appointment likely means “nothing good” for higher education policy. He concedes that “it’s hard to make inferences about higher-education policy from a K-12 school leader’s resume,” but points out that DeVos has a history of focusing on “promoting a private-market approach to education reform,” and “tracks neatly onto one of the first major decisions the next secretary of education will confront: whether to continue enforcing the Obama administration’s ‘gainful employment’ regulations of for-profit colleges.”

Ohio State Rampage Being Investigated As Possible Terrorist Attack.

Monday’s attack at Ohio State University led all three network news broadcasts Monday evening and receives heavy print and online coverage this morning. The coverage, which focuses heavily on the details of the attack, almost universally says the incident is being investigated as a possible act of terror. Most reports say that 18-year-old suspect Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who injured 11 people by ramming his car into a group of pedestrians and then cutting several people with a butcher’s knife before being killed by a police officer, only moved to the US in 2014, and that he recently complained about the portrayal of Muslims in the US.

NBC Nightly News (11/28, story 2, 1:30, Holt) said Artan, who “was a lawful, permanent US resident,” appeared to have posted a “rant” on Facebook in which he reportedly said attacks on Muslims around the world “led to a boiling point. I can’t take it anymore.” According to the CBS Evening News (11/28, story 2, 1:40, O’Donnell), Artan also “complained about what he believed was the media’s negative portrayal of Muslims” to the school newspaper on his first day on campus in August. He was a new student at the school, having come to the US in 2014 “after fleeing Somalia and spending seven years in a refugee camp in Pakistan.”

The CBS Evening News (11/28, lead story, 2:35, O’Donnell) reported that the incident “is being investigated as an act of terror,” as did the website of Columbus, Ohio television station WLWT-TV Share to
FacebookShare to Twitter Cincinnati (11/28).

Brian Ross reported on ABC World News (11/28, story 2, 2:10, Muir) that police and the FBI investigate Artan, “the picture emerging of him is that of a Somali immigrant who…seemed to be living the American dream until he turned on his adopted country, becoming radicalized based on what he read and heard online.” ABC World News Tonight (11/28, lead story, 3:50, Muir) reported in its lead story that as authorities continue to investigate the “terrifying” crime scene, they now believe Artan was the sole perpetrator. The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Korn, Maher, Shallwani, Subscription Publication) reports that officials say the camera system on campus enabled them to track the car before the incident and they could confirm Artan was alone.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Smith, Pérez-Peña, Subscription Publication) reports the attack prompted “a massive police response and calls for students to shelter in place and ‘Run Hide Fight.’” The attack occurred “near Watts Hall, a building at the heart of the university’s sprawling Columbus campus that houses materials science and engineering programs.” The Times explains that the “Run Hide Fight” instruction “stem from a public awareness campaign that is used in cities, universities and even by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes those instructions on its ‘active shooter preparedness’ webpage.”

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.

Prism Podcast
The Mobile Virtual Player is a new development keeping football players safe, created by Dartmouth engineering students. Listen to the short podcast on the invention here.

Research and Development

Van Hollen Vows To Defend NASA Climate Change Research.

The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reported Maryland Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen is promising a “strong defense” of NASA’s climate change research program “amid reports the incoming Trump administration plans” to cut its funding. Van Hollen tweeted over the weekend, “.@NASA’s Earth Science program is crucial for studying our planet & climate change. We must fight against funding cuts.”

Report Says Technology Has Potential To Enhance Cancer Prevention, Care, And Research, But This Potential Is Not Yet Realized.

Medscape Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Nelson) reports, “Although technology has significant potential to enhance cancer prevention, care, and research, this potential has not yet been realized, according to a new report Share to FacebookShare to Twitter issued by the President’s Cancer Panel.” Series cochair Bradford Hesse, PhD, chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, said, “The panel was very careful to include the perspective of clinical oncologists when preparing its recommendations and believes that its suggestions should provide much needed value and relief, back to the oncology workforce.” Dr. Hesse told Medscape Medical News, “For example, the panel worked carefully with representatives from the American Society of Clinical Oncology to understand how current projections for an aging baby boom cohort, increasing technical complexity in therapeutic care, and changing economic demands will be putting a strain on the oncology system.”


Tech Leaders Say Trump’s Anti-Immigration Policies Will Not Save American Jobs.

The Chicago Tribune Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports that Chicago tech start-up leaders says that Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies won’t save American jobs and that “businesses that depend on high-skill technical talent will suffer and so will the nation’s competitive advantage.” The Tribune notes that “half of America’s billion-dollar tech startups” were founded by immigrants “for a total value of $168 billion, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.” ContextMedia CEO Rish Shah is quoted as saying “There would be nothing worse for American workers than to curb the inflow of talent that would further grow our economy.”

Boeing Listed Seventh For Tech, Engineering Internships.

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Strauss) reports Boeing is planning to take on new interns in 2017, and says its program “was listed seventh on a roster of top opportunities for tech and engineering-focused internship-seekers by” The article features a slideshow of the top five tech and engineering internships, and includes Garmin International, SAS, and Thrivent.

Global Developments

Students Compete In World Robot Olympiad In New Delhi.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Jain) reports students of various ages from over 50 countries recently took part in the World robot Olympiad in New Delhi, explaining that participants were asked “to create robotics solutions to reduce or recycle waste, leading teams to build robots that emptied trash bins or scooped up building debris for future use.”

Industry News

Report: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Safest Phone Among Flagships.

According to AndroidGuys Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Arici), a Business Korea Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(11/24) report indicates the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is the safest smartphone in terms of electromagnetic radiation emission levels, which “select research” shows “can damage your brain, your eyesight and even your skin.” According to Business Korea, the Galaxy S7 edge has only a 0.264w/kg Specific Absorb ion Rate (SAR) – “which evaluates how much energy is absorbed by the human body when it is exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field” – compared with the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) at 0.290 w/kg, Samsung Galaxy S7 at 0.406 w/kg, Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) at 0.621 w/kg, Lenovo Moto Z at 0.304 w/kg, and HTC 10 at 0.417 w/kg.

Patheon To Acquire State-Of-The-Art Manufacturing Site.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports Patheon said on Monday “it has agreed to acquire an active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) manufacturing facility in Florence, SC, from Roche for an undisclosed price.” The 1100-acre, 300,000-square-foot facility “includes manufacturing capacity for API ranging from development to manufacturing services, Patheon said.” The addition will “expand its capacity for manufacturing highly potent compounds and add capabilities to support solid-state chemistry, micronization, and eventually commercial spray drying.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) briefly reports on the acquisition.

Engineering and Public Policy

Harvard Economist Touts US Shale Gas’ Role In US Energy System.

Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/27) contributor Jeff McMahon highlighted research by Harvard economist William Hogan, who last year “penned a cautionary paper on the Clean Power Plan, arguing that its celebrated flexibility could disrupt energy markets.” However, increased hydraulic fracturing that has produced US shale gas “has demonstrated that the American energy system can accommodate sudden and massive influxes of supply,” Hogan suggested during a lecture at MIT earlier this month. The “shale gas miracle,” he said is “a great demonstration of the fact that the system can respond extremely quickly if you can get the economics to be really competitive with the alternatives.” McMahon stressed that “shale gas succeeded,” according to Hogan, “because it was competitive—and therein lies the lesson for solar and wind.”

Industry Official Touts Benefits Of Low-cost Texas Energy.

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, writes an op-ed for the Austin (TX) American Statesman Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Subscription Publication) touting the oil and gas industry’s fracking revolution and associated energy cost savings for customers. “Abundant natural gas is keeping electricity affordable; the average household saved $800 in energy costs last year,” he writes.

Group Calls On President-Elect Trump To Appoint Adviser For Science And Technology.

The Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/29) reports, “The leaders of 29 U.S. research and academic institutions have urged President-elect Donald Trump to name a senior science adviser during his ongoing appointment pageantry, stressing the need for ‘science and technology to address major national challenges.’” The group “sent a letter to Trump on Nov. 23,” saying in order to address “a wide range of domestic and international challenges, from protecting national and energy security, to ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness, curing diseases, and responding to natural disasters,” President-elect Trump needs to appoint “an adviser with the title assistant to the president for science and technology.” This person should have the “scientific knowledge and technological expertise to address” the issues “successfully.”

Pro-Trump Industries At Odds Over Renewable Fuel Standards Program.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Prentice) reports that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program has put two of President-elect Trump’s support bases – Big Oil and Big Corn – against each other. While the farming sector “has lobbied hard for the maximum biofuel volumes laid out in the law to be blended into gasoline motor fuels,” the oil industry “argues that the program creates additional costs.” Balancing the two interests “is likely to prove a challenge for Trump, who has promised to curtail regulations on the oil industry but is already being reminded by biofuels advocates of the importance of the program to the American Midwest.” Reuters says Trump’s plans for the program are “unclear” and “his transition team did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.”

In what the Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Wolfgang) describes as “yet another blow to the RFS,” the GAO confirmed Monday that the program “will fall far short of its goals as the cost of producing ethanol and other biofuels remains higher than expected.” According to the GAO, it is “virtually impossible to meet the ever-increasing targets laid out by Congress in 2007, and that the program is unlikely to bring about the greenhouse-gas emissions reductions originally envisioned under the RFS.”

Elementary/Secondary Education

Indiana Elementary School Pilots STEAM Program.

The Goshen (IN) News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Bibbs) reports that “many schools have started STEM programs” but Eastside Elementary School “has gone one step further by maintaining some commitment to the arts, making their acronym STEAM.” The News explains that “just as the staff at Eastside was mulling about the idea of becoming a STEM school last April, they were approached by Anderson Community Schools’ Ryan Glaze, assistant superintendent of instruction and innovation in the elementary schools, with the idea of piloting a program.” The report says “Eastside took on the challenge with John Lambert attending training to become certified in STEM instruction at Purdue University.”

Virginia Lego Robotics Team Competes For Fifth Year.

The Petersburg (VA) Progress-Index Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) reports that “Prince George Schools fielded another FIRST LEGO League robotics team in 2016 for the fifth year in a row.” The report says “the team called ‘LEGO Starfish’ was based at J.E.J. Moore Middle School and attended their tournament on November 19 at Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond.” The Progress-Index explains, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” or FIRST, is an international effort “to show students of every age that science, technology, and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding, but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future for us all.”

New Mexico Preschool Establishes STEAM Lab.

The Rio Rancho (NM) Observer Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28, Burgess) reports on “Shining Stars Preschool’s STEAM lab, a former storage room that has been transformed into a colorful space filled with Legos, tablets and building blocks.” The Observer says “education technology specialist Melanie Maez launched the lab in 2015 to help the kids pick up the basic vocabulary and ideas of science, technology, engineering, art and math – high-demand fields with good salaries.” The report explains that “every week and a half, students come to the lab for a 30-minute session of free play at any of the stations.” The report points out that in September, Maez “gave a lesson on the science of hot air to accompany the educational program Albuquerque Aloft!, which brings balloons to 52 schools to kick off fiesta.”

Teen Starts Robotics Team For Muslim Girls.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (11/28) has a video report on Zaina Siyed, a 16-year-old Diamond Bar student who “started a competitive robotics team for Muslim girls in middle school.” She said it’s designed to help a new generation of Muslim girl to embrace STEM. She explained that the program is free and paid for by donors in the Muslim community. She added that the team is currently preparing for a LEGO competition.

Monday’s Lead Stories

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